All posts by TimMcFarland

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Tommy Van Zandt Presents – Wow! Leading From Anywhere / Leading Against Any Adversity – Video Link

Archie Schaffer, “If Tommy is not the most incredible person we know, he certainly is one of the most incredible people we know.” Archie introduced Tommy Van Zandt, who was the speaker at the Emerging Leader Forum II Recognition Ceremony.  Please find the link below to hear Tommy’s presentation.

Thank you Tommy!  His work and presentation speaks for itself; pretty amazing.  Thank you Robyn, for all you do to help Tommy be the human he is.  Thank you to the caregivers.  Thank you Lynn Blair, a caregiver from whom we get to learn, along with Tommy, inside of CEO Forum I, as they are both valued members.

When we learn from Tommy, we are inspired by what is possible.

Stan Beecham, who helps people reach their potential (and will be speaking on August 27 to members and guests) at as a Sports Psychologist and Leadership Consultant, shares “when fear dies, you begin to live. Fear is keeping you from reaching your potential. Conquering fear should be your primary goal in life.” Tommy is quite an example of this.

Finally, thank you to the members of Emerging Leader Forum II, a very special group of individuals.  Thank you, Todd Wood, Super Mentor & a Difference Maker in consistently contributing with wisdom, guidance and great questions for EL II, to Priscila Aguirre,  an A Plus Co-worker and to Josh Aldridge of Overland Films.

To learn more about Tommy visit Facebook, Sage Partners, or Vimeo for a video about Tommy’s Nite Out.


Over 70 Podcasts, Any One of Which Can Help Our Individual Performance / Thank You Vistage!

As you have heard us state, we have so much respect and admiration for Vistage, the world’s largest Chief Executive Organization with over 18,000 members.

A resource that we have found valuable when we are on the go or have some time to invest in our leadership knowledge, is the podcasts learning from formidable subject matter experts that Vistage brings to it’s members and has been kind enough to share with the public at the below links.

Topics include:

- Employee Engagement
- How to approach Debt and Equity Financing
- Three Essential Tips to Improve Business Culture
- Identifying and Defining Your Ideal Customer
- How to Overcome Execution Barriers
- How to Proactively Protect Your Financial Future

You will find over 70 podcasts that are most informative.

Click on the links below which relate to 3 pages of podcasts and determine what topic is best for you:

Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3


Thank you Vistage!

What is Our “Why” for What We Do?

We strive, in all we do, to help leaders elevate your performance.

What we know is that every leader will have a series of challenges, issues and opportunities about which they are confronted. And many of them are foreign and about areas where we have yet to develop knowledge or experience. Where do we go for answers to these foreign and complex challenges?

If a leader could process these items with a group of diverse non-competing peers who have a wide range of experience, almost always others have experience around that issue. Their collective input can be amazing. Result: the leader is in a much better position to formulate a solid action plan to deal successfully with the issue; less hesitancy; less ambiguity; return more quickly to the building of the business. Performance? Elevated.

A risk when their seems to be no solutions and no peer advisory group with whom to approach is for a leader to get stuck. We have experienced being stuck. We don’t want others to get stuck. We want leaders to have resources and be able to tap into other peers’ experiences and knowledge and be able to diligently respond, move forward and build a great organization / have a great career!

Obviously, we believe our firm and its services can assist leaders and emerging leaders in many ways beyond those described above. Yet around these circumstances, finding a solution is often the most complex. Our business model and the outstanding and considerate members of our forums excel in delivering value at these points in time. The value can sometimes be extraordinary. Grateful!

What is Our “Why” for the Six Pillars?

What is our “why” for the Six Pillars?  Why have the Six Pillars Essential For Leading Your Enterprise been chosen?

1.  Leading Oneself  - like emotional intelligence, leading oneself is catalytic for our other skills and talents to be valued.  Emotional intelligence, asking more and better questions, not talking behind people’s backs, not getting angry, having the people we lead in our heart, not allowing our ego to get ahead of our increased responsibilities and effective power and more, are key so that we can be an effective leader.

2.  Driving the Value Proposition of Our Enterprise – most experts believe that every industry will encounter new disruptive business models.  Old business models are becoming obsolete and great new ones are being born every day.  If we are proactive at driving our own value proposition and leaning in to new and better ways to serve our clients, our business model will be more competitive against that new and innovative disruptive competitor that will eventually present itself.  This fearce competitor equiped with a creative and unique business model may disrupt the industry but it will be less disruptive to your enterprise.  As an example, study how Walmart is evolving and the respect it is giving to the most formidable retail disruptor Amazon.

3.  People and Leadership Development – leadership is the area with which humans struggle the most.  It is a difficult art yet it can have such a positive effect on so many if we can embrace the life-long journey of becoming a more and more effective leader of others.  How do we better serve our team members?  How do we bring the best out in others?  How do we create an open, trusting, non-defensive and non-political environment?  How do we help on-board talented individuals and prepare them in the first nine weeks for a great career for the nine years to follow?  How do we continuously give more meaning to the work every team member performs?  Do we invest 30 minutes weekly one-on-one / structured agenda with every direct report? How do we make sure we are communicating with clarity to our organization where we are going, how we are going to get there, what is expected of each team member and how much we appreciate the great work our team performs?  “Ambiguity breads mediocrity; clarity breads excellence,” Steven Covey taught to us by Donnie Smith.

4. Corporate Finance – to grow, we must have the right understanding and drive our organization financially toward healthy relationships (often defined as a set of ratios)?  If we are not growing, in many ways it means we are going backwards.  If the quality of our services or products are  unable to help us grow, it often means that our competitors are getting stronger while we are relatively getting weaker.  To attract the best people to help us drive our organization forward, we need growth which is the key indicator that these “A Players” will have the opportunity to have meaningful and dynamic career paths.

Financially, to grow, we will need the financial support of third parties, such as banks or investors.  Part of our responsibility to lead others and be responsible to others is to understand what it takes and (as an example) at what levels as a percent of revenues must profits or surplus must be generated so that our organization remains in financial balance and creditors and investors can fund the new capital required to support the future growth that is matched with the internally generated capital (profits). Nothing is more dangerous than a go-go leader who has not invested the time to understand key financial relationships and the discipline for how to apply sound corporate finance principles.   Yes, we may have an area that is financially weak from time to time and the key is to clearly understand this weakness and drive the organization in a way that it is strengthened so that is does not effect other areas and be disruptive to the organization as a whole.

5.  Strategic thinking and planning – one can learn from seasoned market participants at Harvard i Lab presentations (YouTube) relating to business models to learn that strategically driving an enterprise toward the optimal business model can create an enterprise value that will turn out to be five fold more valuable compared to those who do not get there.  This requires strategic thinking as well as consistent iterations to strengthen the enterprise and its strategic direction.  What is the most impactful need that we can fulfill that customers will greatly appreciate (and pay for)?  Every industry is large; what is the part of that market that is best for us to pursue and withwhom to do business?  What are the three most important defining attributes of our best customers / prospects? Which ones have the ability to grow?  Which ones are too risky?  How do we serve our target market in ways that deliver the most value yet requires the least capital outlays?  How will this be executed?  What are the three to five goals of our organization and what is the specific roll of every co-worker in order to achieve those goals?  How often are these goals visited?  These are examples of “strategic thinking” and and planning questions and processes.

6.  Culture – how do we define what is most important to us in the way we execute our business?  What are the four to eight guidelines or values that we can define that we believe in so strongly we can put them in writing and agree that everyone can and should apply them as we execute our business every day.  What can we stand for that is compelling and value added that will differentiate us from our competitors and make our organization more compelling for whom to come to work and with whom to do business?  These values and the way we execute will be used by every co-worker to guide us in how we serve our customers, our co-workers, our suppliers and our investors.  If  we don’t lead our team to define what is most important in how we will execute our business activities and for what we stand, a culture or set of cultures will come forth and it or they will be inconsistent with how we prefer or expect how our activities will be executed.


So this is our “why” for choosing these Six Pillars Essential for Leading Your Enterprise.  Yet, please know, we do not feel we are experts in any one of them.  We are students of them.  We are not to a point where we can execute each one of them at a high level.  We are working toward this.   What we are saying is, together, we can consider the importance of each pillar and should we agree they are, we can process how to better execute around them and as we improve how we execute around them, we believe that our results will always get better and our performance will have been elevated.

What are your thoughts?  How would you define your pillars essential for leading your enterprise?

It isn’t as important that we agree on how to define each pillar; it is important that you consider for yourself how to define your pillars and to consistently work to improve on how you are executing around each of them.


Enhance Your Leadership Effectiveness – Structured One-on-Ones

It’s a tool that every leader and co-worker can adopt that will improve your leadership effectiveness and help your direct reports perform better and advance toward their potential.  It is the 30 Minute One-on-One conducted weekly (or no less than every other week) with a structured agenda and expectations for the meeting. As you know, we have the utmost respect for Vistage, the world’s leading chief executive organization with over 13,000 members. We learned about this tool and how it is executed while listening to their podcast conducted by Bruce Breier, a subject matter expert around executive organization. Implementing this exercise will enhance the degree to which you are leading each direct report with clarity, and enables you to offer timely and consistent feedback, while also processing the “why” and applying core values to real life situations that arise for co-workers translating to coaching opportunities every week.   Donnie Smith, CEO of Tyson Foods is always stressing the importance of understanding this performance dynamic learned from Steven Covey, “Ambiguity breeds mediocrity; clarity breeds excellence.” The structure of the tool makes it a very effective tool.  Let’s process how it is optimally executed.

Outline of Podcast Presentation

Michael Iseman and I listened carefully to the podcast and outlined how the One-on-Ones are structured.   You will also find a link to the podcast and we encourage you to listen to the full podcast, a portion of which Bruce lays out the importance of every leader investing 30 minutes every week with every direct report and the best practice for executing them. Here is the outline:

Weekly 30 Minute One-on-One Meetings with Direct Reports: A Structured Activity – Recommended Agenda for Your One-on-Ones

1. Updates and Progress Reports - direct report presents this to supervisor. This is the responsibility of your direct report. They are to come prepared to update you on their job and the status of any projects they have been assigned.

2. Problems, Questions & Counsel - direct report delivers these items and supervisor provides guidance and coaching. They should come prepared with questions about the philosophy or the policies of your organization. Each of these questions should have with it a proposed answer. “This is an issue I’m having, and this is how I think it should be solved.” When practiced regularly, employees stop bringing these non-crucial issues to their managers and are better equipped to handle them on their own.

3. Delegation - Supervisor delegates new tasks that he has held until this meeting for both party’s effectiveness; delegation is clear. Note: By the time agenda items 1, 2 and 3 are complete, the leader can offer input to the direct report to further emphasize or update / adjust which activities are most important and of the top priorities how each one ranks.  Result: each direct report has a clear sense (clarity) of his or her opportunity to execute on the right tasks that deliver the most value to the organization.

This is your opportunity to give them tasks, letting them know what to do, and when you want it completed by.These can be tasks that have accumulated over the week for you, or in response to any updates or problems that have come up in the one-on-one.

4. Miscellaneous - invest some portion of the 30 minutes (5 to 8 minutes) discussing family, personal interests and activities that help us sharpen our saw and considers one another’s activities beyond work (in pursuit of work-life balance) Weather, sports, family, vacation, or anything else that may have come up that you would like to address.  Just ensure that the one-on-one ends on a positive note.

What the Experts Say: Vistage 500 Speaker, Bruce Breier

Bruce Breier is an expert in executive organization and has been a Vistage 500 member since 1985. So that every direct report may recognize their true potential, he recommends having weekly one-on-ones. Below is the structured agenda that he recommends for these weekly 30-minute meetings.

Key Takeaway: How many direct reports should one leader have?

No more than 6 Helpful tips for One-on-Ones:

  •  Give them your undivided attention, no multitasking.
  • Set the meetings at a particular time and day each week, and do your best not to reschedule.
  • Follow-up after the meeting is over, even if it’s just an email.
  • Be sure to give feedback; people want to know if they’re doing a good job.

  Source: Vistage 500: Bruce Breier – How to Organize Your Business- From Your Inbox to Your Employees 


Our Economy: 2014 – Featuring Keith Maio

Keith Maio has been “wowing” members of the CEO Forums with his insights since 2007.
We know of no one more impressive, thoughtful, knowledgeable, common-sensical, macro-economic & finance executive/leader than Keith. The discussion with Keith Maio offers a perspective on what is going on in U.S. financial markets and corporate, real estate and financing markets.

Leadership – The Area With Which Humans Struggle the Most

Leadership is the area with which humans struggle the most.

Much has been written about it, yet it remains hard to execute for most of us.  It is a lifelong journey that is never finished.

Please c0nsider the following framework.

This framework & these perspectives were developed over many years by Jim Myers.   Founder of the CEO Forum, Jim is the former CEO of two publicly traded companies and since starting the CEO Forum in 1989 has mentored, coached, counseled and helped hundreds of CEO’s in and around the Phoenix marketplace.


 Leadership is the ability to bring the best out in others.

Leadership’s practice is applicable to anyone who has responsibility for impacting other people.

As we rise in organizations, the most universal struggle  people face is around Leadership.

The Challenge

As individuals perform well, we are rewarded with greater and greater responsibility. Yet….

  • The habits that get us to leadership roles may have nothing to do with the role of a CEO or a leader of any expanded responsibility.
  • We get rewarded because we performed so well ourselves.  Endless hours knock over any obstacle to get the results.  If someone isn’t getting it done, we will do it ourselves.
  • Where impatience may have gotten us here, patience may now be the virtue required as we rely and depend on others to meet increased responsibility
  • Leadership isn’t about how good we can do, we have already demonstrated this.  It is about how good we can help others be better than they have ever been.

The Opportunity

  • Leadership is about creating an environment for others that will allow them to be their best; environments that are as open, trusting, and as non-political and non-defensive as possible.
  • True leadership is about serving those being led – not about being served.
  • The most enduring attributes of a leader are positive attitude; humility and genuine delight in seeing others succeed.

Six questions that most of us have about our organization whose answers require leadership:

-        What is going on?

-        Where are we going?

-        How are we going to get there?

-        What do you want me to do?

-        Am I important here?

-        Does anyone care about me?

Leadership must provide:

-        Communication

-        Vision

-        Values

-        Clarity of people’s roles and responsibilities

-        A sense of feeling important in the process and being appreciated for what we do

Communication / Relationship

  • If leaders fail to communicate what is going on, it is subject to   gossip and rumors.
  • If I know something you don’t know I have an edge.  We want no edges.  We want our people to know the most possible information
  • Meetings for communication about what is going on do not waste time, rather they save time eliminate hesitancy, confusion and allow everyone to be on the same page for the same purpose.
  • Leadership is a responsibility, but more than that it is a privilege.
  • Leadership is a relationship between people not necessarily the property of any individual.

Thank you Jim Myers for all that you have done as you strive to bring the best out of each one of us.

We hope you find this information helpful.  Please feel free to offer your comments or input that might increase the value to the original post.

Top 25 Websites for CEO’s (Larger Companies)

As encouraged by our members and clients, we subscribe to a variety of resources considered experts around topics key to our success.  Our members encourage us to review these materials and bring forth information that we believe is the best and potentially most valuable.  One such resource is a newsletter prepared by  .  This is where we found the below topic and article.  We recommend that competitive leaders desiring continuous growth subscribe to this newsletter.

Please find below a link to the article written by Mike Myatt.  Mike is thought to be one of the leading Executive Coaches in the U.S. with clients in the Fortune 100.  The topic of this article is what Mike believes should be on a CEO’s list for your Top 25 Websites.

While the article is written focused on CEO’s of larger companies, we think you will find value and some surprise as to what made Mike’s list.

I personally look forward to spending more time on so that I can learn from and further understand the many bright and talented young people in our workforce today (Mike says it is where all of the cool kids hang out) and  on, which does seem crisp, not too long & on target for leaders. is obviously worthy of your consideration.   Dan Sanker, CEO of CaseStack (, shared with Jeannette Balleza’s Ark Challenge Business Accelerator entrepreneur teams, while serving on a panel of CEO’s where we also participated, that he begins every morning at to see what is trending.

After your review of the list , please offer feedback and let us know what website is not listed in Mike’s Top 25 that would be in your Top 10.  We look forward to your input.

Here is the link:

About Elevate and the CEO Forums

Elevate creates learning environments and resources with a vision to become best-in-class for leaders of small to midsize organizations attractive to the competitive leader who desires continuous learning and improvements that will better prepare you to lead and contribute to your organization.  We do so through CEO Forums, Key Person Forums, one-on-one coaching, tailored advisory services focused around growth strategies, strategic thinking & planning and corporate finance, content, toolboxes and the Elevate Speaker Series which can be found on the CEO Forums channel at

We are a member-driven organization valuing the rich and diverse knowledge of all of our members and work diligently to harvest this exceptional resource informing us as to how we select topics, adopt best practices and work to optimize delivery mechanisms that are as efficient and impactful to our members as possible.   Obviously, we have much more development to do on the delivery mechanisms.

We value your input.  What are your thoughts and views on this post or on any matter relating to our areas of focus and the content of this website.


Aren’t We All Emerging Leaders? Isn’t It a Lifelong Journey?

Last week, we launched Key Forum I where Key Persons from larger organizations joined with Leaders of organizations with less than 10 co-workers.  And in our first session, we processed what makes a great leader. Who is represented in Key Forum I?

Brent – modthink

Brian – Multi-Craft Contractors Inc.

Carlee – Illumination Station

Gabriel – Rocklline Industries

Patty – Harrison Regional Chamber of Commerce

Sarah – Restore Humanity

Sharmila – Arkansas Power Electronics International

And while we categorize this group as emerging leaders, isn’t it true that we are all emerging leaders?  I know that I personally have so far to go to get to where I believe I am a completed leader.  And Jim Myers, at age 79, is always quick to inform us that he is always learning how to be a better leader and how better to manage an organization.

If you were to identify the five best leaders you have ever known and were to contact them and ask them about how they became a complete leader, we can almost guarantee that each would state with humility that they have a ways to go before they become a complete leader.

It is a life long journey and it is important that we refresh ourselves on what it takes to be a great leader.

In Key Forums I, we are using the below score card.  We recommend you consider performing the same self scoring exercise.  If you are a perfect leader, your score would be 50.  So the exercise is to measure yourself from zero to 10 in each of five categories.  Let’s see how you self score:


As defined by Jim Myers, founder of the CEO Forum

Self Scoring Exercise



____    The ability to bring the best out of others

____    The ability to create an environment that is open, trusting, non-political and as non-defensive as possible

____    Can attract, motivate and organize people to achieve goals

____    Delegates and holds people accountable

____    Delights in the success of others.

____    My Total Score

Please take a minute and self grade yourself on where you are today in each of the five items listed above on a 1 to 10 scale and total them.  50 is a perfect score.

Well, I scored in the upper 30′s.  For example, within our CEO Forums, I under perform in motivating people to attend every CEO Forum and to come on time and stay to the end.  I don’t delegate as well as I should within the CEO Forums nor do I hold people accountable to the extent that I should.  While I am so much better at creating an open, trusting, non-defensive and non-political environment, I am not perfect here and want to strive to do better here.  I am pleased that since the beginning of 2012, I have adopted the discipline, as encouraged by Ray Dalio, to never engage in the criticism of others unless they are present and that gives me new freedom from which to better lead.

One more interesting fact on leadership and servant leadership, we know that one of America’s most successful organizations, home to some of the brightest people working in the free market anywhere in the world, performs a great number of 360 degree assessments.  For you to become a managing director at this organization, you have to have as high of a percentage of favorably reviews from those that report to you as those for whom you work or report to.  This assures servant leadership at the top, wouldn’t you say?

It is a lifelong journey.  Enjoy the journey and remember that by raising the bar for what you believe represents great leadership keeps us humble, an important quality of every admired leader.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to share this with you.

What are your thoughts?

Former Alltel Exec McElhanon Opens Elevate Speaker Series; Simmons of Simmons Foods and Simon of Nature Conservancy to Speak in February

Steve McElhanon, former Area President of Alltel, responsible for over $1.5 billion in revenues and thought to be one of Alltel’s best leaders, opened the Elevate Speaker Series in January, a monthly series of speakers held on “Invest in Yourself” Fourth Friday’s where we strive to access people of experience, wisdom and brillaint minds around topics of business, strategy, macro-important topics and leading people.

Steve’s presentation will soon come out in video format on the CEOForums YouTube Channel.   The complete presentation will be available to members and clips of the presentation will be made available to the public.  Steve’s presentation on Leadership Matters has received outstanding reviews and we look forward to reviewing the video to pick up even more nuggets of wisdom about how Steve executed leading people at a very level and with outstanding proven results.

Steve, an avid reader, recommended to our audience six books relating to leadership.  They are:

1. Gung Ho! by Ken Blanchard

2. The Leadership Pill by Ken Blanchard

3. The Servant by James Hunter

4. Obstacles Welcome by Ralph De La Vega

5.  Quiet Strength by Tony Dungy

6. Onward by Howard Shultz

Thank you Steve for your willingness and efforts to make an awesome presentation for the benefit of our CEO Forum members and guests!

February Speakers

Mark Simmons, Chairman and CEO of Simmons Foods along with Scott Simon, CEO of The Nature Conservancy will be our speakers in February.

March Speaker

We have an invite out to a special speaker that, should he accept, you wont want to miss.

April Speaker

Dr. John James, CEO of Acumen Brands, a venture backed high growth enterprise in NWA that recently recieved a $5 million round of growth capital that included a $4 million investment from Dillards, will be our speaker in April.

Seating of the series is limited to members and their guests yet should additional seating be available, we welcome additional guests and ask that you e-mail Melissa Freeman at to see what can be worked out and if seating is available.