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MartinTHIS WEEK I had the opportunity to attend a presentation hosted by the just-now-forming Conscious Capitalism Colorado Chapter.  The speaker was Martin Bjergegaard, co-author of the new book Winning Without Losing.

What a great and inspiring hour!  I immediately bought the book.

Martin’s message is the same as how he’s built his businesses:  By focusing on quality of life, quality of leadership, and leveraging his considerable passion.

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Jill van OrdenJILL VAN ORDEN heads up Arts Reach Center here in Fort Collins.  It’s a fascinating concept, giving kids an outlet for creativity and inspiration.

This city has a fairly active arts scene, but most of that is targeted at adults.  Sure, most venues also have special kids’ shows.  But Arts Reach Center is different.

It’s targeted entirely at kids, and at their direct involvement in the performing arts.  Jill described it to me as giving children a rich learning experience, joyful expression and friendships, and development of their artistic abilities.

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OUR COMMUNITIES ARE DIVIDED by languages and cultures.  ShareLingo is a new company that’s taking this challenge head on.

ShareLingo 1There are a lot of language education programs and tools out there.  You can purchase programs for your PC, connect with online resources, and take classes at school.

ShareLingo has a different approach:  To focus on co-learning, forming community and personal friendships.

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YOU WinONLY HAVE a limited amount of money to pay your employees, I understand that.  As a result, you’re probably going to pay people differently, spending the most money where you think it will give you the greatest benefit.  Primarily, you’ll pay your most valuable people more than the others.

There’s other factors too, yes, but the effect is the same.  Most likely you have some workers who feel adequately rewarded, while others feel slighted.  Even if you try to be cagey about pay levels – especially if you do – people will pick up on the fact that they’re paid less.

This is one of the biggest quandaries about running a business.  Given that you only have limited resources, how on earth can you pay everyone what you’d like to?

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BRENDA AND RICHARD LUCIO own the Blue-Agave-GrillBlue Agave Grill in Fort Collins, the fourth restaurant they’ve started in northern Colorado.

I was introduced to Brenda and the company a few weeks ago, and was particularly struck by the relationship she has with employees.  So I sat down with her this week to discover the secrets behind this.

As you may know, the restaurant industry is infamous for its levels of turnover.  Companies often pay below minimum wage, attracting youngsters who have little loyalty and given minimal training.

After all, why bother with extensive training when the employee’s going to leave in just a few months?

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SilverEdge SilverEdge logoWAS A TRADITIONAL payments services company in Colorado.  From that history as Payment Solutions, they’ve reinvented themselves under a new name as a payment technology provider for small- and medium-sized businesses.

I saw that they were growing swiftly – they made the Inc. 500 in 2012, the Mercury 100 in 2011 and were awarded the Mercury Fastest Growing Company in 2012.  But I hadn’t paid much attention.

This is an impressive business.  Fast growing, focused, and solid in their convictions.

A few weeks ago I met Ken Salazar, president and CEO, and was impressed with the values foundation they have for the company.  So I was glad I had a chance to meet with him and dig into the topic.

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KELLER WILLIAMS kw-logoREALTY is the largest real estate franchise company in North America, with over 100,000 associates in 700 offices and twelve countries.  They have grown rapidly since being started in 1983.

But that’s not the real story.

This company is really, seriously, passionately, designed around the agents who provide such great service for their clients.

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AS YOU WALK IN the front door of C3 Real Estate Solutions, you see three words on the glass in the lobby:

Character, Culture, Commitment
That’s not a terribly uncommon thing; a number of businesses like to prominently display key words to make an impression on their customers.  Fresh!  Best deal anywhere!  Innovation!

John and JesseBut when I attended their Chamber Red Carpet event a few months ago, I got the distinct impression that the founders, Jesse Laner and John Simmons, actually run the company this way.  That’s NOT common.

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WHAT A TIME of celebration and relaxation!  People around here are definitely getting into the summer mode, and appreciating the Independence Day holiday with family and friends.  I sure am.

It makes me think about the deeper values of this country.

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LIZ RYAN, Founder of Human Workplace, Mission driven culturerecently wrote a great article entitled “What is a mission-driven culture?

I’d highly recommend it.

She’s talking about many of the same concepts that I cover on this blog – but this article focuses on the jobseeker’s point of view, rather than the company’s.  There’s some great things to learn from this.

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