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Culture change effort pays off big for new exec

As we near the end of 2010 and work through our peak sales period, I am very encouraged by our progress, most notably our achievements within the six strategic initiatives from the management offsite in June, which ignited our focus on corporate culture.

It is truly amazing what can be accomplished when we align everyone and focus in one direction. Is everything perfect? No. I know that like many business executives I want to accomplish more initiatives faster than is humanly possible. I'm always thinking about ways to improve, which seldom leaves enough time to actually implement half the ideas that surface. Staying the course on our current objectives and having patience to see the changes evolve will be the challenge as we move forward.

While we have made outstanding progress, we still need to work on specific areas of our culture that are harder to identify and tackle - things like holding each other more accountable to the things we said we would do and accomplish.

There is no doubt that we have a solid foundation grounded in our core values, which we believe can guide us as we move forward. I feel now more than ever, it is possible to manifest our culture into a competitive advantage for our customers and our employees.

I admire companies like Zappos.com because of their vibrant culture; what is most impressive, though, is that they have achieved exponential growth while enhancing their culture.

That is what makes our recent results so special. We're coming off an all-time sales record for the month of October and tracking extremely well into November, two of our largest sales months. On top of that we have improved communication both up and down as well as across the organization. No doubt we need to do more, but it is moving in the right direction.

The Road Ahead newsletter has been received well, with the only negative comment being it is not frequent enough. Quarterly town halls, bi-weekly employee council meetings, weekly management meetings, daily huddles and small group strategy huddles have all contributed to an enhanced awareness of our progress and improved dialogue.

I am committed to ensuring that the environment remains open and honest as much as possible. If being vulnerable creates trust, we are well on our way!

We have also improved our HR department and implemented programs to improve staff wellness. We have also completed our annual employee survey, which will guide us into new areas. The team is starting to gel with events like our Halloween costume and pumpkin-carving contest along with the Biggest Loser competition. Attendance at our boot camp is climbing, and apparently we need to order more salad at company events!

With all that said, I am most proud of the fact that we are achieving our targets, and in many cases exceeding them. Our lofty goals are complete team efforts and require everyone's best foot forward. Our recent successes have been a result of the team's commitment.