Driving Culture for Small to Mid-sized Companies

Stacy Feiner

For this month, Mitchell Levy, Chief Instigator of Ahas on the Aha Amplifier (, is joined by #ThoughtLeader Dr. Stacy Feiner, Executive Coach for the Middle Market and author of the book “Talent Mindset: The Business Owner’s Guide to Building Bench Strength” ( This month’s #TLL episodes focus on helping mid-sized businesses reach sustainable success. This can be done, according to Stacy, by making sure that business owners are able to influence or create culture that subscribes to the values of the company. The challenge for many business owners today and even in the past is to drive a culture in which the company’s rules to live by are actually being followed by everyone in the organization. Each business owner has their own “unequivocal expectations” from their employees. These are the rules to live by, and as Stacy points out, there is no other person in the company who has the responsibility to instill it within the community than the business owner themselves.

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Rachel Andreasson

In episode 106, Mitchell and Stacy talk about optimizing talent within the organization as explained by #ThoughtLeader Rachel Andreasson, Executive Vice President for Wallis Companies ( As a leader of a family-owned company, Rachel emphasizes the importance of taking on the responsibility to build and sustain a culture that considers the employee truly part of the family. Rachel points out the importance of meaningful conversations with employees, which her company does via periodic performance reviews. These give both the employee and the business owner opportunities to find ways for improvement and determine how development — both personally and professionally — can occur, which will eventually redound to productivity at work. These conversations, says Rachel, should be a combination of accountability and leadership development for the employee. As her company follows the score-card system, Rachel compares the performance review with sports. Just like baseball, letting your employees know the goal makes them part of the team and motivates them to be productive.

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Lise Stewart

In episode 107, Mitchell and Stacy interview #ThoughtLeader PsyD Lise Stewart, who is the founder and CEO of Galliard Group ( Lise is also executive director of the Galliard Family Business Advisor Institute (, which has trained over 400 business advisors across the U.S. In the episode, they expound the definition of culture, noting that it’s what makes a company special and unique. Lise contends that many business owners don’t realize this and fail to elevate culture into the conversation. She speaks of healthy and unhealthy culture and how companies fail to recognize what type of culture they have. If you are a business owner, ask yourself: Have you ever thought of culture in your company? What’s so special about your company? How would your employees describe you as a leader? What sort of values would your employees say that you espouse or act out on a day-to-day basis? If that “special thing” you’re doing engenders loyalty and makes employees committed to their service, connectivity, and eventually, profitability, then you have healthy culture. Lise emphasizes the need for trained business advisors or consultants to do something to reverse the trend by making sure they are helping business owners go through the transition successfully.

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Keven Prather

In episode 108, Mitchell and Stacy discuss with #ThoughtLeader Keven Prather, Certified Family Business Specialist of Skylight Financial Group, about a company’s transition process and how it’s related to culture. Culture often defines whether or not companies will be successful or unsuccessful in the long term. Culture is made up of a number of things: values, beliefs, intentions, and many other aspects that are not spoken. A key factor to a successful transition is making sure there is no disconnect in terms of understanding the company. You have to establish that the owners and employees’ perception of the situation is the same. Keven argues that if not everybody is working and headed in the same direction, the transition is likely to be unsuccessful. Companies going through transition do not have an easy task. But business owners don’t need to do this alone. There are resources and experts who can help them achieve a successful transition.

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Robert Elwood

In the final episode for the month, Mitchell and Stacy exchange insights with #ThoughtLeader Robert Elwood, COO of The Sports Mind Institute ( Robert defines culture as something that evolves, even as he surmises that the leader should be able to create a healthy culture by putting a great deal of thought into it. There are many opportunities to grow leaders through sports analogies. Every leader should come up with a mantra that reflects the core values of the company, and those should be unequivocal. Sports legend Tony Dungy, for example, has the mantra he ascribes to his team: “Execution, Expectations, No Excuses, No Explanation.” The discussion also touches on the relevance of watching tapes of past games, which sports coaches always do. In business, leaders should try filming themselves to see how they interact with people. Another good leadership practice is keeping a “Decision Diary,” which will help you assess not only the outcome but also the reasons why a certain decision was made at that time.

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Check out these five episodes of #TLL to learn how culture drives your small and mid-sized company to success. As the foundational system that holds everyone in the company together, culture can bring you through a transition, as it inspires employees to live up to the company’s unequivocal expectations and values. To learn more about Thought Leadership and how it can help you be successful, subscribe to the channel:

Join us again in the next episode of #TLL, where we will have Jacob Warwick as co-host.

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