Operations & Opportunity

I was talking with a company today who let’s say is “challenged.” They have some of the common problems that many companies have today – debt, cash flow, demand for resources and much more. A lot of those are not quick to resolve, but hearing them describe how they tackle a common issue of customer contact and service was. Their operations work against every opportunity in front of them.

A quick adding up of the costs that resulted from these legacy operations cobbled together to try to run their business indicated that it cost in terms of hard and soft dollars two to three times what it should to deliver dollars that the business should produce. Add to that the cost of lost opportunity while working inefficiently and there is a strong case for changes that will not cost a lot to implement but will have a near immediate bottom line impact.

The company sells services and related tangible products to a loosely closed customer community of members. This is a model that, with slight customization for industry and business genre, fits almost all companies that are not strictly retail, wholesale sales or producing tangible goods.

Yes, they like many companies have tried to make changes to remedy the problem but most of their focus has been on the actions and market rather than the gears that drive the business. You can try to grow your business through a variety of tactics but if you do not pay attention to the machinery of the business, the profit that should be driven by expansion is often consumed by internal costs. Operations are often one of the last areas to receive attention because it is often more of an irritation than a screaming issue.

Since there are so many interesting facets in this topic, our August 2011 series will be Operations and Opportunity to be posted Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays through August. Watch for our posts beginning next, Tuesday August 2nd.
Some of the featured posts will include:

  • Knock, Knock – Who’s Here?
  • Say Cheese!
  • The Handshake
  • Show Me the Money
  • Why Do We Do This?
  • House of Antiquities

We look forward to hearing your comments, thoughts, perspective and questions.


The Day the Music Died: Brand Change (Part 10)

The smoke is clearing but it is not the result that had been expected. In some cases even though everything is pointing to a sale, transition, or merger and you know it is about to be announced, all of a sudden…dead silence. Not every opportunity to create brand change is fully realized, and it is not necessarily a bad thing.

There are many reasons that a brand change initiative fails, both due to the parties involved and in some cases an outside force, whether regulatory or a related company. Success or failure are driven by control, urgency and need to accomplish the change. So if the initiative fails, why is it sometimes a good thing?

The beauty of the process of brand change is that we are forced to see our company as someone else sees us and realize the value they perceive. Through the due diligence and research processes, as well as queries and answers, everyone discovers, uncovers and renews information. This brings a perspective and new look at everything about the company that, by default, would have been covered up in current day-to-day business. In preparation for potential change, especially in the case of a sale, many elements of the company may have been restructured, eliminated or tabled to make sure that the penny was as shiny and the company as lean as possible. The company, in most cases is changed and will never be the same again.

It is impossible to simply turn the clock back as if nothing happened as there is new knowledge, awareness, potentially a change in the players and the actual infrastructure is different. In many cases, the leaner company has a greater opportunity to embrace opportunity if baggage that at one point seemed critical has been off-loaded. Most importantly, those who have been working on the change have themselves changed. They will never be content with the way things were and will have a hunger for what they had envisioned could be. Even those not directly working on the change are impacted by the rumors heard, thoughts of how change would apply to their future and the company that is their professional home.

There will be a flurry of emotions ranging from a sense of loss to euphoria that the change initiative did not happen. But the prospect of change is never erased. Each person and entity will treat it differently from starchy executives, “That’s just business”, to those who are nearly immobilized both in fear and loss of direction. Yes, the music being played today died and the dance has stopped, but the melody plays over and over and will give birth to new initiatives which, in many cases, make the company and or brand stronger, leaner and more proactive.

The Brand Change series of blogs ends with this post. We hope that we have done a little open mind surgery helping our readers really take a look at their individual and adopted brands, what each of us control and brand strategy. Our work includes expanded writings and tools related to brand change as well as consulting services. Please contact us for more information.


The Meeting: Brand Change (Part 9)

“The meeting” will take place this week, in not just one conference room or board room around the nation, but many. In each of these, there is a table, chairs that are supposed to be comfortable and suitable for the status of the executives who will be attending and the accoutrements necessary. The room set up is designed to facilitate audio, visual and interaction. It should be a place where there is a healthy exchange of ideas, concepts and strategies and, most of all, decisions on the future of the brand.

There is a hopefulness for real decisions and leadership that will clear the smoke, dispel the rumors and set a path of direction worthy of exitement and opportunities to be siezed.

As the participants enter the meeting, there will be the usual show of comradery, variety of greetings, a story here and there. There will also be positioning, both the pompous and the subtle. Curiousity and concern will rise to a palpable level when a new person, or someone unexpected, enters the room. With brand change, no one is certain where each stands. They are hopeful that they will hear the decisions that will define their personal and professional future, definition for the brand is often secondary.

The agenda for the meeting is not specific, it is general. Most of the big decisions have already been made. This meeting should be about action and execution. Some participants try to prepare, grilling their minions for every ounce of information that might be related. Reports have been written, even though they may have no real bearing on the proposed reason for meeting. This meeting should be about the future and not the past. The participants are most likely there because of title and/or, role but not necessarily their ability to lead, followership they may have, ideas or initiative. In many cases, there will be few, if any, real assignments for the participants, but a lot of work will be generated. Traditional companies that operate in this fashion might benefit from the lessons being learned by many of the newer more nimble companies that are conquering new and unexplored business.


Brand Strategy: Brand Change (Part 8)

Changes are rapidly occurring in the strategies in branding. No longer is a name the primary value in a brand. It is also the tools, services, shared resources and customer bases that drive the value of being affiliated with a brand. It is often also a part of creating value for a business. While brand change is still hidden in clouds of smoke, it is a great time to really look at brand strategies and consider options for your brand.

Economics are forcing our business structures to leverage branding, marketing, operations, resources and customers to gain the maximum revenue and impact to the bottom line. No longer can most businesses remain simple. The exception would be those in a niche market or product offering.

While there are many options to consider, let’s take a brief look at strategies that can be utilized to make each dollar spent work harder. We will explore more detailed information in future blog posts and whitepapers. If you are looking for more indepth information or specifics for your company, please contact us.

Enterprise Strategy – In essence a collection of businesses under an ownership umbrella. Economic benefit is gained when these are either aligned businesses sharing a customer base or products and services that can be bought and sold by internal and external customers.

Vertical Strategy – Utilizes resources to capture diversified customers within a specific business segregated by factors such as economics, product choice, specialty, and demographics. Often the product or service levels are named to give the customer a way of not only distinguishing differences, but also as a marketing tool to drive demand for higher level and often more expensive and profitable products and services.

Horizontal Strategy – Leverages the customer base to sell multiple products and services that may or may not be related to a shared customer base. Not every customer buys every product but there is a higher liklihood that they will buy more than one product or service. In some cases it is one point of sale offering multiple products, in others it is constructed more as a network.

Brand Extension Strategy – Utilizes a name or concept to brand multiple products and services with the concept that, if the consumer likes and trusts the brand they will buy more items with that label. Works best for retail on the shelf or Internet product sales, but does not always work well when applied to services or intangible products.

Multi-Branded Strategy – This strategy has become increasingly popular, especially where product choice drives consumers more than the brand providing the service. This strategy recognizes that the pool of customers is finite and seeks multiple ways to “capture” the customer. In the real estate business, there's the ability to search properties on the Internet with the data shared fairly evenly among all companies no matter what size and where all brands share each others data. In the automotive industry, dealerships are often multi branded as the consumer is more likely to be drawn to choice and convienience. The good news/bad news of multi branded strategies is that it does serve the customer well and can be operationally and cost efficient, but it also generally reduces the number of companies working in any business.

While we do not know what specific brand changes are on the horizon, there is no better time to really take a hard look at your companies strategy and design the direction of your future.


Hurry Up & Wait: Brand Change (Part 7)

Hurry up and wait. We all hate it. You feel like you have been standing in the smoke and hearing the rumors for so long now that you are really tired of it and want to get on with your business. In truth, nothing is stopping you except the normal fascination we all have with the unknown. However, you still want to know why it is taking so long.

Throughout the Brand Change series the theme of controlling what is yours to control runs throughout. Companies including franchisors and networks who are executing major brand change do not control everything either. In many cases delays in announcements are not necessarily what they want or would choose. In a perfect world, we could make our plans, create our strategies and make the changes as we desire, aligned with our desired timing. That is only true if it does not involve other people, financial institutions, regulatory institutions and or governmental entities.

Take for example franchising. Franchisors, because they are making a business offering regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), file documents with the FTC which must go through regulatory processes. These documents are then filed annually in the form of a Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD), generally filed no later than March 31 of every year. However, if you are franchising on a national basis, nearly 40% of the states have individual rules and processes that apply and require approvals. Hence, if you have filed on the federal level, your plans and ability to transact business may be held up by any state or other regulatory entity in the process. Just because you need this for your business, it does not mean that they consider it a priority and your timing certainly is not a consideration. This is just one example of what might create a “hurry up and wait” scenario where even those closest to the fire can do nothing.

On a more localized basis it is often state agencies and county and local governments who have more control than you do in the timing of your companies' changes and being able to make key announcements, changes and moves.

While brand change may be something we are affected by at some point and at some level, perhaps we should turn the tables a bit. Apply the concepts, feelings and suggestions to your own businesses. If your business is in a growth mode, whether it is by mergers, acquisitions, roll-ins, walk-overs, network growth, affiliates or even recruiting of associates and staff, you are a part of brand change and directly affect others. Most likely the same type of feelings, concerns, challenges and opportunities exist for those you seek to become a part of your company, no matter what the method. They, too, will often feel frustrated and anxious when in the “hurry up and wait” mode in which every rumor becomes a point of angst.


The Challenge of Focus: Brand Change (Part 6)

There is a large gathering made up of people in the industry, media and curious bystanders. The smoke is very thick and the air is hot. The crowd seems to shift whenever there is a new rumor, potential leak or even something said in humor that is given weight as all seek the source of the fire. Is there a sale? Who is the buyer? When will this take place? When will we know? Has the deal been blown?

Each question and rumor gets attention and gains importance as the story mutates when it is shared one to another.

So, why are you in the crowd getting caught up in the noise and lost in the smoke? It is human nature – curiosity, a need to know, hope, fear, concern and desire. All compelling but very hard to ignore and a true challenge, as it may distract you from focusing on what is important to your business.

If you are in charge and potentially in control, you know the location of the fire and you are at the scene. If you are in the smoke, you cannot change what will happen. The challenge of focus is keeping a firm hand on the rudder of what is important and immediate in our own businesses in spite of all of the distractions available in times of change. Brand change brings great distractions, not just because of the play on the imagination, but more so because it is at least a part of our identity.

How do you stay focused?
  1. Limit the number of times you check sources to see if it happened.
  2. Put a time limit on the amount of time you will invest in conversations regarding the potential brand change.
  3. Task yourself and the leadership of your company to have three key priorities to accomplish daily and review progress at end of the day.
  4. Write a “white” announcement that you can drop the change announcement into when the announcement is made.
  5. Understand that you must stay in control of what you can change, impact or lead.

The challenge of focus is a great test to the strength of leadership and critically important in times of change and abundant rumors. Your staff and all associated with you will appreciate the difference your focus and leadership will make to the bottom line. The news of the announcement will be made whether you are watching or not. Stay focused.


Brand Identity Assessment: Brand Change (Part 5)

As the fire prior to the announcement heats up and the smoke is thicker than ever, you have to make the decision about what kind of a firefighter you are going to be. Are you going to work to keep the flames at bay or become proactive to control the fire and its results?

There is a lot that you can do to prepare, even if you are navigating the unknown. Throughout this series, we have emphasized making sure that your own company brand is strong, can handle outside challenges and will grow with the momentum that change brings. That brings a lot of opportunity, especially for those who are brand dependent. The first step is often an assessment of your company’s identity. The following questions should serve as a good startig point.

1. Look at your URL – does the name give you a stand-alone identity?
  • There are always brand identity marks and requirements that come with affiliation in a network or franchise that govern the use but not necessarily the URL.
  • If the brand of the franchisor or network disappeared, what would happen to your marketing, search engine optimization (SEO) and related solutions on your web sites?
  • Since the search engines look at longevity of a site, page and URL as a part of the criteria for placement, would you lose this standing if you had to change?
  • If you own a URL or can acquire one that only represents your company brand, how soon can you have it up and begin the transition of new content, visibility and changes in related email addresses and marketing?
2. Do you have your own identity in recruiting?
  • Take your current recruiting materials, information and marketing and as a test, white-out or eliminate anything that references your franchise or network affiliation. What is left?
  • You brand or network should add to a strong foundation and not be the entirety.
3. Do you have your own value package?
  • To recruit and retain associates?
  • To attract talent?
  • To entice consumers to do business with your company?
  • To recognize achievement?
4. Is your infrastructure independent?
  • Lead generation?
  • Core services?
  • Relationship to vendors?
  • Tools and services?
  • Accounting and reporting?
5. Are your plans for growth defined by the network or franchisor?
  • Do you have a growth plan of your own aligned with the network or franchisor but not dependent?
  • Have you defined the strategic initiatives necessary to execute your growth plan?
  • Does your growth plan consider potential exit strategies?


Navigating the Unknown: Brand Change (Part 4)

The smoke is thick and choking. You do not know the cause of the smoke but you have experienced a few sparks that give you an idea of the source and path of the fire. You know that you must lead your group through the smoke and into the clear, but there is little to give you great direction and confidence in your decisions. Every fiber of your leadership is now called upon to act. But how do you lead when navigating the unknown?

Brand change can be the result of external forces you do not control but will indeed affect you and your company. An example would be when a parent company or franchisor sells to other companies or buys other companies. In the period where the intensity of rumors are fanning the smoke in all directions, there is often nearly a void of communications from the parent or the franchisor, especially if they or the acquisition are publically traded. They cannot speak or give information, they cannot even suggest that any change is in the works. This may seem very unfair if it will impact your company, but unfortunately is the way it must be.

The worst part of the experience is the lack of information to use in making decisions and the fact that it seems like in the void of communications, time drags on with pressure, concern and anticipation. Compounding this is the abundance of rumors and people taking action on the basis of rumor which may force you to play defense. You must maintain an aura of confidence and focus on the business at hand, but at the same time consider potential strategic moves based on “if this – then that.” All the while you are probably tied up in knots thinking about the possibilities brought with each rumor.

Everyone in your company is looking to you for leadership. They are looking to you to determine what their stance and reaction should be and want a proactive path to follow with a light worthy of pursuit at the end of the tunnel. They will often replicate your actions, confidence and mood, often adopting your words as their own. At the end of the day, no matter what the franchisor does and in many cases the parent company, you still have a business to run and people to lead. The following may help you navigate the unknown by putting what you know, your talents and skills to work proactively with passion.

1. Always prioritize your actions and statements.

  • a. What must I do now to make money
  • b. What must I do to move my company forward
  • c. What must I do to validate my leadership and be worthy of followership

2. Maintain focus on your objectives and the tasks required to meet those objectives.

3. Solidify your company’s brand, mission, vision and values.

4. Continue building, recruiting and challenging your business.

  • a. Keep playing offense, it is the best strategy.

5. Drive your company with focus on the objectives that will sustain you through any change or challenge. you may meet.

6. Celebrate winning, even the small wins count big in times of change.

7. Touch and communications will help validate caring and leadership.

8. Expand your thinking to consider the opportunities and rewards change can bring.

9. Keep in mind that few will be concerned about the the smoke until you make it an issue.

10. No matter what the change is, get excited about it, own it and take every advantage possible.


What's in a Name? (Brand Change Part 3)

Part 3 of the Brand Change series

Branding is about identity, but we often forget that the name, logos and marks are not the only identifiers associated with our company brand. For a company, it is the people, the services we provide, what we sell, the values we embrace and the relationship we have with our communities.

The change of a name in a brand change is initially one of the scariest thoughts, because most of us market name first rather than who we are and what we do. It is often a one way association with little differentiation from others associated with the same brand.

Venerable names have a challenge in constantly renewing and revalidating their current business structure especially when brand extension has taken the business unit away from the main business genre. New names have a challenge of gaining recognition unless it is as a part of a large company or group change which tends to gain attention and a good bump in business in the introduction.

There are many cases in which a brand name change has been a very positive boost to business. Not because the former name was necessarily bad, but, in some cases it represented the past or perhaps did not bring awareness to new offerings, products, services and more. Take, for example, the names of some of the oil companies: Exxon, Mobil, Amoco – all of these names were created to build the momentum caused in change as well as reflect that there was something new in the underlying companies. More recent examples include numerous bank name changes and ownership.

Like most brand changes, the changes did not cause a loss of business as neither the people, services nor the locations changed. Most importantly the relationships did not change. Yes, there were some challenges as there always are in the rollout of new identifiers and information, but these are really a small blip in time that you will notice more than the consumer public.

We as a culture like names and hold those identifiers near and dear to our hearts until a reason to change is presented. Then we adopt the new identity and put our energies into making sure that everyone knows and is happy for us. Kind of like a marriage when a bride adopts the groom's last name or they choose to create a name that is their own.

What’s in a name – it is the people, relationships and passion that make it far more than words.


Communicating Change (Brand Change Part 2)

Part 2 of the Brand Change Series...

The smoke signaling fire in the real estate industry is building heat as the rumors of announcements and timing grow. If you are the broker owner and may be facing brand changes whether these changes are initiated by you, a franchisor or a network require proactive actions and communications. How you communicate the change and your reactions will determine the impact and your control of the impact.

All change brings opportunity. No matter what the change is, it creates force and momentum. Your decision must be one to take a leadership position in the forefront of the change. Those who do not are likely to be propelled along courses controlled by others. Your communications, posture and leadership style are all controlled by you and critically important during significant change. Key elements that need to be integrated in your communications include:
  • Leading, speaking and acting from a position of strength.
  • Ensuring that those around you who influence others know your message and are able to convey it.
  • Celebrating the momentum and the opportunity change brings.
  • Being prepared to answer questions proactively.
  • Staying ahead of the media curve by being the source of information rather than the recipient.
  • Making sure that your brand is strongly positioned and able to be aligned with the brand of your franchisor or network.
While these points may seem hard to execute, they are basically the same for communicating all change whether large or small and whether or not the change is related to a brand change. It is similar to when you first learned to sell, you did not know everything but your communications were filled with excitement and anticipated opportunity.


Brand Change (Part 1)

There is a lot of smoke stirring in the real estate industry from a fire that seems nearly ready to show its source.  It has been interesting to observe the impact of the time and energy spent in guessing who is buying and who is selling as well as the result and potential impact.  While this is an interesting exercise in creative thought, it has also become a great distraction.  Companies anticipating the change are hesitant to initiate marketing, take advantage of opportunities and in some cases recruit people to their companies.

Regardless the actual change once it occurs, each affiliate broker/owner and company will still have a business dependent on their leadership to succeed, no matter whether the outside force is driven by market, economics, demographics, competition or franchisor brand initiatives.   The bottom line is that you control your business and not any of the items that influence it.

Perhaps what is most interesting is that the real brand change has taken place slowly in part and under the radar because most of the real estate companies in the United States were still caught up in brand dependency.  We were aware that it was occurring but many did not think of it as a real brand change.  The consumer stopped shopping for real estate by brand and began to shop by property and types of property in which they were interested.  Blame the Internet if you like, but the real blame is in the fact that the industry failed to make the changes necessary to leverage the consumer appetite and utilize brand as a validator for selection rather than the point of search.

This is a structural change to the industry which also requires structural changes to the real estate business and individual operations.  Today, a brand or franchisor has become a service provider more than the primary identity for marketing.  It is a point of validation for consumer expectations rather than the primary component in a search.

Regardless the changes that are announced in specific major brands soon, the consumer is not going to be concerned with those changes as much as they are with the properties and services that meet their needs.  It is not the color of your sign or the name on the sign that makes the consumer search for a property but may be a part of the decision to choose to do business with you.  More importantly, they will want to know your local brand and what it stands for as a validation in the selection process.

The related posts in this series will speak to brand dependency and the impact to business and how to deal with the changes in your chosen brand.


Bricks, Sticks and Clicks

You took pride in building your company.  Expanding to serve new communities and seeing your footprint grow.  Each time you added a location, the cost of bricks and sticks...a building, seemed like a logical idea, especially if you could leverage your infrastructure with little additional cost.  On paper when placed against the potential opportunity, it made sense until the “click” began to take over.
 Whether you are a retailer or a service provider, most have seen their business models impacted by the “click.”  The amount of information, convenience and speed of commerce on the Internet has changed the game.  Unfortunately dismantling the infrastructure built to accommodate traditional business is not as simple.
Considerations you now have to weigh include:
  1. How you reduce your physical footprint without looking like you are downsizing?
  2. How do you maintain the level of service the communities you serve have come to know and expect from you?
  3. How do you transition from your current structure to an Internet driven and dependent business?
  4. How do you and your leadership team make the necessary changes to grow and develop a culture that is not housed in a traditional facility.
  5. What tasks can be done via a “click” that now require human interaction?
  6. How do you make the shifts necessary to lead the changes required and not feel a loss of control and status?
The good news is that many of the challenges are perceptual rather than real.  The toughest part is that the process begins with you embracing the “click” as another format of growth for your business.

It brings wonderful opportunities and efficiencies that many traditional businesses could not achieve without a significant investment in people and resources.  The “click” is the new beginning of a relationship with your customers, your associates and your business future.  It is not going away but increasing in use.  Incorporating the “click” into your business is the opportunity to rebirth businesses that have become stale, compete on a new level and, perhaps most of all, open the doors to a greatly expanded customer group and set of preferences.

Beginning next week we will be posting a series dedicated to embracing and leveraging changes in both structural and cyclical in business.  Several whitepapers will be made available by request.  “Like” our company on Facebook as another way to see our current whitepapers and other offerings.


The Social Media Reprimand

Recently, we all watched as Delta Airlines took a beating in the new public view of social media through the posting of a video on YouTube by soldiers traveling on Delta who had to pay some pretty hefty baggage fees. Soon after the video was posted, it went viral being picked up by news media, consumers and competing airlines. I am sure that the competitor airlines who quickly stepped up to the plate with changes in their baggage fee policies understood that the wrath of the public eye could have been focused on any one of them.

This example is a good one in terms of the power that social media has to stir public opinion, corporate action and be considered a source for news stories. Who would have thought a few years ago that this would be possible and that it would have this potential impact? I think that it is only the tip of the iceberg. Like an iceberg, we do not yet see the entire challenge and must maneuver our companies carefully through these waters. As the captain of your ship, it is your responsibility to chart the safest course, train your staff and address any issues that arise quickly and appropriately.

Many companies are hesitant to create methods for giving public feedback, comments, problem resolution and ratings on their sites. The rule here is that it will get posted someplace. If it is invited on your site, it serves many purposes.
  1. You have the opportunity to address it in a timely fashion and resolve the issue.
  2. You also gain the opportunity to communicate better with both the happy and dissatisfied.
  3. Additionally, it engages the consumer and is quite often the differentiator that will make someone choose you over another.
  4. Customers and clients will be more likely to want to do business with companies that show attention to issues and resolution.
  5. All feedback communications will potentially be found by search engines and positively impact your SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
Putting feedback on your site is only the first part of the work that needs to be done. Someone has to be responsible for monitoring web activity related to your company, brand, products, services and personnel. This goes beyond what is posted to your site, requiring diligent monitoring and researching. It is difficult to be proactive, responsive and engaged if you do not know who is talking to you or about you. It is a marketing and customer service activity.
Your responses, reactions and communications must be timely, appropriate and use the right voice and message in multiple venues. Who you choose for this task, as well as the escalation process you put in place, is important.

There much opportunity to be gained through the web and a lot of icebergs to steer around. No one needs a social media reprimand like Delta received. They are not the first company and will not be the last. Social media reprimands are painful and expensive ways to learn about business on the web.

Watch our blogs for more information and resources to help you steer your company through tricky waters. Mallie Dein, our Director of Internet Initiatives, will be a regular contributor. She will also be working with many of our clients, assisting in their Social Media and Internet Initiatives.



What a wonderful country we live in! We are blessed with so many freedoms and opportunities that people living in many parts of the world can only dream about. These freedoms have a long trail stained in blood, sweat, tears, and fear. There are bridges on the trail where challenges were conquered. Communities born in the fertile soils, built with abundant resources drove commerce and industry. None of this would have been possible without leaders willing to take risks and responsibility.

As you celebrate the freedoms you enjoy this weekend, take a couple of minutes to think about the correlated responsibilities and the impact they have on your business, your customers and the people affiliated with your company. You can buy the title of owner, be assigned the title of boss but you must earn the title of leader. It is the leader who makes a difference.

If you own your company, you have the freedom to choose what business you will be in, how you will run that business and who you impact with your business. These freedoms also bring the responsibility of making good decisions, creating structure, maximizing entrepreneurial opportunity and personal responsibility in the way you execute your work. The measures and rewards are not only success, loyalty and trust but perhaps most importantly, the desire of others to follow and emulate you.

This weekend, as we celebrate the independence of our country, the freedoms we enjoy and all of the fun the holiday will bring, we also celebrate leaders. Choose to be a leader worthy of followers and continue the building of opportunity and freedom as a legacy that those who follow you will celebrate.

Have a wonderful celebration this weekend.