Thursday, March 11, 2021


Motivate Your Employees with Purpose, Not Profits

It’s natural for leaders to emphasize the importance of hitting financial targets, but making numbers the centerpiece of your leadership is a costly mistake. Financial results are an outcome, not a root driver for employee performance, and a growing body of evidence tells us that overemphasizing financial targets erodes morale and undermines long-term strategy. So, what should you do instead? Use your time with your team to build and reinforce your organizational purpose. This requires three actions:

 1. Reevaluate how you use your leadership “airtime.” Spend at least half your time with your team discussing your purpose and impact of the work, and no more than half your time on numbers or deliverables.

 2. Talk about customers, clients, and colleagues with specificity and emotion. The more clearly an employee understands their direct impact on another human being, the more likely they are to go the extra mile — and they’ll also experience greater fulfillment in doing so.

 3. Resist the urge to widely share every financial outcome, even if it’s positive. Ask yourself: What does my team really need to know on a daily basis to accomplish their goals?


Source: Harvard Business Review - Management Tip of the Day

Wednesday, February 10, 2021


Attitude is the key to personal satisfaction but its also a foundational quality that makes organizations work. The quote in this headline really resonated with me as it speaks to my belief that for a leader to be successful you must surround yourself with talent. This talent must have the recreate skills for the work to be done, it should complement your own skills and most importantly fills in the gaps or deficiencies in the leader’s personal skills toolbox. 

A servant leader understands and embraces this thinking and approach but no matter how well intentioned and obvious this is it will always be an uphill battle if the Attitude is not right! As the headline says people that Give A Shit is the defining and most foundational attribute for success. GAS means a number of things…

1.       Pride in doing good work – a personal belief and core values that are self-motivating

2.       Loyalty to organization – a personal commitment to the choice you make, and others make to you

3.       Integrity – As Jack Welch used to say…knowing the difference between doing the right thing vs. doing what’s right. That is on my Jack top ten list.

4.       Team players – believing that diversity of thought is good and finding enjoyment and satisfaction is group knowledge and success.

5.       Being part of something bigger than self - The value of belonging to something you care about.

6.       Being part of the solution and not part of the problem – Is the glass half empty or half full?

This list could go on and on but the essence of GAS in my opinion is the Golden Rule. Or maybe reminding our selves about what R. Fulghum wrote in 1990…in his book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten:

  1.     Share everything.
  2.     Play fair.
  3.     Don't hit people.
  4.     Put things back where you found them.
  5.     Clean up your own mess.
  6.     Don't take things that aren't yours.
  7.     Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
  8.     Wash your hands before you eat.
  9.     Flush.
  10.    Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
  11.    Live a balanced life — learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
  12.    Take a nap every afternoon.
  13.    When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
  14.    Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
  15.    Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup — they all die. So do we.
  16.    And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned — the biggest word  of all — LOOK.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

What has COVID done to how we work and the Office Furniture Industry?

Rethinking the Future Office - Workrite Ergonomics (

The office has or will be changing forever. The office furniture industry has a history of chasing one size fits all solutions. Cubicles lasted for several decades, benching and hot desking came and Resimercial, making the office look like home or a student union building. The newer trends were largely designed to reduce real estate costs while selling it as the new collaboration environment.
 COVID has forced the industry to change and it wants a new one size fits all solution that every manufacturer that serves this industry can chase and do their version of! In my opinion that’s fool’s gold as every company does different types of work, has a different culture, different facilities, different community environment and they all have different financial means to make change.

I recently sat on a CES, Consumer Electronics Panel discussing this topic. The panels take-aways about where we are headed were:

1.   More flexibility and accommodation on where we work

·        More flexible schedules, more willingness to allow folks to work remotely, work from home multiple days a week but come in for meetings

·        Some jobs may be able to be permanent WFH

2.   The anticipated explosion of technology advancement that will improve remote work

·        Challenges create innovation and COVID was the ultimate test from necessity for nearly every company to find new and potentially better ways of working remotely. New technology will soon advance this even further

3.   More compassion and humanity to personal life challenges

·        COVID has made company’s more employee centric, compassionate, and accepting of work life challenges. WFH will help employees, especially women better balance career and family as an example.

4.   The shift of the company office becoming a cultural and community foundation but not mission critical for task work

·        With more remote work, concerns for group safety, the high cost of living and real estate in many areas, etc. companies will have to get creative to not lose their culture or create a new one. Part of many companies is being a community. Silicon Valley is the best example of this with all the enticements…day care, free food, free social events, on campus housing, etc. Where do we go from here


My conclusion for the office and how work gets done.


     1.   Some corporate offices and campuses will shrink and have less task space. Task safe = private offices, cubicle, etc.…a desk to do work. Much of this work can be done where its less expensive and more convenient. Why should a company spend money on an expensive office building when COVID proved that many jobs could be done outside of the office?

      2.   The office and new technology will shift the office away from the place where all work gets done to a place to create the new culture and community of the company in a post-COVID era.

     What does this mean for the Office Furniture Industry?

1.   If I was a CEO of one of the Big furniture mega brands, I would be very concerned!

·        There will be fewer mega projects of new office or remodeled offices that include many floors of ceilings, flooring, lighting, walls, desks and all the project management and installation work. These mega projects were what sustained these companies and industry for decades!

2.   This shift will create opportunities for industry specialists!

·        WFH, Remote work, task work specialists (desks, chairs, etc. for individual spaces). 

·        New distribution models and less dependence or need for dealers, designers, project managers and installers. Speed ease of doing business and cost will be the keys to success.

·        Community, training and meeting space specialist (conference rooms, meeting rooms, large group spaces, technology infused spaces)

The office, commercial real estate and the office furniture industry have been permanently changed by COVID. The days of a one size fits all solution in what we used to call the office and how it gets done has changed. Flexibility and a willingness to embrace these changes will be critical for the suppliers to the industry. As customers and users of office furniture manufacturers are different than tech companies and they are different than service companies and they are different than medical products companies and the list goes. Even inside one of these companies engineers, accountants, sales, marketing, supply chain and customer service people all work differently shouldn’t the place and tools they have match the work rather than us modifying how we work to the office space we used to work in?

COVID was no fun but maybe as is often the case it has changed us all and forced us to really think differently. I believe that’s a very good thing for an industry that generally is slow to change and likes the comfort of constancy and sameness. 

Rethinking the Future Office - Workrite Ergonomics (


Sunday, March 31, 2019

Success Will Come and Go, But Integrity Is Forever
Amy Rees Anderson

If I could teach only one value to live by, it would be this: Success will come and go, but integrity is forever. Integrity means doing the right thing at all times and in all circumstances, whether or not anyone is watching. It takes having the courage to do the right thing, no matter what the consequences will be. Building a reputation of integrity takes years, but it takes only a second to lose, so never allow yourself to ever do anything that would damage your integrity.

We live in a world where integrity isn’t talked about nearly enough. We live in a world where “the end justifies the means” has become an acceptable school of thought for far too many. Sales people overpromise and under deliver, all in the name of making their quota for the month. Applicants exaggerate in job interviews because they desperately need a job. CEOs overstate their projected earnings because they don’t want the board of directors to replace them. Entrepreneurs overstate their pro formas because they want the highest valuation possible from an investor. Investors understate a company’s value in order to negotiate a lower valuation in a deal. Customer service representatives cover up a mistake they made because they are afraid the client will leave them. Employees call in “sick” because they don’t have any more paid time off when they actually just need to get their Christmas shopping done. The list could go on and on, and in each case the person committing the act of dishonesty told themselves they had a perfectly valid reason why the end result justified their lack of integrity.

It may seem like people can gain power quickly and easily if they are willing to cut corners and act without the constraints of morality. Dishonesty may provide instant gratification in the moment but it will never last. I can think of several examples of people without integrity who are successful and who win without ever getting caught, which creates a false perception of the path to success that one should follow. After all, each person in the examples above could have gained the result they wanted in the moment, but unfortunately, that momentary result comes at an incredibly high price with far reaching consequences. That person has lost their ability to be trusted as a person of integrity, which is the most valuable quality anyone can have in their life. Profit in dollars or power is temporary, but profit in a network of people who trust you as a person of integrity is forever. Every one person who trusts you will spread the word of that trust to at least a few of their associates, and word of your character will spread like wildfire.

The value of the trust others have in you is far beyond anything that can be measured. For entrepreneurs it means investors that are willing to trust them with their money. For employees it means a manager or a boss that is willing to trust them with additional responsibility and growth opportunities. For companies it means customers that trust giving them more and more business. For you it means having an army of people that are willing to go the extra mile to help you because they know that recommending you to others will never bring damage to their own reputation of integrity. Yes, the value of the trust others have in you goes beyond anything that can be measured because it brings along with it limitless opportunities and endless possibilities.

Contrast that with the person who cannot be trusted as a person of integrity. Warren Buffet, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway said it best:, “In looking for people to hire, look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if they don’t have the first one, the other two will kill you.” A person’s dishonesty will eventually catch up to them. It may not be today, and it may not be for many years, but you can rest assured that at some point there will always be a reckoning. A word of advice to those who are striving for a reputation of integrity: Avoid those who are not trustworthy. Do not do business with them. Do not associate with them. Do not make excuses for them. Do not allow yourself to get enticed into believing that “while they may be dishonest with others, they would never be dishonest with me.” If someone is dishonest in any aspect of his life you can be guaranteed that he will be dishonest in many aspects of his life. You cannot dismiss even those little acts of dishonesty, such as the person who takes two newspapers from the stand when they paid for only one. After all, if a person cannot be trusted in the simplest matters of honesty then how can they possibly be trusted to uphold lengthy and complex business contracts?

It is important to realize that others pay attention to those you have chosen to associate with, and they will inevitably judge your character by the character of your friends. Why is that? It is best explained by a quote my father often says when he is reminding me to be careful of the company I am keeping: “When you lie down with dogs you get fleas.” Inevitably we become more and more like the people we surround ourselves with day to day. If we surround ourselves with people who are dishonest and willing to cut corners to get ahead, then we’ll surely find ourselves following a pattern of first enduring their behavior, then accepting their behavior, and finally adopting their behavior. If you want to build a reputation as a person of integrity then surround yourself with people of integrity. There is a plaque on the wall of my office which reads: “Do what is right, let the consequence follow.” It serves as a daily reminder that success will indeed come and go, but integrity is forever.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Are You A Leader? Do You Have A Steady Hand?

I had no idea…its’s not what I expected! The shock and surprise that often accompanies a new leadership position can be daunting. Rarely does an organization change when things are working well so this should not be a surprise, but surprisingly new leaders often are not prepared. The first 100 days really are critical, and mistakes are hard to overcome. The organization is watching as much as listening…every word, tone, action are signals and a test that the organization is grading and deciding am I on this new team or not?
In my opinion it’s all about approach, style, values and your situational awareness and assessment skills, things that are all within your control. Do your actions match your words, do you value the team you inherited? Do you instill confidence and trust? Will people follow you even if it’s not easy?
Do you have a Steady Hand! What does that mean? As with many things it starts at the top, it starts with you.
1.       Do you have a plan - a vision?
2.       Are you a leader or a manger?
3.       Do you lead by example – do you get your hands dirty?
4.       Are members of the team viewed as part of the solution or disposable?
5.       Do you value the past or only your ideas or change?
6.       Are you curious?
7.       Do people see you as a good person?
8.       Have you earned the organizations trust?
9.       Are your actions rational or emotional?
10.   Do your actions match your words? Do those actions and words instill confidence?
Some may scoff and suggest these questions imply being soft. Some will suggest that leadership is about results and not how you achieve them. It most certainly is about results but the how most certainly does matter and rarely can those results be achieved if you don’t understand that!
Leadership is about:
§  Painting a picture for the organization and soliciting their help.
§  Gaining their support and help by getting your hands dirty, putting in the time.
§  Showing appreciation…saying thank you, good job or I appreciate your effort!
§  Being curious about why it was or is done that way before assuming its wrong and must be changed.
§  Accepting mistakes and using them as teaching moments.
§  Teaching and coaching is powerful vs dictating and managing.
These concepts are not new or unique, but they are all building blocks to getting an organization to want to be part of the solution and not be the problem. When a new leader comes in the organization already knows somethings not right and they know change is coming. It’s my experience that many of them want that change it’s the previous leader that wasn’t listening. It’s now up to the new leader to quickly gain their trust and capitalize on what the organization already knows…they must change.
Does that mean people won’t lose their job…no! Does that mean every idea will be accepted…no! Does it mean it will be easy…no! What it does mean, and shows is that you are engaged, want their ideas and value them and are willing to roll up your sleeves and do the dirty work that needs to be done. That is showing leadership and just as importantly showing that you aren’t smart enough to do it by yourself and you want and need their help.
It takes a steady and confident hand to lead this way and this scares weaker managers because this is hard work, more time consuming and requires more personal investment that’s why so many avoid this because its much easier to not listen, be the smartest person in the room and simply change things as managers often think change is what they were hired to do. It isn’t…what you were hired to do was fix it, improve it not change…that’s a big difference. Think about it – who would you rather work for, who would you follow, who would you go the extra mile for?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

What is Strategy?

Throughout my career I have seen tactics, objectives and goals be considered strategy and they are not! How does your company win in the market, beat your competitors, what makes customers want to choose you? That is strategy not what you hope to achieve or what program you are going to implement next month to drive sales. Its the big, structural things that are at the core of what you do to win...that is strategy...the things that guide your decision making and focus...what you are working on, where you invest, where you staff, etc...where you spend your time and money.

Monday, April 2, 2018

CEO Net Present Value

Chicago & Washington DC
Egon Zehnder International, Inc.

There are substantial parallels between examining a CEO candidate and calculating the NPV of a capital expenditure. Much like a capital equipment investment project, every CEO candidate carries a certain capacity to create value, as well as a bundle of execution risks that might impede actual value creation. Boards can calculate CEO NPV by gauging a CEO candidate’s projected value creation, discounted by his or her leadership risks:
Projected Value Creation is analogous to the numerator representing cash flows found in the classic NPV equation. The CEO NPV denominator – Leadership Risks – anticipates what could limit the value the CEO will actually deliver, and is analogous to the discount rate denominator in traditional NPV.
So how does one define the numerator and denominator to calculate CEO NPV?

Projected value creation

Projected Value Creation depends largely on the CEOs capacity to create a performance culture that permeates the entire company. In a previous work, we examined how companies can create a true high-performance culture.3 Such companies consistently do three things:
  1. Adhere to a performance ethic that combines the ambition to do the unthinkable and the discipline to deliver the nearly impossible
  2. Exercise a passion for renewal in the business, products, the organization and its people
  3. Liberate the right leaders to get on with the business of the company
These keys to creating a high-performance culture provide a sound template for assessing CEO candidates, gauging the correlated leadership strengths and limitations by asking:
  • Are they fiercely ambitious and rigorously disciplined?
  • Can they reinvent continually? Do they push the organization into new spaces by disrupting the organization and the industry?
  • Can they “get out of the way” and let their teams create extraordinary outcomes?

Leadership risks

Conventional wisdom holds that the risk of a CEO appointment bears direct relation to the CEO’s experience base. For instance, CEOs making dramatic transitions across industries or cultures are intuitively presumed to be riskier choices. This way of thinking does carry a certain face validity. Boards have reason to favor candidates who are proven in situations analogous to those the company anticipates. Particular “formative” or “must-have” experiences such as managing a turnaround, launching a new market expansion, or shepherding a merger can yield knowledge and insights that can only be gained by having been there and done that.
However, our work suggests that the risks and limitations of CEO appointment more closely correlate to how an executive processes experiences than on the experiences themselves. Humility and flexibility are especially crucial traits in a CEO.
Humble leaders “know what they don’t know” and are willing to ask for the counsel of others – meaningfully mitigating risk. If you look across many of the great corporate disasters, you will often find at the helm a CEO who lacked the humility to say that they did not understand something, or to admit that they’d made a mistake.

Should anyone hesitate to appoint a CEO with aptitudes and strengths known to drive performance in practically any industry?

Leaders with a high degree of flexibility – ability to change – can make even sharp transitions with grace and aplomb. Flexibility can be considered “part 2” of humility, which allows the CEO to see that change is needed, while flexibility is the willingness to then make that change. If leaders have the right degree of flexibility, this can significantly broaden the impact of their experiences. Leveraging previous learning to do things differently means organizations are not exposed to the risk of redeployment of a previously unsuccessful (or even partly successful) approach. Viewed through this lens, Louis Gerstner’s NPV “discount rate” was fundamentally low, even though he repeatedly led companies in industries where he had little direct experience. Should anyone hesitate to appoint Louis Gerstner, a CEO with aptitudes and strengths known to drive performance in practically any industry? In sum, CEO NPV gauges candidates’ projected value creation in terms of their ability to create a performance culture, “discounted” by gaps in their personal humility, flexibility, and experience:

Certain of a candidate’s potential derailers can likely be mitigated, once they have been brought more fully into view. However, when the analysis reveals an inherent lack of mental flexibility and humility, the board should recognize that such deficits are not easily erased.
Recognizing that humility and flexibility are keys to reducing leadership risks can dramatically change the board’s view of CEO candidates who they previously saw as a “safe pair of hands.” In truth, a CEO candidate who has had a long career at a particular firm may actually be a risky choice if they do not also have the requisite humility and flexibility to shift their approach in the face of a disrupted environment.

Prudent audacity

Should this calculation of CEO projected value be the sole basis for CEO selection? Hardly. But a rigorous analysis of each candidate’s projected value impact can counter the dangers of illusory safety by also allowing a measure of prudent audacity.
To better understand how this CEO NPV methodology might work in the real world, consider the following scenario, illustrated in a graph contrasting the expected trajectories of two CEO candidates.
“Low Risk” CEO is a candidate with ambitions and experience that feel directly on point for the role. Accordingly, his discount rate is lower early on, leading to an initially higher present value. However, “Low Risk” CEO is not particularly agile-minded or open to learning from experience and has a background of solid but middling performance. This substantially limits his upside and elevates his discount rate over time, as the future is bound to bring unprecedented opportunities and challenges.

In contrast, “High NPV” CEO has a higher discount rate early on, as her experience has not prepared her as fully for the role, but those risk factors fall sharply as she gains deep understanding of the business and as her ability to absorb information, rapidly adapt, and execute against ambitious goals all take center stage. The slightly higher risk early in her projected tenure is more than offset by her much higher potential value creation over time. CEO NPV analysis has “flipped the script” on what it means to make a safe choice, because it is now clear that “Low Risk” CEO has the potential to squander a great deal of value while delivering little in the way of added security.

Raise the bar

A CEO is the most complex and consequential asset a company will finance. As such, it is understandable that boards instinctively strive to minimize risk. The NPV analysis described above will often reveal that an unconventional CEO candidate is actually the safe bet.
Most importantly, CEO NPV helps boards raise the bar for CEO performance – and raising the bar is absolutely imperative. In a disrupted world, a new CEO may soon face radically different challenges than those faced by the incumbent. That means the “conservative” candidate may be the most risky choice.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

How Ergonomics Makes for a Healthier Workplace
When it comes to workplace health, ergonomics can't be overlooked

In a book published in 2014, Dr. James Levine, a professor of medicine at the U.S.-based Mayo Clinic, wrote that sitting is “more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV, and is more treacherous than parachuting.” He noted that because people expend very little energy while sitting, they are at risk for weight gain, diabetes, heart attacks, and even cancer.

His book, Get Up!: Why Your Chair is Killing You and What You Can Do About It, sparked widespread interest in standing workstations. But studies have shown that standing for a prolonged period of time poses health risks too — it can lead to sore backs and feet, and varicose veins.

That same year, a study was conducted at Sony Pictures Enter­tainment with 50 employees who used ergonomic sit-stand workstations for five weeks. The switch to these adjustable-height desks resulted in a drop in body fat and blood pressure, as well as a spike in good cholesterol and fasting glucose.
When the study ended, each participant chose to keep the sit-stand desks, which were provided by Workrite, a California-based company that designs and manufactures ergo­nomic workstations and accessories.

That study was one of several that confirmed that ergonomics, the beneficial design and arrangement of workplaces, played a key role in health and wellness. Sit-stand desks have become increasingly popular in recent years, as they allow users to change position frequently throughout the day.

“When Levine’s book came out, people started to recognize the importance of movement, and that led to a big change in North American workplaces,” explains Workrite President Charles Lawrence. “Before then, ergonomic desks were only popular among progressive tech companies.”

Lawrence has noticed a surge of interest in monitor arms, which allow users to customize the position of their computer screens to prevent neck, shoulder, and eye strain.
Workrite has sold sit-stand desks for almost two decades and is a pioneer in ergonomic design. “Some of our competitors sell ergonomic products alongside furniture, but these products are more like medical devices,” says Lawrence, adding that his salespeople are specially trained in ergonomics and are familiar with every product in the company’s extensive inventory.

All employees — whether working in hospitals or warehouses — benefit from ergonomic equipment, design, and practices. By improving and supporting their workers’ health, employers make workplaces healthier and, ultimately, more efficient. “There is a lot of scientific evidence that shows the importance of ergonomics,” says Lawrence. “Anything companies can do to help their employees on the journey to good health would be great.”

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Career Advice and Leadership Philosophy from Charlie Lawrence

It was my pleasure to share some of the lessons learned and insight from my career and time at Workrite Ergonomics, GE, Masco and others with Sarah Scudder and Nicole Smartt of Star Staffing for their podcast Career Conversations. Thanks Ladies it was fun and I hope helpful to your listeners.

Sunday, February 4, 2018



What You Should Know Before You Take A Stand

by Charlie Lawrence, President Workrite Ergonomics


Unless you live under a rock you have probably heard that “Sitting is the New Smoking” or maybe that “Your Chair is Killing You.” We can thank James Levine of the Mayo Clinic for really bringing this subject into the spotlight back in 2014 when he published his research on NEAT, Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. NEAT is the energy expended for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise.
Dr. Levine was able to stimulate awareness around the fact that we sit a lot and that it is affecting all civilized societies. We sit during our morning commute, we sit at our desk, we sit in meetings, we sit at lunch, we drive home, we sit at the dinner table or restaurant, and then we sit and watch TV. And then we do it again the next day, and the next day… you get the point!
This societal pattern has emerged as we have moved out of the industrial revolution where we worked in factories and were on our feet much more often. This was preceded by the agrarian period where we were doing back breaking work in the fields. Fast forward to today where we have become an information based society resulting in many of us sitting at desks all day and not benefitting from the physical movement of working in the field or in a factory.
Dr. Levine has said, “Chair-living has proven so enticing that we have forsaken our legs. It is now time to find ways to get us back onto our legs.” Where this research really got Dr. Levine’s attention was the correlation between the lack of movement over several generations and the dramatic increase in obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and other potentially very damaging health issues… all good reasons to think seriously about this subject!
The Scandinavians caught on to this some time ago. As an example, in Denmark the government has mandated that all office workers must have a height adjustable desk (sometimes called a standing desk… more on this later). In the early 1980’s some very early adopters began experimenting with these new desks but they were generally considered odd or not practical and, of course, back then having a desk job was a privilege and sitting all day was thought to be one of the benefits of getting an education… this falls into the category of unintended consequences!

Follow the link below to the complete whitepaper - you will be glad you did!

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