Business in the US has changed rapidly.  Am I stuck in the past?

October 24, 2022

This month our Round Tables considered the rapid change in the business environment and reflected on whether they are stuck in the past or moving forward on a new path.  Topics ranged from new communication styles to helping staff deal with rapid change.

Communicating in today’s world

We must keep the lines of communication open even with those of faith.  Many religions refer often to the moral code driven by virtues.  The Jewish faith and many Christian faiths, reflect on the Old Testament, and focus on God.  Catholic and other Christian denominations focus on the New Testament and Jesus Christ using Paul, Acts and the Gospels.  When dealing with mixed groups of people, be aware of their background.   Where did they get their ideas?

In today’s world, with its divisiveness, people seem to take a opposite stance, just to argue.  They are conditioned to oppose no matter what you say and may not have even have had heard what you said.

How can we approach people to include them in the conversation to generate a positive outcome?   Focus on asking questions instead of making statements.

Combating the frustration with rapid and radical change

One member finds a need to address the crippling frustration he sees among his staff.  He shared that the word, Avodah, in Hebrew, is the root word for both worship and work.  He uses this idea to help staff overcome frustrations by helping them see their work as worship and find positive ways to express their faith in specific actions related to their business goals.

Old financial models may no longer work

Current business models are based on the past but used to forecast the future.  When things change so drastically as they have in the past few years, those models may not work anymore.  All business models that have evolved with more data than ever before, may not have relevance today.  It’s hard to estimate what the future will bring.

Maybe strategic planning is best thinking, best guessing?  Strategic planning with those in touch with a changing marketplace is critical. 

New communication styles


Potential customers do not want to talk on the phone today to listen to a sales pitch.  One must use digital communication that offers stimulating information given freely to help them in some way in order to entice them to have a conversation.  Outright selling is not effective anymore.

Some have suggested it takes 9-27 emails to potential customers to soften the field to open to the possibility of having a conversation.

One RT member has a process of sending 3 letters, each with useful information for a potential client, as a way to increase the likelihood of starting a conversation.

Call instead of email

Email is becoming the preferred mode of communication, but it is not a complete substitute for a one-on-one discussion or a phone call.

Business professionals are customed to using email and text but are becoming increasingly uncomfortable using the phone.  However, calling can be time saving.  A detailed email can take 20 minutes to write, while a call may take 3-4 minutes and helps build relationships.  Miscommunication is possible using email unless the writer is very skilled.


One member has been asked by clients to join industry chats.  It has become valuable for business referrals.  It’s a connection channel.


One member is using LinkedIn to celebrate company successes and recognize employee achievement.  It is a communication platform for letting others know about the work his company is doing. 

Change in our culture

One member believes we are now dealing with a change in values and culture as parents discourage young people from working and instead focus on school grades and athletic performance in order to increase the likelihood of college scholarships. Therefore, it is difficult for businesses to hire high school and college age folks to work.

What ideas must be embraced to combat this trend?  Some restaurant owners now have a QR code at each table, when scanned leads the customer to the menu, where they can order, eliminating the need for a waitress or waiter.  Businesses must embrace technology to combat a dwindling workforce.

Embrace the digital world or be left behind

Businesses that resist participating in the digital world are being left behind.  One member gave three examples of business leaders who did not understand the importance of having a website.  One non-profit lost a grant opportunity, one moving company president saw his market share decline and another company president could not find information on his business when searching the internet.

Trust is built with layers of communication, via website, email, social media, etc.

Embrace paying staff their worth

One member believes it is the business owner’s responsibility to pay their staff what they are worth in the marketplace.  Pay compensation based on market/training/background/experience/accomplishments. That way, your employees realize you are being fair and honest.  Running a successful business is primarily about developing the right culture and set of values in the organization, with leadership showing the way.

Motivate staff

Despite changes in the business environment and advent of new technologies, many of the same issues today are the same as they were 20-25 years ago.  Leadership needs to:

  1. Set a clear vision with guiding values and principles.
  2. Ensure leadership consistently applies values and principles when making decisions.
  3. Give employees a higher sense of purpose by having them put themselves in the shoes of your customers.
  4. Walk the talk and keep focused on the lifeblood of the company: satisfied customers.

Educate employees on the risks of ownership

To combat the perception that the owners stand to gain far more than the staff, educate them on the capital risks being taken for the benefit of the entire organization, and the duty to satisfy key stakeholders, such as financiers, vendors, customers, employees, and investor shareholders.

Consider adopting the Rockefeller Habits

In facing pent up demands and an increasingly uncertain business climate, one member is focusing on mastering the Rockefeller Habits.

Upcoming Events:

  1. Jeff Disher, Founder and Board Chair of Disher Corporation will be the Keynote speaker at our Grand Rapids Breakfast Social on Friday, November 18 at 7:00-9:00 am. at the University Club in Grand Rapids.
  2. Global Webinar: Virtual Leadership Event with Fred Sievert, Christian Author & Retired President of New York Life.  This event takes place on Friday, December 16 at 8:00-9:00am.