March 23, 2016 • Bookshelf

“Contagious Culture”

As an entrepreneur, one of the most rewarding perks is the continuous learning journey that we are all on.  Surrounding ourselves with communities of fellow business owners, whether through entrepreneurial peer groups, conferences or reading, is crucial in growing both personally and professionally.  And while learning experiences take many forms, the common thread is learning through the experiences and insight of others, and most importantly, the direct actions that can be taken to course correct some of the struggles you may be facing.  As entrepreneurs, we must have the courage to break out of our comfort zone, examine our approach from a third party perspective, and grow through both success and failure.

One of my favorite learning experiences came while attending a Small Giants conference in Dallas last summer.  The conference kicked-off Sunday evening, but typically trying to avoid weekend travel to maximize my family time, I took a very early flight to Dallas on Monday AM from Cleveland.  But even with the early AM flight time and time zone change, I unfortunately arrived at the conference late.

Upon finally arriving, I entered the room without any Intentional Energetic Presence (more on this later), and slipped into my usual spot in the back of the room.  I will admit that I do typically intentionally sit in the back of the room so that I can observe, listen and learn from the presenter and audience interaction, but an unintentional result and gift I received that day was not only meeting, but being challenged by Anese Cavanaugh.  Anese had been the opening speaker and during one of the breaks she approached me, asking if she had done something to offend me?  Taken aback by the question at first, after talking with Ms. Cavanaugh, I fully understood why she asked.  Anese, an award-winning organizational advisor, had interpreted my presence as being unengaged or disinterested.  To be honest, I had no idea that this was the vibe I emoted. The energy you add or take away from a situation (whether you realize it or not) completely changes the dynamics of situations, interactions and relationships.

After this encounter, I was both intrigued and inspired to better understand what Ms. Cavanaugh meant by Intentional Energetic Presence (IEP), leading me to read her recent book Contagious Culture: The Book About Showing Up.  I was also lucky enough to have Anese join my partner and I on our weekly radio show, The Second Stage, where we talk about the elements of IEP, which include:

  • Rebooting your presence – Awareness. Ask yourself, How do I want to show up?
  • Creating intentional impact – What outcomes and impact do you want to have?
  • Building a strong IEP foundation – This final element is about taking amazing care of yourself, physically and mentally.

For those of you that have been following my book blogs, rather than a review, I typically list my personal take-aways, so here we go:

  • IEP:  Reboot presence, have intentional impact and build an energetic foundation. I often roll from one meeting to another with little time to reboot for the next meeting.  I now find myself thinking, “If I had just spent 5-10 minutes preparing for the meeting, I would be much more effective.”  My action:  I need to schedule the time to reboot and have an agenda when entering every meeting.
  • Gratitude:  This is a recurring theme in many of the books I read.  People that spend time daily thinking about what they are grateful for are happier.  Sharing gratitude also brings people together.  My action: I pledge to spend at least 5 minutes per day writing down what I’m grateful for. 
  • Show up:  Be intentionally present for everything (family, work & social events). You always have an impact (positive or negative; big or small; intentional or not). My action: Enter every situation with the mindset and knowledge that I am responsible for the success or failure of the culture around me. 

If this discussion has peaked your interest about the impact your energy and intentional presence can have at an individual and organizational level, I would encourage you to pick up a copy of Ms. Cavanaugh’s book and visit her website, where you can find additional information and tools.

And for anyone who may be attending the Small Giants Summit this summer, I would welcome the opportunity to connect while you are there (and let me know how I am doing on improving my intentional presence).

Recommendations on additional titles we should add to our bookshelf?  Please share with the community in the comments section below.

About ScaleCo

ScaleCo Capital is a Cleveland-based lower middle market private equity firm that focuses on control-oriented leveraged buyout and growth equity investments in fast-growing companies based primarily in the Great Lakes region. ScaleCo partners with companies in the verticals of business services, tech-enabled services, value added distribution and assembly, and training, compliance, and education sectors, bringing operational expertise and strategic resources to scale their growth potential and build long-term value. To learn more, visit scaleco.com.

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