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Meridith Elliott Powell

Meridith Powell on winning in a trust and value economy

Meridith Powell on winning in a trust and value economy

The Gary Smith Show, originally aired April 30, 2014 on WSDK 1550

Meridith Elliott PowellAs business owners, we have to be careful to protect our reputation. On his radio show, Gary Smith interviews Meridith Powell on winning in a trust and value economy. Listen to this podcast of the August 30, 2014 episode to learn tips for success on how to make the economy work for you.






About Meridith

Meridith Elliot Powell is an internationally certified coach, consultant, speaker and author. She’s an active member of the National Speakers Association, the Carolinas Speakers Association, the American Society of Training and Development, the American Banker’s Association, and Lessons in Leadership.

Connect with Meridith

Leadership and Responsibility

I am not a political businessman. In fact, I abhor politics in the business environment because it breeds distrust and forces people to focus on covering their behinds instead of doing their jobs. There is nothing positive that I can think of that comes out of politics in the workplace.

An Important Leadership Skill Is Accepting Responsibility

Having said that, I also abhor leaders who, for political reasons, refuse to accept responsibility for their organizations. A case in point, unfortunately, is the current President of the United States – Barack Obama. Because I don’t know him personally, I cannot say what his motivations are. However, as a seasoned business leader, I can clearly and confidently say that he is not leading the team that he chose to run the government. Why? Consider the following:

• He claims to be running the most transparent government in history, yet few people understand what he is doing or why.
• He never seems to know when anything of significance is happening.

o He was not aware of the understaffed security in Benghazi.
o He did not know that the IRS was targeting conservatives in their audits, or that they were deliberately delaying the approval of organizations requesting non-profit status.
o He had no idea that the websites for the healthcare signups were not ready and had not been thoroughly tested.

In this blog post, I am not concerned about President Obama’s political motivations. What I am concerned about is his lack of leadership. Not only has he not accepted responsibility for those making bad decisions in his organizations, but he has not taken steps to discipline or remove any of the offenders. In addition, he has allowed everyone, including his press secretary, to make all manner of excuses and to deflect the blame for all of these situations on someone or something else.

Organizational Leadership Start With The Leader

One of the major lessons every leader learns is to accept responsibility. As a business owner, if someone screws up in my organization, IT’S MY FAULT!! Whether I knew about the screw up or not has nothing to do with it – and it does not absolve me from being ultimately responsible for what happened. In every sense of the word – THE BUCK STOPS WITH ME!

Accepting responsibility involves a number of visible, actionable items:

1. It means that I must accept responsibility, both publicly and privately.
2. It means that I must stop the negative action that is happening and deal with those involved.
3. It means that I must take measures to insure that the negative action never happens again.
4. It means that I must clearly communicate what I have done, both publicly and privately, and ask for the forgiveness of those whose lives have been impacted.
5. It means that I must clearly let the other leaders in my organization know that this type of behavior is not acceptable and encourage them to communicate that message to everyone in their organizations.

That is what real leaders do. They own their problems and they solve them. They are men and women of honesty, integrity, and action.

How do you lead your organization? How you answer this question will, in many respects, determine just how far you will go in life.

Spirituality and The Wheel of Life

The other day, I spent some time online doing research.  The reason for doing the research was that there is a question that has been troubling me for a long time now.  That question is:

Why are businesses and individual lives, in the United States and around the world, facing so many challenges?

As I dwelt on this question, all kinds of thoughts and potential reasons flooded my mind:

  • Lack of real leadership in both the U.S. and abroad
  • Overseas competition, especially from China and other countries on the Pacific Rim
  • Devaluation of the dollar and other world currencies
  • Obamacare (The Affordable Care Act)
  • High unemployment
  • Cities, states, and countries facing bankruptcy

The list could go on for several pages, and I’m sure that you could contribute many ideas.

After I made my own list, I asked myself a couple of really critical questions:  What do all of these things have in common?  Is there anything that links them all together?

That is when I began doing some research.  I wanted to see what I could discover that might help me better, and more deeply, understand these, and other, critical issues facing our world.

One of the searches I did brought up a series of perhaps a dozen pictures of The Wheel of Life.  The Wheel of Life is a circle with a number of spokes radiating out from the center to the outside.  Each spoke is labeled with a critical life area, (things like Professional, Financial, Family, Physical, etc.).  The idea is to rate each area of your life, with 1 (located at the center of the wheel) being the lowest score and 10 being the highest.  After you have rated each area and put a dot corresponding to the number you selected on each spoke, you connect the dots and look at the wheel to see how lopsided and out of balance it is.  Based on the picture you have created, you know what areas of your life require work.  It’s a simple, yet powerful concept.

At any rate, as I looked at each of the Wheels of Life displayed on my internet search, one key thing literally jumped off the screen at me, and that was:

On eleven of the twelve wheels, there was no mention of the word spiritual.

In other words, the vast majority (91.6%) of the wheels that had been created and displayed gave no credence to the importance of the spiritual aspect of our lives.  It was then that I realized that many of the challenges facing businesses and individuals in the world today are symptoms of a much larger problem.  That problem is that we have lost our spiritual and moral compasses.

Let me ask you a few questions:

  • What is it that foundationally defines you as a human being?
  • What guiding principles define your business?
  • How do you go about making ethical judgments in both your business and personal life?
  • How do you know what you want your life to ultimately count for?

It is my stance, proven over many years of successfully helping businesses and individuals attain unusual levels of success, that none of these questions can be adequately answered without first having some kind of moral and spiritual compass that points us to True North.  As a side note, True North is the title of my twice-monthly newsletter that will be published and emailed out to our clients starting in September.  Shortly, you will be able to sign up at to receive your copy.

The key word in the last paragraph is the word TRUE.  This links us to the word TRUTH.  TRUTH implies that we require a set of absolutes to guide our daily thoughts and actions.  This stands in stark contrast to many of the personal and business development philosophies being taught around the globe today.

Many business owners and individuals believe in relative truth.  In other words, what is true for me may not be true for you – and that is OK because each of us gets to define his or her own truth.

Again, my experience over the past 30 plus years has shown that relative truth is nothing short of a recipe for disaster.  Believing in relative truth is like standing on top of The Empire State Building, declaring to the world that you do not believe in gravity, and then jumping off the pinnacle of the building to prove it.  The absolute truth of gravity will take over as soon as you jump – and you will become nothing more than a splat on the pavement below.

We all need the guiding principles that are absolute to define us and guide our lives if we are to be truly successful – and more importantly – if we wish to positively influence the lives of others.

Take a few minutes – maybe even a bit longer – and ponder what absolute truths are guiding you….if you need help navigating those waters, give me a call at 203.599.1467 or write to me at

Your Business: Selfish or Serving

I receive many email requests from friends, associates and connections asking for my help.  Some want me to buy a product, others a service, and some are merely looking for endorsements.  I honestly try to help everyone I come in contact with as much as I can, but there are some examples that present interesting contrasts for us to study.  A good case in point is a LinkedIn email I received from one of my connections a few days ago.  We have never done any business together, so she knows neither my business nor my needs, yet she sent an email taking a shot that it would hit a sweet spot with me.  Please keep in mind that I have deleted some of what she said to protect her identity.  Here is what she wrote:


As a member of my first level connections I am writing to ask for your help. I have launched a new short e-book on amazon kindle. In order to maximise readership I”m offering a Special Promotion so from today 29th July  to 2nd August  inclusive it is FREE to download. I would be grateful if you could download this book and if you feel so inclined leave a short review.

The e-book is called:

How to ———– Sales Team

“It is targeted as Business Owners who have little or no sales background and need some practical advice on how to manage a sales team to understand their performance and get the necessary information from them to be able to forecast sales more accurately. It also explains how using commission plans can direct your team to sell your products or services the correct segment of your target market.”

Just sign into Amazon and search the kindle store to find this publication

If you don’t have a kindle don’t worry you can now download a free kindle reader app for almost every platform. To find the one which is right for you go to:

By downloading this e-book you will be helping to increase the awareness of my book to the market.

Thanks in advance for your help


Aside from the obvious spelling and punctuation errors, I was taken back by the discontinuity between what A had chosen as the subject for her book (Sales Management) and how she structured an email that was intended to “sell” me on her product.  Here is how I responded:

Dear A,

Thank you for your email and the request.  Unfortunately, I have been extremely busy and missed the 8/2 deadline for downloading a free copy of your book.

I do have to say, however, that I am puzzled by the combination of (a) the topic of your book and (b) the content of your email.  Please allow me to explain, and please take this as constructive input from a first level connection and friend, OK?

When I read your email, the first thoughts that popped into my mind were:

  • It’s all about what A wants and needs
  • A wants me to take action because of what’s in it for her
  • Other than getting a free copy of her book, which she is assuming that I both need and want, what’s in it for me?

As a company owner since 1998, I work with new prospects and clients all the time.  Having done so for many years, I can very clearly tell you that my clients don’t give a rat’s behind what I want.  What they are focused on is what they want.  As a result, my job is not to focus on what I get from the relationship, but rather what I can give to the relationship that takes my clients to where they want to be – to where their needs will be met.

I get tons of offers from people who need something and are asking me to take action to help them get what they want.  It astounds me the huge number of people out there who have never grasped the concept that “IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU!”

Based on the preceding paragraphs, I’d ask you to give me one good reason why I should read your book on sales management??  If you don’t present your email requests in a manner that tells me how I am going to benefit from what you have to offer, how can I possibly believe that anything you’ve written is worth my time, energy, and money to consume?

I look forward to hearing from you and helping you as you move forward with your venture.  Despite what I have said, I want very much for you to succeed and am here to help you in any way that I can.



Some of you may read my response and think to yourselves that I am just being cruel, but I assure you that is not the case.  Part of helping people move forward in life is learning to be respectfully honest with them when they are mishandling situations.  I view that as part of my responsibility in any friendship or business relationship.  If you read the testimonials page on my website, you will find examples of people who have moved forward to better places in their lives because they were willing to accept, ponder, and take action on some difficult input they received from me.

But that is not what I want you to learn from this mini case study.  Here’s the question I would like us to focus on:

If you are responsible for sales or sales management in your business, what is your number one priority when it comes to dealing with both your people and your clients?

If you answered with anything other than, “It’s never about me or us, it’s always about the customer,” then you are, in my opinion, way off the mark.

Consider the following statements:

  • Service to our customers is what keeps us in business.
  • Without our customers, we are nothing and we will soon close our doors.
  • Everyone in the organization is involved in sales, not just those who have direct customer contact.
  • Understanding and meeting the ever changing needs of our customers keeps us in business and gives us the opportunity to create a competitive advantage that widens the gap between us and those who want to lure our customers away.
  • Meeting customer needs, both now and in the future, is our primary pathway to ongoing success and profitability.

So…based on all of this…would you say that your organization has the attitude of, “It’s never about us; it’s always about the customer”?  If yes, then celebrate the achievement of a major milestone in your business.  If not, call us and let’s work together to put you on a pathway to delighting your customers and winning them over to your side for life!


Computers can be programmed to multitask.  While computers multitask efficiently, research has cast doubts on man’s ability to do more than one thing effectively at a time.  In fact, one kind of multitasking is becoming increasingly illegal — talking or texting on cell phones while driving.  The decision not to multitask when life is threatened is not a hard decision to make.

We should apply the same caution to others areas of our lives.  As a businessman and consultant, I deal with multiple clients and situations, so I have to keep numerous balls in the air at the same time.  However, managing multiple situations and multitasking are greatly different things.  In my work, I have to be able to quickly switch gears (and projects) in my mind whenever the phone rings, but I have learned that I can only effectively and efficiently focus on one project at a time.  As a result, the desk in my office is always completely clear except for the current project I am focused on.  By doing this, my customers benefit in several ways:

1.  They always have the benefit of my undivided attention.  When I am working on a project for you that is ALL that I am working on.

2.  Because I am focused only on your project, the results are always better and of much higher quality because my thinking is not diluted by other distractions.  I have even gone to the extent of locating my office in a very isolated part of my house (fondly called the “man cave”), and I often allow the answering machine to take messages during times when I need to concentrate intensely.

3.  The high quality products that I always produce for clients are done so at the minimum possible cost, thereby producing higher value and returns.

As a result of these things, I am able to accomplish more than most other people in my field because I am ultimately more productive and can handle work from more clients in the same time frame.

What about you?  Have you developed a system for working that allows you to achieve maximum productivity and high quality results, all while minimizing costs?  If not, contact us now.  We can help you develop and implement a system to ratchet up your overall effectiveness.