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

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






When Knowledge (Alone) is Not Enough

One of the most salient things I have observed in meetings with countless C-Level Executives is the overwhelming pool of information they’re swimming in. The result is too much data driving them insane ~ which only yesterday was commonly referred to as “analysis-paralysis.” The results are in-decisions, in-actions and inertia, uncertainty about which move to make. So, nothing changes if nothing changes.

Our initial role (in Organizational Leadership Consulting and Coaching) is to help these C-Level Executives wade through the waves of data to find the right information, the right solutions. At this point, It’s important to note that there is no pitch, there is no presentation, no assumptions or conclusions. In the beginning, we are simply listeners and observers asking key questions, guiding our clients, mired in confusion, out of the abyss. We are facilitators of the process.

When is knowledge (alone) not enough? When is knowledge (alone) not power? You and I have seen zillions of sales professionals, managers, and executives go through cropped-AB-When-Knowledge-Alone-is-Not-Enough.jpgthe “sales training hotel factories” coming out with only a cheap binder and more information (plenty of getaway trip stories to tell) but no knowledge retention, process and skills application, or behavioral shifts that last beyond a few days, a few weeks at best. There’s a reason why “talk is cheap.”

Revolt against the archaic business culture of “just gimme the knowledge, just gimme the information/data!” There’s much more vital work to be done. Of course, this requires Enlightened Leadership with the desire and the resources to sustain high business growth. Nothing happens without Enlightened Leadership.


To illustrate, one of our most recent projects (right in our wheelhouse) is focused on “Sales Performance Optimization.” We’re working with a dysfunctional sales group with mountains of information, tons of knowledge but without the right sales people, without the right sales process, and without the right sales tools. We fix dysfunctional organizations. Partner with Us.

Our approach to every client project is simple and effective. We began this project by meeting with the C-Level Executive Leadership Team, not just the Sales Group Management. We take a panoramic view and then zoom-in. We start by building Organizational Vision and Holistic Strategies because the Sales Group is inter-connected with all other organizations within the business. Many pictures from different angles are necessary.

Simultaneously, we are conducting an Organizational Culture Assessment that will result in a comparative analysis between the leadership’s perception of their organization and what people (within the organization) and customers (outside the organization) are actually experiencing. There are always execution chasms which need to be filled before moving forward with any formal development or learning.

In this case, the Sales Group had the highest turnover rate (higher than telemarketing) in the company, and reported into an Operations Vice President who didn’t understand sales or selling, or the difference between marketing, sales, business development and account management. These things were known by everyone in the client company.

While the assessment offers information/knowledge/data, our job is to uncover and discover the right solutions in tandem with our clients. In turn, radical new buyer behavior requires re-thinking sales. Buyers are much more informed. The sheer volume of information buyers can access can humble the best sales professionals, managers, and executives causing them to compete on price. The new imperative facing sales leaders is to re-tool the organization and build a culture of continuous improvement.

No more worthless seminars or workshops. Everything is done in session-work, one to three hour sessions: Leadership Development Sessions, Vision and Strategy Sessions, Sales Development Sessions, Individual and Group Coaching Sessions…

dreamstime_s_6386770According to The Aberdeen Group “Best in Class” companies determine characteristics of “Best in Class” professional sales performers on an annual basis, as defined by:

  • Top 20% in Quota Attainment
  • Top 20% in YOY Revenue Growth
  • Top 20% in Average Deal Size Increase

The truth is in the performance numbers. This research shows the three key areas in which the best performing companies differentiate from their peers, and adapt to changing sales requirements:


  • Scientifically assess the specific requirements for sales models, and align hiring and development to those profiles.
  • Develop world class capabilities by aligning sales process, methods, and never-ending learning to ever-changing buyer behavior
  • Enable effective, consistent application of best practices by integrating sales tools and state-of-the-art technologies

Remember, the main reason why most “sales closing systems” fail is because there is no opportunity for the sales professional to practice and test mastering the re-tooled sales process. No true individual commitment to the sales process and no reinforcement after the “learning session.” This is why “individual coaching” must be an integral component of every “Sales Performance Optimization” Platform.

In the New Age of Enlightenment, knowledge (alone) is not enough to get things done, to adapt to the rapidly evolving marketplace, to create lasting success. Having a trillion pieces to a puzzle is not enough. You must the right pieces to put the right picture together.

So, what are your answers: Are You An Enlightened Leader? Do you have the right sales people, the right sales process, the right sales tools for sales performance optimization? Are you ready to put together the sales organization puzzle?

Let’s get started! Partner with Us.

Marc Ortiz de Candia, Executive Partner, Vitalia Consulting


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 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 Genius of Being Bold

“Whatever you can do or dream you can do…begin it! Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Enlightened Leadership is about action, not position or title or entitlement. Decisive action is the key to any decisive victory. It begins with believing in something meaningful to the business organization, and acting on that belief. For those who see Enlightened Leadership as a soft concept, nothing more than Sunshine Supermen sitting around listening to Donovan’s “Mellow Yellow,” wrong you are, when you are…Guess Again!

Enlightened leaders move swiftly, out-maneuvering their competition with precision. There is an old Italian saying: “Chi si ferma e perduto.” (when translated to English) “He who hesitates is lost.” It’s a truism in life and in business. In French, “Celui qui hesite est perdu.” In Spanish, “El que duda esta perdido.” In any language, the first product or service to market wins, and dominates the marketplace 96.69% of the time.

Take the first steps toward greatness. Be a bold leader. Become the market dominator, armed with an arsenal of resources produced by your ability to create a thoughtful, risk-accepting organizational culture supportive of innovation and investments for the future.

Unfortunately, traditional corporate cultures are petrified forests of apathy and in-decision, a culture of fear, disdain, fatigue and boredom, negativity, conformity and complacency, reinforced by the executive hierarchy, sadly inherited by the emerging leaders of tomorrow. Traditional corporate cultures, especially in the mature stage of the business life cycle, can become increasingly rigid and risk-averse. Entrenched behaviors and cultures kill the innovative spirit of your people.

In the new age of enlightenment, I believe that there is a better way. We’ve explored many other dimensions of what it means to be an Enlightened Leader: Being open-minded, empathic, High EQ (emotional intelligence) intuitive, actively listening and observing, having a sense of purpose, a willingness to act thoughtfully, and so on. Another important dimension of being an Enlightened Leader is “Being Bold.”

Be bold because innovation requires taking risks. Nurture, support, and cultivate an organizational culture that makes space for innovative insights. To create the business of tomorrow, you must break-down the inhibitors of change today.

While always considering the risks involved (bolstered with contingency plans) Enlightened Leaders are Napoleonic in their fearlessness, relentlessly fearless in the face of overwhelming odds, in the pursuit of their dreams. “Cogito ergo zoom!” (I think, therefore I go fast!) Create a pluralistic culture of bold, free-thinking, decision-makers who deliver decisive actions and results for the good of all.

Understand the idea here is not to replicate Napoleonic leaders through-out your organization. The point is to take one of Napoleon’s most brilliant strengths: a willingness to act boldly and decisively when perceiving the opportunity to do so.

To quote Napoleon: “Ability is nothing without opportunity.” Those opportunities come from the organizational culture that you’re willing to create. In essence, you can create your own opportunities.

In sharp contrast, King Louis XVI (incapable of decisive action, preferring personal interests to the interests of the people) was executed during the French Revolution, just as Napoleon was rising to power.

Yet, the genius of being bold has been abandoned by most so-called “modern business leaders and organizations.” Why? Closed organizational cultures are oppressive and suppressive, causing people to fear political and career retaliation for speaking-up. Remember, silence foreshadows failure.

Ask yourself these questions: Do you have the audacity to challenge yourself and the systemic leadership behaviors within your organization? Are employees at all levels overwhelmed by your leadership’s short-sightedness? Can you survey the whole battlefield? Can you see your strategic advantages by looking at your organizational weaknesses?

Believe in something or you stand for nothing. Anything less is to live without true commitment or conviction.

Here’s a simple way to assess the state of your organizational culture. When you arrive at the next “important internal meeting” look around the room. What do you see? Is the meeting room alive with energy and ideas, or do you see a roomful of the living dead, zombies everywhere you look? Enlightenment can be frightening!

{This section is mostly intended for historical interest and reference points: As polarizing as any discussion about Napoleon can be, his bold vision and brilliant strategies are inarguable. Napoleon was hated by his enemies but respected by them at the same time. The Duke of Wellington, Sir Arthur Wellesley, when asked who he thought was the greatest general who ever lived, answered “In this age, in past ages, in any age, Napoleon.”

Born Napoleone di Buonaparte on the island of Corsica, only one year after Corsica was transferred to France by the Republic of Genoa, he later adopted the more French-sounding Napoleon Bonaparte.

Introducing a plethora of innovative strategies, Napoleon’s victories were more decisive than anyone had experienced before. Exporting revolution to the rest of Europe, the movements of national unification and the rise of the nation state, Napoleon’s religious policy emancipated Protestants to an equal status with Catholics. The Concordant of 1801 contained principles that served France for the next 100 years.

The Napoleonic Code was a “revolutionary project” embraced by much of Europe, instituting several lasting reforms, including: centralized administration of the departments, higher education, a tax system, a central bank, civil and criminal law codes, road/bridge/sewer systems, breaking the back of feudalism, and remained in force long after Napoleon’s defeat. Credit Napoleon for reorganizing the Holy Roman Empire, streamlining a thousand entities into 40 nation states. In mathematics, Napoleon’s Theorem is still used today.

Many in the international community still admire the many accomplishments of the self-made emperor, and celebrate his legacy. Moreover, many probably wish Napoleon had achieved his unrealized goal: To make it a law that only those lawyers and attorneys who win their cases should receive fees. How much litigation could have been prevented by such a measure! This is a brilliant idea, wouldn’t you agree?}

Now that you know about the “Genius of Being Bold” do you have what it takes to start your own innovation revolution?  

  • Get the framework and the tools to move beyond current impasses 
  • Be prepared to get uncomfortable for awhile
  • Time to remove the handcuffs, the shackles, and the blinders
  • Get out of the state of denial
  • Confess the Machiavellian truths about “business as usual”
  • Challenge the complacency of day-to-day routines
  • Implode the cannons defending the status quo
  • Set yourself (and your organization) free
  • Deliver the core message of change as revolutionary, thoughtful, and resilient
  • Ignite the thinking revolution
  • Order a call to arms throughout your organization
  • Renounce the tranquility of repetition
  • Everyone is an innovator / Everyone is a change agent
  • Be prepared to look at yourself as you look objectively at your culture
  • Time to create the future you want for your business
  • Empower people to think critically, question relentlessly, act boldly
  • Move your business from complacent to competitive!

In partnering with our Vitalia Consulting clients, our consulting methodology is purposely designed to identify the challenges and discover the possible solutions together:

  1. We Listen and Assess. Where is the organizational culture relative to the business?
  2. We Partner and Facilitate: Strategic Vision and Strategy Process
  3. We Partner and Facilitate: Overcoming obstacles on the road to victory
  4. We Lead and Facilitate: Leadership Coaching Sessions (Group and Individual)
  5. We Lead and Facilitate: Leadership Learning Sessions
  6. We Partner and Facilitate: Individual and Organizational Behavioral Shifts
  7. We Partner and Facilitate: Creating an “immersive” sense of place, of home for everyone within your organization
  8. We Partner and Advise: Sustaining the Vision over time.

By the way, this is not done by simply having an annual PowerPoint Presentation!

Be a bold, enlightened leader. This is a better way of building organizational capability. As the speed of organizational behavioral change accelerates, critical thinking, questioning, inventing, and exploring become business priorities.

The future of high growth business belongs to those (leaders and organizations) who can adapt and grow, who lead with boldness. You’ll need the tools to move beyond your current impasses.

Understand the boldness of these assertions because without revolution nothing changes. Remember, powerful words backed by powerful actions is a catalyst for true change. Strategically placed Enlightened Leaders are vital to your organization and to your business. After all, there’s a little Napoleon in every one of us. Liberte! Egalite! Fraternite!

Marc Ortiz de Candia, Executive Partner, Vitalia Consulting

To learn more about how we can work together, go to the partnering page at and complete the contact form. Let us know how we can help you, or someone you know. Every relationship begins with a conversation.