Category Archives: Toolboxes

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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.


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 


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High Ranking Attributes – Six Pillars Essential for Leading Your Enterprise

Please find below high ranking attributes of the Six Pillars Essential for Leading Your Enterprise.


Am I aware of the value of Emotional Intelligence for career success? 

Emotional Intelligence is catalytic for whatever other abilities we have; it allows us to make best use of them,” Daniel Goleman speaking at Google.  “Whatever Emotional Intelligence contributes to success, it matters more per unit than IQ.”

Learn from Daniel Goleman speaking at Google Headquarters


Do I genuinely know what our customers value and am I improving how we deliver value in these areas?  


Do I understand what financially successful enterprises look like? Am I helping drive our organization toward these frameworks?

A Key Ratio – After-tax profit margins for Leading Publicly Held Companies currently considered successful:

Walmart – 3.6%

Tyson Foods – 2.3%

J.B. Hunt Transport – 16.3%

Apple – 21.6%

Google – 21.5%

Cerner – 13.7%

Amazon – 0.36%


Do I lead my organization so that we can bring the very best out in our co-workers?   

Example: I do all I can do to create an open, trusting, non-defensive &  non-political environment.  (Taught to all of us by the founder of the CEO Forum, Sir Jim Myers!) 


Has our organization defined the three to eight principles or beliefs that others can depend every person in our organization to follow?

“Culture trumps strategy every time,” Jeffrey K. Schomburger, President, Global WalMart Team, Procter & Gamble.


Does every team member in my organization know our goals and know precisely his or her role in achieving these goals?

“Winning companies have simple goals with clear targets and strong follow-through.  All team members know what to do about the goals and they execute precisely,” learned from Donnie Smith during presentation at The Summit who learned from Stephen Covey and Bob Whitman, Predictable Results in Unpredictable Times.  

Learn from Donnie via this Summit Presentation

About Our Firm 

Elevate Performance LLC operates peer advisory groups including CEO Forums, Elevate Forums and Emerging Leader Forums.  We deliver  Advisory Services, Executive One-on-One’s, the Elevate Speaker Series, Tools and Content.

To learn more about whether one of our forums is a fit for you or how our services can deliver value to you, please contact Tim McFarland at or by calling 479-310-5570.

In all we do, our firm is dedicated to helping you Elevate your Performance.


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Ray Dalio – A Leader Worthy of Study, On Achieving Personal Success, Enterprise Success & Learning How the Economic Machine Works

The title to this article does seem to be much too diverse and wide ranging!  Right?  How can one person be looked to as a valuable resource for each topic? Please stay engaged.

Ray Dalio is the only Forbes 400 Member who has developed a set of principles that guide him and his firm that are also published and available to the public via his firm’s website.  We understand that every human is coming to this place with your own set of experiences, knowledge and needs as compared to myself or the next person.  Yet we share this 123 page document with you because we believe that any person hungry to learn new and better ways to become more effective individually or as an organizational leader, will find great value here.

Ray Dalio is the founder of Bridgewater Associates.

Ray is an amazing study.  The firm he founded in his two bedroom apartment in 1972 has since become the largest and highest performing hedge fund in the U.S. at $150 Billion.  While the fact that Ray has built such a firm is very impressive and the fact that Ray is on the Forbes 400 List at around $12 Billion, neither are the attributes that impresses us most about Ray.

We find the culture and the manner in which Ray operates the firm and “leads oneself” is most impressive.  Ray strongly encourages differences in opinion at the firm and he leads / operates in a non-egotistical way.  He believes that we each have to get beyond our ego barrier before we can then go about consistently discovering what is true.

Please think for a minute about any time that you might have thought you knew what was true only to learn later that the truth was elsewhere.  Take yourself back to that time and consider your frame of mind around that topic.  Might you find that you operated with a strong ego?  When we lead with ego, might we block our opportunity to learn differing views and hold the risk of holding onto something that is not true?  Our ego can be a barrier for learning from others and what really is true.  Getting beyond our ego barrier can also be the gateway for us to take our effectiveness as a leader to a much higher level and to be able to pursue and determine with much greater consistency, what is, in fact, true.

If we can get beyond our ego barrier while at the same time lead and help create an organization that is open, trusting, non-defensive and non-political, then we position ourselves to be able to grow, to enrich our learning opportunities and to be able to process information such that we can more consistently discover what is true.  Applying this key guidance and some or all of Ray’s principles gives each one of us the opportunity to become much more effective and achieve what we desire to achieve.

So let’s learn from Ray Dalio.  This morning Charlie Rose interviewed Ray.  Here is the link:

Ray Dalio operates the world’s largest Hedge Fund.  He also leads in a non-egotistical way and encourages difference in opinions.  He asks “can you get over your ego barrier?  Can you find out what is true?”  He refers to working at Bridgewater Associates, the $150 Billion Hedge Fund as going into the Intellectual Navy Seals.  He speaks of being able to live and operate without fear.

Members of our Peer Advisory Groups have also discussed the work of Book Author and Sports and Leadership Psychologist Stan Beecham.  Stan has visited our CEO Forums.  The name of his new book, which is #1 on our recommended reading list is Elite Minds.  Stan puts forth thatwhen fear dies, you begin to live.  Fear is keeping you from reaching your potential.  Conquering fear should be your primary goal in life.”    

Ray recently released a YouTube video on How the Economic Machine Works. You can find this video here:

Ray is the only person on the Forbes 400 list that publishes his Life & Management Principles.

You can find Ray’s Life and Management Principles here:

Our first introduction to Ray was while watching a Charlie Rose interview on October 25, 2011.  Acclaimed Interviewer and Broadcast Journalist Charlie Rose engages America’s best thinkers, writers, politicians, athletes, entertainers and business leaders.* We also recommend studying Ray and his way of thinking in this interview, the first with Charlie Rose:

Thank you Ray Dalio for sharing and enlightening us.  We are most grateful!

How Elevate Can Help You

Elevate Performance, LLC delivers services to help leaders elevate performance including but not limited to CEO Forums, Elevate Forums, advisory services and One-on-Ones.

Please find below information about one of our programs, a special program for C- Suite Leaders, the CEO Forum.

One Board Room | Up to Fifteen CEO’s or Leaders of Organizations | Representing Up to Fifteen Separate Industries | One Morning a Month | Trust and Confidentiality is Established by Every Member Including Signed Confidentiality Agreements | Each Month, One Member Formally Presents His or Her Largest Opportunity or Issue for Greater Success | Every Member, During the “Go Around” is Afforded the Opportunity to Tap into the Peer Group for Insights & Experience Relative to a Specific Opportunity or Challenge | Every Member Learns About the Challenges, Issues and Uniqueness of Several Industries | Differences in Opinion are Welcome & the Hunger to Find Out What is True is Strongly Encouraged | Perspective, Knowledge and Wisdom One Cannot Access Any Other Way

 “We are all better when we can access the insights and experiences of our peers in a trusting setting.  Issues do not fester or Opportunities do not pass due to hesitation because we have yet to have experience around that issue or opportunity.  We help one another with new and different ways to achieve results, how to better attract, retain and lead high quality co-workers, strategic direction & implementation, market behavior & trends.  There is no topic or issue that is off the table as real life presents a wide range of topics or issues with which leaders are looked to for response,” Tim McFarland


  •  CEO Forum I is held on the first Friday of each month from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  CEO Forum II and III meet on the second and third Friday’s from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
  • Currently working to launch a forth forum based in Benton County; will be based at  Arvest Bank, Bentonville; founding member of this forum is Dennis Smiley, CEO of Arvest Bank, Benton County.
  • Everyone learns from everyone; the more diverse the membership, the richer the experience
  • Cost – $1,300 per quarter payable in advance of each quarter; to encourage diversity in leadership, those representing diversity receive a reduced rate of $1,000 per quarter
  • Forums are currently “chaired” by Tim McFarland, who has lead organizations through growth and restructuring periods in healthy and challenging economic times in three states including financial institutions and private enterprises. Expansion plans call for additional “chairs” for new forums.

Membership to the CEO Forums is being expanded & is by invitation.  If you would like to learn more about becoming a member or about becoming a chair of future forums, please contact Tim McFarland at or 479-310-5570.




The CEO Forums Survey – Top 15 Best Practices for Recruiting and Hiring Great People

Members of the CEO Forums were asked to nominate Best Practices  for recruiting and hiring great people.  Then members were asked to rank those best practices.  Below are the results.

  1. Seek people that are first a cultural fit
  2. Hire people that are smarter than you
  3. Look for great talent and hire them; first who and then what
  4. Use trusted network / referrals
  5. Start with internships when possible
  6. You have to be recruiting all of the time
  7. Ask the question, “would I follow this person?”
  8. For managerial positions, utilize situational interviews
  9. Utilize pre-screening to make sure they are real candidates
  10. Use personality profile tools to assess the individual on many fronts; Caliper profile and Assess are two we have used; these are used to trigger red flags such as aggressive tendencies, high ego, low analytical ability, etc; used for who not to hire
  11. Strive to evaluate the “emotional quotient,” hard to discern in interview yet one can now purchase EQ tests at Barnes and Nobles or online
  12. Never hire someone when you need them/ work on great people long-term
  13. Always be observing and when one finds impressive people, seek them out
  14. Before process begins, first define what you believe is a “great person” or an “A Player”
  15. The best people we brought on were not looking when we recruited them

Elevate and CEO Forums strive to create the best learning environments for leaders through Peer Group Forums, the Elevate Speaker Series, Advisory Services & Toolboxes / Content important to your success.

12 Leaders | 1 Board Room | Peer Group Forums

Elevate is expanding its Peer Group Forums during 2013 from 3 to 6.

Each member gets the opportunity to:

  • invest three hours a month of “theta” time in a trusting setting with peers to process issues and opportunities and learn new and better ways to execute.
  • benefit from the collective wisdom of the experienced leaders whose combined value is estimated to be over $2,000 per hour, your alternative board of directors

Let us know if you or someone you know might benefit from joining a Peer Group Forum. Membership is by invitation.

Learning from Rockline Executive Nick Santoleri

Please enjoy learning from Nick Santoleri, executive of Rockline Industries.  Nick was a recent speaker at the Elevate Speaker Series by CEO Forums.  This post highlights the first three clips of Nick’s presentation via the “CEOForums” channel on YouTube.

Who is Rockline?

Rockline is a global, world class manufacturer of premium quality products for both branded and private label categories. From coffee filters to wet wipe products, Rockline offers a comprehensive line of products for your everyday lifestyle. Rockline is a recognized leader in innovation, product development, research, design, and manufacturing.  Learn more here:

What Can We Learn?

Nick’s topic is “Growing with Underdeveloped Resources.”  This is the challenge for all growth companies as at each stage the larger company needs new resources and desires to respect the talent and resources that got us to where we are today.

Part One, learn about:

  • How to think about Space
  • Growing with underdeveloped resources
  • Facilities around the globe
  • Unique Vision

Click here to watch:

Part Two, learn about:

  • Recruiting
  • Driving without a spare tire
  • Defining Stakeholders
  • How Can Companies Grow?

Click here to watch:

Part Three, learn about:

  • example comparing people and the train
  • clarity
  • how to work smarter – example starring Tom Porterfield
  • high performance organizational chart / high performance teams

Click here to watch:

We will highlight part’s four through six in a different post but they also are now available for your viewing and learning.  Thank you Nick for investing the time to prepare and present such valuable content for those leading organizations.   

Elevate strives to create the best learning environments for leaders through Peer Group Forums, the Elevate Speaker Series, Advisory Services & Toolboxes / Content important to your success.

12 Leaders | 1 Board Room | 6 Peer Group Forums

Elevate is expanding its Peer Group Forums.

Each member gets the opportunity to:

  • invest three hours a month of “theta” time in a trusting setting with peers to process issues and opportunities and learn new and better ways to execute.
  • benefit from the collective wisdom of the experienced leaders whose combined value is estimated to be over $2,000 per hour, your alternative board of directors

Let us know if you or someone you know might benefit from joining a Peer Group Forum. Membership is by invitation.

Learning from Donnie Smith, CEO of Tyson Foods

We recently had the opportunity to learn from Donnie Smith upon hearing him speak at The Summit a couple of weeks ago (

What inspired us is how, in our opinion, Donnie’s recommendations for leading can apply to any leader at any size organization.  Let’s see if you agree.  In this first post, we will include 10 things we learned from Donnie. While the descriptions are pretty exact, they are not exact quotes.   There are many more so look for future posts.

1. First, we must get real honest about where we are (find the truth).

2. Covey says, “Begin with the end in mind.  What would it look like if done well?”

3. On the past:  Let’s not focus too much too much on how we got here (challenges that preceeded Donnie’s tenure as CEO).  There is a reason our rear view mirror is so small and our windshield is larger.  Let’s quit looking in the rear view mirror and focus on what is in front of us and especially what we can see out of our front windshield.

4. We want to get customers to fall in love with us.

5.  We set goals to be in the top quartile of performance in every major area in which we operate.

6.  Then we went to work on building the momentum to bridge the gap.

7.  MTMTTMT – Make the main thing the main thing; in our case the main things were focus and speed.

8.  On focus, what are the five or six things we need to do?  It is all about prioritization.  The most important thing we do at Tyson Foods is manage distractions.

9.  In order to execute better, we chose to focus on our team and our customers.  Which one did we focus on first?  Most people answer customers.  We actually began with our people.

10.  If we take care of our employees, they will take care of the customers and that will take care of our owners (shareholders).

Great leaders likely don’t want to be put on some pedestal but we sure think Donnie Smith is a worthy person for whom to study should we be leading a small company, a division, a charitable cause or even a large company.

As always, we hope you find this of value.

Never Stop Learning | Make Better Decisions | Join A Peer Advisory Group

Should you or someone you know have an interest in joining a Peer Advisory Group or a CEO Forum, please contact us at  Membership is by invitation and we are currently in an expansion mode.  Thank you.




How Much Does Leadership Matter? Steve McElhanon

How much does Leadership Matter?  Please consider listening to one of the best presentations we have heard on why leadership does matter.

As an example, Steve McElhanon shared the following with us,

“As a leader, a lot of things are entrusted to your stewardship

  • Trust that the customers place in you
  • Financials of the company
  • Investors
  • Most importantly, the careers of the people who work for you”
Listen to how Steve describes why “Leadership Matters” via his valuable presentation at the Elevate Speaker Series by CEO Forums via this link:
Thank you Steve for your great presentation and investing time to help our members and friends learn how to better lead our organizations.

“How to Manage When You Have No Clue” from CEOU.ORG

We found this article from CEO University particularly enlightening.

We hope you do as well. It is titled, “How to Manage When You Have No Clue.”

Here is the link:

Bright, curious, engaging leaders who never want to stop learning find Peer Group Forums to be extra valuable for your career development.  Never stop learning, join a Peer Group, An Elevate Forum by CEO Forums today.    Contact us at

Thank you CEO University for the great information!