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Six Pointers to Developing Your Business and Personal Theme

Does your business have a theme to focus its top priority strategic efforts? Do you have a personal theme for 2012? 

For decades, I have personally had an annual theme.  Friends would tell me that they looked forward to reading my annual holiday letter and learning my theme.  Over the years it has varied including: Out of Darkness, Into Light (after finishing the Ph.D. program); Year of the Book; Back to the Core (after the book tour realigning on my consulting practice); Focus, Finish, Fly; Believe and Act, and many more.  My theme has encapsulated my priorities and kept me going in the right direction.  For 2012, my theme comes from Pam Watson Korbel’s book by the same name, “More Money, Less Work, More Fun!”

Why have a Theme?  As Keith Cupp, President of Gazelles Coaching, says, “Your Theme helps your organization’s Quarterly Priorities or “Main Thing” come alive in the organization, resulting in Focus, Energy and Alignment across departments and team members.” Here are some suggestions from Keith Cupp ([email protected]) a top-notch Gazelles Business Coach.

Six Practical Pointers to Developing Your Theme:

1.  Do your strategic plan first.  Determine what are your BIG rocks or main priorities for the quarter or year.  How will you measure the successful outcome?  Is there one Main Thing or Priority?

2.  Brainstorm on possible Themes based on the Top Priority.  Be creative, out of the box, distinctive, and odd.

3.  Evaluate the candidate Themes, ensuring they are relevant to your culture, workforce demographic and touch on a point of reference in your team member’s minds (e.g. a current trend, or movie, etc.).


4.  For the winning Theme, brainstorm with your team and determine the Theme Name, Reward and 3-5 ways to communicate your theme (e.g. skits, emails, posters).


5.  Choose a leader who will be accountable to develop a Theme Roll Out

Plan to the entire company.


6.  Roll out the Theme at an all Company meeting, with an introduction by

the Chief Executive (and perhaps a “leading role” by the CEO in a skit).

Four Hands Case Study.

Rich Russakoff ([email protected]), shared the theme of one of his clients.  Four Hands ( is a a global manufacturer, wholesaler, and importer of innovative home furnishings. The 2005 Goal was to do $26 million. At the end of the first quarter, they were seeing that results were a little short of budget.  They realized that they were not maximizing opportunities to really align and focus people.


Theme. They used the 7.7.7 theme to emphasize their goals:

1)     $7 million in revenue in Q2 (to catch up and get  back on budget)

2)     $700,000 bottom line (to control expenses and insure profit sharing)

3)     $7 million in open orders (to insure 3rd quarter results)


The challenge for each employee was to help manage costs and increase profitability.


Results.  7.7.7 was a very successful theme

  • hit the first goal of $7.5 million in revenues
  • hit $900k bottom line
  • got to $8 million in open orders


Reward. Company celebrated success with a party and put 20% more into profit sharing.  Most importantly, this theme put them on track for 2nd half of year, where they ended at $29 million.

Theresa Szczurek (,