Dealing with the Loss of an Icon

Dealing with loss is something that everyone has to face at some point in their personal lives. As is the case with losing a loved one, businesses must also deal with loss and figure out how to move on afterwards. For a company such as Interface Inc., these are questions that they have dealt with for the past month following the passing of their founder and chairman Ray Anderson. Anderson created Interface in 1973 and through his leadership and vision; it soon became one of the largest manufacturers of modular carpet in the world and a leader in sustainability. Throughout his life and career, Ray was able to continue to grow Interface by following the values and principles that he laid out from the beginning. To many employees of Interface, they have not only had to deal with the loss of a leader, but also a friend.

The reality of the situation is that all successful and withstanding companies will be faced with a situation such as what Interface is dealing with now at some point. When this happens, how do you continue the legacy that they have set? How can a company sustain the level of guidance and leadership that they have grown accustomed to for decades when the person leading this charge is no longer able to? There is no perfect answer to these questions but the following tips can help any company cope and sustain.

For starters, you must recognize and remember the impact that your leader had on the company and its employees. Since Ray’s passing, Interface has created a blog forum on their website allowing employees to share their thoughts and memories of him. Not only does this allow the company to properly recognize Ray for everything he did but it also provides a level of therapy for those he was close to. Sharing stories about how Ray impacted their individual lives – both personally and professionally – is a great way for employees to come together and look at an otherwise dark situation in a positive light.

Provide clear and consistent communication. Employees will likely have a lot of questions with the majority of them likely being focused around what’s next and how the change will impact them personally. While paying upmost respect to the deceased and their family, try to be as open and honest with them as possible. Addressing any questions and concerns head-on reduces rumor mill talk and reinforces that the goals and objectives remain the same. 

Recognize that the values and principles are inherent and can always be passed on.  Any successful company has a set of values and principles that will guide them through everything they do. Typically these values and principles were created when the company was first founded and even if they are decades or even centuries old, can withstand the test of time if properly communicated and executed. Following the loss of a leader, they are as important as ever to carry on the vision that has guided the company throughout.

Continue to carry the torch through new leadership.  Create a succession plan identifying key personnel from within that will be able to sustain the level of success that the company is used to. Talented people typically attract other talented people so for a successful company such as Interface, there is likely no shortage of able and willing employees to lead the company moving forward. Having a plan in place allows for successors to step in immediately without having to take a large step back.

Filling the shoes of an iconic leader is never an easy task but identifying the right personnel for the job is the first step to carrying on their legacy.

In the end, this is a situation that no company looks forward to but may face at some point. It will never be easy but if handled appropriately, each company can maintain and even build upon the success that their leader helped establish.

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

Schedule Tough Decisions Early in the Day

If you want to grease the skids for a promotion at your next performance review or increase the odds of your pet project gaining budget approval, schedule those meetings early in the day. Decision fatigue, identified by researchers as the result of making numerous choices, is likely to grow more pronounced later in the workday.

“The more choices you make throughout the day, the harder each one becomes for your brain,” reports John Tierney in the New York Times magazine. “Eventually it looks for shortcuts, usually in either of two very different ways. One shortcut is to become reckless: to act impulsively instead of expending the energy to think through the consequences. The other shortcut is the ultimate energy saver: do nothing. Instead of agonizing over decisions, avoid any choice.”

That mental wear-and-tear can help explain why we spend a trip to the grocery store making healthy choices — only to grab a candy bar at checkout. But it can have more dire consequences as well, as in the parole board study that researchers Jonathan Levav of Stanford and Shai Danziger of Ben-Gurion University performed in an Israeli prison. Although the parole board heard similar cases throughout the day, those prisoners “who appeared early in the morning received parole about 70 percent of the time, while those who appeared late in the day were paroled less than 10 percent of the time,” according to Tierney.

Blood sugar appears to be a factor in decision making as well. When the levels of glucose drop, decision making suffers. In the case of the Israeli parole board, a mid-morning snack seemed to make all the difference. The judges took a short break about 10:30 for a sandwich and a piece of fruit. The cases they reviewed just before the snack, when their glucose levels would be low, were paroled 20 percent of the time. Those prisoners lucky enough to appear after the snack had a 65 percent chance of being paroled.

So when you need an individual or a group to make a decision in your favor, shoot for meeting first thing in the morning. And bring food.

Miami On My Mind

-posted by Mallory Niles

My first bachelorette party weekend officially begins Friday morning when my plane departs Atlanta for Miami. To say I am overly excited is an understatement. What better way to celebrate the engagement of one of my best friends than to be on South Beach with 10 of my best friends?

I have never been to Miami but hear it’s amazing: beautiful beaches, hotels and people. I love to eat and am looking forward to trying new restaurants and maybe even some Cuban food! I can’t wait to enjoy the hot weather while on the beach instead of in the muggy heat of Atlanta. I hope the water is as crystal clear as in the pictures!

We don’t have a set itinerary but it will go something like this: Arrive in Miami at 11:30 a.m., jump in the airport shuttle and head to the hotel. Our hotel is called the White Law, a cute little boutique hotel located off Collins Avenue in Miami Beach. This hotel has it all: a bar (with a complimentary happy hour); a hip restaurant; and beautiful, unique rooms. What’s not to love about a hotel whose slogan is: “clean sheets, hot water, stiff drinks”? I give props to my friend Lauren for finding this little gem; I can say it’s not always easy to please 10 overly opinionated 24-year-old females.

Upon checking in, we will then take off to a local lunch spot, preferably on the beach, and indulge in our first taste of Miami! From then on, our days will consist of lying on the beach followed by nights out on the town wearing fun dresses and obnoxious high heels.

The main goal of the trip is for Meg, our bride-to-be, to have the best, last single weekend of her life!

So what is inspiring me this week? MIAMI!


“Quiet Strength” by Tony Dungy with Nathan Whitaker

“Quiet Strength” is the inspirational memoir by former Indianapolis Colts coach and Super Bowl winner Tony Dungy. Through this book, Dungy reveals what principles, practices and priorities anyone can follow to lead a “Winning” life and create a culture reflective of this way of life. As an NFL coach, Tony has worked to instill within each of his players the same values that he follows on a daily basis, both on and off the field. Whether you are the coach of a professional football team or simply the head of a small group of employees at your company, Tony’s vision on leadership can provide guidance on effective ways to mentor and create a “Winning” culture.

“No excuses. No explanations.”   Just like the old cliché says, people are going to make mistakes – nobody is perfect. Since mistakes inevitably will happen, the question then becomes “what can I do to correct it?” As a coach, Dungy was less concerned about the mistakes that his players would make but rather how they reacted to it. Instead of trying to save face by conjuring up some type of excuse or explanation, accept responsibility and figure out how to turn a negative into a positive. By treating it as a learning experience as opposed to a mistake, any leader can create a sense of confidence within their team that they don’t have to be in constant fear of doing something wrong.

“I need to treat everybody fairly, but fair doesn’t always mean equal.” Too often in life, “fair” and “equal” are considered to be one and the same. To treat someone fair is to treat them reasonably as an individual, devoid of outside circumstances. No matter the group you may be leading, there are going to be certain individuals that have more to offer than others. Don’t feel as though everyone on your team must be treated as an equal to their peers. As Dungy did with his players, understand instead that everyone offers a unique skill set and respect and appreciate what they bring to the table.

“A good leader gets people to follow him because they want to, not because he makes them.” Those in a leadership position often feel that fear and authority is the best way to get others to follow and respect them. While this may work for some, Dungy quickly learned that leading by example can be just as effective, if not more. For the majority of people in leadership positions, they likely have a group working for them that has the same goals and objectives in mind. If this is the case, it is simply a matter of guiding and showing them the best way to get it done. As people recognize and understand that you know the best practices to accomplish the task at hand, they will likely follow your example for the betterment of both the group and themselves.

“…when it’s over, it’s over” Always keep things in perspective. Regardless of the challenge, understand its significance in the grand scheme of everything and be ready to move on afterward. Enjoy your triumphs but remember that past success will only take you so far; it’s what you do moving forward that’s more important. Don’t dwell on failures or mistakes but instead focus on how to improve and what can be done differently next time.

More than anything, the easiest way to create a “Winning” culture is through the proper mindset. Looking at all situations in a positive manner will lead to an overall happier demeanor that will resonate throughout your team and the work that you do.

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

Some Ideas Are for the Bottom Drawer

Most creative people have more good ideas than time to follow up on them. It takes discipline and organization and some real drive to see most ideas from a fleeting thought to something real that exists in the world.

Too many ideas can be more paralyzing than not enough. In the initial excitement of a new idea, there’s generally a flurry of activity around getting it off the ground. But for most ideas, the follow-through eventually becomes a lot of work.

 Ideas are easy; execution is hard. The arduous (and less exciting) process of execution is when you’re most vulnerable to letting another new idea pull you off course. To accomplish what you’re capable of, you must be very discerning in which ideas you pursue and which you don’t.

However, some ideas you don’t have time for now may be worth coming back to later. Those are for the bottom drawer. In my office, I have one lower drawer in my credenza where I stash notes on ideas like that. Things I don’t have time for now but that I don’t want to completely discard. You might rather use a folder on your computer. I have a client who puts some ideas into his imaginary “crazy box.”

That frees you from having to give the idea any energy. But also let’s your subconscious know that yes, you’re listening to all those ideas popping up, so keep them coming. Even if they’re crazy.

Who Speaks for Your Company in Social Media?

Each Monday, we ask one multiple-choice question regarding internal culture or employee engagement. On Friday, we’ll post a summary of the responses.

This week’s GOOD QUESTION: Who speaks for your company in social media?

Q: Who can post to your company’s social media sites, like the company Twitter account or Facebook FanPage?

A: Any employee can post to company social media accounts

B: Only very high-level employees charged with social media responsibility can post

C: Our PR department handles the company social media posts

Submit your anonymous vote and check back on Friday for the results. 

Why I Love My Car

I drive a 2006 Nissan Xterra – a car that I very much love.  A lot of car owners say that they love their car but I feel a particularly close bond with mine.  To the untrained eye, this car may come across as just your run of the mill mid-size SUV.  To an Xterra owner such as myself, it is much more than that.  To fully understand what makes this vehicle the bad ass form of transportation that it is, one has to look deep into it’s soul at all of the bells and whistles…

For starters, Xterra is a pretty cool name for a car.  How many other cars on the market can claim having a name with X as the first letter?  For that matter, any word that starts with the letter X is alright in my book.  Creating a word that starts with the letter X is no small feat and I take my hat off to anyone who can pull it off.

  • Hidden compartments galore – Know that feeling when you’re packing a car and you think that there’s no more room to put anything?  Well I don’t.  Anytime you think there’s nowhere else to place an item, there is.  You’ll just have to trust me on this one.  I’ve had my car going on five years now and am still not 100% sure that I know of every compartment that’s in it.
  • Two words: mesh seats.  Yeah, I just blew your mind.
  • A tailgating machine – Remember how I told you about the ridiculous amount of hidden compartments for storing stuff?  Well that’s only the start of what makes this the car for tailgating.  If you put the seats down, you’ll find a 5-foot plastic platform seemingly designed for the exact purpose of holding tailgate paraphernalia not meant for carpet.  To many, moving around your camping grill is a hassle that leads to some very expensive interior detailing.  To me, it’s just another day at the park.
  • The iconic roof rack – It’s what makes the Xterra an Xterra.  Whatever your passion for the outdoors may be – kayaking, biking, camping, skiing, so on and so forth – your gear will look that much cooler resting atop the Xterra.  Regardless of your skill level in any of the aforementioned activities, you will instantly gain rapport with outdoor enthusiasts when you roll in with gear strapped to the top of this bad boy.

As you can see, this is not your ordinary car.  If this sounds like your kind of ride, I would suggest getting down to your nearest Nissan dealership as soon as possible.  Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.  It may just get me from Point A to Point B but it will dominate everything in-between.



Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

How Do You Make Time To Make?

This is the bane of every creative mind ever promoted into management. When you’re spending your days in meetings and supervising the work of others, how do you carve out time to do the stuff you really got into your business to do? I know creative directors who struggle with this, programmers and architects, even a veterinarian. Making time to make — to write, to design, to come up with ideas, to create — is not easy in most management jobs.

Some people tell me they try closing their office doors, only to be interrupted anyway. Others actually go so far as putting their phone on Do Not Disturb and quitting their email program. I have friends who swear by leaving the office and heading out to a nearby Starbucks or anywhere they can find a table and chair away from the hubbub of the office.

What’s  your secret? What are your best strategies for making time to make?

Note: The line “Make time to make” comes from Merlin Mann, founder of But I read this quote in Scott Belsky’s book “Making Ideas Happen,” my latest favorite book. Belsky is all about making ideas happen, which means devoting some time to them.

Company Policies on Social Media Run the Gamut

At Tribe, we see a lot of companies struggling with whether or not their employees have access to social media. For some pioneers, like Zappo’s and IBM, the employees are actually charged with creating social media content on behalf of their companies. For companies with more of a wait-and-see stance, employees are somewhat or extremely limited in the sites they can access from work.

There’s still a strong sense of fear of what happens if you let employees say whatever they want on the worldwide web. Those harboring that fear also seem to overlook the fact that, whether or not you allow access to social media in the workplace, employees are surely using social media at home.

This week’s Good Question was:

Q: What’s your company’s policy on employee use of social media?

26.67% answered: “No access”

46.67% answered:  “All access

26.67% answered: “Limited access”

If you voted, thanks for playing. And if you didn’t, please look for Monday’s question and share your vote.

4 Ways to Help Empower Your Employees

Engaged and empowered employees are more productive and satisfied workers and have a higher likelihood of remaining with the company and eventually becoming future leaders. Here are 4 ways to increase the empowerment level of employees within your company.

  1. Encourage employees to take ownership of their job. Properly engaged employees will approach their job like they are working for their own company. When people take ownership of a job, they work with a higher level of dedication and deliver solid results.
  2. Don’t be a micromanager. A level of trust should be established that allows for an honest relationship with your employees. When people are trusted to do the job they are assigned to do, they generally rise to the occasion, increase performance levels and develop more respect for their leadership.
  3. Present expectations clearly. When employee expectations are clearly presented, they are able to relax and focus their energy on the tasks at hand. Clear and established expectations between employee and employer allow people to not waste time worrying about job security or second-guessing their decisions.
  4. Balance listening with coaching. Creating an environment that allows people to share their opinions benefits the company as a whole. When leaders and employees are able to enter into a dialog that is part listening and part coaching, both parties are able to educate themselves on the intricacies of the project and discover new solutions.

 For more information on Employee Engagement visit :