For our featured book this quarter, the MVP Executive Search & Development team highly recommends “Decide One Thing” by Dave Ramos.

Dave Ramos is an author, speaker and CEO of SHIFTPOINTS, Inc.

Prior to founding SHIFTPOINTS, Dave built high-performance organizations in a broad range of settings, including large global corporations, venture backed start-ups, and innovative nonprofits.

He held executive positions with global leaders like Nortel Networks, where he was the Vice President of Global Marketing.  At Nortel, Dave won the company’s highest award, The Chairman’s Award, for innovations in marketing.  At IBM, Dave won the company’s highest award, The Golden Circle, for innovations in sales.

He was employee #13 at AnswerLogic, a venture backed software company, where he led in sales, marketing, and business development.

After AnswerLogic, Dave spent four years doing pro bono consulting, volunteer work, and teaching.

One of his consulting clients, McLean Bible Church (a 15,000 person mega church) asked him to join the staff full time.  Surprising everyone, Dave accepted the job.  He spent three years as the Director of Adult Ministries and led the church through a strategic alignment initiative.

He left the MBC staff to start The Dashboard Group, which changed its name to SHIFTPOINTS in January 2013.

Dave has an MBA from the Harvard Business School, and a BS in accounting from Drexel University.  He serves on the Board of Directors for Fellowship of Christian Athletes Golf Ministry and Workforce Ministries.

Dave is the author of two books.  Decide One Thing, published in June 2013, and Shift Points, published in July 2013.  His third book, Drive One Direction, is in the works.

Dave is a sought-after speaker, and engages audiences with his humorous yet challenging style.  He has spoken at organizations such as The Harvard Business School, Nyack College, Vistage, Convene Now, The CXO Forum, AOL, and many churches and ministries around the country.

Dave is good at a lot of things, but is working to become differentiatingly great at his One Thing.

Posted January 2017

Q&A With Dave Ramos & Kathryn Chmura

MVP Vice President, Kathryn Chmura had the opportunity to interview Dave Ramos author of “Decide One Thing”, the third featured book of the MVP Business Book Club. Below is an excerpt of their conversation. Follow us on FB, LinkedIn and our website for exciting information and weekly updates from the MVP Business Book Club.

Kathryn Chmura: “What is the premise of your book?”

Dave Ramos: “For those of you who have not read Decide One Thing yet, I’ll summarize it in one sentence:

Winning companies have a clear, compelling Differentiating Competitive Advantage (DCA).

While they may seem obvious, most companies are completely undifferentiated.  They look alike, sound alike, and act alike.

In addition, most are sadly mediocre.  They dabble in lots of things, but never become great at anything.

Undifferentiated mediocrity is not a formula for long-term success.

So, the One Thing every executive team must decide is, “How are you going to differentiate your company?””

Q&A With Dave Ramos & Kathryn Chmura

Kathryn Chmura: What was the driving force behind becoming an author?

Dave Ramos:  Shortly after I started my company, I was having breakfast with Ken Thornton, a retired IBM senior executive and a member of the SHIFTPOINTS Advisory Board, soliciting his advice about how to build the business.

Dave- you need to develop a methodology, and you need to write a book.

It took me several years, but eventually I did both. I’ve now published two books: Shift Points and Decide One Thing. I’m working hard to finish the next one, which will be called Drive One Direction.

Q&A With Dave Ramos & Kathryn Chmura

Kathryn Chmura: What inspired you to write “Decide One Thing”?

Dave Ramos:  The One Thing concept originated from our work with a startup that raised almost $1 million of “friends and family” money.  Flush with cash and bravado, they set out to conquer the world.

So far so good.  All great companies have big dreams and bold visions.

However, this company decided to attack about a dozen different markets.  All at once.

We advised them over and over to focus on One Market.  “It is better to dominate One Market than dabble in a dozen of them.”  Unfortunately, they never listened.  They squandered their money and eventually went bankrupt.

Their failure became the inspiration for this book.

Q&A With Dave Ramos & Kathryn Chmura

Kathryn Chmura: Please share a story of how this book has impacted an executive, team, or organization and made a difference in their success.”

Dave Ramos:  Since starting the company, we have worked with dozens of companies in fifteen different industries.

Our best client has quadrupled in size.  Several have tripled or doubled.  One is in the Inc. 5000 Hall of Fame.  Several have won Best Places to Work awards.

Our clients are small to medium size companies.  In most cases, they engage us because their growth has plateaued.  So, we developed a three-part methodology to help them break that plateau.

The Decide One Thing process helps companies create a clear and compelling point of differentiation. The Drive One Direction organizational transformation process creates strategic alignment. And finally, our Deliver Every Time process improves marketing, sales and customer experience.

Together, these three steps produce “trajectory-altering results.”

Q&A With Dave Ramos & Kathryn Chmura

Kathryn Chmura: What have you found to be the most challenging areas of development for executives to grasp?”

Dave Ramos:  We start every engagement by interviewing the executive team.  We always start with the same question.

“How do you differentiate your company?”

Most executives struggle to answer that simple question.  More troubling, however, is how often executives from the same company give us different answers.

How can you win if your executive team can’t even agree on your source of competitive differentiation?


Q&A With Dave Ramos & Kathryn Chmura

Kathryn Chmura: Can you share some advice for leaders who are developing and building companies?”

Dave Ramos:  Dabbling never wins!


Q&A With Dave Ramos & Kathryn Chmura

Kathryn Chmura: What energizes you outside of work?”

Dave Ramos:  Twice a day, I take my dogs on a two-mile hike.  It’s the only time I’m ever away from my iPhone.  I find the time in the woods to be peaceful, therapeutic, and deeply spiritual.


Q&A With Dave Ramos & Kathryn Chmura

Kathryn Chmura: What is something unique about you that you would like to share with us?”

Dave Ramos:  I’m good at lots of things, but I’m working to become differentiatingly great at my One Thing!



For our featured book this quarter, the MVP Executive Search & Development team highly recommends “Using your Brain to Win” by Holly G. Green.

An experienced business leader and behavioral scientist, Holly Green has a rare combination of extensive academic training and in-the-trenches experience working in and leading organizations. She is the former president of The Ken Blanchard Company, and co-founder of LumMed, a biotech firm. She has worked in senior leadership roles with global giants including The Coca Cola Company, Dell Computer, and Bass Hotels and Resorts.

As a consultant, Holly is frequently hired by companies and associations to help them compete more effectively in today’s uncertain markets. She has helped hundreds of companies around the globe make new neural connections, change perspective, challenge assumptions and focus on the target.

In addition to her consulting work, Holly delivers highly acclaimed keynote presentations and workshops to tradeshow conventions, industry gatherings, and business meetings. A polished and engaging speaker, she has headlined hundreds of gatherings around the world. She has received three Speaker-of-the-Year awards from the world’s largest CEO membership group.

Featured on numerous TV and radio shows including NBC, ABC, Fox News, and NPR, Holly is a frequently quoted expert and has been in USA Today, Investor’s Business Daily, The Los Angeles Times, BusinessWeek and the Wall Street Journal among others. She was a regular contributor to FORBES magazine for years and is a highlighted expert on numerous leadership, strategic planning, and innovation blogs.

Holly holds a Bachelor’s degree in behavioral sciences and a Master of Science degree in organization development from American University in Washington, D.C. Her postgraduate studies are in neurophysiology. She is an adjunct professor at Webster University, teaching courses in the graduate program. She is the founder of the Management Development Institute offered at San Diego State University.

Holly’s top selling book, More Than a Minute: How to be an Effective Leader & Manager in Today’s Changing World (printed in nine languages and distributed globally) goes beyond the theory of leading and managing by providing practical, action-oriented information. Holly has contributed to several other best-selling books including Shift Happens. Her newest book, Using Your Brain to Win, has received international acclaim.

Holly is a board member of several companies and serves on the Workforce & Chief Learning Officer Business Intelligence Boards. She also provides strategic advice and guidance to numerous 501(c)3 organizations.

Look for a Q&A session with Kathleen Hajek and Holly Green in the next several weeks!

Posted October 2016

Q&A With Holly Green & Kathleen Hajek

MVP Vice President, Kathleen Hajek had the opportunity to interview Holly Green author of “Using Your Brain to Win”, the second featured book of the MVP Business Book Club. Below is an excerpt of their conversation. Follow us on FB, LinkedIn and our website for exciting information and weekly updates from the MVP Business Book Club.

Kathleen Hajek: “What was the driving force behind becoming an author?”

Holly Green: “I was a reluctant author, but my clients kept pushing me to get things in one easy to use reference so they could refer to it when I wasn’t around. I have always written a lot and have been doing blogs, articles and white papers for years, so it was not too hard to put these things together. I enjoy writing. It forces me to clarify my thoughts and capture things in a way that can be understood and useful to more people, and supporting as many other people as possible in being even more successful is very important to me.”

Kathleen Hajek: “You have written several successful books.  What inspired you to write “Using Your Brain to Win?”

Holly Green: “I wrote “More Than a Minute” in 2008, and the world kept changing rapidly. “Using Your Brain to Win” updates some of the core concepts in the first book and expands on what I found to be a pain point for so many of our clients – execution.  I wanted to offer more tips and techniques on bringing to life the core concepts we use in helping others get clear on winning and get there.  “Using Your Brain to Win” is a very action oriented book with 33 neuroprompts (ways to visit the brain) so that you engage your entire organization in the race you want to run.  It has humorous tools to do everything from inform, inspire and engage employees to run effective meetings.”

Kathleen Hajek: “What do you think are the most important things to understand about the human brain?”

Holly Green: Explore and uncover how and why we think the way we do at work.  There are numerous books and sources that support you in this (and, of course, the first few chapters of “Using Your Brain to Win” are all about this very area).  Once you have this knowledge, it becomes much easier to manage and lead others effectively.  Adult humans are fairly easy to manipulate (only for good, of course!), and learning how to do it to achieve excellence is a critical set of skills.  Our brains are amazing tools AND they are also set up to do us a disservice in many ways.  We have biases, assumptions, and beliefs that sometimes don’t serve us as well as they could.  When we can begin to think about what we are thinking about, understand our triggers and those of others and better recognize what our own behavior invokes in others, we can be so much more effective. My mantra is pause, think, and focus.  When we can build in a few moments every now and then to do so our illogical, irrational selves can usually achieve so much more!”

Kathleen Hajek: “Please share a story of how this book has impacted an executive, team, or organization and made a difference in their success.”

Holly Green: ” We have numerous clients who have gone from zero or negative profitability to significant profits over the course of a year.  It is amazing what a team can be capable of when you define the win, clarify it constantly, talk about it obsessively, measure it, report on it continuously, reward to it, and keep it visible.  Because we work with clients in almost every sector-from high tech to pest control-we know it works as long as you have adult humans on your team!  An added benefit of the approach is that it is a lot more fun to win than it is to work hard and just not lose or lose.  We have one client who went from 10 years of zero profits to $1M in our first year of work with them.  We didn’t add equipment, machinery, or people.  We worked with the team in place and they accomplished amazing results with the focus and discipline we helped them create.  At the end of our first year, they were making money and working less hours!  They are, of course, one of our most referenceable clients.”


Q&A With Holly Green & Kathleen Hajek

Kathleen Hajek: What have you found to be the most challenging areas of development for executives to grasp?

Holly Green:  How hard it is to execute consistently on winning.  I often say “Being the best is hard work.  So is playing to just not lose.  So which would you rather invest your time and energy into?”  It astounds me most days how many people work so hard but don’t hold others accountable, don’t slow down to do the right things versus go fast and do it over, don’t pause to get focused and clear on excellence before they dive in, etc.  This tolerance (and even in some extremes, ignorance of) accepting mediocrity at work serves no one well.

In addition to my corporate and nonprofit clients, I have the pleasure of working with some truly elite individuals and teams including the United States Navy Seals, Top Gun fighter pilots, Olympic athletes, NFL referees, etc.  These teams work incredibly hard to be amazing at what they do.  There is so much we can learn and apply at work from other sectors, but most days, at work, we just stay busy reacting, responding and ‘to doing’.   And our world today colludes with our bias to replace intention with busy-ness, so we find ourselves caught up in running, but without our team in the same race and we make excuses for why we don’t win or achieve excellence.

Kathleen Hajek: Are there one or two actionable steps that executives can take immediately to start reaching higher goals?

Holly Green:  The first and most critical is to define winning with specificity.  Make sure you minimize interpretation of any words you use (i.e. don’t say “We are going to be easy to work with.” State exactly what that means such as “we will respond to all customer inquiries within X time. We will have a mobile application where customers can place orders when they want to. We will have 24/7 customer service and authority at every level (up to $X) to make it right if there is a mistake…”).  Set up all of your processes and systems to support achieving it. Talk about it in EVERY meeting (after all, if you’re not talking about winning, what are you talking about?).  Adult humans are instinctively driven to win. No one wakes up in the morning and thinks “I want to go to work and just suck today.” Define it, continuously communicate it, and measure to it visibly to keep everyone in the same race.

Kathleen Hajek: What are the guiding principles of a good manager?

Holly Green:  Desiring to set others up to be successful.  Wanting to and seeking the definition of winning for the team and organization.  Having the discipline including systems, tools, techniques and support to hold everyone, including themselves, accountable to achieve what it is they commit to.  Being able to give appropriate and effective feedback. Constantly learning and unlearning.  Recognizing changes in the world around them and being willing to constantly update their brain (versus relying on “that’s the way we’ve always done it…”).  Believing in possibility.  Demonstrating a willingness to explore alternatives

Kathleen Hajek: Can you share some advice for leaders who are developing and building teams?

Holly Green:  I know I am beginning to sound like a broken record…get clear on the reason for the team and what winning is first.  This provides the rally point for everything that follows.  It gives the team the necessary ingredients to form and move through the phases to performing.  It keeps everyone focused and aligned on the reason for the team.  It helps to clarify the interdependencies of the team, a crucial element to maintaining alignment and positive momentum.  Relate everything the team does back to achieving the objectives defined.

Q&A With Holly Green & Kathleen Hajek

Kathleen Hajek: What energizes you outside of work?

Holly Green:  I am really a nerd.  I am constantly doing research and working to learn and unlearn in many different areas including the neurosciences, leadership, corporate strategy, etc.  I read, on average, four books a week.  Many of those are for fun.  I especially enjoy mysteries and historical fiction, particularly related to strong women.  I also love to travel.  Although I travel for work 45 weeks a year, I still enjoy visiting places all over the world, trying new foods and drinks and learning about various culture.  Gardening and food are additional passions.  Basically, I love learning and exploring all sorts of things.

Kathleen Hajek: What’s next for you?

Holly Green:  We’ve really refocused the business on more strategic agility work – helping companies and teams get clear on winning and get there.  Minimizing some of our other offerings means I can provide more support to our client base and dive deeper in this area.  I love to help others achieve even more success.  It is what motivates me each and every day.  The other focus area for me is keynote speaking.  I have done it for years, but I am constantly working to hone my craft in this area and truly enjoy sharing about the brain at work so organizations of every shape and size can be more successful.  I would like to do even more keynotes for conferences, associations and large meetings.

For our featured book this quarter and a great summer business read, the MVP Executive Search & Development team highly recommends Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent, by Sydney Finkelstein.

Sydney Finkelstein is the Steven Roth Professor of Management and Faculty Director of the Center for Leadership at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. He holds degrees from Concordia University, the London School of Economics, and a Ph.D. from Columbia University. Professor Finkelstein has published 20 books and 80 articles, including the #1 bestseller Why Smart Executives Fail. Professor Finkelstein is a Fellow of the Academy of Management and on the global Thinkers 50 list of top management gurus. LinkedIn Chairman Reid Hoffman calls it “a leadership guide for the Networked Age,” while Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO of GE, says “Superbosses gives leaders a playbook to bring out the best in their people.”

Please look for a Q&A session with Mary Olson- Menzel and Sydney Finkelstein in the next several weeks!

Posted July 2016

Q&A With Sydney Finkelstein & Mary Olson-Menzel

MVP President, Mary Olson-Menzel had the opportunity to interview Sydney Finkelstein author of “Superbosses”, the first featured book of the MVP Business Book Club. Below is an excerpt of their conversation. Follow us on FB, LinkedIn and our website for exciting information and weekly updates from the MVP Business Book Club.

Mary Olson-Menzel: “As an advisor to business leaders across the country, how did you get your start?”

Sydney Finkelstein: “I’ve been a university professor for 30 years, focused on CEOs, executive leadership, corporate governance, decision-making, learning from mistakes, and talent. Over time my work became more and more applied, culminating with the publication of Why Smart Executives Fail in 2003. This book was a bestseller in the US and Japan, and opened the door to my consulting and coaching work with top managers around the world. In addition, I often do keynotes for large and small groups. What I try to bring is a combination of rigorous research that goes far beyond what most people in this field do, and practical lessons learned from my personal experiences working with senior executives.”

Mary Olson-Menzel: “We at MVP work to inspire people on a daily basis and provide counsel to our clients on many levels. Please tell us what was your inspiration for writing this book?”

Sydney Finkelstein: “After writing Why Smart Executives Fail, and speaking about it around the world, more and more people kept returning to what I thought I had answered in the book: How to avoid falling into the traps that doom executives and their businesses. While there is plenty in that book on what to do to avoid failure and learn more effectively, I came to realize that there was something I hadn’t focused on sufficiently: How leaders and businesses can generate and re-generate talent on a continuous basis. This is the key to long-term success for any organization. Looking for answers to this critical question led to the research that produced Superbosses.”

Q&A With Sydney Finkelstein & Mary Olson-Menzel

Mary Olson-Menzel: What is your advice for people trying to recruit and develop their teams?

Sydney Finkelstein: Be open to “unusual talent” – people who don’t necessarily fit the standard HR description. Actively look for those people. Don’t be afraid to hire without a job description if you find an incredible talent – create the job for her! Help other people get better at whatever they do, and over time you will become known as a “talent magnet”. Once that happens, some of the very best talent starts to seek you out, a huge competitive advantage for you, and your company.

Mary Olson-Menzel: What is your advice for young leaders?

Sydney Finkelstein: Young leaders love the “superboss playbook”, as I call the key practices that separate the best bosses from everyone else. That’s because everyone counts, everyone has a chance to make a difference. That is certainly what millennials want, indeed, just about everyone wants that. So, figure out what you’re good at, and what you need more help with by taking the superboss assessment, and then set out to up your game.

One of the best things a young leader can do is develop your own talent on your team so they no longer need you. Imagine what could happen if you start “creating” world-class talent early in your career. A gigantic number of proteges will be indebted to you, helping to form a powerful network.

Young leaders should surround themselves with superstar talent. Never be afraid of someone smarter and more capable that you. Working with people like that, even if they start out as subordinates, is one of the best ways to learn.

Mary Olson-Menzel: How is this advice different than the norm?

Sydney Finkelstein: The superboss playbook is original, and can open the door to tremendous professional growth and business success. All it takes is some courage to get started. Coaching can help.

Mary Olson-Menzel: How can an executive use this book to build great teams?

Sydney Finkelstein: Great teams require great talent, and Superbosses describes how to identify and attract the type of people who can really make a difference. But talent alone is not enough. While superbosses don’t lack for confidence, that very confidence allows them to make room for other great talent. They are not intimidated by stars and potential stars. That allows them to not only select great talent, but create the culture than enables high-potentials to thrive. The superboss playbook provides specific and practical ideas on how to enable this type of culture. As a preview, it involves not only coaching team members, but creating big opportunities, unleashing the creativity of your team, customizing how you interact with team members, and working closely together with people to push, prod, and teach. Leaders who do all this can’t help but produce high-performing teams.

Mary Olson-Menzel: What inspires and lights you up outside of work?

Sydney Finkelstein: I am a big-time foodie, actually one of the reasons that I ended up spending so much time with Alice Waters from Chez Panisse, one of the favorite superbosses! I also find that the work of chefs is analogous to the work of a leader. You can’t do it all yourself, and in high-end restaurants there is tremendous pressure to produce a highly consistent, highly valued product (great food!) every single time. In some ways it’s even tougher than being a manager elsewhere, since your work is being evaluated every time you produce something.

I am inspired by people who want to get the most of their lives. We all know that time is short, and life is a true gift. Let’s not waste any of it. And by the way, none of this assumes you’ve got to be working at a regular job, or making lots of  money. It’s much more about accomplishment and fulfillment. This is one thing that I saw with the superbosses that reinforced my own philosophy – they make very person count, and who doesn’t want that opportunity.

Mary Olson-Menzel: What is something unique about you that you would like to share with us?

Sydney Finkelstein: I’ve been very fortunate in my own life, and have found a career that doesn’t feel like work. Every day is a good day, which I know is extraordinary, but it has driven me to think about how I can help others get closer to this ideal. It was also one of the things that drove me with Superbosses. While they’re not always easy to work with, you know how great the opportunity is. In fact, I bet most people can remember someone, perhaps a boss, or a teacher, that saw something special in you, and told you that, and helped move you onto a trajectory in life that might not have happened otherwise. That’s what I want to do. It’s really about legacy when you get right down to it.

Mary Olson-Menzel: What’s next for you?

Sydney Finkelstein: Along with some colleagues, I’ve been helping leaders and organizations – both for-profit and not-for-profit – bring the superboss playbook to their people. I do this via keynote speeches, consulting projects focused on developing world-class talent via the superboss playbook, and coaching. I continue to write regularly for BBC Capital<>, and other places like HBR, Psychology Today, and Entrepreneur as well. While I’ve got a dozen ideas for new books, there has never been a more important time to make work more meaningful (see employee engagement scores), and the ideas I learned from studying superbosses for ten years might be just what the doctor ordered!