The Culture, Performance & Leadership Blog

The Economy, Business Performance and People

Co-authored by Mark Kamin, Marcea Wolf-Carter and Kenda-Le Pernin

The stock market crashed in March 2020 and the spread of the coronavirus brought business to a halt. To say that America was gripped by anxiety is an incredible understatement.

Although we have unemployment levels that are close to the Great Depression unemployment levels, the situation is completely different. When the stock market crashed in 1929, the circumstances were exacerbated by the Hoover administration’s dramatic fiscal policy response … they cut spending which resulted in even more job losses across the country. In contrast, President Roosevelt poured money into the economy by financing the New Deal and all of the work projects that created millions of jobs. Apparently we learned the lesson from the early 1930s. Trillions and trillions of dollars have been pumped into the world economy, stimulating employment, spending, and creating confidence in the future. We are not in a Great Depression and we are not going to be in a Great Depression. The confidence in the stock market is a reflection of the markets’ understanding that we are not headed for the abyss.

Since April 1st Mark Kamin & Associates has interacted with over 1,000 business people and leaders from every conceivable industry. Read More…

How To Have Employees Fully Engaged And Nurtured By What They Are Doing

Written collaboratively by Michele Clay & Mark Kamin

In the 2017 Gallup State of the American Workplace study, Gallup found that 67% of employees do not like their jobs or where they work. Employees overwhelmingly only work to get a paycheck. There is a particular culture that goes with that kind of mindset – where employees are not fully engaged, nor are they fulfilled by the work they do.

When people are really engaged – where their workplace belongs to them in much the same way it belongs to the shareholders, they have a stake in the success of the organization – a real stake. They become STAKE-HOLDERS.

In your organization, the number of people who do not like their job or where they work may be lower than 67%, but the odds are that the percentage of people who are not fulfilled in their job is staggeringly high.

“Surviving” work is very distinct from working in a way that you can see your work makes a contribution. The resignation people have that it’s even possible that one can be fulfilled and effective at a great company, is so pervasive that not being fulfilled looks normal.   Read More…

How Your Culture Is Guaranteeing Weak Performance

Written collaboratively by Michele Clay & Mark Kamin

The current paradigm for organizations guarantees weak performance. (And you are either blind to it or perpetuating it.)

The current paradigm for business is to maximize shareholder return. This is an obvious consequence of the need for investors to receive a fair return on their capital.

This paradigm was best and most prominently articulated by economist and former Federal Reserve Chairman, Milton Friedman, when he was a professor at the University of Chicago in 1970. In an interview with the NY Times, he said:

“There is one and only one social responsibility of business — to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits…”

In other words, in the current paradigm, organizations exist only to get shareholders maximum return on their investment. Read More…

How to Build Your Organization as a Highly Valuable, Sustainable Asset – Part 2

Written collaboratively by Michele Clay & Mark Kamin

In part one of this two-part blog post, we distinguished how, in the ordinary world of business, the hidden context in which businesses seek to perform – is to maintain and enhance shareholder return; and only after that is done, then the company can look at the care of the employees and customers.

In part two we are going to look at the kind of sustainable growth that can result in supporting all of an organizations’ primary constituencies: Employees, Customers, and Stakeholders – all at the same time.

Allegiance Bank was founded in 2007. This 11-year-old bank started with 12 employees and now has 366 employees, 16 locations, and $2.9 billion in assets (an acquisition is pending that would give them approximately $4.5 billion in assets). Allegiance Bank went public in 2015 (ABTX). The share value doubled from $10.00 to $21.00 a share in the first 8 years, then doubled again from $21.00 to approximately $40.00 a share in the last 2.5 years. The bank is growing its loan portfolio at 20% a year while having a 400% increase in the value of its stock. Read more…

How to Build Your Organization as a Highly Valuable, Sustainable Asset – Part 1

Written collaboratively by Michele Clay & Mark Kamin

rawpixel-com-558597-unsplash-250pxIn the ordinary everyday world of business there is a lot of lip service to building great places for employees to work and really serving customers and the community. However, in reality, almost always a business is organized – in the way the business runs – to take care of shareholder return …and then to take care of everything else. In other words, whether its obvious or not, the hidden context in which businesses seek to perform is to maintain shareholder return.

This paradigm is, in fact, detrimental to long-term shareholder value. The real asset of any organization is its people; and the way those people interface with the customer.

As a leader, if I do not put employee fulfillment as important as shareholder return, I guarantee that employees will not own the performance of the business.

Its undeniable that every CEO must make sure there is a fair shareholder return to investors, and it is equally important to generate a culture within which employees love to work and are committed to the future of the enterprise as their own personal future. Read more…

The Conspiracy to Call “Pretty Good” – “GREAT”

athlete-1840437_1280-250pxWritten collaboratively by Michele Clay & Mark Kamin

There is a conspiracy that you are unwittingly a part of…

That conspiracy is an unspoken agreement to be ordinary; to have ordinary performance and an ordinary life. This unspoken agreement is reinforced through having interactions with others be about “being nice” or “not being pushy” or some other version of that, rather than having interactions be about being effective. Being effective requires, among other things, extraordinary communication.

The conspiracy has us tolerate our submission to be ordinary by taking pleasure in things being “pretty good” – we even set it up where people congratulate us and acknowledge us for being “pretty good”. (He’s so nice, she’s so nice, they are so nice …they are working so hard, they have done everything and their business is still not working.)

Doing all of this puts comfort ahead of performance, which is exactly the nature of ordinary. The reality of ordinary is mediocrity. Said another way, ordinary is “not very good” at all. Read more…

How To Organize Your Brain for High Performance


Written collaboratively by Michele Clay & Mark Kamin

Why even discuss High Performance? Why does it matter?

The first thing you might think of when you hear the term High Performance is car racing or being able to do something more, better or faster, waste less time; in other words, improve on what you are already doing.

This is not what we mean by High Performance. What we mean by High Performance is in a context of real Excellence.

When you improve performance on the spectrum of “better”, obviously you are going to have to do something like “work harder, work smarter…” and that is fine, but you don’t get the quality of performance that goes with being a real champion, and it has no connection to the kind of performance that defies old limits and maps out new territory. Read more…

Michael C. Jensen on Integrity as a Competitive Advantage in Business

MJensen_Commencement2-300x230Integrity is the Foundation of a Great Life, Great Leadership, and a Great Organization

At Mark Kamin & Associates, we believe that defining integrity as honoring one’s word as oneself provides individuals and organizations with the ultimate competitive advantage. One example of an approach to organizational performance we endorse is the work of Michael C. Jensen, Harvard Business School, Jessie Isidor Strauss Professor Emeritus.

Mr. Jensen, along with Werner Erhard, spelled out this approach to organizational performance in the white paper titled “Integrity: A Positive Model that Incorporates the Normative Phenomena of Morality, Ethics, and Legality – Abridged” (found on SSRN), and in the commencement address at the McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University Commencement Ceremonies, May 21, 2011.