Being a Sales Strategist

It’s amazing how many sales and business development professionals, managers and executives, still think sales is a numbers game. And, it’s still a popular belief Today.

I understand. I understand that If you believe sales is a numbers game, you’re wrong.

While there are slight variations, according to this archaic theory ~ all you need to do (to be successful in sales) is call, call, call. Go to every lead, quasi-qualified or unqualified. Pitch! Pitch! Pitch to Someday! Demo! Demo! Demo to Anybody! You must be committed to the numbers. Fill your pipeline with a zillion suspects who’ll turn into X number of prospects, sales opportunities, and ultimately customers or clients.

The song remains the same, the message passed on from one sales generation to the next. We’ve been conditioned to accept that going after every prospect is essential to our success.

What if it isn’t? What if the numbers game isn’t a success factor anymore?

What if trying to work all those prospects infects our thinking, causes our sales performance, individual and team, to become ineffectual? What if we could generate more sales with fewer prospects?

Most sales and business development people would consider these questions heresy against the sales gods and gurus.

Thinking and Acting as a Sales Strategist

Thinking and Acting as a Sales Strategist

In the long run, Top Sellers, the Best of the Best Closers, pursue fewer prospects. Top Sellers spend more time thinking and acting as a Sales Strategist about:

  • The goals and objectives of their target market, customers/clients.
  • Linking marketing to sales process.
  • Connecting and networking for mutual benefit.
  • Pre-Qualify/Qualify potential customers/clients.
  • Being more Consultative and Solution-centric.
  • Guiding prospects through the sales cycle.
  • Increasing Market Value.

By slowing down, focusing on quality not quantity, we can develop the rapport, relationship, and credibility we need to get the business. We can go deeper, learn more, and support the client/customer with the right solutions.

Nurturing any kind of relationship requires an investment of time. Are you spending enough time with clients/customers throughout the sales process? Are you committed to a Sales Closing Process? Conditioning? Gaining commitments every step of the way? Pre-closing? Or, are you pitching and running? Are you just a visitor?

Being Sales Strategists, our clients/customers trust our recommendations. We become their Strategic Advisors creating even more opportunities to succeed. 

Our goal is to help prospects understand the business value of the solution. More importantly, how changing the status quo can impact organizational culture, sustaining business growth and profitability.

Be Bold. What would you do differently this month if you rejected the numbers game?Do you think it would make a difference in your sales performance?

That’s the challenge. Reject the #1 Sales Myth! Think fewer, not more. Compel yourself (and your sales team) to shift sales behavior with a fresh mind-set and sales strategies.

Being a Sales Strategist means sales isn’t a numbers game anymore, it’s an effectiveness game. Be yourself. Make the right connections. Make human connections.

Connecting and Networking for Mutual Benefit.

Connecting and Networking for Mutual Benefit.

Always Be Engaging.

Marc Ortiz de Candia | Vitalia Consulting | The Enlightened Leadership Leader


To Learning with Love

Do you love learning like I do? I mean do you really love to learn?

Invest in people with heart. Invest in people who value you and other human beings. In return, you invest in your organization, and lasting business success.

Invest in people with heart. Invest in people who value you and other human beings. In return, you invest in your organization, and lasting business success.

Then stop using the word “training” (the kiss of death to real learning and retention!). Training is for circus animals, not for you and me.

Love Learning. Remember your greatest teachers, storytellers, mentors, and coaches throughout your life. The ones who inspired your desire, ambition, and creativity.    


Don’t fear what I am espousing here. I learned long ago that the “soft skills” are actually the hardest to learn and actualize within business/life. Be open-minded and fearless.

Training is about telling, mandating, forcing, manipulating. Learning is about absorption, the freedom to immerse yourself. Dive into the deep waters, head first.

Yearn for those beautiful, ethereal, provocative, evocative learning moments; remembrances of when your intellect was stimulated, when you were moved to tears of joy, to action! 

Honor the gurus, advisors, thought leaders, the actors and comedians (even the consultants and facilitators!) and your closest confidantes who influenced the ways you think and act, your ways of being, what you believe to be true. Celebrate the ones who sincerely believed in you, encouraged you, understood the secrets to your success.

Recognize what you’ve learned from books, movies and films, the poetry in extraordinary people. Cherish those people who helped you discover your inner light, and achieve your dreams. Be the catalyst for a genuine learning culture within your business, nurturing the well-being of everyone around you.

There are cascading lessons to be learned from enlightened leaders who invest/reinvest in learning and development for lucrative ROI.

  • Upfront learning of jobs and roles results in…
  • Better understanding of performance expectations and the execution of relevant business imperatives, resulting in…
  • Competitive advantages, superior organizational performance and sustained business growth.

And, don’t forget what you’ve learned from your experiences. Experiential Learning can be brutal, and yet gives you the opportunity see with fresh eyes.

As your love of learning blossoms, you grow. Your Enlightened Leadership will impact emerging leaders, and you will live forever and ever.

As your love of learning blossoms, you grow. Your Enlightened Leadership will impact emerging leaders, and you will live forever and ever.

You can have a lifetime relationship with learning. Embrace It.

Reaffirm your lifetime commitment to never-ending learning.

Enlightened Leaders will understand these messages of love without the need for explanation or analytics.



Believe You Me. Reflection and introspection are highly under-appreciated these days.

Sometimes we must go to the back pages of our personal/professional history to really see and understand our future. Sometimes we must re-measure our humanity (emotional intelligence, kindness, tolerance, empathy, acceptance, our goodness) by what we embrace, create, treasure, include, and give safe harbor. Sometimes we must re-examine our personal/professional constitution, and make amends.

No one can succeed without opportunities. No One. No one can sustain success without opportunities to learn and develop, not at any age. Without opportunities, success becomes an elusive possibility.

As the CEO of our brilliant career(s) we must take calculated risks. We must create our opportunities with the help of key people (along the way). These key influencers are people who sincerely accept, respect, value, and believe in us. These are the people are supportive of us, committed to developing our talents, nurturing our well-being. These are the enlightened leaders (with or without titles!) who live forever in our treasured memories.

Remember, learning and development opportunities do not 100% guarantee success. In the end, we must take ownership of our successes (and failures). On this long and winding road, you and I will always have plenty of opportunities to learn from our experiences.

Seek-out those magnificent, stunning, moving moments of learning that give you wings of passion to do the things you love!

This is my loving gift to you.

No matter who you are, or what you do, you impact someone every day. We impact people intentionally and unintentionally.  How you choose to impact people is up to you.

Happy “Saint Valentine’s Day” from every one of us at Vitalia Consulting!

Marc Ortiz de Candia ~ Executive Partner and Provocateur, Vitalia Consulting | The Enlightened Leadership Leader

Solution-Recognition for Enlightened Leaders

Abre los ojos, los oidos, la mente, y el corazon.

Abre los ojos, los oidos, la mente, y el corazon.

Vitalia Consulting (VC) is not a conventional management consulting firm, and we don’t intend to become one. Our client-consultant role is to inspire forward-thinking solutions and actions. “Solution-Recognition” is an important tool in the process of searching for (and finding) the best innovative ideas.

“We need more ideas” is a phrase we hear almost every day.  Innovation isn’t constrained by the absence of ideas, but the inability to notice the good-to-great ideas right in front of you. It’s not an idea problem; it’s a Solution-Recognition dilemma.

Ideas are free. So, why not take advantage of such a great value? Whatever happened to “Brain-Storming” where no idea was pre-judged as a bad idea, no matter how absurd the idea initially appeared to be? While Brain-storming has morphed into Ideation, White-boarding, Iterative Process, Blue Sky Thinking, etc., it’s rarely used the way it was originally intended. “Thinking Outside the Box” has been so overused and abused, it’s become a gag in bad commercials.

Once upon a time (1984-1987) while working with Vici Associates International (based in Milan, Italy) we used the creative-strategic process “ProThink” to stimulate innovative and pragmatic solutions for our client-companies. Guess What? The concept still works! Unfortunately, most companies (then and now) fail to consistently capitalize on Solution-Recognition, and make it an integral part of organizational culture. In my experience, it requires not only a mind-shift but also (and more importantly) a behavioral, cultural transformation.

In the digital speed of social media: Golden Opportunities are lost amidst the chatter. Great moments of brilliance never return to our work/lives.

People tend to think of creativity as flashes of light from the heavens, anointing the next demi-god of genius. In business world reality, new insights and ideas come from hard work. While analytic data can identify real opportunities, these insights must then be transformed into practical, viable ideas. Cogito Ergo Zoom (I Think. Therefore, I go fast.) is the wrong-headed mentality for Solution-Recognition to work.

Solution-Recognition requires:

  • An Open Mind
  • Genuine Listening Skills
  • Passionate Intelligence (Intelligence that can actually be Applied)
  • The Ability to Dream with “Eyes Wide Open”
  • Being Empathic
  • Emotional Intelligence (High EQ)

Research has found that those managers/leaders exposed to a small amount of uncertainty said they value creativity, but actually tended to favor practical word pairings over creative word pairings. If such a negative bias against creativity exists in times of uncertainty, it might explain why so many notable innovations (in business history) were initially rejected. Is this happening in your business?

The implications are particularly relevant now, as few leaders/managers would claim that they’re not working in an uncertain industry. The same uncertainty that propels the need for companies to innovate may also be compelling leaders/managers to reject discoveries that could help them gain a competitive edge.

The innovative ideas that would keep your company alive (and sustain growth) are being killed in the embryonic stage of development, or even at conception.

One possible solution to this “idea killing” is to change the structural system ideas must move through for acceptance and execution. Instead of using the traditional hierarchy to find and approve ideas, this process could be spread across the whole organization. Given a higher priority than immediate revenue, the idea market can create an organizational culture where new ideas are recognized and approved throughout the entire company, a democratization of recognition. What do You Think?

Solution-Recognition becomes an organizational “way of life” based on the assumption that everyone is capable of producing great ideas.

Example: We have a new client (based here in California) who recruited a highly-skilled, experienced Sales Team without building the right organizational infrastructure to support that Sales Team, without professionally mature Sales Management to properly lead and coach that Sales Team, without developing the software tools for that Sales Team to close more deals and succeed, resulting in an under-performing, disillusioned, demotivated Sales Team in complete disarray.

In essence, without Solution-Recognition, “putting the cart before the horse.” Your Management/Leadership habits become either an albatross or a catalyst for growth. The problem lies in Management/Leadership failure to (adapt and change) genuinely listen to the concerns, problems, situations the Sales Team is facing in the field. Genuinely listening to the Sales Team would engender coaching opportunities, and collaborative solutions for the true underlying problems.



Enlightened Management/Leadership embraces Solution-Recognition. Remember, You are defined by what You do.



Example: Enlightened Leaders get out of the office more often. These “empathic outings” are purposeful field trips, a way to effectively connect with employees, customers, vendors, alliance partners, and others key to the success of your business. This also makes an enormous difference in gaining commitment to shifts in business and organizational behavior, and solving related issues. The purpose of these meetings is not just for gathering information, but more crucially to discover, uncover crucial patterns of what’s working and not working in your business, misalignments in your business and organizational vision/strategies.

Example: We use Solution-Recognition in our most productive client-projects:

  1. Business Turnaround Projects
  2. Business Growth Projects
  3. New Business Ventures ~ Entrepreneurial Start-Up Projects

The Message: Reject Solution-Recognition at your peril, and suffer the grapes of wrath. Vitalia Consulting (VC) is not a conventional management consulting firm, and we don’t intend to become one. Our client-consultant role is to inspire forward-thinking solutions and actions. Solution-Recognition is an essential tool for every successful business.

Partner with Us. Let’s start with a conversation. 

  • Marc Ortiz de Candia
  • Executive Partner ~ Provocateur
  • Vitalia Consulting | The Enlightened Leadership Leader

Tango Lessons ~ Building and Sustaining Relationships

No matter how great a visionary leader you may be, you will always need others to fully execute your vision, your dream. It’s a fundamental axiom of business and of life. It takes 2:2 Tango (at least two) and it is a beautiful, intricate, intimate, and powerful dance.dreamstime_m_145488591.jpg

Here are a few free Tango Lessons.

One of the reasons we work in multi-disciplinary teams at Vitalia Consulting is because there is power in numbers and in diverse expertise. No Vitalia consultant, coach, facilitator, advisor or analyst, client services associate is ever left alone to deliver the message, ask the hard questions, or answer the hard questions. The lone exception are Executive Coaching Sessions which are strictly one-on-one private sessions.

As we work with our clients to solve complex business and organizational problems, a team of diverse minds (working together) discovers, uncovers the best solutions.  Partner with Us!

The power of multi-disciplinary teams is proven, especially when working with executive leaders and groups of professionals because no individual (regardless of status, charisma, influence, aura, or personal presence) resonates with everyone.

While building and sustaining relationships is key to business success, few people are effective at doing both. Believe it. Look at your client-customer retention rate. Look at the rising divorce rate. Look at how relationships come and go faster than the changing of seasons. So, when you find a relationship builder who can also sustain relationships, hold onto them like a lifeboat against the current.

Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Most of us know “It Takes Two To Tango” is a truism, but how often do we actually practice it? Is it part of your personal/professional skill-set, mind-set?

Face it: Those self-obsessed with expressing only their own ideas just aren’t very good at building and sustaining relationships, find it hard to listen, fail to observe, and never learn to Tango.

Partnering requires learning to Tango. Collaboration requires learning to Tango. Networking requires learning to Tango. And not just learning a few basic steps (see Tangerine Tango blog).  You must become a World-Class Tango Dancer to Master the Art of the Deal, to make all the right moves, to gain mutual agreement. See for Yourself: The Best Latin Tango

Every great composer needs great musicians. Every great musician needs great composers.

Mutual attraction, rapport, trust, respect, compatibility, and commitment are key elements of every lasting relationship. Remember this: No relationship can thrive or survive without mutual benefit and commitment. Once these relationship elements are lost, there is no relationship.

Vitalia Consulting builds and sustains cultures of mutual benefit and inclusion, driven by a desire to partner with others to get things done. You succeed by helping others become successful. Helping others helps you, too. Keep in mind, help is only a relationship away. 

Conversely, in cultures where “greed is good” (cultures that value the lone wolf, the lone shark, the lone genius) the act of working with others to get things done gets lost, projects stall, the brilliance of team ideas fades away.

We, Vitalia Consulting, believe that building and sustaining relationships should be a pre-requisite for all vital executive leaders, emerging leaders, and leadership development. True Relationships weather the storms. True Relationships can live forever.

Don’t forget the human touch, gestures, and movements. Give your relationships face time, real time. Be genuinely attentive, interested in people. Listen first. Listen, hear, and learn from their stories. Be open to being enlightened. Tell and show, don’t sell. Be authentic. Be yourself. No one likes a great pretender. Don’t be afraid of being human. Get lost once in awhile.

Want warmer relationships? Exude warmth. Be passionate about something. Meet off-site (whenever possible) at unique venues. Be compelling.

Embrace reciprocity. Give to receive. Relax. Now immerse yourself in the dance.

It really does take at least 2:2 Tango. Come on, let’s dance The Tango!It Takes 2 To Tango

Partner with Us! Let’s Get Started.


Marc Ortiz de Candia, Executive Partner ~ Provocateur

Vitalia Consulting | The Enlightened Leadership Leader


The Ethos of Enlightened Leadership

It’s Autumn, and you can see the seasons changing, multi-colored wind blown trees, rustling leaves falling down everywhere, creating a stirring, whirling dream world.

The white moon becomes the blue moon which balloons into the orange moon ~ the Autumn moon we remember from long ago and faraway comes back to visit us once again.

Even though the air of Autumn feels and smells strangely different, something is in the air, and we’re all breathing it in, taking it inside of us.

Of course, how you experience Autumn depends on where you are in the world. Isn’t that true? Though Autumn isn’t quite as vibrant or dramatic here as it is in other places, it can still be a wonderfully romantic season (if it’s within you).

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, there’s a quiet calm before the winter rains come. Still, it’s the time of the season for reflection. As the year winds down and we all slow down a bit for year-end retrospection, introspection amidst the noise of holiday celebrations and distractions. Time is passing, not everlasting.

As for me, I’ve been thinking about a peculiar 2012 trend in business: a tendency to use catch-all words and phrases to mean anything and everything. It is surrealistic. It’s such a supercilious, stupefying trend, and it’s happening everywhere I go:  Inside mega-corporations, small and middle market companies, within the bandwidth of the “management consulting community.” We’re all breathing the same air, in boardrooms, in working meetings and sessions, in broad daylight, in the stillness of the night.

As organizational leadership consultants, Vitalia Consulting is in the process of expanding our multi-disciplinary consulting and coaching teams, and in the interviews, this strange phenomena is also evident. For instance, one thing I’ve noticed is that “change management” is being applied to every change initiative, and can mean anything to anyone. When words lose definition our language becomes blurred, and the power of words diminishes. In other words: “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing” is no longer true. Sure, “change management” can have different applications and be different interventions but, come on! Anything Goes? Are there no longer clear definitions to words, phrases, and terms?

I contend that this unsettling trend is not the natural evolution of our professional work, or the necessary interference of technology twisting the signals. More than ever, I am convinced that this disturbing trend has been incubating within the guiding principles and character of those who have the power to create, influence, and reinforce organizational culture, values, beliefs, norms, and the rules of the game. A simple suggestion: Change the leadership and you will change the culture.

So ask yourself: “Who am I? Where do I stand? Now that I know, what will I do?”

In the film “The Visioneers” the company is “the largest, friendliest, and most profitable corporation in the history of humankind.” Yet, the employees are exploding when they dare to dream and act on their dreams. It finally becomes an international crisis when the number exceeds 100,000 implosions. That’s when the President of the United States gets involved, supporting the corporation’s goal to manufacture a device (a relaxer) that will be fitted on the neck of every employee – to stop those dreamers who act on their dreams! In “The Visioneers”: The quickest way to kill your dream is to kill what you love most about your dreams.

Question why, in our multicultural society, when you’re asked to blow-out your birthday candles, you’re told from the moment you understood language, don’t tell your wishes aloud, and don’t even whisper your wishes – because if you do – your wishes won’t come true. We inherit these odd customs and traditions, and if we don’t question them, we pass these deranged values and beliefs onto our children. The same thing happens in organizations. Nothing changes if nothing changes.

“Leadership Development” is another one of those catch-all phrases that seems to encompass everything under the sun and moon and stars. Who wants to be leader? Step right up! Roll right up! Come with us on the magical mystery tour. All you need is love and information, the right suit and tie, the right haircut, some leadership coaching, and probably the right shoes. And: Yes! You too can be a leader! (Sorry folks, this doesn’t work in reality, at least, not in the long run.)

Leadership Development is reserved for those who have the innate capacity, talent, and potential to be a leader. Perception and self-assessment are not enough to ensure that the right people are selected and promoted. 

Enlightened Leaders are born, not made. We believe: The identification, assessment, nurturing, and cultivation of emerging leaders should be a business imperative. Opportunity is the missing piece of the puzzle. It doesn’t matter how much innate leadership capacity, talent, and potential there may be in your organization, it lies dormant and fades away, without opportunity.

Find the keyhole, turn the key, open the doors of perception to build organizational capability and expand leadership capacity. Align your open organization with the strategic business vision of your Enlightened Leadership.

Imagine you have a metaphoric factory that produces leaders. Be rational. You can’t develop anyone or produce anything without having the right materials. Besides, even with the right materials, you can’t develop anyone or produce anything if you’re in the wrong factory!

In much the same way, your organization must be tooled to manufacture what you want. How is your organizational culture set-up? Do you know? Is it set-up to produce the absolute best managers and leaders for your business? Well, is it?

You’ve probably experienced leadership development programs which espouse inspiration, motivation, and modeling – to be replicated throughout the organization. Blah, blah, blah…

Inspiring What? Motivating What? Modeling What? Why? To What End?

I despise “leadership training and management training programs” which presume that what can be taught can necessarily be learned, that those who are selected, promoted into management can necessarily become leaders. Remember, leadership is not about position, title, or entitlement.

Leadership is behavioral. Enlightened Leaders are hybrids: the right blend and balance of Knowledge | Emotions | Thinking | Abilities | Actions. Behavioral actions are the results of how these competencies are developed, or not. Most organizations still fail to fully understand, embrace, engage, and capitalize on these competencies in meaningful ways.

In our vital project-based research: After all these years of countless workshops, seminars, and webinars, we find that most companies are still mass-producing bad, ineffectual managers and leaders with these salient traits experienced by the human beings who report to them:

  1. Weak management/leadership competencies and capabilities
  2. Low Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
  3. Absence of relationship-building skills
  4. Hypocritical
  5. Pretentious
  6. Autocratic: Suppressive, Oppressive, Depressive
  7. Incapable of dealing with ambiguity, and making sense of it
  8. Inability or unwillingness to adapt to change
  9. Reactive
  10. Apathetic
  11. Unwillingness to admit own ignorance
  12. Neglectful of own personal development
  13. Organizational decisions based on corporate politics
  14. Inability or unwillingness to develop others
  15. Ineffective Communication Skills
  16. Untrustworthy
  17. Ineffective task management
  18. Inability to accept feedback
  19. Unethical: Selfishly blaming others for their failures, while taking credit for the successful ideas of others 
  20. Insufficient Production (Bottom-line: Is it any wonder why?)

With the warning signs just listed, what would you do with the incompetent managers and leaders in your company? What to do? What to do? What would you say are the remedies to this dilemma? What do we do with dysfunctional managers and leaders?

Far too often people are promoted into management/leadership positions for the wrong reasons ~ mainly because of their prior functional performance or who they know or both. Either way, without any structured assessment, these are hardly predictors of future management/leadership effectiveness and success.

Think about it…

  • Not everyone who aspires to being a great scientist becomes one.
  • Not everyone who aspires to being a great musician becomes one.
  • Not everyone who aspires to being a great teacher becomes one.
  • Not everyone who aspires to being a great surgeon becomes one.
  • Not everyone who aspires to being a great actor/director/producer becomes one.
  • Not everyone who aspires to being a great athlete becomes one.
  • Not everyone who aspires to being a great psychologist becomes one.
  • Not everyone who aspires to being a great software engineer becomes one.
  • Not everyone who aspires to being a great artist becomes one.
  • Not everyone who aspires to being a great politician becomes one.
  • Not everyone who aspires to being a great attorney becomes one.
  • Not everyone who aspires to being a great parent becomes one.
  • Not everyone who aspires to being a great consultant/coach becomes one
  • Not everyone who aspires to being a great manager/leader becomes one.

Get the message. Salieri could not become Mozart, no matter how strong his desire. No band will replace ever “The Beatles.”

It’s the difference between wishes and dreams.

The Ethos of Enlightened Leadership is about the distinguishing character, sentiment, moral nature, or guiding beliefs of an individual, organization, or business. You want to experience satisfaction? Try This. You’ll love it!

We are Vitalia Consulting. We are awakeners.

Marc Ortiz de Candia | Executive Partner | Vitalia Consulting







The Sense of Purpose

If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it. Albert Einstein


Hello again, Enlightened Leaders of the World. In the New Age of Enlightenment, it’s time to “Unleash and Declare your Inner Radicalness!” Incorporate this phrase into your vocabulary. Why? Nothing ventured, nothing gained – because Enlightened Leaders are radical beings with a sense of purpose. I dare say, it is the inherent responsibility of every Enlightened Leader to:

  • Unleash and Declare your Inner Radicalness!
  • Define your sense of purpose as the foundation for all decisions and actions.
  • Model pragmatic integrity.
  • Refine your Emotional Intelligence. Value High EQ in people.
  • Embrace big, revolutionary ideas.
  • Utilize radical thinking to inspire and cultivate emerging leaders.
  • Challenge traditional management and leadership concepts. 
  • Rejuvenate pluralistic organizational/cultural systems.
  • Be Different. A model and catalyst for true transformation.
  • Rid the workplace of every autocratic, bureaucratic Fascist, at every management and executive level, and do it now!
  • Measure everything you do against your sense of purpose.

It’s time to revitalize organizational cultures so that people can genuinely thrive, where brilliance is nurtured, and the magnificence of human creativity is valued, not just philosophy or policy printed on a poster.

Enlightened Leaders are fearless, not afraid to fail to succeed. There is no aversion to risk. After all, for those who might question these words, are we not the children of revolutionary patriots? Remember, the USA was founded by Radical Thinkers, based on revolution against an empire. We have far more in common with the French than we care to admit. In fact, without the French, especially the Marquis de Lafayette, there would be no chanting of “USA, USA, USA!”

I was recently moved by the film “Hugo” a serious work of art directed by Martin Scorsese. Well-crafted movies (or films if you prefer) have always had the potential power to capture dreams. Dreams come from imagination, imagination from dreams. The movie takes place in Paris circa 1931. Hugo is a boy who lives and works in the clock tower of a train station, fixing things, moving in the shadows and the shafts of the industrial age. A motherless then a fatherless child, homeless, left alone to find his way in this world. He goes mostly unnoticed except in those moments when he must come into the light of day to survive. People in ivory towers don’t know what it takes for the “have-nots” to start over, every single day, with absolutely nothing.

Hugo is harassed by the train station police, threatened to be sent away to an orphanage with all the other unfortunate ones. He has one possession, an expressionless automaton with missing parts, given to him by his father. Like the automaton, Hugo has missing parts, no sense of purpose. Befriended in a round-a-bout way by a toymaker (Georges) with a secret past, and Isabelle – the goddaughter, Hugo is forced to subsist with heart-breaking pain and suffering, far too much torment and anguish for an innocent boy who doesn’t deserve his lot in life.

Here are a few lines from the movie:

Hugo: (praying, pleading to no one) Everything and everyone has a purpose. My purpose was in being with you, my father. The entire world is a big machine. I couldn’t be just an extra part. I have to be here for some reason. (talking to the automaton) You have to be here for some reason, too.

Georges (The Toymaker) : Happy endings are only in the movies. I am broken. Once broken, I lose my purpose. I may not be fixed again. I may never have my purpose again. I have to be here for some reason. This is my only chance to work again…I am just waiting to do what I’m supposed to do, work again…the work I was always meant to do.

Hugo’s quest for purpose transforms everyone around him.

In high society (the haves) people can be accepting and understanding of the miserable unfortunates (the have-nots) for awhile, for an impatient while, because there’s a limit to how benevolent these people can be, especially the ones who live in ivory towers. And then, there comes a day when these same benevolent people wish that you never existed, and so they simply wish you away. The benevolent let go and watch you fall down, down, down. I know, because once upon a time, I was an unfortunate son, yearning for answers to unanswered pleas, prayers, and questions.

My childhood and early adulthood experiences were cold, harsh life lessons which taught me what it really means to be different in this world. Society had rejected the working class, the poor, the ethnically mixed, among many other groups.

After years filled with frustrations and disappointments, I finally discovered my purpose for being at 33 when I founded De Candia International Corporation, a multicultural consulting and learning services firm. My life experiences, street smarts, passionate intelligence, business savvy, and understanding of human issues of difference strongly influenced our business capabilities and the key concept of “Pluralistic Leadership.” I was at the right place at the right time, pleasantly surprised by my self-made success.

Suddenly, my professional and personal life became meaningful. This new-found “sense of purpose” gave me clarity. I could see the world with fresh eyes. To this day, all my decisions and actions are driven by my sense of purpose.

Now here’s where you come-in. You, The Enlightened Leader!  

Enlightened Leaders have a distinct sense of purpose and self-worth. A sense of purpose engenders a sense of commitment and conviction for those around you, and within your organization. Enlightened Leaders are not satisfied with the status-quo, determined to transform organization culture and related systems in alignment with their sense of purpose, a thoughtful purpose. It requires radical thinking. No great invention, work of art, product, concept, cultural revolution, or world-changing ideal has been achieved without radical thinking. Create workplace environments where daydreaming works for the betterment of all people, where people feel free to be human beings – innovating innovation, where business exists in a world without borders. 

Unenlightened leaders (you know who you are) can best be described in these terms…

In her new book, Leading So People Will Follow, Erika Anderson explores “31 Telltale Signs You Are A Horrible Leader” – Boiled Down to 3:

  • focus on protecting and advancing only themselves
  • are interested in people only as a means to that end
  • assume that good people are a threat

Learn to lead so that people will follow you – because they choose to follow you. Lead so that followers become willing participants in your vision and mission.

Without a sense of purpose we are lost, without direction or hope. We are all here on this planet for a reason. We are all in organizations for a reason. We are not here to replace the machines from the industrial age. When we cannot see ourselves reflected in organizations, when we do not have stock in society, we lose our sense of purpose and self-worth.

Most organizations have vision/mission statements that do not translate or resonate throughout the organization or the marketplace. Why? Because without a sense of purpose, and the role they may play in the fulfillment of the vision/mission, groups of people become aimless wanderers without commitment or conviction.

Why not permeate your organization with a simple, well-conceived “Purpose Statement?” A set of working values and beliefs, core premises demonstrated through actions, a sense of purpose that everyone can live-by.

Unenlightened leaders reject transformation and change, knowingly sending rays of light to the masses when the truth is there is no real hope, only false hopes which feed hopelessness and despair. These are the leaders who perpetuate closed organizational cultures, imprisoning people. These organizations are prisons, dark places where dreams and imaginations are sentenced to death.

In business as in life, it’s a huge mistake to ignore groups of people, especially people without a sense of purpose and self-worth because these are people with nothing left to lose. If this is your choice, then prepare for the inmates to storm the asylum that you’ve built. It won’t be a riot, it’ll be a revolt.

All my life, I have been surrounded by machines, machines of heavy metal and moving parts, machines of plastic and silicon chips, even human leadership machines, but I’ve never understood machines, especially machines without real people running them.

Enlightened Leaders open a portal to the world of dreams and possibilities, leadership development that delivers brilliance by design.

Remember, as a leader positively impacting others, it’s essential to remain open to learning and growing yourself. Being a great leader is a balancing act, always a balancing act. Be a life-long learner. Use 30% of your learning time to develop knowledge, skills and behaviors. Use the remaining 70% on real-world practice time. The tools for developing Enlightened Leaders is distinct from other learning solutions. Simulations give emerging leaders the opportunity to practice new knowledge, skills, and behavioral insights. Stimulating discussion and sincere reflection are keys to everlasting learning.

Remember, Enlightened Leaders shift individual, organizational, and business behavior. You may not change the world, but you can transform organizational/cultural systems so that your business can adapt in the global economy, in the pluralistic marketplace.

Ask yourself: Which leadership path am I choosing to take? Am I an Enlightened Leader or Unenlightened Fascist Autocratic Bureaucrat or something in-between? Who am I?  Where do I stand?

Now, let’s go back to the beginning. Ask yourself: Am I an Enlightened Leader? If so, to what extent am I willing to:

  • Unleash and Declare my Inner Radicalness!
  • Define my sense of purpose as the basis for all my decisions and actions.
  • Model pragmatic integrity.
  • Refine your Emotional Intelligence. Value High EQ in people.
  • Embrace big, revolutionary ideas.
  • Utilize radical thinking to inspire and cultivate emerging leaders.
  • Challenge traditional management and leadership concepts.
  • Rejuvenate pluralistic organizational/cultural systems.
  • Be Different. A model and catalyst for true transformation.
  • Rid the workplace of every autocratic, bureaucratic Fascist, at every management and executive level, and do it now!
  • Measure everything I do against my sense of purpose.

It’s time to fly your true colors.

Let’s continue the conversation with a sense of purpose.

Marc Ortiz de Candia, Visionary Thought Leader, Vitalia Consulting

What Do You Say and Do?

“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.” President John F. Kennedy, September 12, 1962 in Houston, Texas USA

When I was a small boy (believe me, when I tell you that I was a very small boy) I saw President John F. Kennedy’s “Moon Speech” on TV. It was an awe-inspiring moment for me, for most Americans. Few people remember how unpopular and unsupported “space travel” was at that time. Most people didn’t believe it was even possible. It was something you could only imagine, or experience in science-fiction books and movies. Most politicians thought it was too ambitious, and unrealistic. JFK had an ace up his sleeve: A tenacious vision backed with passionate intelligence and conviction. The “Moon Speech” shifted American perception of space travel, and in turn, our sense of other endless possibilities.

As a working-class boy, I wasn’t permitted to be a free-thinker. I was imprisoned by the limitations dictated by class and ethno-centric discrimination: Hell on earth! I was constantly bombarded by messages from those who brandished absolute power, telling me/showing us, that nothing I dreamt would ever come true for me, or for any one of us.

JFK moved me to see, for the first time in my embryonic life, that anything is possible if you believe in the vision, if you are genuinely committed to making the vision come alive. You must commit without hesitation or doubt or excuse to retreat, to fallback. No matter what others say and do to destroy your dreams, JFK showed how vital it is to move forward and execute your vision with confidence. Defiance in the face of overwhelming odds.

We sometimes tend to romanticize great leaders like JFK, Martin Luther King, Jr. or Mahatma Gandhi. We focus on their vision and charisma, forgetting that these enlightened leaders are best remembered for getting things done. Getting things done is the real legacy of these enlightened leaders. We’ve all experienced managers, executives, and politicians with vision and charisma (who may even look the part) but do absolutely nothing. Vision and charisma are not enough, enlightened leaders possess a High EQ (emotional quotient) for getting things done with emotional intelligence.

Being an enlightened leader is not about espousing new rhetoric or reciting recycled jargon. Enlightened Leaders execute their strategic vision. Words and actions are consistently in alignment.

Contrary to the same old tune we’ve all heard before: Silence is not golden.

In the multicultural management consulting and learning services firm that I founded and led, De Candia International Corporation (1987-2007) we uncovered the “conspiracy of silence” in Corporate America whereby no one says anything to challenge or confront systemic deception and collusion, to keep the status quo intact. A conspiracy of silence engenders collusion, and collusion is the arch-enemy of change.

The message: Lead sans silence. Speaking-up makes a difference. Execute your vision with conviction. Lead with determination while remaining open to pluralistic perspectives.  

Understand the value of speaking-up, taking a stand, with conviction. While no one else may believe in your dreams, it doesn’t matter what other people think, even when you feel the whole world is against you. If you feel that you can’t speak-up: ask yourself, “What messages am I receiving from within my organizational culture, telling me it’s not safe to speak-up.” The answer always lies within how the organizational culture is set-up. Change the set-up of the culture and you’ll see the behavioral change. Try this in small ways: participating in a meeting, working with a team on a project. You know that you believe in your vision, and you are willing to take the calculated risks to see that it happens, by whatever means necessary (without becoming the new Prince Machiavelli).

What matters most is what happens in the long run. JFK didn’t live to see his moon dream realized. Others, who were inspired by his vision, fulfilled his dream in 1969. No one accomplishes anything alone. Understand this: “Resilient conviction” is part of every enlightened leader’s behavioral profile.

Believe me when I tell you, I was rejected by everyone under the moon and sun, ridiculed as a politically incorrect ranting and raving lunatic (even by many of the people closest to me – my colleagues in other firms and practices). I was excluded, an out-cast by some organizations, who was said that I was conceptually and literally wrong about everything I conceived to be true. Yet my firm thrived for more than 20 years with impressive Fortune, Global, and Inc. 500 clients. Other management consulting firms interpreted my professional life as a contradiction (or just dismissed me for being a crazed, conflicted, Spanish-French Pisces).

Despite what fascist, authoritarian textbooks may have taught you, listen to your inner voice, see with your mind’s eye. Think about it: Are you flying your true colors? Are you saying what you believe? Or, are you just repeating what you been told is the proper company line. Great leaders are revolutionary not evolutionary, executing their visions with precision. Enlightened Leaders use their voice as a catalyst for action and change.

Come what may, when is the wrong decision, the right decision? When no one around you believes in doing the right thing, but you. Learn how to speak-up effectively. Challenge the powers that be. Storm the Bastille!

According to recent research from VitalSmarts: Silence Fails. Leaders can substantially improve their organizations ability to execute on high stakes projects and initiatives. Yes, you can break the code of silence on five astoundingly common yet mostly unspoken, undisclosed, and ignored problems that contribute significantly to almost all project and initiative failures.

Based on the VitalSmarts research, when an enlightened leader skillfully creates even a moderately safe environment, the likelihood of a project or initiative failing is reduced by 50%. When enlightened leaders effectively step-up, hitting schedule is 40% more likely, quality improves 60%, and the potential for project or initiative ending with strong morale and intact stakeholder relationships is 70% greater.

Based on the VitalSmarts study, the five crucial conversations most prevalent and most costly to lasting success are:

  1. Fact-free Planning: A project or initiative is set-up to fail when deadlines or resource limits are set with no consideration for reality.
  2. AWOL Senior Executives: Senior Executives (sponsors) provide no leadership, political clout, time, or energy to see a project through.
  3. Skirting: People work around the priority setting process. (You know, there’s one in every crowd, on every team, and more than one in every organization and family.)
  4. Project Chicken: Team leaders and members don’t admit when there are problems with the project, but instead wait for someone else to speak-up.
  5. Team failures: Team members are unwilling or unable to support the project.

Each brings with it a myriad of misses, cost over-runs which plague projects, initiatives, teams, organizations (and yes, dysfunctional co-dependent family relationships). The VitalSmarts key findings show that these problems are most likely caused by a high degree of interdependence among levels and functions. The organizational culture tends to be closed rather than open. Challenging norms, especially within a hierarchy, is the kiss of death. When these problems are not openly and skillfully discussed, projects and relationships fail miserably, significantly impacting what leaders, teams, and organizations can achieve.

Enlightened Leaders influence lasting success and achievements, the way we see ourselves and each other, causing us to re-think what we thought we knew, shifting our perceptions of things, the way we feel and act. Enlightened leaders shoot for the moon, and beyond.

So, what do you say and do? Let’s continue the conversation.

Marc Ortiz de Candia, Executive Partner, Vitalia Consulting