Lessons from the Patriots’ 2017 Super Bowl Win

Although I am not a devout NFL fan, I admire my home team, the New England Patriots, deeply. The game they played this past Sunday at the Super Bowl only reinforced my admiration. Here are 5 key lessons the Patriots’ Super Bowl win taught me that can be applied to small business:

  1. Develop Mental Resilience. How many of us would have the mental fortitude to keep pushing hard when we are down 28-3? Resilience can be learned and data says that it’s our resilience more than our intelligence that determines our success. Owning a business is often hard; dig deep.
  2. Focus on One Play at a Time. As Lady Gaga was entertaining us, some Patriots’ fans had fast-forwarded to the end of the game and saw the Patriots losing. While keeping the end in mind is certainly important, it’s equally important to focus on one move at a time – that’s the only one that counts at any moment. In the last quarter of the Super Bowl, the Patriots diligently moved the ball – one play at a time. The same is true for your business; dedicate your energy and attention on one thing at a time.
  3. Have Faith in Yourself and Your Team. The respect and admiration the Patriots’ players seem to have for each other and with Bill Belichick is evident every game and in every interview. Brady relied on his team mates and his coach, the coach trusted his team to accomplish the job, and team members looked to Brady for leadership throughout the game. Hire the best team you can for your business, train them well, and trust in each other.
  4. Know Your Plan (and Have a Plan!). When Brady calls a play, his teammates had better know the details and what is expected from them. It’s not enough to say “we want to win” or “we want to be the best”. The Patriots have individual performance goals as well as team-based specific outcome goals. The same is true with every team member of your business; be sure that they understand the “game” that you are playing, what their role is and what is expected of them.
  5. Continue to Learn, Continue to Train. Three days before what became a record-breaker for Brady and Belichick, the coach had Brady and the team running hills and doing the heaviest squats ever. After the game, I heard Belichick say that the team needed to get going because other teams had a 5-week lead on training for 2017-2018. No matter where you and your company stand, there is always some area you can be better in. Celebrate your wins, and then get back to training.

No matter your team loyalty, take a play from the Patriots’ playbook. Your fan base will thank you and grow.

Where Have All the Good Employees Gone: An Untapped Labor Force

If you’re like many small businesses right now, you may be struggling to find qualified employees. Business owners have told me “all the good employees are taken!” but I’ve discovered a yet mostly untapped resource: our state’s vocational rehabilitation service. I met with the dedicated New Hampshire staff recently and was blown away by the services they can offer and their desire to help employers and employees. According to their website, New Hampshire Vocational Rehabilitation’s (NHVR) service can help businesses:

  • by providing information on staffing, financial incentives, accessibility and accommodation options, educational programs, and expertise on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • gain a critical business advantage by connecting them with a qualified and largely untapped New Hampshire labor force.

When I met with the team, I heard real-life stories to back up these claims and was quickly provided with the financial incentive information, educational programs, and easy to follow information on the ADA. Let me share some of those stories:

  • They worked with a former business owner who could no longer provide the day-to-day manual labor he had historically done with his own business. They connected him with a larger organization in the same industry where he provided supervision and leadership along with his experience;
  • A simple solution to keep a valuable sight-impaired employee engaged and employed by providing a larger monitor;
  • Educational programs provided to employees on topics such as working with a terminally ill co-worker or disability etiquette.

Some business owners are hesitant; this path is new and different, yet it has clear advantages. For example:

  • The VR team pre-screens applicants, saving you, the business owner, time and energy. I’ve never met a business owner yet who enjoys that step in hiring!
  • Financial savings in the form of tax credits and tax deductions.
  • NHVR may provide funding to a business for specialized skill training based upon the amount of time the employee needs to learn that skill. NHVR pays the hourly wage of the employee providing the training for a period determined by the business.
  • VR applicants are motivated and reliable. They are held accountable to NHVR standards, in addition to your own.
  • You are making a statement to the community about your company’s values. That being said, many individuals with disabilities require little to no accommodations so that “statement” may be more of a whisper.

There is an immeasurable value to hiring an individual a bit outside of your “typical” hire. In my experience, a VR hire may bring lightness and gratitude to the work environment; I looked forward to seeing Sally, a vocational rehab employee, to hearing her perspective, on a daily basis.

In NHVR’s words, “VR’s mandate is to find our participants competitive, sustainable employment where they will be working with non-disabled people.  We are not looking for a hand out or a favor.”

I don’t know about you, but I’d take an employee who fits that description any day.

For more information about the New Hampshire Vocational Rehab services, go to: www.education.nh.gov/career/vocational, You can also contact the Employment Specialist, Terri Tedeschi, directly at 603-271-6719.

To hear firsthand how New Hampshire businesses are having success with the Vocational Rehabilitation program, I encourage you to attend the Employment Leadership Awards. They will be at the Currier Museum of Art on Thursday, October 13, 2016, at 8:15 AM. To learn more and to register go to the Events page at www.MillyardCommunications.com, or http://millyardcommunications.com/index.php?submenu=events&src=events&srctype=events_list_blurb.



What Millennials Want – Part I


What Millennials Want – Part I

My nephew Sam recently completed the management training program for a national supermarket chain. He was struck by the inappropriateness of the training for the participants – the Millennial Generation. The training program was developed for and by our generation (and if you don’t count yourself as a Millennial, assume you are in “our” generation) – for our styles, wants and needs. After presenting his completion project, he was asked to present to senior management and some of his ideas are going into motion. I asked Sam to share his insight with you, small business owners. Here’s what he had to say:

What do millennials look for when job hunting?

Millennials are the most educated generation in history, yet for a lot of us, that education came with a hefty price tag. When organizations are looking for talented millennials, they must also realize that most millennials are mired in student loans. A lot of organizations that have had success in attracting high potential talent offer a form of loan repayment based on years of service. In addition to potential for advancement and salary, millennials are also looking for organizations that share the same values that they do. Health and wellness programs are important as well as fostering a multi-cultural workplace.

What motivates millennials?

I don’t know if I can speak my whole generation, but I’ve found that I, and a lot of my peers are really motivated by the potential to impact change. We are really empowered and energized when we feel that our work is meaningful. We want to be able to link how our own individual contributions benefit the organization and ultimately society as a whole. As a generation that was profoundly influenced by the literal explosion of innovation and invention of the last twenty years, we are also seeking to leave our mark on the world. We value continuous improvement and innovation. We want to be on the cutting edge of process change and be in a position to influence future change. We want to feel like we are making a difference in an organization.

Key Take-aways for small business owners:

  • Millennials want to work for an organization in line with their personal values (which means baby-boomer business owners and executives need to define the organization’s mission and values and share them).
  • Offer benefits of interest to confident, global, transient, value-driven workers. Think more about time off for charitable work, less about disability insurance.
  • Millennials want to understand the connection between their individual work and the organization’s mission. Employees have wanted this for years; the millennials are confident enough to ask for it. Invite innovation and be willing to let them own it and act on it.

Want to read part II of what Millennials want? Sign-up below to get instant access! 

What Millennials Want – Part II

millennialsIn the first installment of What Millennials Want, I shared my nephew Sam’s insight about what Millennials look for in a job and what motivates this often-misunderstood generation. Today’s installment shares who you need to be.

Who is an ideal supervisor (with what ideal attributes) for a millennial?

            For me, an ideal supervisor is someone who is accessible and down to earth. Someone who doesn’t “drink the Kool-aid”, i.e. pragmatic about the business but still supports corporate strategy. Someone who can translate long term goals and objectives into smaller, quick wins. I think as a generation we lack the patience that the older ones do. We are so used to having everything at the touch of a button (entertainment, knowledge, directions), that we also seek that instant gratification in our working lives. The 10,000 foot view that might motivate older employees tends to be a little overwhelming and intangible to us. So a leader that can bring focus and specific goals and direction to millennial employees would be ideal. Quick wins that are also impactful to the organization are doubly enticing. With the right leader and the right work, millennials will work harder for them than their grandparent’s generation. Work life balance is less defined for millennials than other generations. In college we were used to working around the clock for something that is important to us, and we are willing to do the same for an organization that can provide us with meaningful work.

Millennials also thrive when they are put in a situation where they can multitask. I can’t do just one thing at once or I feel like I am wasting time (I can’t just watch TV for example, I need to be doing something else at the same time (cooking, painting, etc.). I also want to be multitasking at work – working on a bunch of different projects at the same, wearing many hats (have a functional role in multiple parts of the organization). I think that we are energized by these types of roles. As a generation of learners, we also want a role in an organization where we can be constantly learning new things and growing (multi-tasking). A lot of my peers have switched job titles multiple times a year, either in the same organization, or by bouncing around between employers. The long grind from entry level position to management is not something that interests us. Our paths tend to be more winding, with side steps, or even downgrades into different functional areas of an organization. We are driven by what is new, exciting, and above all meaningful rather than $$$. 

I want to be connected to work 24/7. We are all constantly connected to each other through Facebook or text message, and work needs to be the same way. I need to have access to my work email 24/7 and be able to text my boss when I need them. Text here is the operative word. As a generation I feel like we despise voice mail and email is too unreliable for communication (sometimes no answer for days…). So text really is the preferred method of communication. For more formal conversations, phone calls work, provided the individual is accessible, nothing turns us off more than not being able to get through to someone on the phone.  

If you’re a small business owner wondering how to work better with the Millennial Generation, here are the key take-aways:

  • Millennial Generation employees want to work for and become true leaders, not just managers. This can give you an advantage over large corporations looking to hire in this competitive market, as you are the organizational leader.
  • Millennials want to “own” something, they want to learn, they thrive on multi-tasking. Give your Millennials some room to run and use their muscles. Their styles may be different than our own, but it’s their style and it works for them.
  • Baby boomers believed that corporate titles and salary equated to meaningful work; if we’re a VP and make 6 figures, our work must be important. Millennials saw that definition not always working for their parents and they pushed the definition farther – they want work that impacts the organization and ultimately to society and the world.
  • Millennials prefer texting to email, online information over print, immediate feedback and information over delayed. Instead of getting frustrated, adapt to their style and you will see a dramatic improvement in communication.
  • Millennials want to use tablets, phones and laptops, not desktops! This doesn’t mean that Millennials are lazy (as I’ve heard our generation say); in contrast, they want to be connected to work 24/7, but not necessarily be at the office.

If you truly want to grow your team, to develop leaders who can grow your business and eventually run it for you, have a meaningful conversation with your millennial employees or even a family member. Open your mind to these take-aways and implement some changes.

Hiring in a Low-Unemployment Market

New Hampshire’s unemployment rate is 2.6%, New England is at 4.4%; this is all great news in the short term for consumers, but it’s making hiring pretty tough for my small business clients. I have a unique hiring process that usually brings the cream of the crop to my clients’ employee roster, but the past couple of months have been a little rough, and I don’t expect the summer to improve. What can a small business owner do?

Hiring, Unemployment, Employees, Business

First and foremost, you’ve got to have a successful mindset. All too often, I hear business owners say “I’ll never find anyone” or they tell me how tough their industry is. The labor market may be tighter than we’d like, but as in all things, a negative attitude does not benefit us. There are employees choosing a new position, a new company every day; we just need to be sure that we are the one being chosen. Here is how a small business owner can win fabulous new employees over “the big guys”:

  1. Show how working for a small business, over a large or national business, is a benefit to employees. While you may not be able to compete with a large business budget, you can compete on the personal impact they can make, one-on-one leadership training (from you), hands-on learning, and growth opportunities.
  2. Let prospective employees know that you will rely on them. Survey after survey supports the notion that employees want to make a difference, they want to be engaged. You know how much you’re looking forward to your new hire, all the hopes of what they can give to your organization. Let them know.
  3. Show prospective employees how their skill set will broaden. Personal example: I graduated from college with a business degree, specializing in accounting, and then became a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). I could have continued on in large corporations, most likely spending my career in accounting departments, maybe finance (yawn…). Instead, by moving to small business, I developed strong operational skills in everything from manufacturing to human resources, even sales and marketing.
  4. Fewer people, less politics. Americans, especially millennials, are more likely to live away from their families, so work colleagues often become our “family”. While “family” may invoke the idea of politics to some, a small business family looks out for each other, has fewer spats, and are so focused on customer and client care that politics fall by the wayside. It’s all hands on deck, and there is no time for politics.
  5. Share how the work they do on a daily basis will make a difference – for you, the owner and your family, your customers and clients, and their colleagues, whether other employees or key third-party relationships. Your team will know the important people in your life personally and will become a familiar face/voice to customers and key vendors; people will rely on them and that brings satisfaction on a daily basis.

If your business is growing and hiring, start with a positive attitude. You know how great it feels (usually!) to work in a small business; be sure to let prospective employees know. What has brought hiring success to your small business recently? Share your great ideas and let small businesses grow. 


Helen Dutton, A Vision of Your Own, has provided business and personal coaching for small business owners since 2000, providing online and face to face coaching for entrepreneurs, small business owners, start-up businesses as well as established businesses across the country. Clients come from New Hampshire, her home state, but she has also acted as a mentor to business owners in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Denver area, and closer to home in the Boston area. Helen helps her clients develop their small business ideas, create marketing plans, improve operation efficiency, build customer service systems, build management and leadership skills, and develop confidence as a business owner. Helen provides business tips and resources through her blog and her newsletter, where you can also find business templates to help your business prosper.