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Last week I talked a bit about the sprint to the finish line, or other periods of gathering together to do the good hard work.

After that hard work, there should be time to celebrate what we’ve been through. Depending on the difficulty of the experience, we should take time to express gratitude and appreciation.

As a leader, this is one of your primary roles. People look to you as the heart of the organization.

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When we’re faced with a huge challenge, it’s time for everyone to get busy and help out. We know we have hard work to do, but doing it together makes things go easier.

There’s a very special energy in aligning as a group!

And it works best when everybody jumps in, from the boss to the bottle washer. It’s a very democratic endeavor that way.

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We have this big distinction in the USA – and many other countries – about structuring as a non-profit entity versus for-profit. We have to recognize, though, that we’re intermingling two quite different concepts. It’s important to not get confused.

The first concept is that a non-profit is somehow heart-centered and oriented toward unselfish benefits, while a for-profit is somehow … not? So it must be profit-centered and oriented toward selfish purposes. But we’ve grown comfortable with that distinction, even though it’s inaccurate and often wrong.

The other concept we mix with this is the tax structure and, generally, the relationship with the government. Non-profits take on extra restrictions and reporting requirements in trade for being exempt from certain kinds of taxes.

So where does this overlap lead us astray?

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I always work with my clients with the objective of a healthy business. Why that word, as opposed to profitable or growing or whatever?

It’s because the word conveys a proper sense of balance and happiness. I’ve seen many cases where the pursuit of profit can result in unhappy employees, disloyal customers, and a burned-out owner.

But we all want health and happiness, right?

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Last week I talked about the depressing race to the bottom. That’s a strategy of focusing on reducing prices over all other considerations.

When several companies do this at the same time, it destroys profit for everyone and can even kill an industry. We see this all the time.

Fortunately, there’s a different strategy you can embrace. It’s not any easier, but it sure can be more rewarding.

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I’ve heard several reports recently which talk about companies doing everything they can to drive profit. And of course the quickest variables to fiddle with are cutting quality and cutting employees.

Cut expenses, then you can reduce prices, so you’ll gain market share and win more profit. Here’s the problem with that logic. In a competitive market with multiple companies doing the same strategy, you don’t gain market share (or profit) at all when you reduce prices. Not unless you can do that faster than the competition for some reason – but that destroys your profit.

Unless you have a magic wand, of course. Most people out here in the real world don’t have one. You just have a bunch of companies all racing to the bottom, where NOBODY is eking out any kind of profit.

Fortunately, that’s not the only way to play the game.

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AS OWNER OR LEADER, YOU are one of the key assets of the business. Your employees are wonderful, I understand, but without leadership it will all fall apart.

Yet it seems we’re the last one to get taken care of.

I admire leaders who recognize what it takes to sustain their own focus, energy, and inspiration. Without doing that, you can’t pass it off to your people.

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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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THIS WEEK I HEARD A REPORT about Dr. Laura Lengnick who was speaking about sustainable agriculture.

Actually, she was explaining why she now uses the word resilient rather than sustainable.

Her point is that sustainable implies a sense of being static, of an ideal world where everything is balanced and unchanging.  Unfortunately, that world doesn’t exist.

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CONCERN ABOUT OUR FOOD SOURCES has increasingly been a critical issue of the 21st century.

We know that enormous agricultural enterprises can be highly efficient, but tend to eliminate healthy diversity in what we eat.  And we worry about the environmental cost of transporting our food all over the globe.

I was fascinated, then, to talk with Michele Ostrander, the owner and CEO of RevoGrow.  It’s a company dedicated to connecting restaurants, stores and consumers with local growers.

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