Setting Goals for 2013 – What Will Yours Be?

By Patti Baron Schreiber

As the end of the year quickly approaches, taking time to reflect on your business and what you've accomplished seems like a no-brainer. However, if you didn't set any goals at the beginning of the year, it can be difficult to know where you came from, not to mention where you meant to go. Yogi Berra said it best: "If you don't know where you are going, you might end up somewhere else.

Since my twenties, I set goals for myself every year. It kept me on track professionally, personally and financially. Then, during a particularly difficult rough patch, I gave up setting goals for several years. At the heart of it, I think it was because I felt I had no control over anything, and so goal setting seemed like a useless exercise. In retrospect, it was probably the time TO set goals, no matter how small, in order to have something to focus on.

In the bestselling book, “Gung Ho” by Ken Blanchard, one of the first principles he talks about is having a clear vision and setting goals. If you have people who work for you, communicating those goals visually to them is key in getting everyone working toward the same end with commitment. He recommends posting goals where everyone can see them on a daily basis. This creates an internal vision for every team member – a reminder that they have purpose and are working towards something.

I’ve worked in organizations where there were very specific goals, very sporadic goals, “shotgun” reactionary goals, ever-changing goals and no goals. The most fulfilling, motivating place to work was unequivocally the place with the most specific goals. And, no coincidence, it was the most successful business I’ve worked in as well.

You don’t have to be a business owner or a professional to set goals. I remember attending a volunteer committee meeting in the home of a stay-at-home mother of five a few years ago. I went to use the bathroom and there, at eye level on the back of the door, was the family’s value statement, vision and goals written for everyone to see on a regular basis.

This past year, I resurrected my goal setting practice. I did a mid-year review and again, reviewed them yesterday. I was pleased to see that most had been accomplished, and I am currently contemplating the ones which were not. The three which had little or no progress were either no longer in alignment with who I am or were too big, and I had not taken the time to break them into attainable, small steps.

Whether you are a business owner, employee or someone just looking to move forward with your life, consider setting goals for yourself for 2013. Write them down. Look at them frequently. Vision in your mind what it looks like to accomplish each one. And watch for my next blog on Creating a Vision.


Getting the most out of LinkedIn

By Erin Sinks

LinkedIn is a social media tool that helps people network professionally with other people. This site allows people to access resumes, recommendations, skills, experience, education, testimonials, and apply for jobs all at the touch of your fingertips. LinkedIn provides your organization with increased visibility to your products, goals, customers, and competition, all of which aid in your business’s growth and success.

Understanding the power of LinkedIn can be essential to a successful career. The first step in optimizing your LinkedIn profile is to determine your goals. Once your goal is set, you can then start creating an effective group of networks that meet your specific areas of interest. It is especially important in today’s social media crazed world, to have a strong online networking system. It is highly recommended that you expand your social network to everyone outside your social niche; gaining more exposure leads to greater opportunities. Make sure to keep your LinkedIn profile up to date; your personal profile should display content that you have developed, to show the expertise in your work. A strong profile relies on keywords that emphasize your skills, linking you to other professionals; this will make it easier for your profile to be found in search results. Creating a customized URL is essential for people to remember your site; make it personable and relevant to your profile. Lastly, don’t forget to make your profile public!

Ready to get more from LinkedIn? Join Danielle Eisenach, Monday, November 5th from 7:30-9am at the Naperville Chamber as she speaks about the various ways that LinkedIn can help you promote yourself and your business. This LinkedIn workshop will enable you to learn how to optimize your LinkedIn profile and leverage this growing social media outlet to grow your business! Marketing expert Danielle Eisenach will offer valuable insight and tips on using LinkedIn to make connections and drive success for your company and your career. Register at


Agreement Reached to Purchase Wheaton Grand Theater


Jim Atten, owner of Atten Real Estate, has purchased the Wheaton Grand Theater. The deal will close on December 1, and renovation on the downtown landmark will be necessary to restore it to its old glory. Rick Erickson and the Bold Steps team are excited about this change in our community and look forward to continuing to support Mr. Atten and the theater. Read more at The Wheaton Patch


Place Your Bet: The Candidate with the Highest EQ Will Be the Next President

By Patti Baron Schreiber

This past Sunday in the Chicago Tribune, columnist John Kass offered his perspective on the presidential candidates. He commented how President Barack Obama is not being held accountable for the soaring debt (from $10 trillion to $16 trillion) since he took office while Mitt Romney is being held to the fire for a gaffe that, in his opinion pales in comparison. And, he is probably right.

Why is that? Why are we willing to overlook what should be one of the biggest issues in this race? Because Obama exudes EQ. And most of us want a leader we can connect with, who is engaging and demonstrates authenticity.

Because our political candidates are so polished, spun and prepared, it is oftentimes only through the mistakes they make that we get to see them in a moment of light or truth; when they are raw and taken off guard. And so the gaffes take on a magnified importance to the watching world.

EQ or Emotional Intelligence Quotient is the level of intelligence a person has on the emotional side of the house. It is separate from IQ. Much has been written about EQ being as important, if not more important, in achieving success at work and at home. It is the ability to be aware and manage our emotions and the emotions of others to achieve better relationships with ourselves and those around us.

When I mentioned the topic of my blog in the office, one of my colleagues likened this to the “beer poll.” It is the likability factor that a candidate has – with who would you rather sit down, have a beer and shoot the breeze?

Probably the candidate who is most genuine: who has the highest EQ.

EQ plays into every aspect of this race and in past races. Unfortunately, the Republican campaign has been littered with low EQ mistakes, including the incredibly insensitive remarks by Todd Akin, which reflected poorly on the entire party. Romney’s recent faux pas of being caught on tape saying 47 percent of voters will cast their ballot for Obama no matter what, because they feed on the government and expect the government to take care of them, has gone viral.

When we think about what we want in a leader, the 26 core competencies on the Emotional Intelligence Assessment developed by the Institute for Social and Emotional Intelligence highlight the qualities that appeal to most of us. Look through this partial list and see how each candidate compares in your mind.

  • Personal Power
  • Emotional Self Awareness
  • Integrity
  • Empathy
  • Communication
  • Inspirational Leadership
  • Building Bonds
  • Building Trust

I think it’s safe to say that whether we are talking about a spouse, a work colleague, a boss or the President of the United States, we want someone who is a good communicator, empathetic, has integrity, is emotionally self- aware, can build bonds and trust and is authentic.

As consumers of the political game being played out, we are searching for the truth of who these candidates are. Of course the policies are important, but if the person championing them is incapable of communicating, standing in their power, or relating to the vast majority of people in this country, they don’t stand a chance of winning the election. So much of each candidate is polished and spun by the PR and marketing powerhouses behind them, that when they show a crack into who they really are, we jump at the chance to see a glimpse of the true person. And that is why the focus on the gaffes takes on magnified importance.

My bet is this: The candidate most able to identify with us, engage, be authentic, real and human is the candidate that will win this election. As voters, we are smart enough to see through the staged situations – it is the unstaged that draw us in and give us the added insight we seek to make a decision.


Patti Baron Schreiber Joins Downers Grove Chamber Board of Directors


Our Business Strategist and Leadership Coach Patti Baron Schreiber was sworn in to the Board of Directors of the Downers Grove Chamber of Commerce on Friday, September 28 at the Diamonds & Denim Gala. Patti was nominated for the honor about a month ago, which she was eager to accept. The Bold Steps’ team looked forward to her officially joining the Board at the Gala, which is the Chamber’s hallmark event designed to celebrate and honor the accomplishments of the organization and its members.

Patti looks forward to using her experiences in marketing, business strategy, and coaching as well as sharing her creative ideas to grow the Chamber’s programs and membership.


Bold Steps Featured in Daily Herald Business Ledger


The Daily Herald Business Ledger recently featured Bold Steps as an up-and-coming business! Click to read the interview with our founder and president, Rick Erickson.

Bold Steps To Attend Illinois State Bar Association Solo And Small Firm Conference


Bold Steps, Inc. will attend the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) Solo and Small Firm Conference, September 13-15 at the Westin Northwest Chicago located in Itasca, Ill. Bold Steps provides business consulting services to organizations across a variety of industries.

Bold Steps will host an enter-to-win contest at their conference booth. The grand prize, valued at $3,000, is the Bold Steps for Attorneys package of services. The package is designed for solo or small firms that wish to grow their practice, refresh their website and strategy, and streamline their operations. One lucky winner will receive the entire package to be implemented at his or her firm.

Bold Steps for Attorneys includes: a two-hour strategy session to review a firm’s business goals and develop a strategic plan for the future, a new, fully functional website that includes a logo design and establishes the firm’s brand, and a review of existing operations plus recommendations for improving document and practice management. The Bold Steps team is certified in TimeMatters® and Clio, two of the most prevalent practice management systems in use today.

Bold Steps is eager to participate in the conference and looks forward to making connections and adding value to the legal community. In addition to the enter-to-win contest and speaking about the Bold Steps for Attorneys package, the team will be sharing their insights into generating business strategy, establishing operational efficiencies, and growing a firm’s client base.


Adventures in Networking

By Danielle Eisenach

What's in a Brand?
Today I want to talk to you about the value of your brand—not just your company’s image, but your personal brand—your reputation. Your brand is a vital component of your marketing and networking strategy. I’ll begin by talking more about what a brand is and why it’s important, then talk about establishing and maintaining your personal brand.

The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as: “a name, term, sign, symbol or design or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.” It’s everything about your business that distinguishes you from your competitors. But a brand is more than a logo, your colors and your products. A brand is reflected in the customer experience you provide—your customers’ expectations of you, thoughts about you and actions toward your company.

Play along with me for a moment. I want you to reflect on the following companies and take note of what you think of them, what you expect from them and how you interact with them. The companies are: Target, Starbucks, Kraft, Nike, and Enron. Some of your feelings may be positive, others may not. And your perception of their reputation determines how you interact with them.

Let’s take my favorite company on the list: Starbucks. I think Starbucks is a great company with a consistent product and level of service. I know that every time I go in, I will be greeted with a smile, my drink will be delicious, and I will have free Wi-Fi; therefore, I seek out a Starbucks wherever I go. I also set meetings at Starbucks, because I know what to expect when I visit. I even have their loyalty card and their app on my smart phone. I am loyal to their brand because of my consistently excellent experience with them.

Brand loyalty and perception also applies to individuals. Think about celebrities like Oprah, Dr. Oz, Michael Jordan, Lady Gaga, and Tiger Woods. What images come to mind? Each of these individuals has a brand, good or bad, and you have a perception of each of them. Oprah, for example, has a strong brand. Hers is one of personal perseverance, helping others, and success. With every action, she establishes and reinforces her brand with those around her. Now look at Tiger Woods, a fantastic golfer and great athlete who had lots of endorsements. Then, unfortunately, he had some personal issues that tarnished his brand. The result was that he lost his focus, he became inconsistent, and he lost his endorsements—the sponsors didn’t want to be associated with his brand.

So, consistency, managing expectations and creating an exceptional customer/personal experience is key in building and maintaining your brand and your company’s brand. Interested in learning specific steps to build and maintain your brand? Join me as I present for Believe, Inspire, Grow (BIG) next Tuesday, August 28th at Entrée Kitchen from 8:30-11:00 am. Entrée Kitchen is located at 26W276 Geneva Road, Carol Stream, IL 60188. More information on BIG can be found at Hope to see you there!


Coaching Case Study: Getting Back to What You Love

By Patti Baron Schreiber


Have you ever picked up Money Magazine and read their case study, complete with recommendations on how to improve the featured financial situation? I love to read those, because there is usually some tidbit that applies to me. And it’s always a “feel good” to know I’m doing something right.

I hope that this coaching case study will work the same way and that you will find some golden nuggets that are helpful to you.

Around 8 pm on a Wednesday evening, my business phone rang. Picking up, I was surprised to hear the voice of an acquaintance on the other end. She had several businesses in a creative field which she had grown from the ground up. Originally, she was the creative talent and then, as the business grew, she became the manager and administrator of creative talent.

She called at her wits end in frustration, ready to close or sell her businesses and move to a Caribbean island. She asked if I would coach her to figure out what to do. Over the course of the next few weeks, it became clear in our sessions that three things were at play:

  1. Coming from a culture in which women were devalued, my client had many negative thoughts about herself and what she was capable of.
  2. She had completely lost touch with her passion, instead morphing into the consummate business owner to grow revenues while losing touch with the “why” of her business.
  3. She did not have the tools or desire to manage young, creative people and teach them how to function in a business.

The first issue became apparent when I had my client write down all the things she heard in her head when she thought about success, pursuing her real passion, making money, etc. The flurry of negative thoughts and phrases, many which she had heard from her father and some from her mother were overwhelming. She was embarrassed by how these had controlled her and how horrible some of them truly were.

Going through each one and identifying where it came from, how it no longer served her and how it was damaging to carry it around tuned her awareness in to the messages. Gradually, as she learned to listen to her inner voice, she was able to discern this second, hurtful voice and banish it.

The second issue was complicated by time and money. She had become the person that the business needed in order to be successful. However, she was less than successful because the constant dissatisfaction and downright unhappiness with what she was doing was affecting her performance.

I asked her to think about her passion, which was helping other creatives in her field become successful financially through their artistry, and how much time she could carve out each week to spend on it.

Her eyes lit up as she thought about getting back to her joy. She committed to spending one hour a week on a project she had set aside that was geared for artists in her genre. Reigniting her passion for something, even though it was somewhat outside of her business at the time, made work more enjoyable.

The third issue had grown into a complicated management mess. She had over 10young creatives working for her as sub-contractors. At the time, she was taking all phone calls regarding their schedules, cancellations, marketing her business, dealing with a sub that didn’t show or was late, etc. For many of her subs, the job was not their passion but a way to earn a living until their own careers took off. They had no business or customer service acumen.

When I asked her which things she was willing to get off her plate she realized almost all of it. Over the next few months, she set up a manual for her subs, gave all calls and scheduling issues over to each sub and set up another person to manage more of the day-to-day items. She even implemented an automatic pay plan for subscribers. This freed her up to get back to some of the creative production as well as marketing her business, which had fallen by the wayside with all of her other responsibilities.

That was over two years ago. In the time since, she has completed her passion project, her marketing efforts have grown and her business has doubled in number of clients and space. Being stuck doesn’t have to be a permanent dead end. Knowing how to seek assistance, give up some control, not be afraid to reflect and become aware of limitations may be what’s needed to spring forward to the next level.


Font Changes Everything

By Robin Lawrence

One of the first choices one makes when preparing a design, large or small, is which typeface to use to display the appropriate message. Too often, improper font usage causes messaging confusion and leads to a less than desired result.

Originally, in the days when the printing press reigned, type foundries were limited to the font styles that they could forge out of metal. These generally included only simple styles, either serif or sans-serif. Serifs are the “feet” and extra flourishes attached to many fonts ( Times, for example). In today’s age of computers and the internet, however, there are thousands of options for fonts - each with their own intended tone and proper usage.

One of the most improperly used fonts has to be Comic Sans. This typeface was originally designed in 1994 for comic book style speech bubbles and quick tips within Microsoft computer programs. Its rather whimsical style helped it gain popularity with children and with businesses who serve or cater to children. For example, you would be hard pressed to find a day care center, which doesn’t use Comic Sans in their signage. The problem is, it doesn’t stop there. You can find usage of Comic Sans everywhere, from restaurants to doctors to professional offices. In nearly every case, these poor font choices give a childish feel when it is inappropriate to do so. Recently, Comic Sans was misused in a very public manner by CERN scientists in a presentation about their discovery of the Higgs Boson particle. As one might imagine, one of the largest particle physics findings in history conveyed in the voice of a child (by way of using Comic Sans) took away a small bit of credibility from some of the otherwise brightest minds in the world.

To further illustrate its improper usage, consider this letter:

Dear Mr. Jones,
It is with our deepest condolences that we write you of the passing of your grandfather. You were indicated in his will as a trustee, and we wish to be in contact with you.

It’s hard to take a serious message seriously when written in an improper font. Conversely, it would seem just as out of place to receive an invitation to a child’s birthday, in a ridged, serious font.

Come celebrate my birthday on Saturday. We will have lots of cake, games and a bouncy house. I heard batman might show up!

Typefaces set the tone of a design before the end user even reads the words, so choosing the appropriate one is key to effective messaging.

Sometimes the choice of one particular font verses another has practical reasons beyond aesthetics. The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay did a study about the campus-wide printing costs of their email and found a way to save upwards of $10,000. Their solution was simple: just by changing the school’s default email font to Century Gothic, they were able to cut costs by 10%. Century Gothic uses thin lines yet remains highly readable, and in turn uses much less ink when printing than their previous default fonts.

The real takeaway with all of this is to simply think about the font you choose for any given project. Perhaps you are giving your work the wrong voice and tone, or simply just spending too much when you print. Choosing the correct font can take just a few minutes of extra time, yet it can help yield substantially better results.


Improv-ing Your Business

By Jaclyn Sorci

Lesson #2: Life, Unscripted
I’m excited to return to my blog series, Improv-ing Your Business. Last time, I introduced the series to you—specifically, how applicable my experiences as a comedy writer and actor/improviser have been at work and in my life—and talked about the importance of saying “yes” and remaining open to experiences and opportunities.

This second lesson is about being ready for anything and dealing with uncertainty and chaos. As an improviser and stage actor, I have to be ready for absolutely anything. A multitude of things can go wrong or right—and I have to be ready to make the save or capitalize on the opportunity that’s presented. When I’m improvising, I have no idea what my partner is going to say or do next. I don’t know if there will be hecklers in the crowd, a lighting/sound problem in the booth, or if the audience’s next topic suggestion will be good, bad or crazy.

It’s not unlike the real world. We can never be quite sure how our ideas will go over, whether a meeting will be productive, or if our life plans will be disrupted when life actually starts happening. If you’ve ever relied on public transit, you know all about relinquishing control to a cold, cruel world of the unknown.

So how do we deal with this inevitable uncertainty?

The fact is, what happens doesn’t matter. We can’t control what others will do or say, but we can be prepared to respond to any scenario. Great improvisers do it by studying character and scene structures, remaining open and making choices.

Being great in your life means dealing with uncertainty in similar ways. Preparation and study will equip you with tools for success, but more importantly, with the confidence to know you can handle anything by calling on your training and knowledge. And while we already talked about remaining open to the process of life, it’s also important to be accepting of the chaos. When you can embrace the notion of uncertainty, you can stop fighting against it and get to work instead.

In improv, you make choices about your character, your location, and your relationship to others. Making a choice means committing to something and establishing truths upon which a scene can be built. In the real world, making choices is about establishing your personal truth and committing to it. When you feel secure in your beliefs and abilities, walking into the storm is far less intimidating.

The bottom line is, don’t spend your time seeking control. Instead, direct your energy toward readying yourself and getting comfortable with who you are. What was once chaos will quickly start to look like opportunity.


Bold Steps Named Rotary Business of the Year


Bold Steps was honored to be selected by the Rotary Club of Central DuPage as their Business of the Year 2012. Rick Erickson, President of Bold Steps, accepted the award at the organization’s annual installation dinner on June 27th at Adelle’s Fine American Fare, where he shared sentiments about Bold Steps’ values and role in the local community.

Rotary International is an organization dedicated to encouraging the ideal of service as a basis for enterprise and to promoting high ethical standards. The Bold Steps team is grateful for this honor and remains committed both to service and integrity in our business and our community.


A Formula for Change

By Patti Baron Schreiber

Recently, one of the LinkedIn discussion groups I’m in hosted one of the most prolific discussions I’ve seen. A simple question, put to the group by a member named Guido, had over 680 comments. At one point I was getting over 20 new comment notices a day, compelling me to adjust my settings for the group.

The question Guido asked was this: How can we change ourselves?

From philosophical theories to “pull yourself up by the bootstraps and just do it” perspectives, the comments flew. As a professional coach and personal development junkie, I read them with great interest. And, I have my own answer to this question which is this:

                                          We can change ourselves.

However, depending on the level of change we are trying to create, it can be a challenge without help. We only know what we know. If the change we want was never modeled for us nor the opportunity to add new tools to our personal toolkit made available, creating lasting change can be difficult. This is because we tend to default to our comfortable (sometimes negative) patterns, particularly in demanding situations.

Change Starts Here

Ultimately, change begins with self-awareness. Acknowledging the need or desire to change is the first step. Assessments, both individual and 360’s, are helpful in providing insight into areas in need of change as well as insight into how others see us. Coaching, workshops, a customized training plan and journaling are all excellent ways to make lasting change in our lives.

Change Requires Action

I am a believer in the notion that change requires action. Reading a book is not going to integrate change into our lives. We may absorb some new ideas but how do we effectively implement those ideas into real life action? The most successful clients I’ve worked with were willing to use the tools and work the assignments I gave them. The harder they worked the more change they accomplished.

A Formula for Change

I like the formula that looks like this:

In order to change ourselves at the action level, we have to get to the emotions and thoughts that are driving the actions. Any personal trainer worth their fee will tell you that coaching a client to lose weight or work out will not get the desired results until you get into their head and their heart. Knowing the proper techniques to do this is both an art and a science.

Doing the work that gets at the thoughts and emotions that drive the actions we so want to change is the key to creating an alternative to our default pattern of behavior. Sometimes that work is like peeling away the layers of an onion – we may not even be aware of the subconscious thoughts ingrained in our minds unless we peel back the emotions and actions to find them.

One Option for Awareness

As a coach, one of my favorite instruments to work with is the Social & Emotional Intelligence (SEI) Assessment. It takes a look at 26 core competencies linked to leadership and engagement. Available as both individual and 360 online assessments, SEI is an invaluable tool in designing a custom professional development plan. By focusing on both strengths and vulnerabilities, it provides a solid starting place from which to coach.

Numerous research studies show that the competencies associated with this assessment are linked to increased engagement, sales, productivity and reduced turnover. Companies that have implemented and measured success with programs centered on SEI include Avon, Sheraton, PepsiCo and even the Air Force.

IQ versus EQ

If you are not familiar with the concepts of SEI, these are the coachable skills needed to thrive in relationships including but not limited to business relationships. While IQ is a well known and respected measurement of intelligence, it is fairly fixed at birth and does not have a direct correlation to social development. We all know individuals who are very smart, likely have high IQs, but are “stuck” due to an inability to relate with others effectively. EQ (SEI’s equivalent to IQ) has a direct correlation to social development and it can be improved with coaching.

Research has shown that high SEI scores are a much better predictor of success among executives, managers and employees at all levels. But using SEI as a measure of our capacity for success is not about categorizing people based on their unique gifts or areas of weakness. It is about identifying those strengths and weaknesses and using that information to increase self-awareness, growth, and guide each individual toward a more successful and fulfilling life


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