STEVE MARSHALL BILLS HIMSELF as a “Transformation Enabler.”

At least that’s what it says on his business card.

What he really does is to work with  leaders on strategic planning, organizational development, managing change, and executive coaching.  It’s similar to my own coaching practice, but he tends to focus a bit more on larger companies and more complex organizations.

As you know, my website here is dedicated to business owners who are living in a different paradigm.  We’re making money, sure, but more importantly we’re improving the world through our work.

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RECENTLY I HAD THE CHANCE to speak with several people who are struggling with direction in their business.  They’re each working hard to deliver great products and services, but at the end of the day … it’s a lot of work with no forward movement.

Many can relate to this.  And if you’re feeling lost, how do you think those around you feel?

Employees are just turning the crank.

Partners are uninspired and not feelin’ the love.

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I

AM CONSTANTLY RUNNING ACROSS across smart and talented business leaders. And in conversation, I get the intensity of their passion. Yet when it comes to articulating that as a mission statement for employees, they end up with mush.

Our company exists to serve customers and improve lives through our market-leading products and services. We’re responsive, innovative, and deliver consistently high quality.

As said by every company ever. Who would claim they DON’T do that?

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BUSINESS IS ABOUT MAKING STUFF. Delivering to customers. Getting a return on your investment.

So it may seem weird that I use a fluffy word like “soul” to talk about a company.

But it’s a very real question, vitally important.

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OVER THIRTY YEARS AGO, I ran across a striking company that thought differently than mine did.

They didn’t worry about the competition.  Really.

And not because they were ignorant or egotistical.  It’s because they realized that if they and all their competitors grew, it would create a whole new market.

Out of nothing.

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RECENTLY I HAD COFFEE with a friend who leads a great business. They’re a powerful part of this community, always looking to support others and make a difference.

He happened to leave a very generous tip for the coffee shop owner, but it was our conversation afterward which made it memorable.  He said to me, “I feel that it’s important to support all these other businesses in town.  They help me and I help them, and it makes for a great community.”

You might think that I’m making too much out of a small act of kindness, but this really is about the way he thinks.

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ROBERTO VALDEZ RUNS AN AMAZING BUSINESS recycling mattresses here in Fort Collins.

His heart is in serving those who are looking to rebuild their lives after incarceration or drug addiction. In fact, that’s how he got engaged with Spring Back Mattress Recycling in the first place.

He created a new life based on the support and leadership of Christopher Conway, his boss and mentor. I met Christopher as well, a sincere man who’s on a mission to serve the community.

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YOU’D LIKE FOR THE WORLD to be a safe place. After all, you’ve put your heart and soul into your business, and it would be terrible to have it fall apart.

So you try to play it safe.

But there are different kinds of safety. You could run close to the edge on being legal – but if you step over that edge, the regulators will shut you down.  Permanently.

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TRUE CONFESSION: I never get significant results by myself.  Even as a one-person business, I rely on a great number of others to support me and magnify my impact.

I suspect you have the same kind of reliance on others.

The first category is those people who help me produce what I do.  That includes development and delivery of my services.  If I were producing a physical product, I’d need design, production and inventory.  Those might be done inside the business, but a lot of it depends on suppliers, consultants, partners, and so on.

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DIVERSITY HAS BECOME WATERED DOWN. The honest truth that business in this country has adopted an attitude of “hire a racial minority and we’ll be good.”

I almost don’t even want to use the word any more, but there’s something important I’ve learned. We need to talk about it.

We all gravitate toward people and groups which are similar to us. I think it’s a hardwired aspect of being human, perhaps based on how our primitive ancestors maintained stable communities.

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