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During my 12-year-old daughter Annie's recent piano camp, I rediscovered a universal lesson useful for everyone young and old. A great performance, just like superior results in any area of work or life, does NOT just magically appear. It's the end product of tremendous effort — pursuit of passionate purpose in itself.

Whether you're giving a speech, making a point at a meeting, convincing teammates to take the right course of action, striving to close a sale, or playing a Sonata, these PRACTICAL POINTERS apply:

PURSUIT involving: Preparation, Persistence using a 'divide and conquer' approach, Practice, Support of a community of people, and Performance
ASSESSMENT of Progress and Celebration


Consider Annie who attended the Suzuki Institute Music Camp in Beaver Creek last week and performed Muzio Clementi's Sonatina Opus 36, No. 3 with the Faculty String Quartet. This remarkable event started when Annie's passion for piano playing was combined with the purpose of performing in the honor's recital. She pursued this goal by preparing — relearning the piece by dividing the movement into sections, sections into phrases, phrases into measures and then conquering them note by note. She mastered first the right hand, then the left hand, and integrated them together. This required consistent, daily practice. Constructive feedback from her teacher helped her get ready to create the audition video. Other people, like her parents, also supported the effort. Next, the Suzuki Institute's teachers reviewed hundreds of audition tapes and selected Annie's.

Yes! This was an exciting accomplishment and progress toward the end goal, which further ignited her passion, clarified her purpose, and set off the next round of pursuit — more practice with her teacher and a performance coach and preparation with the proper attire. When we arrived in Beaver Creek, there were special rehearsals reviewing every detail of staging, entering, bowing, breathing, coordinating with the string quartet, testing the 9-foot Steinway grand piano, and final polishing of the piece with a master instructor.

Finally it was time for the real thing. It's no surprise that Annie gave a magnificent performance receiving great applause and many compliments. Afterwards we celebrated with peach pie and ice cream! This positive experience greatly built her confidence and she's now ready for the next step.


If each of us only took all of these steps in preparing for performances in work. Having worked with many coaching clients — both organizations and leaders — to help them successfully pursue their goals, I have seen the extraordinary results this approach can bring, whether it's building an entrepreneurial venture, launching a new product, making great presentations, or anything else you're passionate about.

Let me know about your own performance successes. Here are some I've been involved with:

Boundless Corporation, a leading supplier of lithium-ion battery packs. TMS helped them revise their business plan and present it to their Board of Directors for review and approval. This was a performance unto itself!
iCAST, a non-profit helping communities implement sustainable development. TMS helped them take their strategic plan to a new level, receive approval from their Board, and begin to execute the plan.
Five Teleconferencing Companies. TMS built and ran Customer Advisory Councils and Forums which strengthened customer relationships and generated revenues for all of them.

by Theresa M. Szczurek (


Market research capability has moved to a new level, at least that's what Janet Eden-Harris, CEO of Umbria, Inc. demonstrated at the recent Green Summit in Boulder, CO.  Umbria turns unstructured online conversations into relevant and actionable market intelligence (

Using an Umbria service which analyzes and summarizes what is being expressed in online forums, chat rooms, blogs, and websites, Eden-Harris showed how the market has shifted dramatically in just 18 months.  Eighteen months ago, there were approximately 20,000 mentions per month in the blogosphere about sustainability, global warming, and such.  The majority of people across all spectrums were uncertain or skeptical as to whether 'green' issues were real.

What a difference 18 months can make.  Now with four times the volume of converation on the topic, there has been a significant shift in people's beliefs.  The majority of people realize sustainability IS an issue and want to know WHAT to do about it. It's the beginning of a large trend — people are increasingly making their buying decisions based on information about how a manufacturer's products and processes impact people, planet, and prosperity. 

This shows how quickly the market changes.  Companies, in order to remain competitive, must also rapidly change in response to the shifts or be left behind. Using intelligence from many sources, my company, Technology and Management Solutions, helps clients develop and execute plans to respond to and align with market shifts.

Will you remain a market leader? Market leaders mine the blogosphere for market intelligence, modify their strategies accordingly, and execute smoothly.  Things change faster than you think.

by Theresa M. Szczurek (


You may know the perils of pioneering Pauline -- a performing, assertive woman who does great work, yet does not advance from her current position to the top. Karen Newman, Professor the Daniels College of Business at University of Denver, recently shared research at the Business and Professional Women's Convention in Colorado helping female executives, such as Pauline, find a good place to work.

In 2008, women hold around 50% of the management and professional positions.  This is progress in the middle management tier, yet women are not breaking through the glass ceiling to stay at the very top.  Only 15% of corporate officers of Fortune 1000 are women and this has been flat since 2002.

Why is this happening? Newman suggests while some women leave to start their own business or to have more balance in line with their family priorities, many females are pushed out or find limited career opportunities for advancement.

Good places for women to excel at the top have the following characteristics:

  • NOT a tight cadre of 'old boys' at the top.  You want diversity with different length tenures.
  • High turnover with low average job tenure, otherwise you are considered an outsider.
  • A young and diverse workforce which has less baggage of men and women's roles.
  • Good climate for women with women in lots of line and staff positions.  You want a work environment that supports balance and no sex discrimination / harassment lawsuits.

Danger signs include:

  • Being the first woman in the position
  • A boss that is new, insecure, or incompetent

What are we to do? Newman encourages women (and men) to:

  • Do due diligence – research the company, its culture, and your boss.  Look for a supportive climate with a diverse management team with people that have come from other organizations and women who support other women.
  • Watch out for Queen Bees – a women who is the only woman in the organization, got there on her own, and will undermine you.
  • Find a place where it's okay to be a woman – be your entire authentic self and build on relationships.
  • Leave if you are in a bad position and realize that it is NOT your fault.  You are most likely very good and this can be threatening.
  • Consciously and intentionally set other women up for success – create supporting, mentoring, and opportunities for women.

Many of these guidelines will help both men and women, especially pioneering Paulines, be the best they can be and help their organizations reach new heights.

Theresa M. Szczurek (