On Vision

Henry Ford once said, “a business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.”  I agree.

At Service Express, our Vision is to “work with our employees to help them achieve their personal, professional and financial goals.”  You can see what that looks like by viewing Service Engineer Mark Krueger’s SEI Vision Story.  Mark accomplished a Vision goal that he “never thought possible” as a result of SEI’s Vision process and his teammates.

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Information vs Instinct

This is a guest post by Mark Aesch, Chief Executive Officer at TransPro.  Mark is also the author of the book Driving Excellence.  Prior to this, Mark served as the Chief Executive Officer at the Rochester Transportation Authority where he brought a private sector mentality to the public sector and turned the the Authority around. I encourage you to follow Mark on Twitter or to connect with him on his website!

So often we hear from leaders in all sectors – business, government and not for profit – about how they are willing to make the “tough calls”. This typically happens as they are pounding a podium or a table for emphasis. They look like such strong leaders – which is precisely the point. They look like a leader.

Leadership- Information vs Instinct

True leaders, on the other hand, don’t have to look like anything. True leaders are trying to minimize their participation to the barest of minimums. They lead by creating an environment where quality information lights the path to the right decision. And instinct is left in the darkest corner.

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Four Core Objectives: The SEI Way

At Service Express, we don’t shy away from talking about company culture. We’re committed to working hard, achieving results and having fun at the same time. And that means we not only take pride in meeting our customer needs and providing great service, but we also focus on creating a positive work environment for our employees.

A key philosophy that’s helped drive results, like our 98 percent customer retention rate and low 10 percent employee turnover, is our shared commitment to making decisions based on what we call our Four Core Objectives.

SEI’s Four Core Objectives are:

Before we make any decision, we bounce it off each of our Four Core Objectives. If we can explain how the decision will positively affect each of the four objectives, we feel confident that we’re making a good choice.

Let me give an example. Continue Reading…

Last year I was invited to be a panelist at a couple of Inc/ Small Giants Leadership Forums alongside Bo Burlingham and Paul Spiegelman.

In this clip, Bo, who is an Editor-at-Large for Inc Magazine and the author of the book Small Giants, asks me how SEI’s Vision to “work with our employees to help them achieve their personal, professional and financial goals,” impacts our customers.

If this video does not play, you can view it here


How SEI’s Unique Vision Impacts Customers

Vision: The SEI Way

At Service Express, Inc. (SEI), our company vision is the backbone of the work we do and the success we’ve achieved. It’s our purpose. And it’s simple:

As a company, we believe in surrounding ourselves with the right people and then inviting them to share their personal, professional and financial goals. After discussing goals with their manager during “Vision Talks,” employees put them on paper. This allows us to take a look at them and get to work helping them achieve their goals.

We believe our annual double-digit growth is a result of this philosophy. Continue Reading…

The Best Leaders Accept Failure and Embrace Vulnerability [Video]

Great leaders don’t allow failure to leave a permanent mark on their life.  They accept it as an opportunity to learn- a necessary part of their personal growth.  And the best leaders tend to be the most vulnerable; sharing their failures with others and owning the role that they played in it.

Why?

Find out in this brief video, the first in a series on servant leadership, recorded during a day of leadership training at Service Express.

If the video does not display, you can view it here

The Importance of Work Life Balance

The lines between work and home have blurred.  Technology that was supposed to make life easier has affected our ability to balance life at home with obligations at work. Cell phones vibrate all the time, day and night, and they demand our attention.  Our minds have become attuned to the chirps and vibrations of our devices.  So much so that some experience a physiological phenomenon called Phantom Vibration Syndrome where they reach for their pocket sensing the vibration of their cell phone only to find that it was not vibrating at all.

Professionals today feel pressure to be the first to arrive at work and the last to leave.  That often means saying goodbye to the kids as they’re getting out of bed, and hello to them as they’re climbing back into bed.  Often, vacation time goes unused.  When we do go on vacation we’re never more than a text, email or phone call away.

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98%: How SEI has Mastered Exceptional Customer Service

This is an excerpt from the Return on Values Project: a three-year, $1 million dollar research project from Benedictine University that asks the question, What is the relationship between culture and profit in small and mid-size businesses.  You can find out more about the project here.

The Service Express culture can be summed up in one word- service.  In this video, the third installment in the Return on Values Project, SEI employees share how our service based culture makes SEI a better company to work for and do business with.


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You can also view the complete Return on Values article “98%: How One Company has Mastered Exceptional Customer Service” here.  It include a question guide that you can review with your senior leadership team. Continue Reading…

4 Ways to Create a Culture that is Fun and Where Teams Get Great Results

In the past decade, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with many business leaders and one of the most common challenges that they face is in how to create a culture that promotes fun and gets great results.

I often read about the newest fad in fun workplace cultures; ping-pong tables, drinks, unlimited vacation time, putting for dollars, and other fun perks.  And while those perks can certainly contribute to a fun culture, they are not the answer for an engaged workforce.

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Many question when it’s time to turn off the fun and turn on the results. But having fun and getting great results are not mutually exclusive practices.  In my experience, both are indispensable to organizational health, and one without the other does not create a healthy culture.  Having fun without getting results is just goofing off; and getting results without having fun is… well, not fun!

Here are 4 ways that we have fun and get great results at SEI.

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Leadership Lessons from the Race to the South Pole

The 1911 race to the South Pole between Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott is a revealing illustration in leadership, team dynamics and how to surmount great challenges.

Amundsen was a master planner who spent a great deal of time preparing for his South Pole expedition.  His plans ensured that his team would never approach the outer-limits of exhaustion and that there would be ample food for the journey.  He did this by taking time to place supply depots along the route at just the right intervals.  He also made the decision early to use dogs to pull his sleds because they were well-suited for the conditions of the South Pole.

Scott, on the other hand, “took delight in exhaustion and suffering” and would push his men as fast and as far as he could to the point of exhaustion each day.  He decided to use horses and motorized vehicles to pull his sleds because they were faster than dogs.  This proved to be a fatal decision on the journey- when both machine and animal broke down- his men would be forced to pull their sleds full of supplies.

As he neared the South Pole, still believing that he would be the first to reach it, Scott and his team made a final all-out sprint.  But when they arrived, they discovered a note from Amundsen who had left 34 days earlier.

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