Good and Great. What’s the difference?

On October 20, 2011, I was asked to speak at a board meeting for the Boys & Girls Club of America.  Our local Club (Venice) has been on the radar screen as a pace setter for attracting and involving local companies to participate in serving and donating to our 4000 kids.

Team TAG has been a leader in this department.  Team TAG opened it’s doors on November 2nd, 1998.  The staff consisted of 5 people – of which I was the ring leader.  We had no money, no track record, and no draw for sharp, ambitious people to join our firm other than the big talk and dreaming that one day we would be living great lives because of our hard work.

I was at a seminar in my younger years of business when I had an opportunity to listen to Jim Collins speak (author of “Good to Great”).  The premise of his book was to explore the differences between successful companies and not-so-successful companies.  Collins asked,  “Why does one restaurant open up in San Bernardino in 1940 (McDonald’s) and go on to become the largest restaurant chain in the world, and another restaurant opens the same year on the same street and goes out of business?  Why does one discount retailer open up in Rogers, Arkansas in 1962 (Walmart) and go on to become the largest retailer in the world, and another discount retailer opens the same year right down the street and goes out of of business?”  Collins completely peaked my interest and my passion to learn the difference between good and great was on its way.

Stephen Covey is another one of my favorite authors.  The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People had a tremendous amount of influence on me.  I became more efficient with my time, I worked very hard at listening, I focused on sharpening my personal saw, etc.  Around two years after reading the 7 Habits, I decided to read Covey’s follow up book:  The 8th Habit – Effectiveness to Greatness.  Covey made a pretty bold statement in that book.  In a nutshell, he stated that he best companies in the 21st century will be those that create a whole person in a whole position.  In other words, companies that enhance the well being of their employees, and develop all 4 major human needs, will be the most sought after companies in the world.  Sharp people will want to work with these companies and customers will want to do business with these companies.  Stephen Covey says that every person has 4 human needs:

  • To live (physical needs)
  • To learn (mental needs)
  • To love (social and emotional needs)
  • To leave a legacy (spiritual needs)

Here are a few companies in my mind that do a great job of trying to create a whole person in a whole position:

  • Patagonia – They donate 1% of their gross earnings to cleaning up the environment.  I have to believe that the employees in that firm feel some kind of spiritual need being met
  • Google – They have vending machines on their campus that give you free celery, apples, etc, but if you want a chocolate bar, it’ll cost you $5.  They make a statement to their people that their physical health is important to the company.
  • Zappos – In the lobby of their head office in Henderson, NV they have a “Dance, Dance Revolution” machine.  They are telling their employees that you can have a lot of fun at what would normally be a boring call center job.  Their people are getting their social/emotional needs met.

Team TAG does an excellent job creating a whole person in a whole position.  We promote eating healthy and working out (basketball every Tuesday as an office).  We promote great relationships inside and outside of the office (Team Night every Wednesday).  We promote stretching your mind (Book Club reading all kinds of great literature).  And lastly, we want spiritually healthy people.  This is where service kicks in.  Over the years, over 300 employees of Team TAG have participated in serving the community.  Some of our most memorable events have been:

  • Serving hundreds of families for Thanksgiving Dinners
  • Magic Mountain roller coasters
  • High Ropes Challenge
  • Bowling competitions
  • Resume building
  • Ice skating
  • Tour of fire department
  • Team TAG Super Sales
  • Silent Auctions
  • Dodgeball tournaments
  • 3-on-3 basketball tournaments

The board meeting that I attended on October 20th had some heavyweights in the room.  CEO’s and top executives from companies like Oracle, Skype, Wells Fargo, Taco Bell, Toyota Financial Services,and  Morgan Stanley were in attendance.  Also, the president and CEO of The Boys & Girls Club of America was in attendance.  I was very impressed with the genuine hearts of these highly influential people.  There are over 4 million kids involved with the Boys & Girls Club of America.  These youngsters are given a safe place to learn, grow, and get mentored after school.  No question in my mind, the board is contributing to society and making this country a better place because of their interest and work serving kids.

I hope they enjoyed my presentation – “Why do companies need to serve their communities?  What ‘best practices’ can Clubs follow for corporate engagement.”

Team TAG is an established company today (unlike the day we opened our doors in 1998), and we are recognized as one of the best places for young professionals to work in Los Angeles.  I think our commitment to creating a whole person in a whole position has been one of the key factors for our success.  Every person that works with our firm experiences personal and professional development.


Steve Jobs – Role Model For All Entrepreneurs

About a year ago, I had the privilege of meeting Steve Wozniak.  He co-founded Apple with Steve Jobs in 1976.  As Steve and I were talking, it was exhilarating to hear the stories of two crazy start up entrepreneurs with wild dreams and ambitions (working out of Jobs’ parents’ garage).

Studying the start up of these giant companies is fascinating.  It takes an immense amount of leadership, tenacity, and guts (genuine urgency to succeed) to survive and thrive in business – especially in the beginning.  Once a company becomes a household name, we often don’t think of the beginning stages and the struggles they had to meet their day-to-day operating costs.

I dedicate this blog to one our greatest, creative entrepreneurs in modern history – Steve Jobs.  Below is Steve Jobs’ commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005.  Be prepared for 15 minutes of wisdom.

A friend of mine e-mailed me the following document titled “Steve Jobs and the Seven Rules of Success” (author unknown).   Enjoy!

Steve Jobs and the Seven Rules of Success

Steve Jobs’ impact on your life cannot be overestimated. His innovations have likely touched nearly every aspect — computers, movies, music and mobile.  For entrepreneurs, Jobs’ greatest legacy is the set of principles that drove his success.

Over the years, I’ve become a student of sorts of Jobs’ career and life. Here’s my take on the rules and values underpinning his success. Any of us can adopt them to unleash our “inner Steve Jobs.”

1. Do what you love. Jobs once said, “People with passion can change the world for the better.” Asked about the advice he would offer would-be entrepreneurs, he said, “I’d get a job as a busboy or something until I figured out what I was really passionate about.” That’s how much it meant to him. Passion is everything.

2. Put a dent in the universe. Jobs believed in the power of vision. He once asked then-Pepsi President, John Sculley, “Do you want to spend your life selling sugar water or do you want to change the world?” Don’t lose sight of the big vision.

3. Make connections. Jobs once said creativity is connecting things. He meant that people with a broad set of life experiences can often see things that others miss. He took calligraphy classes that didn’t have any practical use in his life — until he built the Macintosh. Jobs traveled toIndia andAsia. He studied design and hospitality. Don’t live in a bubble. Connect ideas from different fields.

4. Say no to 1,000 things. Jobs was as proud of what Apple chose not to do as he was of what Apple did. When he returned in Apple in 1997, he took a company with 350 products and reduced them to 10 products in a two-year period. Why? So he could put the “A-Team” on each product. What are you saying “no” to?

5. Create insanely different experiences. Jobs also sought innovation in the customer-service experience. When he first came up with the concept for the Apple Stores, he said they would be different because instead of just moving boxes, the stores would enrich lives. Everything about the experience you have when you walk into an Apple store is intended to enrich your life and to create an emotional connection between you and the Apple brand. What are you doing to enrich the lives of your customers?

6. Master the message. You can have the greatest idea in the world, but if you can’t communicate your ideas, it doesn’t matter. Jobs was the world’s greatest corporate storyteller. Instead of simply delivering a presentation like most people do, he informed, he educated, he inspired and he entertained, all in one presentation.

7. Sell dreams, not products. Jobs captured our imagination because he really understood his customer. He knew that tablets would not capture our imaginations if they were too complicated. The result? One button on the front of an iPad. It’s so simple, a 2-year-old can use it. Your customers don’t care about your product. They care about themselves, their hopes, their ambitions. Jobs taught us that if you help your customers reach their dreams, you’ll win them over.

There’s one story that I think sums up Jobs’ career at Apple. An executive who had the job of reinventing the Disney Store once called up Jobs and asked for advice. His counsel? Dream bigger. I think that’s the best advice he could leave us with. See genius in your craziness, believe in yourself, believe in your vision, and be constantly prepared to defend those ideas.

Big Bear Classic V

The weekend of October 7-9, 2011, Team TAG and Jaime Hepp hosted the annual event that’s talked about all year long:  The Big Bear Classic.  This was our 5th annual Classic, and it turned out to be the most memorable Classic yet.

Several people mentioned that this Classic needed to be noted and archived.  Here are some points that we wanted to capture:

  • 50 people attended our crazy weekend.  All owners, Top Guns, Assistant Managers, and Top Administrators were invited.  We also invited Ali and a handful of Canadians to join.  We decided to host this event at one of our favorite YMCA’s – Camp Oakes in Big Bear, California.  
  • 4 teams were created:  Team Mexico (lead by Sabastian), Team Camouflage (lead by Joe), Team Yellow (lead by Teddy), and Team Pink (lead by Liam)
  • There 10 very intense head to head competition events (Tug-o-war, Canoe race, Team ski race, High Ropes, Brain game, Chug race, Archery, Volleyball, Dodgeball, and Beer Pong)
  • Leading up until the last event (Beer Pong), it was anyone’s tournament.  Team Camo was in first with 32 points, Team Pink was in second with 30 points, Team Yellow was in 3rd with 28 points, and Team Mexico was in fourth with 26 points.  As exhausted as everyone was, we got our second wind around 9pm for the final event.
  • Beer Pong was a double elimination tournament.  Here’s how the the tournament would score:  4th place – 2 points, 3rd place – 4 points, 2nd place – 6 points, and 1st place – 8 points.
  • And here’s how things went down:
  • Team Pink lost their first 2 matches – they ended up in 4th place
  • Team Camo and Team Mexico were battling for the next elimination.  It appeared that Team Camo had the Classic Cup in the bag.  There were 8 cups left for Mexico to hit as Camo had its final cup to hit.  Teddy, captain of the Team Yellow made a joke that this could be the biggest meltdown in sports history.  Jaime, on Team Yellow also, was trying to film Camo get the game winning shot.  He was impressed with Team Camo and the awesome display of teamwork all day.  Here are few shots that he captured as he tried getting the game winner:
  • As Teddy called it, it was the greatest meltdown in sports history.  After the Big Bear Classic, Joe was asked how many chances did he think that his team had to “close it out”.  He estimated 20-25 shots.
  • Camo lost to Mexico leaving Camo in 3rd place.
  • Yellow beat Mexico – which put Yellow and Camo in a tie for first place (36 points for each team).  It also left Pink and Mexico in a tie for last place.  Pink and Mexico were exhausted and decided to call it a draw.  They busted out a package of wieners and started rolling the wieners across the floor with their noses.
  • And then the epic, photo finish – the overtime period.
  • Camo and Yellow came down to the last cup for each team.  Back and forth the shooters shot.  And then… the final shot.  Jaime took the slow motion swish – and Team Yellow went crazy.  Camo had a chance to push, but 2 misses later, the fate of the Cup was determined.  Yellow took home the gold!  
Everyone agreed that this was one of the best events of the year for our organization.  That says alot considering we’ve attended a lot of really cool venues.  Win or lose, everyone had a great time.  There were no sore losers, and there were no gloating winners.  Everyone had moments of victory and moments of defeat throughout the day.  All in all, the crew is tighter than it’s ever been and we look forward to many more opportunities to work and play together for years to come.

2011 Silent Auction Raises $189,000 for Boys & Girls Club



Friday – September 30th 2011, 45 Team TAG volunteers help raise $189,000 for Boys & Girls of Venice

On Friday (September 30th) Team TAG took 45 leaders to volunteer at the 6th annual Fall Gala for the Boys & Girls Club of Venice.  The main event of the Gala: a Silent Auction, presenting over a hundred items for people to bid on.

Held at the Ritz Carlton in Marina Del Ray, the purpose of the Gala was to raise enough money for the renovation of the club’s main learning room, where the children go to improve themselves both academically and personally.

“It was very enriching to see the smile on the kids’ faces and see so many people come together for a great cause.  The amount of time, money, and effort put into this was overwhelming and I feel very privileged to have been involved in the fundraiser.” – Ryan Seibel

The event was hosted by local Fox Sports Net reporter Michael Eaves, who was impressed with the commitment by the volunteers from Team TAG.  “I have hosted several events through the years, but I have yet to encounter anyone who was as prepared and organized.” – Michael Eaves

Cathy Hession was honored at this event.  She has been a great role model for the community and for Team TAG.  She is an unselfish leader that has a big heart.  Her enthusiasm and passion to serve are second to none.

With the help of Team TAG, the Boys and Girls Club was able to raise a total of $189,000.  The event was an incredible success.  Our special evening attracted local celebrities such as Shannon Brown, guard for the Los Angeles Lakers.  Jaime Hepp, owner of Team TAG, could not have been more pleased with the outcome of the event.

“I am very proud of our team.  We had 45 of our staff members unselfishly give up their Friday evening to make this event work.  We were escorting people, running merchandise in and out of the ball room, selling the items, training people on the iPods – everything ran like a well-oiled machine.  I love our team, and ultimately, the kids at The Club love us too.  Over 4,000 kids will receive great after school programs because of successful events like this one.” – Jaime Hepp

This event was only one of many that Team TAG has volunteered at in an attempt to reach out in a positive way to the community.  Advocated by Jaime Hepp, the value of service and giving back is a core value held at Team TAG.

“It was awesome to see so many people come out for a great cause!  It’s great that Team TAG has giving back to the community so ingrained into the company culture.  True success is being able to share it with others.” – Mani Disuanco