Reframing Your Leadership Development Challenges

What “Leadership Development Challenges” do you face?

Reviewing client interviews from 2009 to the present, entrepreneurial client-companies are no longer pre-occupied with big picture business issues (uncertain economy, evolving technology, increasing competition) to determine what to do next. Pervasive as those issues may be, these issues remained in the background of our small picture snapshots. What has evolved is a “reframing of leadership challenges.”

Nurturing emerging leaders to blossom, and the never-ending growth of mature leaders, is an organic business imperative.

Nurturing emerging leaders to blossom, and the never-ending growth of mature leaders, is an organic business imperative.


Fact is, small to middle market entrepreneurial companies remain the lifeblood of the USA economy, employing most of the workforce, and stimulating innovation, not big business. We’re not talking about “mom and pop” shops. These are 15 million to 600 million revenue companies.

Fact is, big business is too complex to sustain innovation. What does big business do when it wants, needs strategic and creative ideas? Acquire smaller, inventive, entrepreneurial companies.

We found agreement, confirmed by data, on a different set of issues, not big picture issues, 8 functional issues “leadership development challenges.” Three of the eight shown to be the primary drivers of leadership development initiatives:

  • Engage and retain the workforce.
  • Create leadership core competencies.
  • Develop emerging leaders.

There were five other leadership development initiatives worth noting:

  • Develop non-manager leadership.
  • Develop high-potentials.
  • Develop mid-manager leadership.
  • Manage change and innovation.
  • Develop team leadership skills.

Our client-organizations want frontline and middle managers, emerging leaders and sole contributors to achieve desired behavioral outcomes.

How much are you willing to invest?

Unfortunately, there are companies who refuse to invest in leadership development despite knowing their refusal dooms planned market expansion and value. It doesn’t make business sense, a business that wants to grow and yet is unwilling to invest in its sustained growth and profitability.

How much are you willing to commit?

Targeting desired behaviors is the first step in meeting a leadership development challenges. Step two is deciding how much time, money, and energy your company is ready, willing, and able to commit to learning initiatives.

Unfortunately, there are companies who allow leadership development to get lost in the organizational priorities shuffle which then gets lost in the business priorities shuffle. It’s a never-ending predicament.

These companies need to grow-up, and move forward into the mature business life cycle. The light of leadership development challenges is shining brightly on their faces, and they still can’t see it or even feel it. Too bad for them. Wouldn’t you agree?

That’s why more than 50% of the Inc. 500 companies fade away, and are replaced, each and every year!

So, have you begun reframing your leadership development challenges yet?

Abre Los OjosYour organization may benefit from this “more mindful, state-of-the-art approach to leadership development.” Meeting leadership development challenges begins by asking the right questions, concluding the right answers, and then taking the right actions.

Partner with Us.

  • Marc Ortiz de Candia, Managing Partner
  • 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


Que Sera Sera (Whatever will be will be)

Unlike the song “Que Sera Sera” the future is ours to see. Where there is a will, there is a way. By provoking the future, we can determine what will be.

Vitalia Consultants and Coaches have become “The New Provocateurs.” To be authentic and effective, we must be provocateurs. Why? Because most of our client-entrepreneurs went into business without a market-tested, battle-tested idea, product or service ~ with mind-blowing $ signs in their eyes, lost in wonderland without a clear and precise grasp of “how to manage the business of business.”

As an entrepreneur, a founder and owner of two successful businesses, I genuinely understand the dilemmas facing our clients. Being empathic doesn’t mean that client apathy or complacency is acceptable. Accepting the status-quo is unacceptable.

In reality, most of our entrepreneurial clients are ill-prepared for the business of business. VC The King has fallen from grace“Que Sera Sera” is the worst theme song (attitude) ever for entrepreneurs. Yet, most naive entrepreneurs sing it every business day + weekends and holidays!

What’s the difference between dreamers and doers? Doers are dreamers with a plan. Obviously, when you don’t know where you are or where you’re going, you probably won’t get there.

Cheshire Cat: There you are!

Alice: Oh, no, no. I was just wondering if you could help me find my way.

Cheshire Cat: Well, that depends on where you want to get to.

Alice: Oh, it really doesn’t matter, as long as…

Cheshire Cat: Then, it really doesn’t matter which way you go.

from Alice In Wonderland

Consulting from the inside out, our client-projects mainly tend to be:

Business Growth Projects ~ Companies with a measure of sustained success and profitability over time, searching for ways to grow the business, moving from a developmental stage to a high growth stage, wanting to get from here to there. This usually entails building organizational capability, expanding leadership capacity, identifying emerging leaders, re-imagining brand management (communications and value) revitalizing talent and financial management. These C-Suite Executives are typically seasoned yet open-minded, willing to learn, and enlightened leaders.

Business Turnaround Projects ~ Companies whereby the probability of business failure is extremely high (due to gross mis-management) unless the C-Suite Executive Team makes immediate, decisive, dramatic behavioral changes. These companies are in dire straits, heavily in debt, often in the intensive care coma unit.

(Well-Funded) New Venture Start-Up Projects ~ Companies in the embryonic stages of development, creating a business mission, building an organizational vision and related capabilities, refining business, talent, and financial management tools. Taking their dream to the marketpace, these C-Suite Dreamers are committed to fulfilling their dream by living it.

Vitalia Consulting provides diagnostic tools and prescriptions to help C-Suite Executives sharpen their focus, achieve their personal and business goals, and increase the profitability of their companies.

We often care more about the business of business than our clients do. Our clients need us because they don’t understand the business of business. They hire us because (by doing what we do) we can help them get whatever they truly want from the business. There are plenty of clients who are oblivious to how the harsh realities of their business impact their quality of life.

Example: ($250M Software Company CEO) “God takes care of our business plan. I don’t have time for such things. My devotion is to my business, 80-90 hours a week. There are cameras everywhere here so that I can watch every aspect of my business because people are either lazy or thieves or both. I have never seen my daughter’s piano recitals or my son’s basketball games or gone on vacations with my wife and family, and I don’t ever intend to.”

Example: ($60M Chain of Auto Body Shops Owner) “2010 Hailstorms.” Answering the question, “When was your best year in sales? So that we can replicate it and use it as a stepping stone to greater profitability.”

Example: ($150M Home Improvement and Remodeling Company President, just before declaring bankruptcy) “We don’t need an organizational vision or strategies. People in this business come and go. We don’t worry about it. We don’t call them human resources.”

Example: (Health Services Non-Profit CEO and COO) “Marketing, sales, business development, and account management are the same thing, the same function.”

Example: ($600M High Tech Company CEO + other C-Suite Executives) “We understand that we’re in the technology space. All of the executives here have multiple degrees in engineering, etc. We know everything there is to know about this business. We don’t have time to think about a tax plan or tax strategies to increase our profitability. That’s what we pay our CPA Accountancy to do. We’ll have the company valuated when we sell it, merge or are acquired.”

These quotes would be funny if not so tragically true, especially for small ($15M+) to middle market ($600M+) companies, and we’re not talking about “Mom and Pop” businesses. Ever notice how more than 50% of the Inc. 500 “Top 500 Companies” disappear from the list year to year? The following facts are profound:

  • 4 of 5 small to mid-size businesses are failing
  • 81% fail within the first 5 years
  • 94% of the remaining businesses fail within 10 years
  • 69% are operating without a real business plan
  • 84% with a real business plan don’t manage from it
  • 85% are operating without a succession plan
  • 89% don’t capitalize on tax planning using a board certified tax attorney/planner/strategist
  • 90% have no exit plan strategies
  • 96% don’t have their business valuated periodically (every two years)
  • Entrepreneurs within these stats have among the highest rates of divorce, suicide, depression, alcoholism, heart attacks, and ulcers
  • 70% of the entrepreneurs who somehow succeed end-up selling their companies for 60% below fair market value
  • 87% do not act as the CEO (or a C-Suite Executive) instead act as an employee whereby the business eventually owns them (mind, body, and soul)
  • Most entrepreneurs finance their own deals; borrow to fund debt; file for bankruptcy; and ultimately, lose everything.

Most of these entrepreneurs are candidates for “Business Turnaround Projects.”


~ Deuxieme Partie ~ (Part Two)

CNBC recently reported Business Owners Trying To Do It All: “The greatest mistake entrepreneurs make is to believe that they can do it all themselves. While entrepreneurs can do almost everything, they do almost everything poorly. Just like any other person, an entrepreneur has one or two natural talents. As an entrepreneur, it is your job to identify those talents and focus on them to the fullest. Surround yourself with people who are strong where you are weakest. Great companies are built on the foundation of exploiting a few strengths, not trying to be the masters of everything.”


While CNBC correctly describes the single greatest challenge of every entrepreneur, CNBC didn’t go far enough in setting forth the solution. The pragmatic solution to fixing the problem of “trying to do it all” is to re-organize the business with the right organizational structure with clear lines of authority, delegation of duties, methods of accountability, and the systems needed for greater controls. Optimize organizational and business performance with the right people, the right processes, the right tools ~ on the right road to recovery.

Accept it or not: In reality, our clients need our organizational leadership consulting and coaching help, not just from anybody, because we’re not like everybody else ~ because we can’t be like everybody else, and do our work effectively. Our mission as provocateurs is to positively affect change in the lives of our clients, and client companies, while delivering a significant 2:1 return on their investment.

Partner With Us.

Developing “Enlightened Leadership” is key to our success. In turn, we can help our clients get their real wants. What our clients want is a clear understanding of how to run the business by the numbers (not for the sake of compelling, colorful graphs and charts) so that they can have freedom and peace of mind.

Alice: I simply must get through!

Doorknob: Sorry, you’re much too big. Simply impassable.

Alice: You mean impossible.

Doorknob: No, impassable.  Nothing’s impossible.

from Alice in Wonderland

We start with a “Business Insights Analysis®.” We show our clients the true business of business by looking inside the numbers, an in-depth look at the four components of every client-company:

  • Sales
  • Production
  • Financial Management
  • Talent Management (within the current Organizational Culture)

Often the Business Insights Analysis® findings become the catalyst for systemic changes, paving the way for revitalized vision, strategy, positioning, structure, financial management, policy, controls, process, reporting relationships, talent management, organizational culture, all requiring management and leadership behavioral changes.

To be provocateurs, we must be confident, bold, forthright, and assertive. Provoking is giving tough love, engaging the client with passionate (applied) intelligence. Our passion comes from knowing that no one says on their deathbed, “I wish that I had spent more time putting-out office fires.” Provoking is holding the client accountable. Provoking is never buying the client’s excuse for procrastination. Time is of the essence. Provoking is never putting the client at risk by accepting “let me think about it. Time waits for no one.

Freedom lies in being bold. ~Robert Frost

Enlightened Leaders understand that the future cannot be created by holding onto the past. Unlike the song “Que Sera Sera” the future is ours to see, the dreamstime_s_13519579future is there for our entrepreneurial clients to create. The client must have a passionate desire to fulfill their real wants ~ on the right road to recovery.

To be provocateurs is to have sincere love for our client’s business, having genuine empathy for their well-being. We are the guardians of Entrepreneurial Corporate America. We pitch nothing. We sell nothing. Our role is to to provide light in the darkness of despair. ♥

We deliver pragmatic and provocative solutions. We offer rays of light, hope for a brighter future by presenting entrepreneurs an opportunity to evoke change in their business and life.

At the least, we give every client we engage the option, the chance to change their course of direction, to never stop improving ~ to be successful in business and life.

Imagine us as personal physicians conducting a detailed, complete examination. Would you want us to intervene in the earliest stages of cancer? Would you want an accurate diagnosis/prognosis, or just hear what you want to hear, see what you want to see?

Let’s Get Started. Partner With Us!

Marc Ortiz de Candia, Executive Partner ~ Provocateur

Vitalia Consulting | The Enlightened Leadership Leader






The Compassionate Pursuit of Happiness (Prosperity)

Warning! This blog may not be suitable for all readers, especially for those who made resolutions against happiness and prosperity in 2013, and for those who do not believe in the Constitution of the United States of America.


Enlightened Leaders can make others happy. Understand, this is not meant to say leaders are responsible and accountable for other people’s happiness, but Enlightened Leaders with high Emotional Intelligence (EQ) are responsible and accountable for creating environments where people can experience happiness. Consider this: The compassionate pursuit of happiness is not about what you want to be, it’s about who you want to be in this world:

  • as a compassionate human being
  • a compassionate organization
  • a compassionate business entity

Time is passing not everlasting. Notice? You blinked a few times and February 2013 is upon you, and will soon be gone. The Golden Globe Awards are behind us and now the Academy Awards are a couple weeks away. Time is passing not everlasting.

Have you had a chance to see the impressive small film, Happy? I highly recommend how this film explores the intrinsic contributors to our happiness as compassionate human beings. According to filmmaker, Michael Pritchard, “Compassion leads to happiness. Search the world for secrets to life’s greatest emotion, happiness.”

Economic growth has doubled in the last 50 years, but we’re not any happier, even though we have much more materialistic stuff. Right? Is everything we were taught about happiness and prosperity wrong-headed? After all, the study of happiness is nothing new. The point is that we haven’t seemed to learn very much from all the happiness research, and Corporate America (and society in general) hasn’t exactly embraced happiness or its relationship to compassionate leadership.

After all, most of us began the new year making promises to improve our lives, resolutions and un-resolutions based on what we did and didn’t do the year before. So, without looking too far ahead, look back at 2012 and assess what happened, what got you there, and most importantly, what made you happy, and why?

I believe that if you can tap into what makes someone else happy, you’ve expanded your enlightened leadership competencies. Plus, the fulfillment of making others happy reinforces your own happiness. For we cannot have relationships with others without reciprocity, mutual acceptance, respect, and value. Mutual benefit must exist to sustain relationships. Without mutual benefit, relationships die.

There are many things we do not fully understand on this planet, not on this plane. Yet, we must try to understand. Trying to understand is simply an exercise in becoming a better human being, a better leader.

Dr. Richard Davidson, University of Wisconsin, “Quantify happiness and you can quantify anything.” We’ve spent forever studying depression. Isn’t it high time we take a closer look at the value of happiness in leadership. The goal of psychology has been to help people rid themselves of their problems. Positive psychology studies and guides people towards happiness. Did you know that “Happiness” has become the most popular elective course at Harvard?

Marci Shimoff, author of Happy for No Reason says, “Our values are a key component of happiness.” Shouldn’t our values shape the kind of leader we are capable of becoming? Happiness is which something so often easily discarded as a “soft skill” is actually hard to develop, unless the essence of Enlightened Leadership is within you, and your organizational culture supports it.

Forbes released the January 15, 2013 report on the “World’s Happiest Countries.” Guess what? The USA wasn’t among the Top Ten again this year! What’s wrong with us?

Researchers have long known that we have pre-disposed genetic set points that play a role in determining how happy we can be. Moments of great joy or great sorrow return us to our happiness set points. Here’s the thing ~ While 50% of our happiness is genetically pre-programmed, only 10% is based on circumstances, 40% is based on intentional behavior! In other words, it’s what you choose to do, who you choose to be that has a significant impact on your lasting happiness, and in turn, the happiness of others around you.

Decades of research proves that happiness increases nearly every business and educational result: increasing sales by 37%, productivity by 31%, and accuracy on tasks by 19% as well as a myriad of health and quality of life improvements. Among those companies that don’t take leadership development seriously, vital and emerging leaders, these same companies ignore the role happiness plays in leadership effectiveness.

What can your company do to raise the happiness level of an employee? Happy human beings function better, are more productive, and live longer. Is the dissatisfaction in your company caused by depression stressors, or combined with low levels of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) within your leadership team, or the absence of happiness within the organizational culture?

Think about it. What did you do when the umbilical cord was cut? Cry, Baby Cry.

Knowing happiness can be quantified and measured, why has Corporate America been so slow to capitalize on its value to business? What about your company? (Conference room donuts, bagels, muffins, cookies, brownies, hot cocoa, and coffee don’t count!)


Nearly every company gives lip service to the philosophy “people are our greatest asset.” Results from the Conference Board’s most recent survey (tracking job satisfaction) shows that employees are “the unhappiest” in the 24 year history of the survey! Around the same time, CNNMoney reported that 87% of Americans are unhappy with their job. Mercer’s “What’s Working” survey found that one in three US employees are serious about leaving their current jobs. The numbers are higher among younger employees under 30 who tend to trend toward far more restless movement.

In her new book, The Myths of Happiness Sonja Lyubomirsky, psychology professor, argues that holding on to fallacious ideas about happiness, thinking we’d be happier if we had the right relationship, social status, material possessions, or…[fill in the blank] works against us. The issue is that these kind of thoughts keep us mired in our past, and don’t reflect how one cultivates happiness in real life.

Appreciating our relationships compels us to extract the maximum possible satisfaction and helps us to be grateful for it, relish it, savor it, and not take it for granted. Cultivating appreciation also helps us feel better about ourselves, more connected to others, more motivated to nurture relationships, and less likely to compare our situation to others and become envious. When given the choice between competition and collaboration, compassionate human beings will choose collaboration. 

We all know someone who has stellar success in their professional life but completely miserable in their personal life, every relationship an apparition. What’s your story?

Based on the metrics alone, you can easily make the case that the single greatest competitive advantage, in the modern economy, is a happy and engaged workforce.

In the New Age of Enlightenment, Enlightened Leaders must lead the way out of the darkness of depression and recession into the light of happiness. We, through intention, can change our brains, and in turn, the world around us. Enlightened Leaders perceive happiness as a skill. Compassion is in our DNA, caring about people, places, and things outside of ourselves.

People joke about “natural highs.” Truth is, science has proven that the compassionate pursuit of happiness gives you “natural highs” as good or better than any drug.

Acknowledge that happiness is an advantage at work that can be leveraged to get things done. Seek happiness in the present instead of waiting for future success. Exercise your brain for higher levels of happiness by creating habits shown to increase job satisfaction:

  1. Write a brief e-mail every morning thanking or praising a team member.
  2. Write down three things you are grateful for each day.
  3. Spend a couple minutes recalling something positive you’ve experienced over the last 24 hours.
  4. Exercise every day.
  5. Practice “Mindful Meditation” for a few minutes. Focus on your breathing in/out.
  6. Be forgiving. Practice forgiveness ~ every day of your life.  

Of course, if you can’t see the value, none of this will matter to you, and you should have read the disclaimer. Happiness comes from the capacity to feel deeply, to enjoy simply, to think and act freely, to risk life, to be needed not ignored.

Happiness: Set your compassionate self free, and the world is yours.

Marc Ortiz de Candia, Executive Partner, Vitalia Consulting


Music Playlist to Get Your Happiness Groove On:

  • Can’t Buy Me Love ~ The Beatles (Hard Day’s Night movie soundtrack)
  • Respect Yourself ~ The Staple Singers
  • Sweet Dreams ~ The Eurythmics
  • Higher Ground ~ Stevie Wonder
  • Sweet Dreams ~ Senor Coconut
  • Happiness Runs ~ Donovan (Yes! That Donovan!)
  • Ode to Joy ~ Beethoven (from Symphony No. 9 in D Minor)
  • Tomorrow Never Knows ~ The Beatles (Revolver)
  • Oh Happy Day ~ The Edwin Hawkins Singers
  • Bossa Per Due ~ Antonio Carlos Jobim
  • 100% Pure Love ~ Crystal Waters
  • Happy Talk ~ South Pacific (South Pacific movie soundtrack)
  • If Six Was Nine ~ Jimi Hendrix
  • Stand By Me ~ John Lennon (version)
  • Four Seasons ~ Vivaldi
  • Because ~ The Beatles (Abbey Road)
  • Instant Karma ~ John Lennon
  • Imagine ~ John Lennon
  • Happiness ~ Johnathan Jeremiah
  • Here Comes The Sun ~ The Beatles (Abbey Road)
  • I Can See Clearly Now ~ Johnny Nash
  • Inner Light ~ The Beatles (b-side of Lady Madonna)
  • A Beautiful Morning ~ The Rascals
  • Rain ~ The Beatles (b-side of Paperback Writer)
  • Living in a Material World ~ George Harrison
  • The Trip ~ Donovan (Yes! That Donovan again!)
  • Across The Universe ~ The Beatles (Abbey Road)
  • Love ~ Air
  • Yellow Submarine ~ The Beatles
  • Feelin’ Good ~ Joe Sample and Randy Crawford
  • Groovin’ ~ The Rascals
  • I’ll Take You There ~ The Staple Singers
  • Happy Birthday ~ The Beatles (“aka” The White Album”)
  • You Can’t Buy My Love ~ Robert Plant (Band of Joy)






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