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 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:

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 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, 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 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.  🙂


Business and the Butterfly

monarch-butterfly-on-flowers What’s the deal with a video about butterflies on a business blog?  Simply said, the butterfly is is thing of beauty and so are the right people in a great business.  It emerges from its cocoon, moves from place to place, does it’s duty, and fosters growth in the most inspiring of ways.  The same can be said when you have the right people in the right roles.

At least that’s what came to mind this morning as I watched this video from National Geographic about the simple butterfly.

We all need more butterflies in our businesses and in our lives.  Think of it like this:

The Butterfly is a creature that is committed to change.

Few creatures provide a better analogy for change than the butterfly as they move from stage to stage.  (You can see a great time lapse series here)   People also go through many stages.  It takes time for them to develop from an early stage to into voraciously absorbing the resources and knowledge around them.  Then its time to rest, use what they have consumed, and then emerge into something – or someone – pretty special.  It is that point that they spread their wings and fly. 

The  Butterfly moves from place to place enabling growth.

As a well developed butterfly spreads its wings, it moves from flower to flower, taking precious pollen with it.  This brings new growth, fresh blooms, and new colors to the world.  As a well developed person spreads their wings, they bring new businesses, new leadership, new opportunities, and new innovations. 

Butterflies like bees have a job to do. But Butterflies don’t sting.

Now you might say that we do not need the butterfly since we have the bee.  It too moves from flower to flower spreading growth.  The BIG difference is that butterflies never sting!  On the people side, I bet you’ve met both butterflies and bees.  The butterfly gets the job done with elegance and finesse.  The bee is awfully busy in getting the job done, but don’t cross it or it just might make you sorry.  That’s why we tend to squash bees and treasure butterflies.

Butterflies are a wonder to watch

A fully developed butterfly is a wonder to watch.  We can learn so much from them.  Butterflies, like people, must stretch their wings and explore new boundaries.  NASA even took butterflies with them into space in 2009.  The same is true of human butterflies.  If you give them time to develop, the resources they need to grow, and let them spread their wings, they will help your business garden grow and it’s a joy to watch them do it.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Can we have it all?


Whether I am speaking to a packed ballroom or just exchanging ideas over a Diet Coke with a friend, the question “Can you have it all? A great career, a family, a sense of purpose?” is one that comes up a lot.  I don’t have all the answers. I don’t have MOST of them.  But, the the family, friends and mentors I have met along the way are helping me to figure it out.

Whether we are looking to get the best in our business or the best in our lives, we all have a series of choices that we have to make and a series of priorities we have to set.

Our values as people  and as organizations are the points on the compass that help us navigate the journey.  Luckily, there are people that we meet along the way that help us determine the points on our personal compass.  It may be just for an instant or it may be a partner that comes along on the journey – but either way – they share something with us that helps us set our direction.

This video shares to story of one of the people I met along my journey over 25 years ago.  What she said stayed with me.  It has helped in my business and my life, and her work graces the walls of my home to this very day. 



So to answer the question – can you have it all?  I think the answer is YES, you can have it all in your business and your life IF you understand WHAT “having it all” means to you – AND you are willing to embrace the people, the ideas, and the value choices that are the markers along the path.  So pull out your compass, plot your path, and enjoy the journey.

Thanks for Stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker