Why we do what we do

When we meet new people, in business settings and in casual ones, sooner or later the question comes up…What do you do?   Rarely does someone ask you WHY do you do what you do.  I wonder why?  After all, wouldn’t that answer be a lot more interesting?

Someone must think so.  There are lots of different words we apply to the WHY behind what we do.  Think about it:  motive, purpose, goal, strategy, aim, basis, drive,  impulse, incentive, incitement, inducement, influence, inspiration, intent, intention,  motivation, objective, passion, rationale, root,  spur, stimulus, thinking, and more all tie back to our why. 

WHY is one of my favorite words.  I’m sure I drove my parents crazy with my incessant “whying” when I was young just as it probably has frustrated my supervisors, co-workers, and employees as I moved through my career, not to mention the poor folks who’ve had to live with me.  But for me at least, I can’t get to the What and the How until I understand the WHY.  In fact, it is the WHY that ultimately shapes the What and How of getting the job done. 

In its purest sense, the WHY is at the root of our business and our being.  The answer to our WHY in business and in life is our core purpose.  The ultimate answer to WHY.  Years ago, when I started my company, I was struggling with what to call it. Ultimately, CorePurpose, Inc. was born to help businesses grow by focusing on their WHY.

You see, once you know WHY you are doing something, it’s much easier to set goals, make plans,and follow through on them.  And when you can explain your WHY to others, you just might find that they believe in your core purpose also and will join you on the journey. 

So take some time to think about WHY.  Once you have the answer, the What, How, Who, and When come naturally. 

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…


Joan Koerber-Walker


P.S. Please join me on July 7, 2010 at 9:30 AM Central Time when I will be sharing ideas on Blog Talk Radio with host Zane Safrit around putting the WHY to work in your business and how to focus yourself and your team on building, connecting, growing around YOUR core purpose.  For more information, click here.


Don’t Call Me. I’ll call you

scan0055We’ve all heard it said so many different ways.  That infamous and rarely welcome message –

“Don’t Call Me – I’ll Call You.”

Whether it’s said in the spirit of efficiency –

“I don’t have an answer yet – when I do, I’ll call you.” 

or as the ultimate brush off. 

“Yeah, Yeah – I’ll get back to you on that.”

knowing when to wait and when to follow up can be a delicate dance of one step forward and two steps back.

Whether you are an entrepreneur working on getting that next round of funding, an employee moving a decision up the corporate decision ladder, or a sales person trying to close that BIG order, it is important to be able to get over the “Don’t Call Me” hurdle.  Here are some tactics that have worked for me.  They just might work for you too.

Ask a clear question that can be answered. 

Be sure to clearly state the question and make sure the other person knows what you are asking.  Nothing is more frustrating that waiting for an answer and when it comes,  YOUR question is still unanswered.  When this happens you end  up  starting the process all over again. 

Ask a champion to help you get an answer. 

Just like the photo above, find someone who can help you place that call.  Your champion may have the inside information or access to get through when you do not.

Help the other party understand why making a decision is good for THEM. 

While we often focus on what we need, that will not necessarily be a high priority for the other person.  If you can demonstrate why coming to a decision is good for the person on the  other side, you might quickly find that you are both on the SAME side.

Wishing won’t make it so.

Years ago, I was waiting for a VERY important answer on a very big deal.  If we did not have an answer that day, the deal would not go through and weeks of my team’s work would have been for naught.  I got so frustrated that I finally just sat in my office staring at the phone and willing it to ring.  My assistant was not used to seeing me sit still that long and came in to see what was up.  When she realized what I was doing, she started to laugh.

“That’s no way to get an answer.  You have to do something to move things forward.  Wishing won’t make it so.”

The glare I gave her would have made strong men tremble as I muttered under my breath and turned back to stare at the phone even harder. 

  “Maybe I can help” she said.

With that she went back to her desk and called an assistant at the other company.  Explaining that her boss was driving her crazy, she asked the other assistant to help.  Within 15 minutes,  I got my answer.  My company got  the deal AND my assistant got a raise.  And, she did not even have to ask!

So whatever you need to do to get YOUR answer, do it.  You never know, it just might be the one you’ve been waiting for.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Business in the Fast Lane

1981 Porsche 928 (3)Are you looking to move your business into high gear and get things moving this summer? Business in the fast lane sounds great.  Think of how we describe it –

Taking the Lead

Going all Out

Racing Through the Checkered Flag

But running at high speed can be tricky. 

Here are some helpful hints I’ve learned along my journey. Maybe they’ll come in handy for you too. 

Map your course

Whether you are running a race or growing a business, you need to know where you are going.  Champion drivers on the course or in the board room will tell you that the secret to winning the race is a solid plan.  You need to map out the course, know where the detours are, and how you will accelerate through the curves that are sure to lie ahead. Then you need to stay the course and keep your eyes open for the unexpected. 

Check your gas tank

1980 Chevroley Corvette (1)Before you rev your engines, check your gas tank!  There is nothing worse than pulling to the head of the business pack  and then sputtering to a stop because you ran out of gas! Fuel for your business comes in many different forms.  It can be the right resources, a strong marketing plan, or the capital you need to make it to the finish line.  Many a race has been lost because the driver simply ran out of gas!

Assemble a great pit crew

Winning drivers have winning teams.  No one wins the race alone.  The driver may be the person everyone sees out in front, but it is the pit crew that makes sure that he or she can stay there.  The same is true for winning businesses.  Your business pit crew is essential.  They are the people that ensure that your business can deliver on its promises, stay on course, speed up when it needs to, and go the distance.

Be sure your vehicle fits.

1997 Chevrolet Tahoe

When we look at a race track, the cars look very alike. They are small and sleek and nimble.  When it comes to the business race, you have a wide choice of vehicles to get you to where you want to go.  The trick is to know the right size, features and benefits will be the best fit for you and  your goals.  Running fast and sleek in stealth mode may be what your business needs, but when you are packing for a long haul, you might want to look around for a workhorse that can carry the load.  It might be yours, or it might belong to a strategic partner – but either way you need the right style and fit to achieve your goals and get the job done.

But most of all…

DSC00261what ever vehicle you choose to get you where you are going …

Buckle up and enjoy the ride!

After all what is the point of starting the race if you don’t enjoy the process of winning it.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker




Size matters – Or Does it?

Size Matters I tell you!

It’s the age old question – Does size matter?  Well my guess is that just like almost any of the key questions in life… it depends. 

Let’s look at some business examples and you can decide:

Size and economic development

When it comes to economic development, it appears that size does matter in the minds of economic developers.  Most economic development agencies  spend the bulk of their time and energy in the recruitment of BIG companies.  It looks really good when you go to justify your existence to the  legislature and you can show that you brought in 1,000 jobs to your state by recruiting someone like Google to your town.  They might just approve your budget for next year.   Yet comparatively little attention is given to saving or helping to start up one small business.  It’s funny really – since as a group, small businesses – in every state –  are the single largest employer group.  Even bigger than the Feds or the state itself.  Take a look at the composition charts at YourEconomy.org to see what I mean.

Size and Innovation

How about Innovation?  So often we hear that the greatest innovations come from small companies since the big ones are too mired down in red tape and inertia to create the new and novel.  Maybe not.  This is the list of  the top companies by patent awards.  Click on the links for each of the companies listed below to browse their innovations.  IBM, Samsung, Canon, Microsoft, Intel , Matsushita, Toshiba ,Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi, Micron, Seiko Epson, General Electric, Fujifilm, Infineon Technologies, LG, Texas Instruments, Honda (Source:  IP.com)

But patents are only one measure of innovation and perhaps one that is understated.  There are many inventions that never make it through the patent process. It is just too time consuming and expensive for many small companies, not to mention that actually enforcing a patent claim can cost thousands if not millions of dollars.  As one small business person told me last week: “Big Company X is violating our patent.  We called to inform them of it and requested further discussion as to either stopping or paying us a royalty – there response was – Sue me.  We could never afford to do that and they knew it.” 

Innovations are inventions that actually make a difference in the marketplace. Again, size has it’s advantages since bringing a product to market takes LOTS of capital (money) to cast a wide net.  Yes there are firms that started small and then grew rapidly through innovation and acceptance.  But they are the ones that beat odds that would put a Las Vegas casino consistently in the money. 

How about innovation compared to country size?  Big countries with lots of universities and leading economies have the advantage.  Right?  Maybe, Maybe not.  If we measure innovation by the number of patents per capita, there are some very interesting results,  just take a look. Some of the smallest countries and with equally small economies, top the list.  The economic big guns, the Japan, the UK,  United States, Canada, China, rank as #19, #38, #40, #41, and #60 respectively. 

So when it comes to innovation, BIG has the advantage of resources but perhaps small has the advantage of greater personal motivation and reward for the innovator.

Size and Business Agility

Here small has the advantage according to most business books.  Small companies are nimble, and can adjust their plans much more quickly than their behemoth brethren.  So on the surface it’s advantage to the Smalls.  Yet, we often forget that it takes more than cutting through bureaucracy to create agility – it takes the resources to bank roll changes in direction.  Here the advantage is almost always to the bigger firms whose access to capital on a short term basis provides many more avenues to resources.  The smaller company may be able to make a decision faster – but the bigger one can get it funded and in action faster.  So in this case – again, it depends.  

So with all that said – Does size matter – it almost always depends.  But one way or another each type of organization has its advantages and disadvantages.  So perhaps the answer comes down to what Mark Twain once said about what really matters.

“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

Thanks for stopping by. Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Have you ever failed?

Source - MS Clip Art - Fotolia

  It was bound to happen.  If you stand up in front of people enough times talking about topics like innovation, leadership, and success, sooner or later someone in the audience is going to drop the   F-Word. 

NO! Not that one!  The other four letter F-Word.  “FAIL”

Interestingly I had been speaking professionally for almost 10 years before I got the question.  A young woman in the audience raised her hand, and called out her question…

“It’s great to hear stories about how to succeed…but have you ever FAILED?”

And the answer was a resounding – Oh, Yeah!



But the real questions are:  How can we learn from this?  How do we fix it? Where do we go from here? And occasionally – Is it time to call it and move on?  

Unless you perpetually play it safe, you will eventually come to that day in a job, a project, or other personal or professional  relationship where the F-word comes into play.  I remember an occasion when I was in the running for a job that I really wanted.   When I found out that I did not get it, I asked the interviewer, someone I knew pretty well, if I could get some feed back and pointers on what I could have done better in the interview.  His reply was a real eye opener:

“You did not do anything wrong.  You just lacked some key experience.”

I was puzzled.  I had studied that job description. My background and experience met every single point of the position criteria.   When I asked what I was missing – his answer floored me. 

“In the interview, we asked you to tell us about a situation where you failed.  You could not think of one and to my knowledge you never really have had to deal with a significant failure.  That’s a skill you have yet to develop.”

He was right, I hadn’t.  At the age of 28, I had lived a charmed life, personally and professionally, and had not been a position where I was responsible for managing through a true failure. Sure there were times when things did not work out as planned and I had to adjust or be flexible – but that F-Word was not in my vocabulary.   It was not until later, when I had higher levels of responsibility and was more involved in managing risk that I got that experience.  Every leader does.  It comes with the territory.  You and your team don’t succeed EVERY time.  Occasionally you fail.  And a key responsibility for any leader is to know how to ask the questions, define the strategy, and execute on the plan that takes the team over or around the hurdle created by a “failure”.

To this day, my resume still does not have bullet points under my qualifications that lists out my ‘failures’ significant or otherwise. But at this point in my life – I certainly know how to answer the question when it is raised.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker


Success Takes A Team

The older I get the more I recognize that success takes a team. Over the last few weeks I have seen how teamwork and leadership go hand in hand in multiple ways.

As a hockey mom, I have seen my share of team work, solid passes, and game winning goals.  I’ve also seen teams falter when one superstar tries to do it all alone.  The reality is, that in the end, strong TEAMS win.

The 2008 Phoenix Polar Bears - USA Hockey Junior A Bronze Medialists

“The only way we win is as a team.” ~  Harry Mahood, Coach of the Phoenix Polar Bears – the only Junior team in USA Hockey history to play in the National Championship Tournament NINE years straight. (Quite a feat for an Ice Hockey team from the desert!)

In May, CorePurpose published a great new book by Amilya Antonetti titled The Recipe: A fable for leaders and teams.  It is not our usual type of book or even our normal market – but the message was so important and timely in the current economic environment that I made the decision as publisher to give it a try – and I called my team together for help.  Everyone pitched in to bring the book to market faster than any other title we had ever published.  Graphics designers, editors, printers, our marketing team, our distributor (BookMasters), and our author worked around the clock to put together a little book with a BIG message.  And the end result was something we could all be very proud of.  Over 100 friends came out as we honored three great leaders: Monica Crowley (Journalism), Ken Colburn (Entrepreneurship), Lynn Tilton (Business) at a private media event sponsored by Innovators Warehouse, Shwaag,  and Barrington Printing. When we officially launched the following day at the Barnes and Noble at Lincoln Triangle in the heart of Manhattan, it was to a full house and we sold out every copy they had on hand!  (It did not hurt that we had an awesome team of leaders on our panel; at Barnes and Noble including Kevin Daum, Gloria Feldt, and Mike Micholwicz!)

Wonderful friends from across the country pitched in and continue to help  spread the word.  Kevin Daum, author of the hot new book ROAR made introductions to reviewers and friends in Manhattan, Kathy Partak flew out from California to help coordinate the media and save my sanity by coordinating a million details,  Kevin Desoto began leading our social  media strategy and even made the trek from Warwick, RI  to NYC to cover the launch events live.  (To see how teamwork can lead to freedom – watch Kevin’s Video about Lisa Ling and Euna Lee on his website – Amazing!) Reprinted from The Recipe: A fable for leaders and teams, used with permission

Would you rather have a team of champions OR a championship team? ~Amilya Antonetti

The great thing about teamwork is that it is an ongoing process.  Another team that pitched in to help were our friends Eric Keosky-Smith and Michael Edwards founders of Shwaag.   To help bring attention to the NYC launch, they gave away an iPad with The Recipe on it in May and they are doing it again this week as we launch the West Coast media tour.  (To get your chance to get “shwaag’d” go to www.Shwaag.com and use invite code AMA2525.)

I wanted to give back and I asked 24 of my good friends to help me. ~ John Assaraf

Amilya’s friend John Assaraf one of the featured experts in the  blockbuster movie and book The Secret and the New York Times best selling author of  The Answer and Having It All was one of our first reviewers for The Recipe.  (A quote from his review is on the book’s cover.) John’s newest project is taking team work to a whole new level.  Together with 23 of his personal friends, he put together as free teleseminar series where each expert will share their secrets of success – twice a week for 12 weeks –  beginning June 15th. John named the program Success Manifestors since that is what each of these experts have demonstrated and will share.   It’s just one more example of what happens when you ask champions to come together as a team.  Everyone wins! (To take advantage of this opportunity, you need to register. For more information, click here.)

Like I shared in the beginning – success takes a team.

The great thing is… teammates are all around you.  You just need to ask for help occasionally, look for strong players, and as my kids will tell you – pass the puck!

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Making A Difference in a World Gone Dark

Lynn Tilton light in the world 

This week, while in NYC launching The Recipe: A fable for Leaders and Teams, our new book by Amilya Antonetti, I got to meet an amazing woman.  Her name is Lynn Tilton – and boy is she making a difference!

It’s not every day that you meet a girl from the Bronx who has worked her way up to not only phenomenal success (her company Patriarch Partners has SEVEN BILLION DOLLARS under management) but who is so “together” that her success comes not from a desire for cash but from a drive to make a difference for others by saving companies and saving and creating American jobs.

Lynn was one of three leaders that AMA Enterprises and CorePurpose honored as inspiring leaders at a private VIP and Media Event in New York as we launched The Recipe.  While the book is a story about how teams and leaders come together, Lynn’s LIFE is a prime example of how one woman’s quest to make a difference can affect millions!   (You can see more pictures from the event honoring Lynn here. )

Lynn graciously agreed to answer some of my questions about how she has achieved so much.  As she spoke, I learned so much that this is actually the first of a three part series I will be running about our conversation in the week to come.  It will start here, continue on Amilya.com, and conclude on Going for the Brass Ring, my blog at Fast Company

So here are some of the first bits that Lynn shared with me…

It started in the Bronx…

My life journey has evolved from my birthplace – Bronx, NY- through the
ivory towers of Yale and Columbia Universities to the male-dominated world
of Wall Street.  Today, as the founder and CEO of Patriarch Partners, I
focus not only on the more than 70 companies in our portfolio, but also on
“the Main Streets” of once thriving towns across America, that struggle for
survival in the new economy that has turned its back on the American worker.
Patriarch’s mission is to rebuild America one company at a time and one job
at a time and it has been made possible through hard work, an innovative
spirit and an unwavering quest for truth and light where others see

The truth is cold and hard but the first step on the path to hope and
salvation. ~ Lynn Tilton, Patriarch Partners

Saving America…Once Company at a Time

My business is founded upon my personal mission…the attempt to save
America, one company at a time, one job at a time.  The Patriarch platform
is built upon the premise that each company otherwise would have been liquidated, but
instead saved and rebuilt, is value added to our economy and our nation.
With the restructure and renewal of each of these companies, jobs are
sustained and created.  Over the years we have saved approximately 150
companies from the throws of liquidation and 250,000 jobs associated with
those companies.

Who was your inspiration?

My father–his teachings and his values–have long been my inspiration.  We
were raised to give back to the world and to others.  It is for this reason
that my firm is named Patriarch Partners; in the name of the father.  My dad
died my junior year in college but that which he taught me lives on in our
work and the lives of the families who we touch. 

Turning Dust to Diamonds

My business and my personal life no longer have boundaries.  I am driven by
the cause that this business has become.  Knowing the loss of a working
parent while young, I experienced the devastation such loss can bring to the
structure of a family.  That loss and the memory motivates me to spare
families from that desolation.  In the end, I believe that making money and
making the world a better place are not mutually exclusive options.

If you had 3 wishes – what would they be?

  1. People standing shoulder to shoulder with common vision and perseverance to
    rebuild America.
  2. A world with more appreciation and less expectation.
  3. A little more calm and sleep for me.

So that’s how we started…

But I have so much more to share.  Please stay tuned as the interview continues this weekend on Amilya.com and concludes next week on Going for the Brass Ring, my blog at Fast Company.  I’ll be posting the links on Twitter, on Facebook, and through the comments link here on this first part of the series.  Just subscribe to the comments here on this post so you don’t miss the great insights from Lynn to come.  You can also follow Lynn on Facebook and Twitter.  I do.  🙂