Past Topics
in facebook twitter

Contact Us Direct (608) 577-8707

Past Topics

What If We Voted for Our Leaders?

Being an observer of leadership I have studied numerous profiles of successful business CEO s in my over three decades of industry speaking and consulting.

What makes for great leadership has always sparked interesting discussion. Are leaders born with innate qualities or can effective leadership be taught, learned and earned? This is a very important business issue since recent American employee surveys indicate that half of workers are unhappy because of "not being valued" due to indifferent, weak and apathetic organizational leadership. In addition the respect of corporate and political leadership has fallen to all time lows due to ineptness or unethical practices and behaviors.

Since there is a presidential election coming up in 2016 and the American electorate is being inundated with candidate platforms and promises, I wondered what if all involved in the organization voted for their next CEO?

With that scenario in mind, I would like to share with you my campaign pitch for being the next CEO of Your Organization.

As a new age CEO Leader this is how I would be mind mapping in preparing to lead your business:
I want to be in the CEO position because along with the staff and board team we have an incredible opportunity to improve the experience and lives of thousands of consumer customers and members.
Our mantra is "Purpose, Passion & Service Will Lead to Profit"!

I possess a blend of  professional experiences and personal values of serving and can craft a clear vision for what the organization can be in the community it serves—the  institution of first choice in providing exceptional service and value to the customers/members.

These goals can be achieved successfully if we focus on a few critical things.
First, all who serve must focus and have a passion for the Customer  above all. Becoming a "Customer-Centric" organization is paramount in maintaining the competitive edge in the  marketplace.

Second, all in the organization must serve with a higher calling purpose. All staff-front line, back office and managerial will all work together with a shared philosophy of serving the customer above all.

Third our (all) businesses must demand and embrace innovation. New forms of utilizing technology to serve customers, become more efficient as an organization, create new products and methods for serving the new needs of customers must be embraced to move the organization to forward.

Successful leaders know turning these concepts into reality is what leads to better performance, world class service and earning long term customer loyalty. And making a difference in consumers lives and the community through socially responsible activities really distinguishes the really great organizations from the rest.
Now can I count on your vote to be your next CEO?

My Taking Points on Being an Effective Leader

    Love Yourself/Love Your People/Love Your Business/Love Your Customers/Members!
    Always Seek Out Challenges and New Opportunities to Grow Your Business.
    Be An Inspiration to Yourself and Others.
    Model the Behavior You Expect.
    Focus on Quality and Supreme Customer Service.
    Value Diversity in Your People and Customers.
    Cherish the Abilities People Bring to Your Workplace.
    Leaders Have to Keep Growing and Learning.
    Have A Passion for What You Do in Serving at All Times!


"Magnificent 7 in 15" Thrival Growth Strategies

According to the Chinese Calendar 2015 is the Year of the Sheep.  Sheep are considered easy going and peaceful and find comfort in a crowd and have a knack for money. So "going with the flock" regarding dealing with the economy and financial market place will be a harbinger for business leadership as we head into the New Year.

Overall many aspects of the current American economic landscape have caused many of us to shift and use more common sense basics and new methods in dealing with our business situations and engagement in serving and attracting customers.  The times we are facing can be considered critical for the future growth and survival of your organization. Maintaining and promoting your "Differentiation" will help solidify your brand in the marketplace going forward.

There is mixed good news these days. The stock market is at at an all time high and consumers are borrowing again. Net interest margins and operating expenses are improving. Inflation is flat and the housing market is recovering. However many Americans are still unemployed or have dropped out of the workforce, there is stagnant household income, taxes are going up and the impact of the Affordable Healthcare Act is being felt. Regulation is getting tighter, interest rates are ticking up and more uncertain and CEO and Board leadership are in transition across American companies.

This is the year for your business to really step up and continue to help customers and consumers respond to the "New Economic Normal" by offering value added products/services to improve their lifestyle and well being. I would offer these 7 in'15 suggestions for setting a course to not just survive but thrive: 


  1. Work Your Back Yard. Focus on deepening relationships (more wallet share) with your current customers/members. Get close and really get to know your market.
  2. Train staff to cross serve/sell and wow your customers/members at every touch point opportunity 7x24x365. Embrace being a "Consumer-Centric" organization. All staff, volunteers, vendors and customers should be advocates for your business.
  3. Use Good On Boarding practices to Reconnect and Engage current and new customers by offering incentives-(Buy Local/Groupon) Give consumers real value reasons for connecting with you.
  4. Embrace Mobile/Tablet Technology and Social Media. Utilize innovative ideas to create "Apps for This and That" and do not fear Facebook and learn to Tweet!
  5. Stop asking Gen Y why they do that? Make it a strategic imperative to appeal to and attract more Youth and Young Adults. The under 30 demographic is your next generation of  customer and lifelong business for your organization.
  6. Get the right staff in the right seats on your Organization Bus and empower them with a License to Customers/Members.
  7. Reach out to Boomer/Senior Consumers. Just because we are getting older does not mean will not be engaged. We are still a huge demographic for business products and services.
  8. If we are not only to survive in the future but thrive, we will have to develop a different strategic mind set about growth. Our Leaders will have to strategically focus more on Innova-tion vs Tradi-tion and execute faster at a greater level than the competition. Your organization will need to fine tune, hone and focus on our commitment to customers and consumers to keep up and try to stay ahead of the herd in the changing business services marketplace.

    Haaaaaaappy New Year!


Greatness For New Age Leaders
By John A. Vardallas CAE, CUDE

With all the recent events unfolding in the American business, economic and political sector, perhaps the most concerning isn't so much the competency of leadership, but rather its values and ethics. The economic and social inequality in America is being blamed by the greed of corporate leadership and lack of social responsibility.

What makes leadership has always sparked interesting discussion. Are leaders born with innate qualities or can effective leadership be taught and learned? This is a very important business issue since recent American employee surveys indicate that half of workers are unhappy because of "not being valued" due to weak and apathetic organizational leadership.

Are you as good a leader as you think you are? If so, how would your people rate you on some of the following traits or characteristics of effective CEOs. Are you perceived as great or just good?

* A powerful business and people acumen.
* An embracing of diversity.
* The ability to inspire (not motivate) people to achieve.
* A clear vision of seeing the possibilities and the preferred future for their  
  A willingness to "Eat Last"—putting your people before yourself.
* The ability to build partnerships and alliances.
* Being servant leaders to their members/customers/community.
* A curiosity about the world and a facilitator of change.
* Leading more by actions than words.
* The ability to utilize technology to achieve business results.
* A risk taker who doesn't fear innovation or failure.
* The ability to convert the learning of ideas into practice.
   Frequently rewarding and recognizing your people.
* A willingness to hire to your weakness.
* The ability to develop goals and execute plans.
 And a developer of people-- A "Human Horticulturalist".

I offer the following action steps to inspire you to strive for greatness not just goodness in your Leadership Practices for your organization:

1) Have a Purpose & Passion before Profit   business philosophy in what you do for your organization staff, board, customers, members, vendors and the community.

2) Get the Right Folks in the Right Seats on your Organization Bus and give them a license to pursue their passion in serving customers/members/consumers.

3) Greatness knows that Embracing Innovation is not an option and great leaders know that if you are not changing you are dying.

4) Get MAD: Make A Difference in your personal & professional life of those you lead and who you serve!

Great, not just good effective leadership will be one of the key factors of how the success of organizations will be measured in the future. And how current leaders set a standard to follow and having the will to follow it may be their most important legacy.

I hope your leadership practices are anchored and reflect the core values of your company that will guide your business conduct and inspire greatness in you and your people during this uncertain and challenging economic time in America.
Onward and Upward!

John A. Vardallas is a professional speaker/business consultant/strategic planning facilitator to Businesses and Associations. He is Founder/CEO of the Madison Wisconsin based The American BoomeR Consulting Group. He can be reached at For a Free copy of his E--Book "Leadership Thoughts for Prospering in the 21st Century" go to:

Reinventing Yourself in the New Economy: 2013 Career Survival Strategies

By John A. Vardallas, Founder/CEO The American BoomeR

Reinventing yourself is no longer a career strategy reserved for Hollywood entertainers or politicians. In today's economy it's necessary for survival. About one half of all Americans 45 to 54 years old reports being dissatisfied with their jobs, according to a recent survey by the Conference Board, a research organization based in New York.

Even though the economy is picking up speed, economists are forecasting a jobless expansion in some industries for the next few years. During the last economic down-turn, organizations paid the price for maintaining large staffs; they are reluctant to "staff up" again. The result is that lay-offs and downsizing will continue to be commonplace, and for Boomers, "Work-Tirement" will be part of our new golden years. Part-time workers will be in demand.

If you are unhappy with your job and your intuition tells you a job layoff is imminent, it's a good idea to have a strategy to maintain your professional and personal edge. And if you're considering a career change, there are actions to take to make this hap-pen. Don't be bitter, make yourself better. In a nutshell, you'll want to be prepared to reinvent yourself.

Conduct a Professional & Personal Development Inventory

Make an honest assessment of your market-able skills and determine which can be transferred to another career.

Networking is critical to professional development and potential career change. Most people find a new job through personal contacts. Ask your friends and colleagues about opportunities in the areas you are interested in pursuing. Think of your network as your personal database that needs to be continually refined and updated.

Identify Your Professional Goals

What do you really want to be doing with the next five, ten years of your life? The days of lifelong employment are a thing of the past—most of us will have several careers in our work life.

If you are considering a new career, re-search what additional skills and training do you need to bring to the employment table?

Additional training doesn't necessarily mean going back to school, but it could mean courses at night, weekends or online. After conducting your inventory, it may include technical and online courses, training in a new technology, or advanced college coursework. Volunteer work is a great way to obtain both skills and experience. It's an inexpensive method of trying out a new career without a large professional or emotional investment. It's also a way to make new connections.

Develop the Ability to Respond to Change

Change is hard for everybody—it is one constant that pervades our professional and personal lives. Change is the business world. The work environment will continue to change rapidly and you need to adapt or be left behind. "Mobility/remote readiness" is trait of successful professionals; it is the ability and willingness to make a geographical move rather than staying in the same place of your birth, family or first job. Successful professionals sometimes need to sacrifice comfort or location to follow career opportunities. Technology also has made location less of a factor.

Develop flexibility to be able to adapt and adjust to changing situations and different work patterns so you are not tied to a particular job or type of organization. Starting a new career can mean a smaller paycheck and less prestige. It's a good idea to have savings for at least six months of living expenses for a safety net.

Become a survivor—one with resiliency who is not thrown by crisis, defeats, or failures. You want to bounce back, learn from failure, and realize things could be worse—keep a positive attitude and Never Let Go of Your Dreams! (And if all else fails, you can always hire yourself and create your own future!)

Note: Opportunities Will Be There….as the Baby Boomer generation approaches retirement age, the pool of replacement workers will not be large enough to meet employer's demands.

Strategies to Improve Your Economic Prospects

    • Keep Up Your Skills
    • Do Not Limit Yourself to One Employment Sector
    • Market Yourself
    • Build Networks & Keep Up with Technology
    • Learn to Live Beneath Your Means
    • Learn to Think Outside the Organizational Box
    • Reward Yourself Periodically by Celebrating Your Accomplishments
    • Make Yourself a Valued Employee by Stepping Up & Doing More

"Boomers Must Plan for "Work-Tirement"
 John A. Vardallas CAE
Founder/CEO, TheAmericanBoomeR Group

Greetings Fellow Boomers…….This month I wanted to share with you some thoughts about the future and the way we may be living in our Golden Years.
Since the proposed changes to Social Security have become a national debate, many Americans are starting to think seriously about revising their retirement plans. People are now healthier and expected to live longer and with the recent unprecedented downturn in the economy and stock market losses many of us Boomers will have to delay full time retirement and extend their work life.  It is no longer unusual to spend as much time in retirement as in working full-time.  Many retirees are depending on relatives, government assistance and part-time work to survive.  The 70-year-old at the grocery check-out is likely to be partnered with another retiree bagging groceries.

Special Challenge for Boomers
Baby Boomers will make up the largest population of retired workers in history with the longest life expectancy.  Boomers will be the most diverse group of retirees.  They may be funding their children's education, supporting adult children, and caring for elderly parents. It is for these reasons Boomers will be engaging in "WorkTirement" to keep up with their financial needs. 

While some Boomers have done an adequate job of saving for retirement, many wait until it is too late.  People have a difficult time estimating their retirement expenses because they fail to keep track of their own spending habits.

Estimate Your Spending Habits-Give Yourself A Financial Check Up
It's a fallacy to assume that your spending habits will dramatically decline during retirement. Many retirees travel and pursue other activities that keep themselves occupied. The first step in retirement planning is to get an estimate of your expenses—your annual cost of living.  There are several ways to do this. 

  • Keep a journal of everything you spend for a few months.
  • Compile your years expenses via cancelled checks, bills, and cash withdrawals.
  • Determine your take-home pay over a period of time.  Calculate what you've saved—what's left will give you an idea of what you are spending.

Retirement Income
After you've estimated your expenses, you'll need to determine if your retirement income will cover your living expenses.  Only one-third of Boomers save enough of what they need to retire at their income level, according to USA Today.  The "three-legged stool" of retirement income consists of personal savings, Social Security and pensions has now been expanded to "five" to include maintaining good health and job skills/competencies.

It's a good idea to get an estimate of your Social Security benefits.  The Social Security administration began mailing out benefit statements to those 25 years and older in 1999.  If you haven't received yours, visit the Social Security Web site at
or call 800-772-1213.

If you have a pension or 401K, calculate your benefits.  If a previous employer went out of business, you may still be able to claim benefits.  The Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation guarantees pensions and lists names of people that have unclaimed money due them.  You can find the list at

Add up all of your personal savings and determine how much you can withdraw each year.  Make sure to determine any other expenses you'll likely have during your retirement.  A recent survey indicated that two out of every three boomers think that they will be the primary caregiver for an elderly parent or family member.  A nursing home can cost from $50,000 to $75,000 a year.

All of these dynamics will re define retirement and may call for us Boomers to stay engaged in work beyond our golden years. More resources on this issue can be accessed in current and past issues of Today's BoomeR Digital Magazine here.

Not the Time to Play Chicken :  Strategies for Better Living in 2017

By John A. Vardallas CUDE

According to the Chinese Calendar 2017 is the Year of the Red Chicken. The chicken symbolizes jewelry, gems, fruit, prosperity and comfort. So not playing chicken with your life will be a harbinger as we head into the New Year.

With 2017 being the start of a new political administration for America there will be a good deal of uncertainty for many of us. Overall many aspects of the current American landscape have caused us boomers to shift and use more common sense basics in dealing with our lifestyle. Our health and financial situations will continue to be priorities for us as we continue to be age disruptors. Many of us will still continue to work out of need as well as engagement. However the times we are facing can be considered critical for our future because time now becomes our most precious commodity and how we spend it will be crucial.

There is mixed good news these days. The stock market is at an all time high and life spans are expanding. However many of us Americans are unemployed or have dropped out of the workforce, there is stagnant or declining household income, taxes are going up and the impact of the Affordable Healthcare Act is now being felt. Our insurance and health care costs are increasing.
This is the year for us to step up and respond to new changes and challenges to improve and add comfort to our lifestyle.

I would offer these dozen donut suggestions for setting a course to enhance your quality of life in the New Year: 

1) Live Within Your Means—Know the difference between Needs and Wants!

2) Work on your Bucket List and do (not just talk about) all those things you have wanted to do.

3) Maintain a Sense of Purpose for your life and keep yourself learning.

4) Stay Connected with Family, Friends, and work on widening your Community Circle.

5) Be Optimistic and Curious of the World. Surround yourself with Positive Like Minded People.

6) Stay Physically Active and Mentally Stimulated. Remember- Motion is Lotion!

7) Maintain A Sense of Spirituality.

8) Eat and Drink a well balance diet. Check out the Benefits of Mediterranean Cuisine.

9) Do something for others. Volunteer locally and increase the giving of yourself.
10) Avoid anything extreme—keep yourself balanced. My Greek Golden Mean Rule Rocks Here: Nothing In Excess!

11) Learn to be flexible and adapt to life s changes- learn to let go of old rigidities.

12) And finally-- Do Things that Make You Happy!

If we are to thrive and enjoy the future, we will have to develop a different optimistic mind set about living. We should work to fine tune, and focus on our commitment to enhancing our lives as well as the lives of others and not play chicken with our future and--Age with Grace.
Happy New Year!


[Home] [About] [This Month] [Past Topics] [Today's Boomer] [Speaking Topics] [Contact] [Events] [Resources] [Marketplace]