Wisdom from Women Leaders

By: Karen Higgins, Immediate Past President of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) Philadelphia Center for Advancing Entrepreneurs

There is no doubt that men and women are different (we all know “Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars”) and there is no question that women and men lead in different ways.

According to the Pew Research Center survey (November 2014), women and men are considered fairly equal in their overall capabilities of being good business leaders; however, there are specific traits in which one gender tends to be more proficient than the other.  The Pew Research Center survey seems to be in agreement with most other reports on genders and leadership, finding that women tend to rank higher in honesty and being more ethical than their male counterparts; and also are more likely to ensure fair pay and good benefits for their staff and provide better guidance or mentorship to young employees.  On the other hand, men are perceived to be more decisive and more willing to take risks.  This doesn’t mean women are better business leaders than men or vice a versa.  It just means that they are just different. Continue reading

Be the Spark that Ignites Innovation

IBM, a 130-year old company, didn’t get where it is today without constant innovation.  Disney started out as a cartoon studio and has evolved to a leading entertainment company always creating new products and new businesses.  And, Apple didn’t stop after it developed its first computer in 1976 – it has progressed into phones, online music, watches, and who knows what’s next.

Innovation is imperative in today’s fast-paced business world.  No company will be successful by staying stagnant.  As markets change, technologies advance and trends shift, you must continue to evolve to stay ahead of your competition.  The challenge so many businesses face is that they are so focused on the day-to-day – answering the needs of their existing customers – they seldom look ahead and anticipate future needs and trends.

In a recent survey from PwC, 56 percent of the respondents said that innovation is the main opportunity for growth in their companies.  It is no longer a luxury, but a foundation for future growth.

Innovation doesn’t mean just developing new products or service offerings to meet customer demands, it can also mean entering new markets to boost revenue or streamlining processes to increase speed, improve quality, cut costs, or reduce time to market.

For example, while Tesla Motors has been praised for its innovation last year of its self-driving car, Starbucks has been recognized for its new employee college tuition program aimed at retaining its hourly employees.

Customers have little patience today, especially younger generations that expect everything immediately.  They no longer have the loyalty of past generations to stick with an outdated product and wait for it to catch up with the competition.  They will easily move on to another option without a second thought, putting you at risk of losing both existing and prospective customers if you don’t innovate.

You can also run the risk of operating inefficiently if you don’t make the necessary changes to keep up with the times.  By improving your business processes, you can save valuable time, money and resources.  If you produce a product more efficiently, you may be able to cut costs and sell it at a lower price point than your competition – increasing your profit margin at the same time.  Furthermore, stagnant companies are more likely to lose good employees who want to work for companies on the cutting edge of their industries, making innovation a priority for every business.

 

Innovation from the Top Down

The drive to innovate must come from the top.  It is the CEO’s responsibility to provide the vision for their company and therefore, they must be the driving force for encouraging innovation throughout the organization.

CEOs are often wearing multiple hats and struggle to focus on the near-term challenges while also formulating a vision for the future.  With short-term revenue goals, increasing competition and other demands that CEOs face on a daily basis, it is difficult to carve out the time to look to the future.

However, the CEO does not need to take on the responsibility of developing new, innovative ideas on their own.  They need to create an environment that fosters innovation from all employees on an ongoing basis and ingrain it into the corporate culture.

As the visionary, the CEO needs to empower others to generate new ideas and hold them accountable.  The challenge is that employees are often uneasy about taking time away from their day-to-day responsibilities and are apprehensive about taking risks that might put their job in danger.  Just like with other aspects of the business, such as reaching sales goals and meeting deadlines, innovation needs to be rewarded to motivate repeatable action.  CEOs should inspire employees to be creative and encourage them to always think about continuous improvement.

Innovation has become so important to a business’ success that some organizations have appointed Chief Innovation Officers responsible for leading innovation efforts on a regular basis.  If your organization does not have the bandwidth for this position, a CEO should ensure that they have a management team that is continually looking to the future and is sending the right signals to their employees to encourage innovation.

Some companies have even created specific programs within their companies to drive innovation, including Adobe’s Kickstart initiative and LinkedIn [in]cubater program.

Although disruptive innovation can be powerful in taking a company to the next level, incremental innovation can be the difference between success and failure.  Innovation needs to be ongoing.  It shouldn’t be an ad-hoc process that the management team discusses once a year.  You need to develop a strategy to ensure you always have a pipeline of new ideas and actively manage those ideas to bring them to fruition.  Innovation should be a regular topic on the agenda for every management meeting.

 

Jump-starting Ideas

While the generation of new ideas should be ongoing, it is difficult to be creative in the office where there are so many distractions.  The workplace can often be a hindrance to innovation as employees are so focused on their everyday tasks and addressing the challenges that arise.

Online communications can also be harmful to creativity.  We’ve become so dependent on communicating through email and holding meetings via video conferences that we have lost the personal interaction among co-workers that often fuels innovation.  Despite the increased productivity that new technologies offer, face-to-face meetings are still important for good team collaboration.

Off-site meetings have been proven to be extremely valuable in eliminating distractions, getting employees fully engaged and stimulating creativity.  CEOs should encourage periodic off-site events to help rid their team of distractions and get their motors running.

Many organizations hold off-site meetings in hotel conference rooms or other similar meeting spaces.  Although this gets employees in a new setting, they are often not much different than the meeting rooms at their offices.  Venues that have activities that enable team-bonding and camaraderie have proven to be extremely beneficial to jump-starting the creative juices and getting ideas flowing.

To encourage camaraderie and creativity, team-building exercises can be very effective.  Often exposing employees to new experiences, these activities help them think out of their normal routine and enable them to work together in a different environment and demonstrate different skills than they do in their day-to-day jobs.  These exercises help co-workers get to know each other better, facilitating better communications and improving future collaboration.  They can also be excellent for developing problem-solving skills and breaking down barriers often found in a corporate setting.

 

Be the Champion of Innovation

As Steve Job’s said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower”.  CEOs must be the champion of innovation for their organization.  Think of yourself as the racecar driver and your employees as the pit crew.  You need to lead your team to continuously improve your products, services and operations to stay on the lead lap.  There are a lot of bends in the road on the track to success and you need to adjust and innovate to overcome obstacles in order to beat your competitors.

Ignite Your Corporate Team - Find Out How

Drive workforce engagement, or get left behind the curve.

For decades, businesses have operated under the precept that strong leadership can navigate any changing tide. However, according to Deloitte’s 2015 Global Human Capital Trends survey, the rapidly evolving dynamic between employers and employees can stress even the most capable leaders if organizations don’t rethink how they manage, evaluate, and reward their people. While building strong leadership remains paramount to every business, this year’s findings show that “culture and engagement was rated the most important issue overall” for corporate groups and employees alike. Not only that, the study shows that a significant gap exists between the importance of this issue and the readiness and ability of most company’s to address it.

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5 QUALITIES ALL GREAT TEAM BUILDING EVENTS HAVE IN COMMON

If you think that team building exercises are just an excuse to get out of work for the day or worse, something to be suffered through so you can get back to more important business, think again. Team building days are a vital part of ensuring that everyone in your company or division is on the same page and heading in the same direction. They are a way to strengthen partnerships and encourage strong bonds between project members. Knowing how to plan great team building events is the key to making them as effective as possible. Here are top five qualities all great team building events have in common. Hopefully these will help you consider how to plan your next great company outing.

Activities that shake out the cobwebs.

Doing the same thing day after day is a great way to get into a rut. Thought patterns get routine. Ideas tend to stay safe and uninspired. Enthusiasm for work slowly trickles away and is replaced by habit. Planning team building activities that take a giant step away from your day-to-day rituals is a good way to knock out the hum-drum and get everyone’s creative juices flowing again.

A chance to socialize.

Working with someone 8+ hours a day means that you probably see more of them than you do your friends. What that time does not do is let you know the person on any real level. Including ample time and encouragement to socialize during team building day creates a chance for your crew to become invested in each other on a more personal level. This chance to bond will ensure that team members are better able to allocate responsibilities during projects.

Lessons with real world application.

Let’s face it, no one is ever going to solve a work related problem by standing on their desk and asking their cubicle neighbor to catch them when they fall backwards. While trust and the ability to ask for help are both critical skills for your team, there are better way to learn them. Choose activities that encourage participants to find ways around obstacles and through difficult situations while having fun. Helping your team hone their creative thinking skills is crucial to your company’s next breakthrough.

A little healthy competition.

Teams, by their nature, are groups of people competing to win over the competition. If you do not encourage a healthy competitive edge within your group, you are likely to find your company losing business. Find challenges that bring out the best in everyone while stressing the need to reach deep in order to come out on top.

Location, location, location.

Holding your team building event away from your business is a great way to get people out of their comfort zone. Taking everyone away from their regular environment forces them to restructure their interactions according to new conditions. This can greatly change how individuals view each other and create teams that understand individual strengths and weaknesses much better than before adding to the overall positive team building results.
Researching venues that can cater to all of your needs will save you time and money. Speed Raceway is a great option that can provide comfortable meeting space, Wi-Fi and necessary AV equipment, and access to catering in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey area. We offer goal specific classes and ready-made team building exercises to meet your company’s needs. When meetings are done, our electric go karts are a great way to apply and reinforce all of those new team building skills.

 

How to Get Your Boss to Say Yes to a Holiday Party This Year

Getting your boss to agree to a holiday party isn’t always an easy thing to do. Management doesn’t like to spend money, especially on things that might seem frivolous at first glance. If you’re really serious about adding to your corporate events list though, here are some arguments you might want to try out on the head honcho to get him to say yes this holiday season.

If you’re really serious about getting that holiday party you want it’s important to approach the request as if it were a project proposal. You need to appeal to the practical aspects, as well as to the inherent fun of throwing a party. For instance, you should point out that a holiday party would: Continue reading

7 REASONS TO THROW A KICK ASS END OF THE YEAR PARTY

It’s almost the end of 2014, and somehow you’ve made it. Soon we’ll be ringing in the New Year and making resolutions, but first let’s toast the end of this one. It’s time to gather our friends, coworkers and employees together and have a good time.

Unfortunately, the end of the year is a busy time. Poeple have all kinds of events planed already, so if you want to be able to compete with all the other distractions, you need to plan a truly memorable event. That is why we wanted to help you with this list of the seven ways to throw a kick ass party:

  1. Your Team Hit Their Goals –

    You’ve all worked your butts off. Your team hit their goals, heck maybe even succeeded them, so it’s time to have fun and pat yourselves on the back for a job well done.

  2. Extra Money in The Budget –

    Being frugal and smart all year has paid off and now there’s a little extra in the budget. Use that money to reward your employees and help strengthen working relationships with an awesome party.

  3. Nobody Broke Anything –

    It’s hard working with older equipment and hoping for an upgrade is futile. Hey, you all made it through another year without smashing it with a bat and setting it on fire though. That’s something to celebrate.

  4. You Got Skills –

    You have some serious skills on the race track, and what better way to show them off than at a Go Kart Racing track.

  5. It’s Been To Long –

    The year gets away from us sometimes. Careers, families, kids, pets and everything else eats away at our time with friends. Now’s the time for a kick ass, end of the year blowout to reconnect.

  6. Blow Off Some Steam –

    Time to shake off all that stress and tension and blow off some steam. Enter the New Year with a refreshed attitude and mindset.

  7. You’re All Awesome –

    You, your friends, coworkers, and employees are all awesome. Who needs a better reason than that for a celebration?

There are as many reasons to throw a kick ass party as there are snowflakes. Really though, at the end of the day, do you need a good reason? It’s all about having fun, enjoying the people around you, and making memories. If you want to kick your part up to the next level with go kart racing then contact us today. We’re always happy to help.

 

The Do’s and Don’ts of Philadelphia Corporate Events

Every good business owner or manager wants to promote unity and cohesion amongst their employees, so many turn to team building and corporate events to help bring people together from different departments and help break down walls in the organization. While the intentions for these events are often good, it can be easy to put together team building events that cause strife or leave people out and miss the point of the event completely. Learn from some of the do’s and don’ts before planning your corporate events in Philadelphia!

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Build Team Unity By Planning Great Corporate Events in Philadelphia

 

Take a time out and a trip away from the office. Corporate events in Philadelphia are a great way to reestablish company-wide teamwork. With the bussle and daily distractions of deadlines, it’s easy to become detached from coworkers, it is even easy to loose sight of the mission of the company. Strengthen the company, reestablish collaboration and unwind, if even for a moment, during a corporate event. Here are a few tips on how to plan a great corporate event. Continue reading

5 Ways to Convince Your Boss on Corporate Team Building at Speed Raceway

Let’s be real, sometimes work can be stressful.  With the various assignments, responsibilities and deadlines constantly keeping you awake, no day at the office is easy.  Don’t forget about the boss too!  Even though he might not be as bad as Kevin Spacey in the movie Horrible Bosses, he’s still pretty tough on you.  Wouldn’t it be nice to get a break from work for a while AND take it to your boss?  Why not push for a corporate team building event at Speed Raceway then?  What better way to get back at your boss then by burning rubber on the track and leaving him in your dust?  Now if only you could convince him to take everyone out to the track, your plan would be perfect!

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