Chuck Leddy

Contributor

Boston-based Chuck Leddy is highly collaborative, versatile communications professional with a proven track record as both a journalist and business communications trainer for Fortune 500 companies. As a reporter and freelance writer for the Harvard Gazette and Boston Globe, he's published hundreds of stories, features, profiles, and interviews. 

As a business communications trainer in Boston, he's worked with C-level executive from around the globe, helping them improve their business English skills in writing, presentations, negotiations, and other forms of communication.

Leddy graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, then graduated from Boston College Law School in 1991, after which he practiced law in Greater Boston for three years. He's been a journalist and teacher since 1995.

Content by this Author

  • Making Middle Market Companies More Agile & Data-Driven: An Interview with Author Jeff Gothelf

    Jeff Gothelf is co-author (with Josh Seiden) of Sense & Respond: How Successful Organizations Listen to Customers and Create New Products Continuously. The book is a fascinating exploration of how digital technologies and collaborative practices have enabled more agile ways of working, allowing companies to put the fast-evolving needs of customers first. Jeff Gothelf is a leading thinker and practitioner in the areas of user experience, design, and agile practices. He believes that middle market companies are uniquely positioned to develop new, more agile styles of working that prioritize quick adjustments to their offerings based upon real-time market feedback.   Read More >
  • Middle Market Companies Are Leading a Resurgence of Analog: An Interview with “The Revenge of Analog” Author David Sax

    David Sax is an award-winning author and business journalist. Sax’s latest book, The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter, was named by the New York Times and Inc. magazine as a “Best Book of 2016.” Sax’s book describes a surprising trend: businesses that have stayed with analog production are now making a comeback, despite all the attention on digital. Sax explores how a number of middle market companies, such as United Record Pressing in Nashville (which is taking advantage of the vinyl record boom) and Shinola in Detroit (a watch manufacturer), are leading analog’s resurgence. 
     
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  • Cost-Effective Strategies for Better Engaging Your Middle Market Employees: An Interview with Author and Employee Engagement Expert Francesca Gino

    Francesca Gino, an author and Harvard Business School Professor, researches and writes often about employee engagement. In her groundbreaking 2013 book Sidetracked, Gino applied her behavioral economics research to practical business issues such as decision-making, motivation, management, and employee engagement. She currently co-chairs an HBS Executive Education program on applying behavioral economics to everyday organizational problems. Gino is currently writing a second book, this one exclusively about the topic of employee engagement. The NCMM spoke with Gino recently about cost-effective strategies middle market companies can use to better engage their workforce.   Read More >
  • How Middle Market Companies Can Do Ordinary Things in Extraordinary Ways: An Interview with “Simply Brilliant” Author Bill Taylor

    William C. Taylor is the co-founder of Fast Company Magazine and a bestselling business author. Taylor’s latest book is called Simply Brilliant: How Great Organizations Do Ordinary Things in Extraordinary Ways. In it, Taylor profiles several largely unknown companies, many of them in the middle market, doing amazing things in places and in industries that many might deem “unglamorous.” For instance, an industrial supplier in Winona, Minnesota, a regional fast food chain in Tennessee, and an office furniture maker in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Far from Silicon Valley, these booming companies offer important lessons for middle market leaders. The NCMM recently spoke with Taylor.  Read More >
  • Preventing Middle Market “Brain Drain”: An Interview with “Workforce Crisis” Author Robert Morison

    Robert Morison  is co-author of the book, Workforce Crisis: How To Beat The Coming Shortage Of Skills and Talent, published by Harvard Business School Press. Morison’s book focuses on demographic changes in the workplace, such as an “age wave” of retiring baby boomers and what this might mean for organizations. He also offers strategies for dealing with these demographic changes, helping companies avoid devastating “brain drains” of talent and know-how. In addition to his work as a writer and researcher, Morison is Senior Advisor with Age Wave, a consulting firm that has helped organizations such as Ford Motor Company, MasterCard and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce navigate through demographic changes. The NCMM spoke with him recently.  Read More >
  • Middle Market Innovation: An Interview with Bestselling Author and Innovation Expert Stephen Shapiro

    Innovation expert Stephen Shapiro has written five books, including 24/7 Innovation: A Blueprint for Surviving and Thriving in an Age of Change and his most recent, Best Practices Are Stupid: 40 Ways to Out-Innovate the Competition.  Shapiro is also a much-sought-after speaker and consultant in the area of innovation. He’s helped companies such as GE, Microsoft, Marriott, Nike and 3M foster cultures of innovation. We spoke with Shapiro recently about middle market innovation
     
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  • The Future Middle Market Workplace: Author and HR Expert Jeanne Meister on the Future of Work

    Today’s middle market workplace is changing rapidly, as technology and the composition of the workforce continue to evolve. Baby Boomers are moving into retirement; millennials are now the largest generational cohort in the labor force; digital technology is enabling more remote working and changing the way middle market companies recruit, hire, and engage their employees.
     
    The NCMM recently spoke with Jeanne Meister about workplace trends, and how they’re impacting middle market companies. Ms. Meister is a founding partner of Future Workplace, an HR Research and Executive Network and co-author of a new book, The Future Workplace Experience: 10 Rules for Mastering Disruption in Recruiting and Engaging Employees.  Read More >
  • Connections are Key: Strategist and Author Bharat Anand On Navigating Digital Transformation

    Bharat Anand, a Harvard Business School Professor and advisor to leading global companies, is a strategy expert who emphasizes connections above content (or products). Anand’s just-released book, The Content Trap: A Strategist’s Guide to Digital Change, offers lessons for any middle market company navigating digital transformation. He fervently believes that connections and user-centrism will define business success in our digital age, not products. The NCMM spoke with Anand about his ideas.  Read More >
  • “Influence” Pioneer Robert Cialdini on How Middle Market Leaders Can Be More Persuasive

    Robert Cialdini is a giant in the psychological study of influence, renowned globally for his groundbreaking and bestselling book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, as well as his pioneering academic research in the field of behavioral psychology. Cialdini is also CEO of Influence at Work, a company which trains individuals and organizations on how to be more influential. His new book, his first solo effort in three decades, is Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade. The NCMM recently spoke with Cialdini about influencing others.   Read More >
  • Author and Marketing Guru Bruce Turkel on How to Grow Your Business By Focusing on Others

    Author Bruce Turkel, in both his new book "All About Them" and during the last 33-years running his Miami-based marketing firm, Turkel Brands, helps companies move from “company-centric” marketing to “customer-centric” communication. Turkel strongly believes that companies which understand, and best connect with, the emotional needs of customers will gain a huge competitive advantage. He recently spoke with the NCMM about his ideas.  Read More >
  • How Middle Market Leaders Can Grow Talent: An Interview with “Superbosses” Author Sydney Finkelstein

    Superbosses find talent in unconventional places, developing people with a hands-on, master-apprentice approach, and sparking innovations that create new business opportunities. As Finkelstein explains: “Superbosses yield a fresh set of answers, practices that anyone can borrow to nurture others and create an inexhaustible pipeline of rising stars.” We spoke with him about how middle market companies can learn from “the superboss playbook” to foster talent.  Read More >
  • What’s Your Company’s ‘Big Idea’? Author and Strategy Expert Todd Zenger On Sustaining Business Growth

    Todd Zenger’s new book, Beyond Competitive Advantage, isn’t just about identifying and leveraging a single competitive advantage, but explains how companies can create big ideas, long-term theories of value that sustain business growth and generate multiple competitive advantages over time. Examples of these big, organizing “corporate theories,” as Zenger describes them, include Disney’s focus on leveraging great animated characters across all media, Apple’s long-held commitment to designing great consumer electronic devices that elegantly integrate hardware and software, and USAA’s focus on providing financial services to fit the unique needs of military families.   Read More >
  • Hiring When New Business Arrives: 5 Steps to Success

    New business is always great news — assuming you are ready to handle it. Many middle market companies find themselves flat-footed and playing catch-up in order to meet the demands of new business, and the situation can quickly become problematic if you stretch your existing employees too thin by adding work they may not be able to manage.

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  • Conducting a Behavioral Interview in 3 Simple Steps

    The behavioral interview may be the most effective way to bring talented, can-do people into your middle market company. This kind of interview is based on the concept that the way a candidate acted in the past is the single best indicator of future behavior. Behavioral interview questions ask a candidate to describe, in specific detail and by using concrete examples from real-life experience, how they've demonstrated the specific skills required for the job they'll be doing at your middle market company. Your goal as an interviewer is to surface behavioral patterns so you can evaluate whether the candidate is a good fit.

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  • 6 Tips for More Effective Meetings of Any Size

    As a middle market leader, you know that effective meetings don't happen by accident. Rather, they are the result of meticulous planning and tight execution. Good meetings share several success factors: a clear goal, a chair who compels laserlike focus, attendance by the right people (and nobody extra) and next steps tasked to specific people with specific deadlines. Here's how to make your business's meetings more effective.

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  • Choosing a Keynote Speaker: 6 Steps to Better Company Events

    Do you need a keynote speaker for your middle market company's next event? How do you go about finding one who will work best for your budget and overall goals ? Start with a clear understanding of your objectives and a realistic idea of what your resources will allow. You likely don't have the financial wherewithal of your larger rivals, so creativity can be a great equalizer here because enterprises aren't as flexible as you are.

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  • How to Improve Employee Engagement Through Volunteering

    Strengthening employee engagement should be one of your middle market company's prime retention and productivity strategies. Why? Because engaged employees work harder, grow their capabilities, are more loyal and have a direct, positive impact on your middle market company's overall performance. Among the most effective ways to drive employee engagement is with a well-run volunteer program aligned with your core values.

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  • 4 Presentation Tips to Improve Company Communication

    The business world abounds with presentation tips, from training courses and how-to books to speakers who promise to teach you better public-speaking skills. The best source often goes unnoticed: your own middle market company colleagues, who actually present to some of the same internal and external audiences that you do. Sharing experiences, whether good, bad or downright ugly, is the fastest way to improve your technique. Another surprising way of bolstering presentation skills is through improvisation.

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  • 4 Steps to Enduring an Audit

    Audit notices can come as a shock. Taxes are bad enough for middle market companies, and now this. Nothing can ruin your day like receiving that dreaded letter, then facing a none-too-friendly visit from an auditor who'll ask questions about your business that you may or may not be able to answer immediately. As in all things, there's a right way and a wrong way to approach being audited. Here are four recommendations:

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  • 4 Ways to Shorten Your Sales Cycle

    Your sales cycle is longer than you'd like; you wait weeks and months for customers to make that crucial decision to buy. Meanwhile, your company's sales team is skillfully executing their work, making great presentations, getting to know prospects and their particular problems, negotiating customized solutions and moving toward that all-important close. So what can your middle market company do as the weeks and months roll by and customers don't buy?

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  • Content Marketing and the Middle Market: Engaging Today's Customers

    Content marketing has been growing in recent years. Companies seek to publish materials, such as e-newsletters, videos, blog posts and case studies, that engage customers and prospects by addressing their needs. According to a recent Content Marketing Institute survey of midsized companies, the two most popular forms of content are articles at 78 percent and social media posts at 73 percent. The pure number of middle market companies adopting these strategies has been growing fast. The survey also found that, among business-to-business firms in the middle market, 89 percent had adopted content overall. One would expect a similar number in the business-to-consumer segment.

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  • Delivering a Keynote Presentation: 7 Steps to Success

    Middle market managers are sometimes asked to give a keynote presentation, whether at a company event, a conference or a local chamber of commerce meeting. It's an honor to be asked to share your know-how. After all, midmarket leaders are often important members of their local business communities. However, if you want to be asked back, you'd better know how to effectively deliver a keynote.

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  • Going Back to School: Should You Provide Tuition Assistance?

    One of your middle market employees is going back to school, and asks for your help. First off, don't necessarily take this as bad news. It's an opportunity for both the employee and your middle market company to grow. By going back to school, employees show ambition and a praiseworthy intention to develop skills. Yes, that person's desire might inconvenience your middle market company in the short term; there will be some rescheduling to juggle work and study. However, the key for your company is simple: Be as supportive as you can, because you'll get a long-term return with increased productivity, loyalty and retention.

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  • Trademarks 101: What They Are and Why They Need Protecting

    A trademark helps differentiate your middle market company's goods and services from anyone else's. You can trademark your company name, its logo, its product names and its slogan. If a new company enters the market, it cannot use the names or symbols of an existing company in that same market without violating the senior company's trademarks. They represent legally protected rights and allow for exclusive use so that when any company invests in its brand equity, no other company can steal it.

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  • Annual Reviews: Why You Should Separate Performance and Pay

    Both middle market managers and their employees dislike annual reviews. Managers, already overburdened by the year's end, must prepare reports and sit down with each of their team members to evaluate performance and salary issues. Employees, on the other hand, are anxious about their bonuses and are only listening for how their performance ratings impact their income. Could anything be more uncomfortable and a waste of time on both sides?

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  • Lawsuits and the Need for Good Internal Communication

    Being in business means occasionally facing lawsuits. When a customer sues your middle market company over a faulty product or a supplier takes you to court in a contract dispute, there's a clear risk to both your financial bottom line and your reputation. But lawsuits bring other sorts of risk to areas such as employee retention and recruiting efforts. Of course you will have a strategy, led by your legal advisers, to collect all data relevant to the particular litigation. You'll also likely interview all employees involved in the case. But this is just the beginning.

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  • The Sales Process: Just One Part of Client-Centered Coordination

    The sales process is an integral part of a company's success. However, consumers are increasingly demanding a fully integrated customer experience. If you're not providing an effective, seamless journey from closing to delivery to after-sales service, your clients will likely switch to competitors. Your internal structures are irrelevant to customers; they expect you to unfailingly meet and exceed their expectations. This requires close internal coordination among your company's departments.

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  • Glassdoor Reviews: When and How to Respond

    Glassdoor reviews can damage your middle market company's retention and recruiting efforts. We live in an age of social media where sharing and transparency are paramount values. Like it or not, your employees will be going online and writing reviews about the good, the bad and the ugly of working for your firm.

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  • Recruitment Outside the United States: 7 Essential Considerations

    Recruitment is tough, especially when you can't find the person to fit your precise needs. Imagine you've scoured your area — and then other areas across the country — for talent to fill a specialized engineer position at your middle market company, but you've come up empty-handed. Now what? You can expand your recruitment reach to overseas job markets. While finding, interviewing and hiring a qualified foreign employee might not be easy, it could be your only remaining option. How, then, should you go about it? Here are seven important considerations:

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  • Strategic Planning Process: 3 Ways to Maintain Flexibility

    Having an annual strategic planning process is essential, because it forces you to understand your company's core capacities, its strengths and weaknesses and its competitive markets (that is, the behavior of your customers and movements of your rivals). It also demands that you make assumptions about the future and some short-term financial projections. In terms of defining and executing your strategy, this annual learning process may be the most important action you take all year.

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  • Why an Adaptive Human Resources Strategy Is Good for Your Company

    As your company adapts to the middle market and its customers' needs, your human resources strategy needs to adapt along with it. The first step is to build your overall business strategy, and then identify human resources' role in reaching your goals. Do you need to develop new capabilities to better serve customers, or expand your sales or production footprint? HR should recruit, hire, train, and develop the right talent for the task.

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  • Funding Your Business: Local Versus National Banks

    Funding your middle market company with the right financial partner is a key business decision. Whether you're expanding your operations, building new facilities or investing in projects, access to financing is critical. When you go to a bank for help, you expect several things: the bank will understand your business needs, the bank will have a decision-making executive with whom you'll form a relationship, the bank will have the financial products you need, the bank will be efficient and the bank's funding will be affordable and competitive.

     

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  • Leadership and Strategy Planning: Balancing Time Among Priorities

    Strategy planning is a key function for middle market leaders. The process requires them not only to develop goals, but also to align their organizations around strategic priorities. They need to focus on sustaining and growing their company's long-term profitability, and that requires engagement from every part of the business. However, they can't spend all their time focusing on one thing. Effective leaders must put their effort where it's most needed, whether that means getting departments on board with change or analyzing where to develop the business next. While this sounds simple in theory, it's maddeningly difficult in practice because leaders often get bogged down in day-to-day complexities.

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  • Social Media Strategy for Crisis Communications: 7 Ways to Defend Your Company

    Your social media strategy should center on using digital platforms to engage with customers and relevant stakeholders. Whether or not you control the message, these people are increasingly learning about you via Twitter, Facebook and other channels. Therefore, when a crisis arises, your customers will likely consume and share information about you via these same outlets. Being unprepared to spread your crisis response messages on social media is akin to surrendering your army before the first shot is ever fired.

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  • How to Implement Employee Training and Peer Mentorship

    Employee training serves so many valuable functions for a middle market company — it enhances the skills of individuals within your organization, and it's a retention tool that directly engages your workforce in a career-long developmental process. When you provide employee training, your company invests in its people, and subsequently your people decide to invest their best efforts in your company.

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  • 6 Business Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

    Business marketing is vital for midmarket companies. It determines how your organization reaches out to new prospects and converts them into customers. Good marketing sends the right message to the right prospect, creating awareness and demand for your services. However, poor marketing wastes precious time and money, and may also damage your reputation.

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  • How to Optimize Your Travel Budget

    Getting the most return on a travel budget is critical to a middle market company's success. Controlling costs and making wise investments can improve your bottom line and help you develop sustainable relationships with clients and stakeholders. The need for business travel will probably never disappear because personal relationships and face-to-face communication are highly important. Before sending a representative, though, your company should ask two basic questions:

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  • 4 Steps to Successful Conflict Management

    Conflict management is one of any manager's most challenging functions. If teams are unable to resolve conflicts that arise during everyday work life, collaboration may be jeopardized. Strife can come from mundane things such as who gets the best work space or newest laptop, or from more important decisions like organizing and scheduling a major project. Managers need to collect opinions and feedback from their teams and then make the best decision for everyone. This means facilitating discussions and understanding that not everyone will be pleased. If you're a manager approaching any kind of decision, here are some steps to consider when dealing with conflict:

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  • How to Define Your Company Values in 5 Steps

    Company values, whether written or unwritten, form the basis of your business's culture. When your company has strong values that everyone understands, practices and demonstrates outwardly, then it will attract and retain employees, customers and other stakeholders. The financial impact is hard to quantify, but it may be the most important factor supporting your bottom line. If you don't have a formal written document defining your core principles, then consider asking your employees, the heart of your organization, to help you craft one. Here's how:

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  • Best Places to Work in the Middle Market: How Culture Breeds Success

    Fortune publishes an annual list of the best places to work, which is complied by Great Place to Work. If the most recent list is any indication, the best middle market companies thrive by having strong organizational cultures that retain talented employees. They offer incentive-based compensation, work-life balance, training and development opportunities, cultures of sharing and transparency, and consistent leadership. While middle market companies don't have the instant brand recognition or financial resources of giant companies, middle market companies often offer a distinct advantage in the form of a more family-oriented and tight-knit culture.

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  • Own Your Pricing Strategy: How to Stop Big-Customer Bullying on Price

    Developing a workable pricing strategy is one of the most important decisions of every seller/supplier in the middle market. Your price reflects a return on investment, not only covering your costs but indicating your profit margin, too. To describe pricing as sensitive would be an understatement. Middle market companies need to get their prices right to maximize market share and profitability.

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  • How Flexible Payment Terms Can Win You a Competitive Advantage

    It has become the new normal for customers to pay later, and the pressure this places on middle market sellers and suppliers is obvious. Now that big customers are much less hesitant to demand an extension on payment terms or make a late payment, you'll need to consider acquiescing if you want to compete with other midmarket businesses. Although this helps your customers preserve capital, it makes it more difficult for you to do the same.

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  • Interview Questions and Strategies to Gauge a Candidate's Cultural Fit

    It takes more than your average, run-of-the-mill interview questions to determine whether a potential hire will fit well into your middle market company's culture. Going beyond canned questions and prepackaged answers increases the likelihood of bringing aboard someone who meshes well with your current team. Obviously, talent and experience go a long way, but it's all for naught if a new hire can't get along with everyone else.

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  • Internal Promotion vs. Hiring an Outsider: 5 Things to Consider

    It's always tough for business leaders to make promotion decisions, especially when it comes to choosing whether to hire somebody from outside the company versus promoting a good internal employee. There are pros and cons to both strategies. The decision ultimately boils down to whether you want to favor continuity or bring in a fresh perspective, and either direction could be appropriate for your middle market business. This can be a delicate decision, as the smaller number of employees at a middle market company means your choice won't go unnoticed.

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  • 7 Networking Tips for Properly Representing Your Company at Events, Conferences and Trade Shows

    You want to soundly represent your middle market business at events by showing a thorough knowledge of your company, its product/service offerings and your market. When you interact with others at a conference or trade show, it's all about exchanging information, sharing your brand and analyzing potential relationships. As a middle market business leader, however, you have a lot on your plate, and networking will often be left in the hands of other employees. Therefore, you want to equip them with the right networking tips.

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  • 6 Hiring Practices That Extend Your Recruiting Reach

    Good hiring practices help you extend your recruiting reach to lead you to the right person. With so much competition for talent and so many channels to reach potential candidates, however, it's hard to get your recruiting message heard. It can be more difficult for midmarket companies to recruit because candidates may not even be aware of job openings offered by businesses below the enterprise level. With less capital to throw around, middle market firms need to make the right decisions when they're trying to fill a position.

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  • Per Diem vs. Actual Expenses: How Should You Pay Business Travel Costs?

    Needless to say, controlling costs and expenses is critical to the success of any middle market business. Because you only want to incur costs that generate profits, reducing business travel is a growing trend. Many companies try virtual means (telephone or video conferences) to interact with clients, but when a business situation is more complex or you're establishing a new relationship, going in person may be the only real option.

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  • 7 Ways to Support Your Business Strategy by Helping Your Employees Manage Change

    A well-thought-out business strategy for your middle market company is vital, but so is supporting and developing your people so they're capable of executing that strategy. In today's dynamic business world, capable people are defined by their ability to adapt to change, and with change always a prevalent scenario in the midmarket realm, everyone at your company needs to know how to deal with it.

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  • The New Business Marketing Mix: Revamping the 4 Ps for Modern Times

    Business marketing isn't what it used to be. If your middle market company's marketing team is still married to the traditional "four Ps" — product, placement, price and promotion — then you're far from the cutting edge of marketing trends that are shaping the present and future of business. Both the needs of your customers and the way those needs are satisfied have undergone dramatic changes over the last two decades, and traditional business marketing approaches using the four Ps have started to go the way of the dial-up modem and the telephone booth.

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  • 8 of the Best Business Books to Spark Discussion at Your Company

    Reading thought-provoking business books can act as a catalyst for the sort of reflection all business leaders (and their employees) should be doing. What, then, are the best business books that can help you develop effective strategies, lead better, innovate your products or services, and help you enhance operational excellence at your middle market company?

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  • 7 Ways to Create a Business Culture that Promotes Learning and Development

    Every midmarket leader understands the need to create a strong business culture that facilitates knowledge sharing and learning. While creating such an organizational culture may seem like a soft, immeasurable goal - it's not. Encouraging learning and development at your middle market company can help you attract and retain talent, better develop and enhance employees' capabilities, and motivate everyone at the company to work at a higher level.

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  • Hiring Practices to Avoid: 7 Deadly Sins of Interviewing Candidates

    Effective hiring practices are hugely important for any middle market company. You want to attract talent, but hiring someone who is the wrong fit is an expensive mistake that will cost you in productivity, result in a disrupted company climate and force you to go through the hiring process again. Proactively approaching hiring practices, especially when it comes to job interviews, is therefore critical.

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  • Types of Business Consultants: What They Do and Why You Might Need One

    Business consultants almost never use the word "problem"; instead, they talk about opportunities to enhance value. Ask any consultant what they do, and they'll likely say "I'm in the solutions business." Despite criticism that's sometimes leveled at business consultants, they truly can add value to your middle market company, but you need to know when and why to use them. There is a huge range of business issues that consultants can provide solutions for, and different types of consultants bring different ideas to the table.

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  • Creating a Climate of Compliance in 4 Steps

    Compliance with internal rules and external regulations is something every middle market company must enforce. Doing so is the only way your employees can protect their jobs while keeping internal and external auditors relatively off your company's back. Most importantly, complying with regulations is the only effective way to keep your company out of the government's bull's-eye, who can bring your business to a grinding halt with lengthy investigations, invasive regulatory actions, and huge penalties.

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  • Selling a Business: How to Conduct Sell-Side Due Diligence

    Selling a business is often a lengthy process, so it's best to prepare your middle market business for its sale up to three years before the actual transaction takes place. You might think that getting the best possible sale price depends upon timing the marketplace correctly, effective negotiation, and other externalities, but that isn't the case. The most important factor influencing the pre-sale valuation of your middle market company is your own due diligence.

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  • Managers Can't Know Everything: 6 Tips for Managing Outside Your Areas of Expertise

    Managers, especially top executives, must realize that they can't be experts in everything. The "manager as expert" might work for an engineer who becomes a manager of an engineering team, but no middle market CEO is an expert in all aspects of the business. You must not only learn how to wear many hats but accept that you will be managing people who have more expertise in a particular area than you do. And while being a "manager as expert" might work best in an ideal world (of course, no middle market company is an ideal world), it mostly won't be an option for managers in the real world. How can a manager who knows less than his or her reports manage them properly?

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  • Can A Better Job Description Help You Attract and Retain Talent?

    Is a great job description critical in attracting and hiring top talent to your middle market business? Absolutely. As you well know, bad job descriptions can generate a frustratingly large pool of unqualified candidates, and weeding out the bad in order to focus on the good wastes valuable time that you might not have. The key factor in attracting talent is not just grabbing the attention of enthusiastic, talented recruits, but also giving them a reason to come work for your company. Here are the seven key steps for writing powerful job postings:

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  • Sponsoring Work Visas for International Employees: 5 Steps to Success

    Sponsoring work visas for international employees can be an arduous and expensive process involving lots of paper work and thousands of dollars in fees to Uncle Sam (and your legal advisor). But when it comes to filling open positions that require high levels of technical skill, especially in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), it may be the only realistic option for your middle market business.

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  • Selling a Business? 7 Steps for Midmarket Companies to Ensure a Smooth Sale

    You've worked for years to create a successful business, navigating through early growing pains to become a mature, successful middle market firm today. Now your company has become an attractive target for buyers, and if the price is right, you're willing to sell and move on to other things in your private and professional life. While it may sound simple, selling a business is anything but.

    Here are seven steps to help make the sales process go smoothly:

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  • Tracking Your Social Media ROI in 7 Steps

    On a basic level, business is about achieving a positive return on investment (ROI). At your midmarket company, you're investing in equipment, new projects, and new hires only when you're projecting that the revenue generated by these investments will be higher than the cost. It's no different with social media initiatives, but a shockingly high number of companies are still operating in the dark when it comes to measuring social media ROI. According to a 2013 survey by business-intelligence company Domo, seventy-five percent of marketing experts working for companies say that they are not effectively measuring their social media ROI.

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  • The Chinese Economy Should Be Part of Your Growth Plans

    The Chinese economy is expected to overtake the United States this year as the world's largest, and while there's been recent widespread discussion about the so-called slowdown of China, the Asian nation is still expected to grow at a rate of seven or eight percent in 2014 compared to a GDP growth rate of barely two percent here in the States. China matters now more than ever for anyone looking to foster business growth. If the country isn't in your business plans by now, then it's time to adjust.

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  • Summer Reading List for Midmarket CEOs

    With summer's longer days and relaxed pace, it's time to create a summer reading list. Catching up on your reading is also a great way to develop new perspectives and gain fresh insights about your middle market business. Your summer reading can either be pure entertainment, filled with thrillers and celebrity biographies, or perhaps more highbrow, with instructive tomes on finance or global market trends.

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  • A Thorough Self-Assessment Will Make You a Stronger Leader

    A commitment to self-assessment is a trait that an effective middle market CEO should possess. You often play a more central and complex role than CEOs in larger companies, which usually have bigger, more-defined leadership teams. As such, self-assessment may be the last thing on your to-do list because other priorities crowd your busy agenda. Taking the time to pull back on day-to-day work and reflect upon whether your efforts are truly aligned with your company's long-term vision is an essential component of leadership.

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  • Ensuring a Successful Business Merger

    The motivation behind a business merger, whether you're the buyer or the seller, is to create synergy between two firms, forming value that is greater than what the individual businesses brought to the table on their own. A well-executed merger can be a great idea for both companies because it should result in enhanced capabilities, increased shareholder value, better operational efficiency, and cost reductions. Yet there's a cautionary fact for all middle market leaders to consider, whether they're the target company or the acquiring one: more than half of all mergers fail, for a number of different reasons we'll go into later.

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  • As Global Resources Become More Scarce, Build Flexibility Into Your Middle Market Business

    When it comes to global resources, such as energy, raw materials, and transportation and communications infrastructure, the world is changing faster today than ever before. What does this mean for your middle market business? You already know: the ever-accelerating pace of global change means your company needs to get better (and faster) at managing this change. 

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  • The Latest News on How Middle Market CEOs Can Stay on Top of the News

    Here's the latest news: Middle market CEOs have one of the most demanding jobs in the world. You need to understand the big picture, create an effective strategic vision to grow your middle market company, convince your team to buy into it, and then make sure your people can execute it every single day. Keeping on top of the ever-increasing amounts of information that come at you is one of your most challenging and important tasks. Whether it's business news, market/industry trends, or expert advice, the latest news in your industry should help inform everything you do. But how can you keep up? Here are three guidelines:

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  • Business Trip? Four Situations Demanding One

    The business trip isn't what it used to be. These days there's an ever-increasing pressure to reduce travel budgets. In addition, improving technology is enabling more business communication through teleconferences, video conferences, and social media. Because of these trends, the majority of middle market business executives are traveling less today than before the recession. According to a Forbes Insights study, 58 percent of executives reported taking fewer business trips.

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  • 10 Great Situational Interview Questions to Identify the Best Job Candidate

    Shakespeare once wrote, "What's past is prologue," and situational interview questions are based on the same idea: the way job candidates behaved in the past is the single best predictor of the way they'll behave in the future. A situational question allows interviewers to get their subjects away from canned generalities and prepackaged answers, forcing job candidates to offer specific examples of how they used job-related skills to solve real-life problems in the past. They offer the interviewer a fuller picture of the candidate's capabilities and experience far beyond the sweeping abstractions of a typical résumé.

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  • 7 Employee Retention Strategies for Keeping Your Talent

    A recent survey from consulting firm Watson Wyatt showed that more than half of all companies have no employee retention strategy. With the economy improving and the job market heating up, especially for middle market companies, you may find that employee retention, especially of your top performers, has become increasingly difficult. Losing your best people not only damages your productivity, disrupts current and potential leadership, and reduces company morale, it also helps your competitors. Having to match a competitor's job offer in order to retain your top performers is NOT a retention strategy — it only incentivizes employees to seek outside job offers and ask you to match them.

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  • How to Budget: Creating Budget Priorities for Your Middle Market Business

    As with so many other strategic initiatives, knowing how to budget for your middle market business is largely about knowing your capabilities and how you want to leverage them in order to maximize return. Budgeting is the careful process of putting your money where your strategy is. The first step of budgeting is making clear connections between your available capital and your middle market company's strategic goals. Once that's done, you can begin making a long list of budget choices, places, purchases or projects where you believe investing capital will generate strong returns and align with your strategy.

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  • Middle Market Average Salary and Unemployment: A Complex Interrelationship

    The National Center for the Middle Market has already offered analysis on the potential impact on middle market companies of a proposed increase in the federal minimum wage. As NCMM articles have made clear, there's also a trend among the U.S. states to raise their respective minimum wages, with 21 states so far mandating a minimum wage above the current federal level of $7.25.

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  • Aligning Your Capital Expenditures and Your Middle Market Company's Strategy

    Allocating capital expenditures for your middle market business, also known as capital budgeting, is never easy. There are always multiple investments that seem eminently worthy, such as new equipment and new hires, that are all promising to return your investment at different rates, both short-term and long-term. Budgeting is inherently future-oriented, based on underlying assumptions about your market, your company's ability to properly execute, compliance issues, and much more.  Read More >
  • Financial Capital: 5 Broad Financing Options for Middle Market Firms

    While a middle market company has many critical relationships, such as those with customers, suppliers, and employees, its relationship with its financial capital providers may be the most important of all. Credit can be the lifeblood of expanding businesses, allowing for investment in new projects, the purchase of needed equipment, and more. Since the credit crunch beginning in 2007-08, banks have increasingly tightened their commercial lending standards and credit has become more difficult to obtain and more expensive, with higher interest rates and more demand for collateral. According to a National Center for the Middle Market survey, "54 percent of middle market companies said one of their key challenges was gaining access to financing."

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  • International Business: MIT's Prof. Donald Lessard on Best Practices for Expanding Your Business Abroad

    Donald R. Lessard, the Epoch Foundation Professor of International Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, is a widely recognized expert on international business expansion, having researched and written on the topic for over four decades. Lessard is also a Senior Fellow of the Fung Global Institute, a Hong Kong-based think tank that researches global trade, and serves as a senior advisor to the Cambridge, MA-based Brattle Group, an international consulting firm.

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  • Can Literature Teach Business Decisions? Joseph L. Badaracco of Harvard Business School Thinks So

    Joseph L. Badaracco, professor of ethics at Harvard Business School, believes that business decisions and leadership take more than being able to analyze a spreadsheet, streamline business processes, or communicate effectively with stakeholders. Leadership, according to Badaracco, is about understanding yourself and being open to the perspectives of others. For years Badaracco, the author of "Questions of Character: Illuminating the Heart of Leadership Through Literature," has been teaching a Harvard Business School course that uses literature to help develop leadership skills.

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  • How Does a Family-Owned Business Attract and Retain Top Talent Without Sacrificing Culture?

    In the best of circumstances, a family-owned business (FOB) is good for every family member involved because they share the burdens and successes of working together toward a common business goal. Communication is open, roles are clear, the commitment of each family member is total. They drive each other and the business to shared, fairly distributed prosperity.  Read More >
  • US GAAP Developments in the Context of Private Companies

    Generally Accepted Accounting Principles in the U.S. ("US GAAP") have evolved over time and there are some important areas currently under consideration. Middle market companies should keep an eye on these topics, including Revenue Recognition and Leasing and to a lesser extent Financial Instruments and Insurance Contracts. While changes may appear daunting, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), through the Private Company Council, will bear in mind whether and when alternative accounting or reporting may be necessary for qualifying private companies. In fact, two recent amendments have been issued to permit alternative accounting/reporting for qualifying private companies.  Read More >
  • Investing in Sustainability: Enhance Profitability and Attract Investment in Your Middle Market Business

    Every middle market business leader knows that investing to reduce your energy consumption, shrink your environmental impact, and decrease your exposure to legal liability makes good business sense. Yet, aside from helping you manage your operating costs, these initiatives can also (quite literally) improve your stock with investors, especially institutional investors. In the long-term and in the aggregate, they may even help sustain our planet.

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  • A New Case for Mergers and Acquisitions

    Nearly 40 percent of middle market companies express interest in mergers and acquisitions, with many actively looking for suitors. Traditionally, operational synergies have driven mergers - the idea that the target company and the acquiring company can enhance overall value post-acquisition. The companies' product portfolios or service offerings may complement each other, or a merger may eliminate redundant costs, bring enhanced purchasing power in negotiations with suppliers, or yield similar benefits of scale.  Read More >
  • Build an Agile Business Plan by Heeding These 5 Warning Signs

    The days of military-style strategy, when executives approached a business plan the way generals marshaled troops into battle, are long gone. As General Dwight D. Eisenhower was fond of saying, "No strategy ever survives first contact with the enemy." But Ike was also a lifelong proponent of planning: "I have always found plans useless, but planning indispensable," he said.  Read More >
  • Spreading Operational Excellence: An Interview With Stanford Professor Robert Sutton

    Professor Robert Sutton of Stanford University is a leading thinker in the field of operational excellence. Cofounder of the Center for Work, Technology, and Organization, Sutton has been conducting research into operational excellence for decades, having written more than 100 scholarly articles and several books. Sutton's 2010 book Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to be Best ...and Learn from the Worst was a New York Times bestseller.  Read More >
  • International Joint Ventures: 5 Steps to Ensure Success

    Expanding your middle market business through international joint ventures is worth consideration. With market demand relatively flat in the U.S., looking outside is one way to maintain and grow your revenues. According to a recent survey done by the National Center for the Middle Market, about 60 percent of U.S.-based middle market companies are active outside their national markets.   Read More >
  • Prof. Adam Grant: Successful Leadership Styles Include Giving

    Adam Grant, an award-winning Professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, is a leading thinker on the topic of leadership styles. His widely-acclaimed book, Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, was just named by Fortune magazine as one of "5 Must-Read Business Books" of 2013. With powerful insights from both social science and the real world, Grant contradicts the traditional wisdom that business leaders need to be powerful communicators and take-no-prisoners negotiators.  Read More >
  • Strategic Objectives for Success: Driving Market Disruption

    No matter your strategic objectives, market disruption is a brutal fact of life for many middle market companies. Everywhere are the corpses of once-triumphant corporate behemoths who have fallen victim to disruptive innovation. Rochester-based Kodak, once the world's largest producers of film, decided not to pursue the market-revolutionizing digital camera while its competitors did. In the end, Kodak's film business would be disrupted and the company would file for Bankruptcy. Having strategic objectives is fine, but be prepared for disruption - and try to lead it.  Read More >
  • GDP Growth Should Guide Business Expansion

    GDP growth is an ideal assessment tool for pinpointing thriving global markets, places that have increasing incomes and larger numbers of consumers ready to buy your middle market company's products and services. GDP is the best measure of a nation's overall economic strength and closely connects with the purchasing power of consumers in a nation (GDP/per capita); growing incomes provide a great climate for middle market companies looking to expand internationally.  Read More >

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