Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy Holidays from all of us at TEC

We've enjoyed working with everyone and having the opportunity to meet many successful people in 2010. We wish all of you a happy holiday season and best wishes as we move forward into 2011.

May your family, business and personal achievements be some of the best ever. We look forward to seeing and connecting with all of you in the New Year.

Best wishes,

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Strategic Planning: Look Ahead

What to expect in 2011 and beyond.
By Harry Dennis for BizTimes Milwaukee
His name is Mark Parrott, and he’s a business and personal financial planner and gifted TEC/Vistage speaker from Long Island, N.Y.

He spoke to my own TEC group recently and left us with much food for thought about what to expect in 2011 and beyond. I’m going to paraphrase the highlights.
The bottom line: If we want to succeed, we can’t sit on the sidelines. Success won’t come to us. We have to go after it. Here are tips for understanding what “it” is.

The spending mix
One-third of our country’s consumptive wealth is generated by the government, but two-thirds is generated by consumer spending. Consumer spending maxes out at around age 49. After that, it declines rather precipitously.
The number of people reaching that age, and even age 65, will be growing for the next 10 years or so. The baby boom is history. The traditional sources of consumer spending, the largest spending segment in our economy, is declining, with no end in sight.
Higher taxes likely will continue to erode this spending base. By the way, which of these age groups – 30, 50, or 60 – spends the most produces the most, earns the most, and invests the most? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the answer is 50, with a mean around age 49.

The population mix
The U.S. birth rate, excluding births from illegal immigrants, has now fallen perilously close to where it will be difficult for the American population as we know it to grow as it has in the past to solve the economic needs of future generations. This has been true in Europe for some time, and Japan too. 
It’s not just growth, however. Look at China and India. It’s the quality of that growth – the ability of future generations to be productive and, therefore, consumptive economically. For quality growth, also look at Brazil.
Why is this important to know? Namely, it means that our historically tried and tested consumptive base – the 49 year olds – won’t be around to help us out much 50 years from now. Again, a notable exception in the U.S. is the Hispanic population, which is growing, and which is contributing to our consumptive economic base.

What do you think? Should we expect higher or lower top federal income tax rates in the future? What are the implications?
You might be surprised to know that since 1913, top income tax rates have ranged from about 10 to a high of 90 percent during World War II. Today, they’re at around 39 percent.
Unless the economy double dips into another recession, in all probability, tax rates will be increasing again. The impact? A dampening effect on consumption, the bellweather of our economy.
Similarly, the inheritance tax is likely to bounce back to at least 50 percent. This, too, will indirectly affect spending attitudes and behavior.
Add to this liquidity issues at the state level. In Wisconsin, our budget crisis has reached epidemic levels. Regardless of promised spending cuts in Madison, inevitable tax hikes are bound to occur.

Responding to the mega-trends
As business people, especially entrepreneurs, we can capitalize on the mega-trends that seem to be working against us. To do so, we must be willing to anticipate the changes that are coming and adjust our business game plans to our advantage.
I invite you to use your imagination and the knowledge of your business to charter a direction in 2011 that will benefit you and your investments.

Products/services for an aging population
  1. Low-cost home health and alternative care products.
  2. Vacation alternatives.
  3. Low-cost entertainment venues.
  4. Devices that help those with disabilities.
  5. Home delivery services.
  6. Low-cost long-term care.
  7. Short-term investment alternatives.
  8. Retirement planning or death planning services.

Products/services in “other” categories
  1. B-to-B relationships in economically stable and net positive population growth countries.
  2. Hispanic food products.
  3. Low-cost housing materials and content products.
  4. Language translation media.
  5. Child care assistance.
  6. Minority worker placement services.
  7. Tax-advantaged/deferral investment programs.
  8. Alternative energy/green products & services.

How many more can you name, given our mega-trend demographic and tax climate directions? The consumer will remain king, unless our country falls into anarchy or some other unacceptable non-democratic alternative. But that’s unlikely.
One of the characteristics that makes us unique in the United States is that we have a solid history of overcoming presumptive impossible challenges. Our ingenuity and creativity have never failed us.
In spite of these mega-trends, I see nothing imminent to alter our ability to overcome any challenge put before us. Until next month, let your imagination start working in your business today for tomorrow.

Friday, December 17, 2010

How are you able to keep up with your inbox? [POLL]

Different weeks bring many surprises that can load up your inbox. We want to hear how executives typically like to respond to business emails.

Take our poll and let us know how you handle the overload of emails in the comments field below. What tips do you have for keeping up?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Hedge your bets now for inflation ahead

By Dennis Ellmaurer for BizTimes Media

Economist Brian Beaulieu spoke to a combined meeting of my three TEC groups recently. The title of his presentation was, "Recovery: 2011 and Beyond."
Beaulieu attracts a fair amount of attention within the TEC community, in light of his accurate prediction that a significant recession would befall us in 2008. He started telling TEC groups about the impending problem in 2003. He also advised our members what they should be doing about it in advance.
With certain caveats, Beaulieu's presentation was much more optimistic. 2011 will be a good year. 2012 and 2013, as well. 2014 could be another problem. But it was the "what to do about it" part that was the most interesting.
Beaulieu is predicting inflation. Long-term, steady and prolonged - 5 to 6 percent range inflation. Others are now becoming increasingly concerned about the prospects of inflation. Beaulieu has been talking about it for several years. OK. What to do about it?
Beaulieu advised our TEC members that now was the time to buy assets, productive assets and real property. He told members to borrow money at the current remarkably low (by historical standards) rates. He said to lock in as much long-term money as possible.
He told our TEC members "Borrow as much money as you can now. Borrow so much money that you can't sleep at night. Then, borrow more - enough so your spouse can't sleep either."
One of my members who heard Beaulieu a couple of years earlier had been keeping track of a $2 million property that was in foreclosure. The day after the Beaulieu session, my member's real estate broker called him to say the property was going up for auction at a sheriff's sale the following morning.
There were two bidders at the sheriff's auction. The other guy dropped out after the opening bid. Much to his surprise... and the amazement of his wife…my member bought the property at a totally ridiculous discount from the original asking price.
Was Beaulieu right in his inflation forecast? Only time will tell. In the meantime, my member and his wife should have many sleepless nights in their new home. Good for them.
One hint: How much gold would you have to own to keep you awake at night?

Technology: Cyber Safety

Be proactive to protect your company. 
By Harry S. Dennis, III for BizTimes Media
Imagine that someone hacked into your customer database and stole sensitive information, including credit card numbers. The consequences would be enormous and could include legal costs, lost productivity and your reputation.

My thanks to Mike Foster, Vistage/TEC speaker from The Foster Institute, for his insights about IT security and his five strategies that can reduce the threat or vulnerability of your firm to a serious breach.

1.    Work station currency
Unexpectedly, all of your work stations can simultaneously be attacked by the same virus, worm, malware or spyware. Everything shuts down.
It happened to us at TEC. Thankfully, our outside computer consultant was able to quickly respond and fix the problem.
Here are questions to ask your IT pro:
Are you current with Microsoft “important updates,” “software optional updates,” and “hardware optional updates?”
Do you use Windows Server Update services which automatically deploy updates to all your work stations? The patches can be deployed, one at a time, to make sure they don’t interfere with any applications you are running.
What about your personal computer? Go to and select “Security and updates.” Never respond to any unsolicited pop-up offering updates, since these may be malware.
Today’s hackers are also attacking applications, as well as operating systems. When was the last time you or your IT professional installed patches to your Adobe Acrobat Reader?

2.     Anti-virus/anti-spyware
How about this situation? You go to your bank’s website and enter your username and password. Unknowingly, you have spyware on your system. Every keystroke is now in the hands of hackers.
To prevent this from happening, ask your IT pros if they’re using a centralized anti-virus/anti-spyware tool and updating it – get this – several times a day.
You should also scan each work station and your primary server daily because anti-spyware won’t always detect malicious spyware when it initially shows up. Some malware actually mutates to avoid detection. You might not catch it until after it penetrates your hard drive.
The most important tactic your IT team can use is to immunize work stations and make it harder for spyware to grab hold upon initial penetration. Symantec/Norton, MacAfee, Trend Micro, and Microsoft’s free security essentials all offer satisfactory protection. Let your IT pro make the call on this.

3.    Firewall networks and work stations
Without getting into great detail, every work station needs its own firewall. This is because viruses and other spyware intruders can penetrate networks via a CD, USB memory stick, or laptop that an employee is using outside of work.
That’s why your network needs one or more hardware firewalls and each work station needs its own software firewall. Windows XP has a simple firewall, and Windows 7 has a better one if properly configured. The main point here is that to ignore the protection that firewalls offer is simply business-foolish and costly.

4.    Password policies and procedures
Do you have an informal “sticky-note” password practice in your business? It’s easy to spot. Employees attach little sticky notes that serve as cheat sheets for log-ins and passwords onto monitors or cubicle corners.
Worse yet, is there a PW list that floats around the office, virtually accessible to anyone within reach? Or a list on your work stations that outlines PWs and their application or ownership?
It may seem harmless on the surface, but putting that information in the wrong hands can be catastrophic. Customers, vendors, disgruntled employees and contract cleaning workers can share the information with others who have no legitimate need to know.
The solution? Have mandatory restrictions on how passwords are used and insist that employees change passwords every 90 days. Your IT pro can build in these requirements and specify the desired length of passwords (at least eight characters recommended).
Yes, it makes the employee’s life more difficult, but it may save a crash or spyware intervention with far more costly consequences for the company and its users.

5.    Lock your server room
This sounds like an afterthought, but the last thing you need is a hacker who breaks into your server and hacks into your system before you’re aware of what has happened.
These simple steps usually suffice: locking the door with limited access via a padded key system, using a wall air conditioner to keep the room cool, inside door hinges, and replacing suspended ceilings with impenetrable fireproof structures.

Better safe than sorry(and miserable)
We may as well expect tighter regulations that protect business stakeholder privacy. The failure to take adequate protective IT measures can result in severe business penalties, embarrassment and unforeseen financial liability.
The time to act is now, before it happens. Until next month, make sure you’re IT secure.

How to keep your employees motivated

In order to run a successful business it requires a team of successful employees to work together to grow the company. Outside of looking at the success of the business, it’s also important to pay attention to the individual success of your employees. If not given proper recognition, the successful company could all of a sudden flop because enough attention wasn’t given to those needed to make the company grow.

Let’s take a look at some important goals your employees would like to see recognized:

  • Equity: To be respected and to be treated fairly in areas such as pay, benefits, and job security.
  • Achievement: To be proud of one’s job, accomplishments, and employer.
  • Camaraderie: To have good, productive relationships with fellow employees.

To ensure your employees are dedicated to the success of the company, it’s important to make sure management is achieving all of these goals for their staff.
How are you making your management staff accountable and giving them the proper training to do so? Here are some tips to follow and make sure all employees are aware of:
  1. Inspire your employees with a reason for being there.
    • As employees, it’s important to know there is a purpose for working for a specific company. If they aren’t feeling as if there is any inspiring goals or incentives for being at the company, they will surely look elsewhere.
  2. Give recognition.
    •  Who doesn’t like to be credited for a worthy achievement? Make sure you take the time to give your employees the recognition they deserve and notify your team of their success.
  3. Be a voice for your team.
    • Your team members count on you to ensure you have their success in mind. They need to know you’re being their voice to upper management to give them proper recognition. Take your team out to lunch to get to know how they feel about their position and career.
  4.  Allow opportunities for learning.
    • Nobody can ever learn enough. Give your team members opportunities to gain outside learning and personal development. You’ll be amazed at how appreciative your staff will be with receiving the opportunity to attend a specific conference.

How are you working with your management staff to ensure they are properly given feedback and additional opportunities? What has been the most successful for you to keep your employees motivated? 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What is the main goal your company or department is looking to accomplish through employee performance reviews?

The main goal behind performance reviews can vary from company to company and department to department. Some companies evaluate their employees to make promotion and termination decisions. While others are really seeking to provide employees with ongoing feedback to encourage and motivate desired performance. Employee performance reviews are also a great way to gain helpful insight into how each team member perceives their job and the company overall.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Where do you find the most valuable information related to your industry and/or business?

The online world provides an almost overwhelming amount of valuable information. Being well-read and up-to-date on the latest developments in your industry is key to maintaining your professional credibility as a company leader.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

How does your company motivate employees to improve their job performance?

Everyone needs to be encouraged now and again. Appreciation can be shown in a multitude of ways. Maybe your company uses contests to foster a bit of friendly competition? Or maybe your office culture relies more on formal requests for improvement? Many companies see team-building activities as the most effective change agent. While other companies allocate resources to providing employees with ongoing training and educational opportunities.

How does your company motivate employees to improve their job performance?

The Importance of Having a Business Mentor

There are many advantages of having a mentor or a business coach. Working with someone that has more experience than you, or that offers an additional point-of-view, will help you to be more successful in life.

Most people underestimate the value of a mentor and sometimes feel as if it is showing you’re not successful as a business leader, or having the capability to work through challenges on your own. Having someone you trust as your sounding board when faced with a challenging business situation brings an added sense of confidence when making tough decisions because you are able to learn from their mistakes and successes.

At TEC, our business model revolves around a commitment to providing CEOs/top executives the opportunity to work together towards arriving at helpful, relevant and specific solutions with peers in groups and/or one-on-one with their knowledgeable Chair.

Here are some of the advantages we hear most often of finding a trustworthy person to be your life and business mentor:

  1. Development of long-term relationships built on mutual trust and understanding from someone who has also “been there, done that.”
  2. Strengthen your network of people who are genuinely interested in your professional and personal success.
  3. Someone to give it to you straight in a world of “yes men and women.” Sometimes the truth hurts but sometimes that same truth can help prevent costly mistakes.
  4. Expand your knowledge base to include valuable resources and opportunities outside your industry that you might not have found on your own.
  5. Get (and stay!) motivated by someone else’s achievements to create greater success for your own company.

What would you add to this list? How has a mentor been helpful to you?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Where do you first seek guidance when making tough business decisions?

Life is full of difficult choices. For CEOs and upper-level management, making important decisions that have significant consequences for their company's bottom line and their employees can be stressful.

Bouncing options and ideas off someone you respect can help relieve some of that stress. Who do you turn to for guidance when making tough business decisions?

Friday, November 12, 2010

What aspect of TEC do you find most valuable?

One of the best things an organization can do is allocate developmental resources to the aspects deemed most valuable by members. TEC seeks to provide a forum for discussions and problem-solving with fellow executives, TEC Chairs that are available when business situations arise, helpful educational resources and guest speakers presenting on topics most relevant to our members.

What aspect of TEC do you find most valuable?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

TEC 44 Group Meeting - Discussing Business Successes [VIDEO]

The TEC 44 Group assembled in October for one of their nine yearly meetings.

Group Chair, Dennis Ellmaurer, discusses the agenda for a typical group meeting and how he works with his members. It is a great opportunity for members to discuss company successes, business challenges, and work together on solving issues.

Meet a few of the TEC members and their personal story of business success through TEC.

TEC 44 Group Meeting from TEC Midwest on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What past President do you most admire for their leadership qualities?

We're sure, like us, many of you are relieved that this year's election cycle is complete and the time of campaign commercials has come and gone until the Presidential election cycle begins.

Presidents are often judged on their ability to lead our country through good and bad times as a metric of success. All of these past Presidents have been heralded as exceptional leaders.

Who deserves your vote for most admirable past President?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

TEC Chair Talk: What TEC Means for You [VIDEO]

At September's TEC Retreat, held at the Delafield hotel, Chairs from around the Midwest came together for team building activities and workshops with guest leadership speaker, James Newton.

We asked some of our TEC Chairs what they enjoy most about being involved with TEC. Here are their responses.

TEC Chair Talk: What do you like about being involved with TEC? from TEC Midwest on Vimeo.

About James Newton
Newton Learning Corp
James Newton is Newton Learning Corporation's founder and CEO. He is a nationally known consultant, facilitator and speaker. For over 20 years, he has assisted companies increase effectiveness and profitability by cultivating accountability, effective communication, trust, and respect. James has extraordinary insight and intuition, a playful articulate style, and a deep commitment to helping people achieve their highest aspirations.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dan Meyer from BizTimes Media Discusses the Benefits of TEC

Dan Meyer, President of BizTimes Media, talks about how important business and life decisions are when you have many responsibilities on a day-to-day basis.

Very quickly, issues can arise within the business and Meyer finds the most value out of the group meetings and with Dennis Ellmaurer, his TEC Chair, to assist with finding solutions to these problems.

One of the benefits of TEC is that members are continually joining TEC, bringing fresh insights about how each executive can successfully grow their business. It's important to each member that everyone succeeds as business leaders.

Dan Meyer from BizTimes discusses the benefits of TEC from TEC Midwest on Vimeo.BizTimes Media

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What is the most valuable characteristic of a leader?

Lists of most desired leadership traits are common, but understanding what your peers find to be most valuable in a leader is not. Being recognized as a good leader goes beyond the title on your business card. 

Is being a team player just as important at the top? Does your commitment to integrity come across as visibly as you would like? 

Monday, October 25, 2010

November Leadership Speaker Events - TEC Informational Breakfasts

TEC would like to invite you to our upcoming Breakfast and Speaker events in the Milwaukee area. By attending these events, you will have an opportunity to learn about the TEC concept, ask questions and hear some of TEC's top-rated leadership speakers. There is no cost or obligation to attend either of these events, so why not see what TEC has to offer?

Fully Alive Leadership
Guest Speaker: Jack Altschuler
TEC Chair: Alfred Lazaga
Date: Monday, November 3, 2010
Time: 8:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon
Location: Ramada Plaza Hotel - 1North Main Street, Fond du Lac, WI 54935

About Jack Altschuler
Jack Altschuler has always been clear about the imperative to live every moment fully. He has 25 years of hands-on executive experience as CEO of the commercial and industrial water treatment company he founded and ran until 1998. He committed his firm to being the top value provider through focused customer service, state-of-the-art technology and innovative customer retention programs - and it worked. He is the past president of The Association of Water Technologies, and led it as its membership quadrupled and it became the recognized leading technical organization in its industry. He sold his company in order to pursue his mission of service, which led him to TEC.

For more details on this event please visit the LinkedIn or Facebook event pages.
Please RSVP no later than Friday, October 29th.

Creative and Leading Accountable Teams
Guest Speaker: Eric Coryell
TEC Chair: George Satula
Date: Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Time: 8:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon
Location: Country Springs Hotel - 2810 Golf Road, Waukesha, WI 53187

About Eric Coryell
Prior to starting up his own firm in 2007, Eric was hired on as President to accelerate the growth of Diamond Cut, a start-up company in Mequon, WI; played various roles in helping HUI transform itself into a highly successful team-based custom metal fabricator, and was President of EWC, a manufacturer of medical interconnect systems headquartered in Pewaukee, WI. He now dedicates his time to helping organizations engage their employees through strategic alignment, leadership development, and the creation of functional and accountable teams.

For more details on this event please visit the LinkedIn or Facebook event page.
Please RSVP no later than Friday, November 5th.

Send RSVP's to: 800-236-9832 or Email Michele at

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fully Alive Leadership with Jack Altschuler [VIDEO]

On an ongoing basis, TEC chairmen and members have the opportunity to have various business and leadership speakers attend their group meetings. Not only are many of these individuals exceptional speakers, but they also give the opportunity for TEC executives to participate in interactive workshops to improve their leadership skills as business executives.

One of our most well-known and influential speakers is Jack Altschuler, with"Fully Alive Leadership." Jack has 25 years of hands-on executive experience as CEO of the commercial and industrial water treatment company he founded and ran until 1998. He committed his firm to being the top value provider through focused customer service, state-of-the-art technology and innovative customer retention programs - and it worked.

Jack Altschuler - Fully Alive Leadership Speaker from TEC Midwest on Vimeo.

Jack is the past president of The Association of Water Technologies, and led it as its members quadrupled and it became the recognized leading technical organization in its industry. He sold his company in order to pursue his mission of service, which led him to TEC.

A TEC chairman since 1999, he currently chairs two CEO groups and a Key executive group. Besides his TEC involvement, he maintains a private practice of executive coaching, facilitation, and strategic planning for executive teams.

If you haven't had the chance to hear Jack speak, this video will give you a little taste of how influential of a leader he is. He frequently visits TEC meetings, so be sure to visit our website for upcoming events.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How do you maintain work-life balance? [POLL]

Many of us laugh at the notion of achieving work-life balance. Luckily, some of us have figured out how to make time for ourselves and run a successful business. Although, often times it can be tough to pull yourself away.

Do you have a strategy for forcing yourself to step away from work? Do you have a regularly scheduled vacation each year? How do you plan to make time for your family each week?

Friday, October 15, 2010

CEO and Executive Leadership Coaching with TEC

TEC Chair, Emeran Leonard gives an overview of the processes and structure of TEC.

TEC started in Milwaukee 53 years ago and now is present in 15 countries. It is the largest CEO organization in the World, bringing many people for you to professionally network with.

Watch the video to learn exactly how the TEC executive mentorship is structured and what valuable benefits you will gain from the monthly meetings.

Are you looking to excel as the leader of your company? What business areas do you feel would improve through a TEC membership? 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

How do you show employees appreciation beyond raises? [POLL]

In order for a company to be successful, one of the key factors to keep in mind is employee appreciation. Employees who demonstrate strong leadership, work hard and show results, deserve to be recognized and appreciated for their hard work.

How do you show your employees appreciation beyond raises? Are there any other activities you do for your employees that aren't listed below?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Dan Meyer from BizTimes Talks TEC

Dan Meyer, President of BizTimes Media gains many valuable benefits with being a member of TEC.

Some of these benefits include the executive coaching sessions with his TEC Chair, Dennis Ellmaurer, group meetings and guest leadership speakers.

Learn more about TEC and how it can also help you become a better executive leader directly from one of our members, Dan Meyer.

Meet the Members: Dan Meyer from BizTimes Media from TEC Midwest on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

John Howman Explains What TEC means for Executives

TEC is a confidential space where members can go to feel comfortable discussing business issues in a private setting.

When asked by other people what TEC is about, Chair John Howman tells them it's a private advisory that is focused on the individual. To Howman, that is the secret sauce of TEC. 

In the down economy, TEC is a space where members learn how to clear the fog through tough decisions. There are signs the economy is improving, so TEC is an excellent place to learn how to build your company back up effectively.

How do you think a private advisory could help you be a better executive?

John Howman Explains What TEC is About from TEC Midwest on Vimeo.

Friday, September 24, 2010

POLL: How do you maintain a healthy work environment?

In every work environment, in order to have a successful business it's important to keep your employees happy and maintain a healthy work environment. What are some of the goals and opportunities you have in place for your company?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Benefits of a Completed LinkedIn Profile for CEOs

You might not have a Twitter or Facebook account, but most likely you and/or your company is on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a professional social networking site that, “connects you to your trusted contacts and helps you exchange knowledge, ideas, and opportunities with a broader network of professionals.”

It’s ironic how many top executives don’t have a completed LinkedIn profile, given the many ways LinkedIn can help further boost their careers and company’s bottom line, as well as help them achieve “expert” status in their industries.

Benefits of a completed LinkedIn Profile for CEOs and Top-Level Management:
  •      Putting your best face forward: Having a completed profile, enables you to have greater control over what information people use to form their first impressions because these completed profiles rise to the top of search engine result pages.
  •      Putting the personal back in PR: By directly engaging on LinkedIn, CEOs and top-level management have an opportunity to reach and connect with their target audience and positively affect the company’s perception overall.
  •      Share your experience and knowledge: Utilizing the “Answers” application of LinkedIn enables you to answer questions and in the process foster new connections. Answering questions demonstrates your dedication to being an industry leader.

Business is increasingly moving to a web-based world. If someone told you today that your company didn’t need a website, you would think they were crazy. To survive, let alone thrive, in today’s economy, your company must be easily found online. Leveraging a complete LinkedIn profile is one of best ways to connect with your customers, business contacts, and future new business opportunities for your company.

Are you using LinkedIn? What do you enjoy most about it?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

EVENT: An evening with TEC - Special Guest Dr. Jerry Jellison

You are cordially invited to attend a special evening with TEC. This two hour get together with feature an intimate conversation with nationally known business expect, Dr. Jerry Jellison. Enjoy cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and the company of some area TEC members. 

About Jerry Jellison, Ph.D.
Expert on overcoming resistance to change. Jerry has been a top TEC speaker for over 25 years. He combines his academic research on helping people change with the real world experience of leading a small financial institution from $2 million to over $400 million in assets. 

Please RSVP by e-mailing Michele Bernstein at:

Event description also availabled on LinkedIn and Facebook

Friday, September 10, 2010

BizTimes: Pay Your Respects. How to prepare and deliver a eulogy.

By Harry S. Dennis III for BizTimes. Read the full article in BizTimes HERE

How to prepare and deliver a eulogy.

I had the privilege of being one of several business associates asked to deliver a memorial eulogy recently for a prominent 35-year TEC member.
Sam Jacobsen, founder of PDQ Convenience stores, was a man of great presence and a true visionary ahead of his time.
What struck me was that each eulogy presented was poignant and captivating, but in different ways. This month, I’d like to share my thoughts on what makes a great eulogy.  If you’re ever called upon to deliver one, these tips will help you prepare.

A brief biography

Describe pertinent highlights from the individual’s early years. Note special accomplishments in things such as sports, academics and extra-curricular activities.  Include, if appropriate:
  • Heritage – family tree information.
  • Early work interests.
  • Social or volunteer involvement.
  • Marriage history, children and grandchildren.
  • Work history and accomplishments.
  • Hobbies, including unusual travel experiences.
  • Participation in the military.
  • Public recognition received.

In each case, the amount of detail provided should focus on stories. Rather than just a chronological report, find tidbits of interesting information associated with the person’s life journey that might be unknown to many people in the audience but bring fond memories to the family.
Use names of others who have formed a supporting cast over the years to illuminate sides of his or her life that corroborate your remarks in the form of “silent witnesses” to what you are describing.

Enduring personal characteristics

This is the most important part of a eulogy because it captures the true essence of the deceased. Here are five questions to get you thinking about this:
  • How would you describe the person’s basic life character?
  • How would you describe their “driving force” as it would apply to family, friends and their work environment?
  • How would you characterize their values and belief systems?
  • How would you describe their impact on others in their lives?
  • What was his/her “light side” like?

Once again, in each case, a simple example or a story helps to solidify the point.  Recalling a name or two to illustrate the point makes your comments more alive and vivid. In other words, the more personalized you can make your summary of personal characteristics, the more memorable is the eulogy.

Religious or spiritual orientation

It’s important to differentiate between a person who was deeply religious and active in the religious community versus someone who had a passionate spiritual commitment but wasn’t an active participant in formalized religion. Both are worthy of recognition and comment.

Charitable giving

Describe significant charitable contributions or their participation in voluntary community programs. Quotes from benefactors add a personal dimension.

General logistics

Having the proper set-up for a eulogy is just as important as the words you say. Whether there are 30 or 300 people in the audience, you want to reach each one of them with your tribute to the deceased. A few ideas:
  • Make sure the sound system, if required, is adequate.
  • Make sure the point from which you are speaking is clearly visible to everyone.
  • Your audience shouldn’t be able to see your notes or script.
  • Your own personal dress should be appropriate and consistent with the family’s desires. Some may wish it to be a somber occasion, others more of a celebration or party atmosphere.
  • Making eye contact with family members during the eulogy is, perhaps, most important.
  • Recording the eulogy is, of course, a family option.

Multiple eulogy presenters

It isn’t unusual to have several people designated to present remarks. Although it isn’t always possible, it helps to coordinate with the other presenters to prevent unnecessary duplication.
This speaks directly to the time issue. The most effective eulogies are brief, about 10 minutes or less when there are multiple presenters. Once the eulogy exceeds 30 minutes, the audience becomes less attentive.

Make it memorable

I’ve seen maybe 20 eulogies or memorial events in my life, and each one had its own personality.
I can still remember what some speakers said 20 years ago. But if you asked me to recall what was said at other eulogies, I couldn’t tell you.
The most important point, of course, is the meaning and emotional value that the immediate family gains. This should be the primary objective of a eulogy.
Until next month, while I hope you aren’t called on to give a eulogy anytime soon, remember these tips when the time comes.