Author Archives: Kelly Isley


January 2015 Newsletter


The first quarter newsletter for Adapt Now went out this morning–hope you received it if you are a subscriber. If you aren’t a subscriber, you can get the next quarter’s newsletter by signing up HERE.

Our 2015 focus is to continue to explore formulas that capture long-term business success. In the newsletter we spotlighted “visibility” and gave 25 tips to make your business more visible. Key: timing is important!

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Strategic Spotlight: How Companies Get Pricing Right

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For many businesses, one of the most difficult questions to answer is: “How do we price our products and services?” So how do company leaders answer this question? Many of them start by looking at the competition to see who has been successful and at what price. This approach is a good place to begin. Building on this, what else can companies do to make sure they price their products well enough to keep their customer’s happy and continue to grow revenue?

A Closer Look at Customer Loyalty

Could putting a price on customer loyalty be the answer? According to Marco Bertini, assistant professor at London Business School, it can be a distinct advantage. The following are highlights of five principles that Mr. Bertini recently shared with Harvard Business Review (HBR) on how to price goods so customers will buy them—and stay an advocate for your brand:

Focus on relationships. See your customers as people, not wallets. Make sure your pricing is not merely transactional or customers are more likely to notice and respond accordingly by taking their business elsewhere. Positive approach: your company may consider bundling options versus charging for individual pieces.

Be proactive. Get to know your customers, to know what they want, and the behavior you want them to engage in. Next, set prices that will benefit both your customers and your company. Positive approaches: understand if your customers react more positively to a small recurring fee or to a larger one-time fee. Continue to be responsive to their customer service concerns and requests.

Be flexible. Why? Rigid pricing does not work. Since people value products differently, perfect pricing can be a moving target. The positive approach: embrace flexible pricing, as it will help your company meet changing customer needs.

Be transparent. You will build trust and goodwill if your customers understand your pricing. Positive results: the customers you gain through transparency cost less to retain, often buy more expensive products, and are more forgiving regarding mistakes.

Understand market standards. Clarify customer perceptions of what is and what is not fair regarding pricing within your industry. Positive results: when customers believe they are paying a fair price, they are likely to buy more and pay premiums.

In Mr. Bertini’s words, “Pricing is a tool that speaks loudly to customers.” One parting question: What does your pricing say about your company?


Identify your best- and worst-selling product and/or service within the next 10 days. Now, have a small group of your best and brightest assigned to identify what the gaps are and how the gaps can be closed within the next 30 days.


asian business team

Five Ways To Build Business With Current Clients

asian business team

The personal touch combined with excellent client service has built today’s most successful businesses and can do the same for your company. Here are 5 ways to develop a lasting relationship that will add value to your business on many levels as 2015 gets underway:

Spread the word. Let your clients know what you’re doing for them. This can be through an e-newsletter, select press releases, a traditional newsletter, or it could be more informal by picking up the phone and calling to touch base. Regardless of the method you use, remember to point out to clients the excellent service you are providing them.

Share information. Have you read anew book, spotted an article, or
heard about an association a client might be interested in? Send them a quick note or give them a call to let them know.

Recognize special occasions. Remember to send regular client birthday
cards, anniversary cards, holiday cards, etc. Thoughtful gifts can also be excellent
follow-up options. It is not necessary to spend a fortune to show you care;
use your creativity and if time is tight, test the waters with something as simple as an electronic greeting from Hallmark.

Follow up on client service issues.Voice mail, e-mail, and even Twitter make it easy to communicate, but the personal touch can be lost. If you’re having trouble getting through to a client whose issue requires that personal contact, leave a voice-mail message that you want to talk to the client directly or will stop by his or her office at a specific time.

Reconnect with old clients. Take out the pen and write your clients from the past a personal,  handwritten note. Carve out time when you find yourself on a flight, train ride, or waiting for a business meeting to begin and spend a few minutes reaching out. Another opportunity might include running into an old client at an event. This is a chance to follow up with a simple note: “It was wonderful seeing you at the holiday party. I’ll call you early in the New Year to schedule a lunch.”

In the end, staying connected with your clients is one of most strategic investments of time that can be made.


Identify how you or your leaders will connect with your business’ top 5 clients this week.  Make sure a connection is made with each of them in the next 10 days.


Resiliency: A Leader’s Secret Weapon

ResiliencyResilient leaders will leave their mark on the future, just as they have shaped history.  Despite changing economies they have bounced back and managed to stay focused while moving their businesses forward. How can we learn from their successes?  To find the answers, I sat down with Mary Ann Zimmerman, author, LPC, LISAC, and accomplished business leader to address these questions:
Q:  What is your definition of a resilient leader?

Ms. Zimmerman:  Resilience is often described as a learnable mindset that predisposes us to “bounce back” in the face of loss or adversity. Resilient leaders, however, do more than bounce back—they bounce, and in certain cases, leap forward.  They respond to new challenges, even as they maintain the routine operations of the organizations they lead. In addition, resilient leaders quickly get a second wind, and when they see that the status quo is not optimal, they use it to move mountains and build remarkable organizations.

Q:  Is resiliency a critical trait for leaders of today and tomorrow?

Ms. Zimmerman:   Resiliency has been a critical trait for leaders throughout history.  In fact, if you look at leaders in any field of endeavor, whether business or political, we find that many have experienced tremendous setbacks, suffered great adversity, and yet never succumbed for long.  Eventually, they overcame their challenges, and went on to great achievements.  Examples include Abraham Lincoln, who battled severe clinical depression, and Martin Luther King, who overcame tremendous obstacles to lead the country in a better direction. Or, Steve Jobs who coped with cancer as he created one of the greatest companies in the world.

Q:  What advantages do resilient leaders deliver to their businesses and organizations?

Ms. Zimmerman:
 Though there are many advantages, two in particular come to mind, and involve recognized leaders whose companies touch our daily lives.

First, resilient leaders model resilient behavior to other employees.  In essence, they serve as an inspiration as others see how resilient leaders deal with adversity, overcome challenges, and move forward in spite of these instances.  One such leader is Howard Schultz who regained his position as Starbucks CEO in 2008.

In the darkest days of the recession, many analysts and media outlets had written Starbucks off.  However, armed with a positive mind-set and a business mantra which included: always challenge the old ways, Mr. Schultz returned financial discipline, bottom-line efficiency, and a back-to-basics focus to the company.

For example, the company had been losing tens of millions of dollars a year by pouring excess steamed milk down the drain.  By simply putting a serrated internal ring inside a pitcher to guide how much milk a barista can use for a latte, Starbucks saved millions.  As with Steve Jobs at Apple, Starbuck’s second act, led by Howard Schultz, turned the company’s iconic brand around.

And second, resilient leaders tend to be more optimistic and purposeful.  This can lead to a positive emotional “contagion” effect on a work team, and cause other team members to get “caught up” in the energy that results.

One leading practitioner of empowerment management, John Mackey, the co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, Inc. believes that purpose inspires people.  This has been his belief since opening his first food store in 1978, and has helped build his business into a $10 billion Fortune 500 company that is now one of the top supermarket firms in America.

Q:  What are three good tips you can share and that leaders can use immediately to boost their resiliency?

Ms. Zimmerman:  Initially, leaders need to familiarize themselves with the benefits of resilience learning, and do a careful self-analysis to gain some perspective.  The formula is as follows:

Understanding Your strengths + Understanding Your Weaknesses = Resilient Strength

Next, leaders need to immerse themselves in the subject of learned optimism.  The research shows that rational, learned optimism, like any other attribute and skill, can be cultivated.

Optimism is one of the single greatest predictors of resilience, and is correlated highly with positive outcomes in virtually every field of human endeavor.  Consider the following quote from Dean Becker, the President and CEO of Adaptiv Learning Systems in Harvard Business Review: “More than education, more than experience, more than training, a person’s level of resilience will determine who succeeds and who fails. That’s true in the cancer ward, it’s true in the Olympics, and it’s true in the boardroom.”

Finally, leaders need to learn some concrete tools, and then take action.  Understanding resiliency abstractly is a necessary but insufficient condition for success.  Many of the resiliency building tools available to individuals and companies are simple to implement, but must be practiced on a regular basis in order to take effect.


Who will you inspire with your optimistic outlook today or before the upcoming holidays?  You could: Identify one person inside your business or organization that has inspired you or others, and thank them for it.


Doctor’s Orders: Travel Smart

Before traveling, consider scanning your documents (e.g., passports, traveler’s identity, allergies, vaccination records, plus other important information) and sending them to your primary email address. If you run into a problem, you can have them printed out at a local internet café or hotel business center or they can be viewed on a smart phone.
If the forecast calls for a full travel schedule or a holiday escape, remember to download the email/information into your smart phone as an attachment, so it will be available to you even if network coverage is not.

DrOrder-TrvlSafeTwo additional resources plus one clever app worth reviewing include: 1) the Smart Traveler app by the U.S. State Department, which can be downloaded for free on iTunes. This iPhone app invites you to see the world with easy access to frequently updated official country information, travel alerts, travel warnings, maps, U.S. embassy locations, and much more; 2) enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) on the U.S. Department of State website, which will help in case of an emergency or if challenges are encountered; 3) bookmark and become familiar with the important sections on the international travel portion of the U.S. Department of State website, which has outlined tips for traveling abroad and current travel warnings, together with travel alerts.

Next Step – consider this: Scan your important travel documents, email them to yourself, and download them on your smart phone.


Productivity Tip: What To Do When You’ve Got Too Much Email

If the average office worker spends over 26% of their workday on email, can we streamline to recover the precious commodity of time? Or is it better to ignore a growing inbox?

Too-Much-EmailAccording to a recent McKinsey Global Institute report on “the social economy,” the average knowledge worker now spends more than 26% of their work time managing email. If you work 50 hours per week, that’s 14 hours stuck in the inbox. McKinsey’s report suggested that workers could improve their email productivity by 25-30% through better use of social collaboration platforms, buying back 7-8.5% of their workweek. But even if your company isn’t investing in such platforms, here are four solutions that can help you get your head out of the inbox for a few of those 14 hours:

Use professional and/or branded signatures for your emails. After pointing, clicking, and the auto insert is finished – so is your sign off. This small action can save your audience significant time and effort if they need to speak with you urgently by phone as a follow up or email connections are slowing the progress toward your goal.

Take a closer look at those subscriptions
Ask yourself if you really need that subscription. Additional analysis that included 5 million emails from Baydin, an email management service, detailing that the average email user gets 147 messages per day and deletes 71 (48%). Deletion takes an average of 3.2 seconds. Granted, that doesn’t seem like much – about 4 minutes per day – but if you’re deleting 350 emails per workweek, that takes around 20 minutes per week, which adds up to more than 16 hours per year.

Or look at it this way: According to the American Time Use Survey, the average married, employed father who has children under age 6 spends just 2.4 minutes per day reading to them — which is less time than the average email user spends deleting emails. Play offense with your inbox by getting yourself off any lists you don’t read, and unsubscribing to commercial messages.

Avoid using folders
Hunting through folders can kill productivity. One paper from Carnegie Mellon University found that over 30% of email users agree with the statement, “I file my messages into folders as soon as I have read them.” Filing seems productive, but according to Alex Moore, CEO of Baydin, creating files associated with different projects or people is the least efficient way to find emails you might need again in the future – less efficient, in fact, then scrolling back through your inbox trying to remember roughly when the needed email came in. Which is exactly what this leader does 90% of the time. Solution: You can create one “archive” folder if you like to keep your inbox empty, but use the search function to find any information you need.

Check your timing
Timing is critical. Studies show that the average email user writes 40 messages a day, but there’s no point writing these emails if they don’t get read. A message sent at 6 a.m. is more likely to be opened than one sent to ask someone to do something, you’re more likely to get what you want after their blood sugar is up. For additional tips watch this video by Fast Company that is part of their working smart series.

If you are able to follow these simple strategies – the odds are favorable that you will get more done in a shorter amount of time.


What Can A Lizard Teach Us?

When Fortune Magazine found that workplace learning was a common thread in the “100 Best Companies to Work For”, leaders took notice. Building on that news (and turbulent economy) this leader started the search for change management learning opportunities that were unique, yet proven. Imagine my surprise when a highly recommended program included a subject matter expert named: Lenny T. Lizard. Yes, a lizard! Intrigued, I contacted Lenny’s business partner, Kathy Dempsey, President of Keep Shedding! Inc., to learn more. As it turned out, Ms. Dempsey, an award winning author, keynote speaker and recognized “change expert”, has worked with several Fortune 500 companies. Her goal: to implement programs that ignite change in leaders. Follow along in our interview which covers lessons that you will enjoy.


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Defining The Cost Of An Unhappy Work Force And How To Fix It

Today we see alarming reports that lost productivity, from actively disengaged employees, is costing the U.S. economy $370 billion annually. If you are a leader wondering how widespread this ‘disengaging’ crisis is and what steps you can take to win this battle in your own company, follow along as I interview Pamela Jett, MS, CSP, global business communications expert, and author of an important new book on the subject.


Q: The new book ‘When The Economy Changes… I’m Outta’ Here’, seems to have struck a good balance of business acumen, storytelling, and science. How did the book develop and why did you release it this fall?

Ms. Jett: The book was written because we have entered a world-wide disengagement crisis. How big is the challenge we are facing? Research tells us that barely 1 in 5 employees in the U.S. are engaged on the job and the rest fall into some category of disengagement. Looking through a global lens, unsettling estimates indicate that only 11% of employees are actively engaged in their jobs today. Case in point, during recent business meetings in Asia, I met leaders who expressed concerns regarding their countries disengaged workforces along with how the trend has impacted business growth.

Next, and based on the large economic impact, it is a relevant book for companies that want to move their work force from “disengaged” to “engaged”. The engaged and productive employees – that can spur business growth.

Q: You mentioned previewing the new book in Asia, was it well received?

Ms. Jett: Absolutely. In Singapore the Human Resources professionals appreciated the focus on practical application, language patterns (that can help bilingual employees), and specific “words to choose” and “words to lose,” which has helped them discover communication tools that they have put to work immediately.

Q: Can you share three tips that readers can use right away?

Ms. Jett: Of course. Here is Tip No. 1: Eliminate the word “should”. Why? If you stop ‘should-ing” on people (e.g., “you should do this…” or “you shouldn’t do it that way; you should do it like this…”) you will stop using a disengaging form of communication. First and foremost, professionals do not appreciate it when others try to “tell them what to do” and deny them their freedom to choose.
So, instead of using “you should” consider the power of replacing it with one of these options:
– It would be better if you did it this way…
– The _______ (project, employee handbook, contract) requires you to do it this way…
– Our _______ (customer, bottom-line) benefits when you do it this way…

Next, Tip No. 2: Ditch the word “Don’t” and focus on what you would like them to do instead. Here are two classic examples – replace “Don’t be late” with “Please be on time” or replace “Don’t forget…” with “Please remember….” These are both good examples of sharing what the desired behavior is as opposed to the undesired behavior.

Lastly, I want to share one of my favorites in Tip No. 3: Which is – Ask open-ended questions. Why is this important? Because using open-ended questions is one of the easiest tools, anyone at any level of the organization can use them, and they are also one of the most effective forms of engaging communication. Here are a few of my top open-ended questions:

– What are your thoughts on this?
– How do you think this will benefit ____ (the team, our customer, the bottom-line)?
– How can this be done ____ (better, smarter, faster, more efficiently)?
I have found that by integrating these and other open-ended questions into my global client’s regular communication, they are viewed as more open, approachable, and respectful individuals.

Q: Excellent tips. Now, from your perspective, who can benefit from this new book?
Ms. Jett: Job titles and positions aside, every one of us can benefit from the new book. Why? Because each of us can make a positive impact on employee engagement using the most important skill set we have: our communication skills. We can each choose to make changes that positively affect ourselves, those we lead, and our peers – changes that can result in happier, more productive companies.

What open-ended questions will you ask today? Identify a set of three open-ended questions to ask this week and evaluate responses to see how they have positively impacted your communication

Busines travel tips

Get Packing: Seven Tips For The Holidays

We all know savvy globetrotters who instinctively travel with less. Thankfully, a few of them are my friends, colleagues, and travel experts who have shared their secrets. Here are seven of the best packing strategies that work:

1. The List In a Fodor’s survey, 29 percent of respondents said they make lists at least one week before a trip. Looking for a standard list? Check out Knock Knock’s fantastic ‘Pack This!’ note pads (on-line and at Amazon). Reminder: lists can be used at least twice – once to pack and once to repack at the end of your trip. This way you’ll be sure to take everything you’ve brought with you.

Busines travel tips

2. Suit Or Shades? Is this a business trip that dictates you will dress to impress? Or are you heading out on a long overdue vacation where casual clothes and beach gear are a must? As your itinerary comes together, make a schedule of your days and evenings, and next to each activity note potential outfits, including shoes and accessories. This is the start of the critical packing list for your trip.

3. Eight Outfits In One Carry On Remember, you have to get there from here. A powerful reminder, for fashion lovers with big roller boards or heavy suitcases. On a more serious note, it is possible to get eight outfits in one carry on – if you take the approach that Ann Le has in this clever footage. Warning: after watching this great ‘how to’ segment, you may want to purchase a versatile maxi skirt too!

Quantity vs. Quality is a good rule of thumb also. If there’s one thing that can turn a pack rat into a minimalist, it’s a business trip spent lugging everything you’ve packed over long distances. Consider how you’re getting to your destination and how you’ll be getting around once you arrive. Packing light is less critical on trips when you’re driving with your colleagues and staying in one place than when you’re flying on an airplane and moving around once you land.

4. Looking Good It goes without saying that you should never leave on a trip without broken-in (polished) shoes. Similarly, don’t run out and buy a new wardrobe. You will probably want to wear each item you bring several times during your trip, so you’re better off with clothing you know and love – clothes that are comfortable and make you feel good.

5. Global Chic
On an international note, local dress codes should be factored into your wardrobe. In some resort areas, an anything-goes attitude applies, whereas in others many restaurants frown on diners with flip flops or those wearing shorts, bathing suits, or even T-shirts. Going abroad? In many places, traditions of dress differ from North America; check with your destination’s concierge or consult a good guidebook. A dignified look goes a long way: think skirts below the knee or trousers, and shirts that cover shoulders and elbows.

6. One Look
Stick to one basic wardrobe look – a favorite is urban chic when packing for business trips. Also sporty casual – if a get-away includes vacation. In either case, choose clothes that you can wear at least twice in a week. When all your tops go with all your bottoms and all your bottoms work with all your shoes, mixing and matching can yield plenty of fresh looks; just add scarves and jewelry for women and additional ties along with a light weight sweater or blazer for men (e.g., for a week’s trip, you should look smashing with three bottoms, four or five tops, a sweater, and a jacket that can be worn alone or over the sweater). Similarly, try to build your wardrobe around just two or three complementary colors, preferably two neutrals and one accent, such as black, white, and light brown. If everything goes together, you’ll get more mileage out of fewer pieces. And remember that prints and dark colors do not show spots and soil as quickly. Think black T-shirts rather than white ones and apply this to pants as well.

7. Sunny, Seventy Degrees, And A Shoe Tip To Remember
Start checking the temperatures at your destination a week before your trip and use a single shoe to keep you organized before the departure. First, having current weather information allows you to revise your packing list quickly and to give thought to buying mittens over sunscreen. Also pack layers (a favorite tip of mine), or whatever else you may need for the weather. If rain is in the forecast, avoid suede finishes and opt for easy to clean boots, heels, or loafers. And be sure to consider the humidity level which could benefit from packed hair clips or hats.

Next, adopt a clever ‘shoe’ tip from Scott McCartney of the Wall Street Journal. Discovered during a British Airways interview, flight attendants shared the following with Scott: “…by putting a single shoe you wear [when flying] into the room safe with your passport, you’ll never risk leaving it behind when you depart.”


Before your next business trip: draft a list 7 days in advance, check the weather of the destination, and leave for the trip with less wardrobe headaches. Already a good packer? Share your number one tip with a newer colleague or family member – before they take off on their next trip.