Does Kindness Impact Your Bottom-Line?

Posted September 11, 2015 by Jody Bagno
Categories: Uncategorized


Kindness…is it a lost art because the impact and benefits are not immediately visible? Are we  so rushed, overly-busy and emotionally exhausted that we no longer have the mental bandwidth to consider an act of kindness? And if so, what is the lack of acts of kindness costing us personally and professionally?

In the last several months, our company has been discussing how many of our clients have transformed their own organizations.  We provide consulting services to corporations, non-profit organizations and churches. Most of the time we are asked to come into fairly healthy organizations to assist the leadership team with creating and implementing strategy; however, occasionally, we are called in to help settle major leadership disputes, potential church splits, murmurings of labor organization, and just plain bad Vibe on teams.

These dilemmas are almost always given birth in poor conversational skills and someone’s inability to extend tenderness and gracious hospitality to another.  A harsh comment, a lack of recognition, or a leader’s inability to care for those they lead can foster hurt feelings, resentment, disengagement and even begin thoughts of either leaving or lawsuits.

Lack of kindness kills profit and organizational impact.

The Challenge
When was the last time you did something thoughtful for someone you work alongside, or someone that reports to you? Do they have a sick parent? Bring a meal. Are they juggling too much in life? Find them some assistance.  Are they struggling with a personal issue? Ask what you can do to be helpful.

The easiest, least expensive form of kindness with the highest return? Genuine appreciation expressed in writing. When you write it down, they can read it over and over and relive the feelings of warmth and gratitude for the rest of their lives.

It’s funny…I never remember an employee complain to me that their boss or co-worker showed them too much appreciation.

Want to change the Vibe in your workplace? Do something kind for someone else…do it often and watch the culture of your company change.

I spoke to an attorney down the hall from my office and he said, “Every single lawsuit could have been avoided with quality communication skills and small acts of kindness.”

Quality conversations are the key to healthy culture.

Look back on the major disputes, miscommunication and even, lawsuits, your organization has been involved in, and ask yourself…What difference would care, concern, and kindness have made early in the development of this situation?

How much money and distraction would have been saved?

It is never too late to begin extending care, grace and thoughtful kindness to the people with whom you share your day.

Do You Settle for Easy Answers or Address the Tough Stuff?

Posted July 30, 2014 by Jody Bagno
Categories: Business, therapy

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Good questions will cure almost any relational ailment you may have, but some of the most insightful questions can be some of the hardest to ask.

Ask hard questions

Ask hard questions

 What Does It Cost You to Avoid Asking the Tough Questions?

In my work in the last few weeks, I have noticed how often people avoid asking the potentially difficult questions and as a result, settle for answers that are inaccurate, but comfortable to hear and deal with.  For example, the lack of really getting to the “bottom of things,” has (unnecessarily) left:

  • A leader thinking his team is following him, rather than discussing his replacement,
  • Another leader suspicious of an employee’s motives, not realizing how loyal the employee actually is,
  • A young boy wrongfully accused of an action resulting in  a smeared reputation,
  •  A damaged relationship with two people thinking that there is no hope of reconciliation,
  • A religious group mobilizing and killing innocent civilians based on inaccurate news reports and propaganda

Jumping to conclusions before gathering all of the information seems to be some of the best exercise we get.  I am guilty of it too, but am learning (sometimes the hard way) to slow down and just ask a few more questions before acting on faulty information.

What Questions Should You Ask?

My husband Roger, is a huge fan of murder-mystery and law TV shows. He enjoys watching the process of uncovering the deeper truth in a variety of situations.  Many times these shows imply an obvious choice for who the killer is, however; Roger knows that if the killer is revealed within the first thirty minutes of a one-hour show, it isn’t the real killer. Accepting assumptions and arriving at conclusions to early, puts you in the position of having to defend your potentially baseless conclusion…forever.


 How often to we settle for what seems so obvious, and yet, is completely inaccurate?       Here are a couple of phrases you may think or hear someone say, that would indicate not enough information has been gathered:

  • “Want to know why he does that/made that decision/acts that way?”
  • “Well, she just thinks that….”
  • “I heard…..”
  • “It seems to me….”
  • ” You made that choice because you think…”

The next time you find yourself in a difficult or controversial situation, ask yourself, “Is there possibly more information that I am not aware of?  Could there be more than what is obvious? Have I asked enough detail questions to really get to the truth? Is there a gap in the story I am telling myself?   Would it be wrong to become a Serial Skeptic?

Serial Skepticism


One of my favorite authors, Mark Stevens*, writes

We are all exposed to data, factoids, theories, and axioms ad nauseam. All presented as science, the absolute truth, unassailable. And if you are like most managers, you make business decisions based on this “body of knowledge.” This is where you part company with the warriors.  They recognize instinctively that once any form of thinking becomes “the absolute truth” it is baked, dried up, passe, fini. And then they challenge it.  They put it under a spotlight. They examine it it through a microscope.  This determination to challenge what others accept as the truth (think of it as Serial Skepticism) is often a powerful way to achieve breakthrough and sustainable success…. Why? Because while your peers are making decisions based on faith, you are insisting on proof. And that often leads to the truth.

* excerpt from the book, "Your Management Sucks," 
  Crown Publishers 2006

You Can’t See Motive, So Don’t Guess What It Is – Ask!

Here are a few more question starters to help you dig out truth about  what motivates someone to act a certain way.

  • “Tell me more about….”
  • “What are your thoughts on…”
  • “Say more about that.”  (This is excellent to use when someone makes a strong statement…it uncovers the thought process behind the statement.)
  • “Can you share with me more specific details around what happened.”
  • ” I am curious as to why… What do you think?”

Taking the time to uncover truth ALWAYS pays off in the end. It avoids heartache, misunderstandings, bad decisions and regrets in the future. It heals hurting relationships, uncovers bottlenecks in businesses, clarifies confusion and protects progress. What questions do you need to ask? For more help and information, check out our services at Jazz Business Consulting under Deliberate Dialogues.

Easy Elevator Pitches

Posted June 28, 2014 by Jody Bagno
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , , , ,



How is your Elevator Pitch?

We complicate our business elevator pitches….and then we stink at them. We sound awkward, clunky and unnatural.

At least that was my experience this week…with my own pitch (if I am honest.)

I spent this week in Philadelphia, PA with my good friend Imelda Alejandrino, CEO of AP42. We attended and co-exhibited at the Women’s Business Enterprise National Conference (WBENC).  It is a phenomenal gathering of the Supplier Diversity Managers of major corporations and sales representatives from Certified-Women-Owned business.  Many corporations have made a commitment  to award a number of vendor contracts to businesses owned by women and minorities.

Everyone needed to have a good pitch to share about their own business.

We set up a booth dedicated to coaching people on how well they “pitched” their products and services.  We had a ball! Our booth was constantly full of teachable people hungry to learn memorable ways to talk about their offerings.

We made it simple.

For quality promotion, just answer 3 questions and do it as succinctly as possible…

  1. What do you fix?
  2. Who do you help, and/or
  3. Why are you different?

If you can answer those questions in that order…you will stand out.  The biggest mistake we observed is that people tried to include every possible scenario their company could address in their pitch.  Remember, a pitch is merely a conversation-starter, a way to inspire curiosity and invite further conversation, not an entire marketing campaign.

Here are a few examples:

Some of these people started with lengthy explanations about their business. We helped them whittle them down to:

  1. I put fashion and style back into the world of ugly uniforms. (Uniform Supply company)
  2. Do you ever worry that your personal information will fall into the hands of the wrong people? We fix that. (Document Shredding company)
  3. We breathe new life into old equipment for big companies. (Equipment refurbishment company)

These communication teasers were easier to remember and more fun to say, which immediately increased the amount of enthusiasm in the delivery.

How is your elevator pitch? Need some help? Send either Imelda or myself and email and we would be happy to help!

Happy Pitching!


Be Ruthlessly Relevant to Your Clients…

Posted February 27, 2014 by Jody Bagno
Categories: Uncategorized

One of my favorite authors, Jill Konrath of Snap Selling coined the phrase, “Be ruthlessly relevant to your clients.”

It continues to amaze me how easy it is for sales professionals to book more business when they make the effort to be a little more intentional and a little more relevant.


Whether you are a mother working to convince your child to eat more vegetables, a college student selling gift items at a flower store or a consulting firm specializing in big government contracts, you are constantly trying to influence people to do something.

Who do you influence?  Are you good at it?  This is what real sales is about.

Sales is NOT trying to get someone to do something they don’t want to…sales is providing solutions to people who have a need. (Kids just don’t know how much they need the broccoli.)

Just this simple mindset shift makes the difference between a 1970’s used car salesman and a trusted adviser.     Image


Quality sales people have the uncanny ability to uncover what motivates, drives and inspires their particular prospect. Then they make the effort to connect the dot between what is important to the prospect and the solution offered.  Too many salespeople just present their features and benefits and make the prospect do the mental-dot-connecting as to how this is a relevant solution.

Stop the madness!

Before your next presentation, take a moment to sit on the other side of the table. Step into your prospects shoes and look at your potentially boring or arrogant presentation from their perspective…then remove the “ick” factor…everything that isn’t tailored specifically to your client’s most pressing priority should be completely removed.

Now you have time to really connect…to ask better and more insightful questions…and to provide your solutions in a way that is fresh, relevant and more appealing.

This is when quality sales becomes fun.

Happy Selling and remember to eat your broccoli!



A New Year’s Resolution to Becoming an Undercover Boss

Posted January 5, 2011 by Jody Bagno
Categories: Business, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  Have you seen the new show on CBS called Undercover Boss? It is one of the best new reality shows on TV.  Sorry, no drunken cat fights, no one living in a house with too much time, money and mirrors available, no Snookie (there’s a name to make a mother proud,) and  no cheating spouses caught in the act.  Some of you will quit reading at this point and some will be relieved at the above list!

If you work in an organization that has been impacted in any way by the economy, the new year provides a great opportunity for a new perspective. On the show, the CEO of a company alters his/her looks and goes to work in the lower ranks of his company. Carefully edited to make each CEO look completely incompetent at any position, the opportunity unveils critical areas needing improvement. Each CEO seems to finish the show proclaiming it was “the best experience” of their lives.  They uncover seemingly hidden treasures called hard-working dedicated employees who usually receive a promotion or fabulous vacation when the CEO comes clean about his/her identity.

So let’s imagine you have the chance to go undercover at your own organization. What would you find? 

 Here is my challenge: Conduct business with your own company as a customer or client normally would.  Call on the main phone line, walk in the front door, encounter your employees.  Don’t look for what is working fine, rather “Declare War on your Company Comfort Zone!” says Mark Stevens, author of Your Marketing Sucks…followed by the sequel, Your Management Sucks.  (I highly recommend both books but they are tough to give out without initially offending people.)

Look for the areas where complacency has begun  to grow like a new seedling and is ready to pop its sprout of “I don’t care that much” out at any time.  What are the little areas that  have gone unnoticed but could begin to have a big impact?  We call these the Sour Notes of business.  You may or may not notice them, but enough of them put together kills your company Vibe and ruins the experience of your audience.  

Here are a couple of real-life examples of sour notes:

  • Poor telephone answering skills, no on-hold experience, a monotonous voice that communicates lack of concern
  • Sloppy construction workers that leave a mess behind
  • Doctor’s who don’t apologize when little things go wrong, like accidentally puncturing a lung in surgery
  • Websites who bury and hide customer service phone numbers
  • Any restaurant with a dirty bathroom (must mean the kitchen isn’t very clean either, right?)
  • Churches with information display windows that haven’t been cleaned in years and sun-faded promotional pieces displayed

…and these are just a few from my last week of experiencing different organizations. 

So I encourage you to go on a hunt for sour notes that are affecting the experience of your customers.  Do it by the end of the week and…

There’s a Reward for you to participate!

You will be rewarded for participating!

 For the first FIVE people who find and fix sour notes in their organization, I will send you either a copy of our newest book, “The Social Cause Diet” with 45 inspiring stories of people who volunteer time to help others, or a $500 gift certificate that can be used toward one of our three most popular workshops:

PERSONAL VIBE  Our newest Personalities Workshop!

DELIBERATE DIALOGUES   How to engage in the most needed conversations without them getting personal.

WHAT’S VIBE GOT TO DO WITH IT?  Just like a jazz band, every organization gives off a Vibe. That Vibe directly impacts your bottom-line either positively or negatively. This workshop teaches everyone on your team how to be intentional about building your company’s Vibe!

Just send me an email at and let me know what Sour Notes you found and fixed and either you will receive the prize of your choice listed above…or you will receive an encouraging email from me along with seeing a positive impact on your business.

I look forward to hearing from you soon! Happy New Year!

The Vibe of Vision

Posted September 6, 2010 by Jody Bagno
Categories: Business

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The metaphor for vision is the mountainWhen your organization achieves all of its objectives and goals, what will the world look like?  This is the how vision is defined.

Vision is the “snapshot” or still picture. It is best described using nouns, not verbs. We use the metaphor of the mountain. Vision is the ultimate and final destination. However; your vision has to be compelling and  inspiring to everyone in your organization…all the way to the front lines…not just the executive team.


3. Martin Luther King, Jr., a civil rights act...

Image via Wikipedia

 In Dr. Martin Luther King‘s “I have a dream” speech, he used many word pictures to describe what his vision looked like,”..I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”  Dr. King went on for 10 minutes describing the world he desired. He described it with clear pictures and invoked powerful emotions.  That is vision.

Vision usually outlives the visionary.

Yesterday, Roger and I drove to Santa Cruz, Ca to hear a young pastor preach what his vision was for the church. We have spent time with the leadership team of Faith Community Church in helping them create a strategic plan to carry out their vision while fulfilling their purpose. This amazing team of guys (who could easily be mistaken for beatnik or surfer dudes), are passionate about transforming the city of Santa Cruz into a “safe and thriving community…” They are working tirelessly to partner with leadership teams of other churches and government agencies to achieve this bold and audacious vision.

It was one of the most inspiring and compelling talks I have ever heard.

Pastor Andy described in detail what his city will look like when they have achieved all of their objectives.  In less than 30 minutes, he addressed areas that included Family, Religion, Education, Arts/Entertainment/, Media, Business and Government.

People got excited…very excited. 

People are looking to be a part of something bigger than themselves that they can contribute to in meaningful ways.

When was the last time you painted a picture for those you lead in a compelling and inspiring way…in a way that moves emotions…in a way that clearly articulates where your organization is headed and why it is going there?

Vision describes what your mountain will look like when you get there. Mission is defined as the methods of how you will get to the mountain. It is the “vehicle” you drive to get to your destination. Mission is described using verbs and action.  Too many leaders confuse the two.

a confused employeeWe have a saying, “A confused mind says, ‘No’.” Do your employees have absolute clarity about what your mountain looks like? Walk around and ask them how they would describe your company vision. Author Patrick Lencioni says, “You know you have communicated effectively when  your people can impersonate you.”

Would they all answer with the same answer? If not, you know where to start. Communicating vision aligns your team. Companies don’t have vision, people do. What’s your vision?

And if you need help creating one…please call us…we are passionate about creating a world in which healthy Vibe is the standard…in the workplace, in the home and in the community. And it all starts with a compelling and inspiring vision.


Five Simple Lessons for Business to Learn From the Titanic

Posted August 24, 2010 by Jody Bagno
Categories: Business

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Titanic memorial

1522 People Perished because of three bad decisions

Have you seen the movie, Titanic?  If so you already know the story of the ship they called “Unsinkable.” However, did you know that there were five bad decisions  that resulted in the demise of over 1500 people? If the crew had made even just one of them differently, it may have saved the lives of all who perished.  What can be learned by leaders in business today, who are trying to navigate their own murky waters of economic climate changes, consumers’ hesitation to spend and overburdened tired workforces? Plenty it seems…and it doesn’t take  much effort to avoid the same deadly mistakes.   

 Fatal Error #1 The overriding mistake made by the designers of the Titanic was that of pride and arrogance. They were sure it wouldn’t, no…it couldn’t sink…It was a magnificent work of engineering art! It was brilliance on the water! It was a floating money-maker. It was about to sink and take with it fifteen hundred and twenty-two precious lives.   

 As a management consultant, I am always delighted to find and talk to leaders with tremendous humility. There seems to be a direct correlation between a leader’s lack of ego and the long-term stability and success of an organization. One of my favorite examples would be the late Coach John Wooden. During the off-seasons, he would teach workshops to young coaches at conferences. It always surprised the other younger speakers to see him in their workshops furiously taking notes and learning as much as possible. His own success never deterred him from the desire to learn and improve.    

Challenge Question #1- Would your co-workers describe you as a humble leader open to different perspectives?    


  • Fatal Error #2 Missing Binoculars meant they could not see what was ahead One of the first ways that arrogance was manifested was in a pair of binoculars being locked in a cabinet.  The prevailing thought was that binoculars wouldn’t be necessary! Binoculars would have helped the Captain or his crew see farther than the naked eye. They would have seen masses of icebergs and avoided collision. But how necessary is being able to “see” any more clearly when you have an unsinkable ship? Right, BP or Wall Street or Congress? 

Challenge Question #2-When do the leaders in your organization have the opportunity to look ahead and give consideration to potential icebergs in your path?    

Short temperature readings

Fatal Error #3 A SHORT ROPE   In those days, ships kept watch over the temperatures of the water by tying a thermometer to then end of a rope and dragging it in the water. A dramatic drop in temperature would alert the crew that there were potential icebergs ahead. Because the Titanic was larger than other ships, the rope attached was of a standard length. This meant that the thermometer on the end could not reach the water. A longer rope would have enabled the crew to realize that their climate temperature had dropped from 43 degrees Fahrenheit to a mere 28 degrees.  The Captain would have found out much sooner that the ship was about to encounter icebergs.   

Business leaders can become so inundated with daily pressures that they overlook taking the temperature of their own surrounding climate. I knew a man who operated a kitchen countertop manufacturing company who assumed that the nation’s economic woes were the only reason for his own business seeing a decline in sales. It was later revealed that several potential clients had attempted to do business with him; however, his son who was running the showroom, was playing games and viewing pornography on his computer and ignoring customers.  This business owner had refused to take the temperature of his industry climate. It may have forced him to consider other key performance indicators affecting his business. He eventually filed for bankruptcy and sent a flood of clients to his competitor.   

    Challenge Question #3-Do you make assumptions about your industry’s climate based on news forecasts that are often generalized about the overall economy?  What potential opportunities have you missed in accepting flawed assumptions?    

 Fatal Error #4 When the Titanic set sail, it did not house nearly enough lifeboats for all of the passengers. The designers did not want to compromise usable space for life rafts. The ones that were included were for higher-paying passengers and small fishing expeditions.  This flawed thought-process cost many people their lives.   

This type of thinking occurs when companies are anxious to get products and services to market without lifeboat/backup plans for unexpected events. Remember “faulty Firestone Tires on Ford Explorers” or “accelerator problems with Toyota vehicles.”  The number one solution to avoid many of these disasters is a leader’s willingness to engage in and have critical conversations. We call these Deliberate Dialogues. They are conversations focused on key business priorities and not personal agendas or politics. Conversations create your lifeboats. It seems as though most, if not all business disasters occur as a result of a key player avoiding a necessary conversation.   

 Challenge Question #4 – What important conversation are you avoiding? What is holding you back and what could it potentially cost you?    

Fatal Error #5 Poor People Skills. The radio operator responsible for conversations with surrounding ships had an abrasive edge to his style of communication. This annoyed the person operating the radio of the nearest ship.  Irritated with his rudeness, the radio operator of the neighboring ship actually turned off his own radio and went to bed. When the Titanic radio people were calling for help, no one could hear their cries because communication had been shut down.     

How often does communication get shut down because of a lack of understanding of temperaments and social styles? Honestly…constantly! A Personal Vibe (Personalities) class is the first workshop we teach on any project. It gives people a common working language and equips them to communicate more effectively without taking things personally.  Communication is a vital and often undervalued skill.  Leaders tend to see it as fluffy or touchy-feely and miss the benefits that clear communication  and people-skills provide.     

Challenge Questions #5- When was the last time your employees had training in the area of personality types or communication? What assumptions are you making and how costly might those be?    

If the crew and management had addressed only one of the Fatal Errors differently, many lives would have been spared. But because of pride, arrogance and lack of being teachable, this story ended on a sad note. But your company has the opportunity to do things differently. Spend just a few moments and ask yourself what needs to be changed to avoid the sinking of your “organizational ship.” Do you need:    

  • To be more open to other perspectives,
  • A clearer vision about where your company is headed,
  • A better gauge of your industry’s climate,
  • More lifeboats (resulting from quality conversations), or
  • Better communication and people skills?

This is your chance. Don’t make the same mistakes.  Choose wiser and enjoy the many benefits of having everyone on your team rowing in the same direction. And if you aren’t sure where to start, call us at Jazz Business Consulting at 800-797-8138. Our “radios” are always on!   

Bon Voyage!