It’s not about sitting in a circle, singing kumbaya (though who are we to object, if that’s your thing).  Having a team mentality in the workforce is so much more than just a feel-good sentiment.  When you actually take the time and care to live it, the rewards are endless.  Here are the top five benefits of how a team mentality benefits your company:

  • Productivity – Two is better than one, and when those two, or more as the case may be, are working collaboratively together, they can get more done in less time. And therein lies the goal of all companies!  “As problems arise in one area, the entire team can deal with them and the work can proceed much faste

    Tee time…the ultimate morale booster!

    r,” says Houston Chron Contributor Lisa Magloff.

  • Morale – Working with one another fosters camaraderie and community, which is something we all strive to achieve in both home and work. “Working on a team gives employees a greater sense of belonging and of recognition, which helps them take more pride in their work, and their company,” adds Magloff.
  • Flexibility – When you’re flexible, you’re able to bust silos to work across traditional lines of employment. Imagine if your sales department worked concurrently with your business development department, how much more effective would you be in executing your growth strategy?  In Mustang’s early days, they had no titles on business cards and everyone was accessible to one another without fanfare.  Flexibility is getting over, or bypassing altogether, the barriers that promote feelings of isolation or inadequacy.
  • Communication – Having frequent and seamless communication among team members enables the utilization of collective resources that might otherwise not be recognized. It’s understanding different points of view to bring insight into a project that might otherwise not be sourced.
  • Risk Taking – The greater the risk, the greater the reward, and there’s nothing like the expertise of an entire team weighing in to support the conclusion that a risk is indeed prudent.

A strong team mentality entails a workforce that has autonomy and consequently, accountability for their work.  Their reliance on one another to come to an outcome that is worthy of praise is equally motivating and satisfying, so it’s no wonder more and more companies are getting on this bandwagon.  Are you?






Finding a good mentor in business is often critical to your success.  Mentors can come in many forms from superiors to competitors, similar leveled colleagues, and even family or friends.  The benefits of mentorship are tenfold, but we’ve come up with the top 7 takeaways that a good mentor can provide:

  1. Connections/Networking – Finding someone who can connect you with the right people, or at least identify who the right people are, either internally or externally, is invaluable as you climb the company ladder.
  2. Navigation – Becoming upwardly mobile in a company takes more than skill. It’s understanding the politics in play, and figuring how best to stay in the thick of it or above the fray, as the case may require.
  3. Goal Setting – As an entrepreneur, the list of goals to accomplish is daunting. Finding a mentor who can help you compartmentalize the tasks that need to get done today, with the vision that will take you to tomorrow, is unparalleled.
  4. Subject Matter Resource (SMRs) – Learn from the best! Let those that are experts in your field guide you, and be a sponge to their anecdotes and skills.
  5. Experience – Sharing experience with novices can lead to their greater understanding of context, and consequently, a more efficient and desirable outcome. And as Bill Higgs says, “The ability to identify and mitigate risk only comes from experience.”  Moreover, per The Balance Contributor Dawn Rosenberg McKay, “You’ll probably make a lot of mistakes and miss out on many opportunities, but you can limit how often this happens by finding a mentor.”
  6. Sounding Board – Find someone who is interested in what you do, and how you do it. Whether they have all the solutions for you is irrelevant, but their willingness to lend an ear when you otherwise wouldn’t have one is not only vital, but ever-appreciated.
  7. Honesty – As important as it is to find someone who will listen to you, it’s equally important to find someone who will give you honest feedback – be it an ill-fated approach to a project or perhaps your peers’ perception of you. As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to surround yourself with “Yes Dears” (people who tell you you’re doing great at every turn because they’re livelihood is directly linked to yours). But finding the constructive criticism from an impartial player is how your grow.

Ideally, a mentor for one can just as easily be a protege of another, because so long as we’re working, we’re learning and we all have something to teach.

Looking to cultivate a winning culture in your organization? Request Bill Higgs, Entrepreneur, Author and Keynote speaker to visit with your group. Email



At Mustang, “family” was a word Mustangers used frequently.  Not because it was feel-good lip service for their employees, but because they genuinely both felt it and paid homage to it.  They devoted countless hours to fostering a supportive environment among their people, and recognized, virtually at inception, that honoring their employees’ families was just as important as the employees themselves. 

When projects are demanding and tight schedules become the driver, long hours, overtime and weekend work typically become the norm. Long hours at the office tax often put a strain on relationships at home. Because of this, attention needs to be focused on building a family of families. Camaraderie is built by including everyone so that the effort can be understood and appreciated. That means recognition given to everyone connected to the project, whether they are at home, at school, or on the job itself. Frequent offsite team-building, with group and family functions that focus on fun and spirit, can assist in keeping an organization healthy.

@BusinessNewsDaily Paula Fernandez agrees, saying, “More and more workers now look for employers who understand that an individual’s personal and the professional life cannot always be distinctly compartmentalized. Genuinely family-friendly workplaces build a sense of community among co-workers by creating opportunities for employees’ families to come together in and outside of the office. These fun family events vary, based on the size of the business and the interests of the employees, but they all have the end goal of helping employees feel that they, along with their families, are seen, heard and appreciated by their employers.”

For Mustang, placing value on one’s personal family elevated their contributions to their professional family.  Consequently, it served the company well to take good care of their people…and their people’s people.

For more advice on cultivating a winning culture in your company, purchase a copy of Mustang The Story – HERE. Or on Amazon, HERE.



A new business is saddled with the overwhelming need to keep costs under control.  It’s working countless and often uncompensated hours to minimize overhead labor costs and maximize returns.  In early days of Mustang Engineering, they recognized the need for a winning sales strategy without the employing of actual salesmen to increase expenses. Thus, their concept of “Same Sentence Sales” was born.

Forbes Contributor Gay Gaddies writes of lessons learned in sales strategy, “[It’s] better for your customers to discover how great you are than for you to tell them. Leave bread crumbs for your clients to find you because it is much more valuable for someone to discover you than for you to pound your fists declaring your greatness.”

As bread crumbs, Mustang used their existing relationships with key vendor salesmen or owners that were currently in the fields working with desired clients.  They leveraged the trust they had already built, such that when the client came asking their opinions on who best to parcel out sub-tasks or new projects, those salesmen could answer “Mustang”, among a short list of well-respected competitors.  The ability to have Mustang used in a conversational vs. sales sentence made all the difference.

Mustang Co-Founder Bill Higgs recalls, “The vendors knew we would take good care of the client and they had no problem working Mustang’s name into conversations.”

In turn, that led to winning more bids and, thus the easier their same sentence sales strategy became.

For more sales strategy tips, purchase a copy of Mustang the Story on Amazon – HERE

Picture a bidding presentation where the only thing standing between a crowded room of skeptical engineers and their lunch is YOU – and your sales pitch!  That’s not exactly an ideal position, but it was where Mustang Co-Founder Bill Higgs found himself in the early days of Mustang.  Higgs took a creative approach on what could have been a room full of “hangry” people and spun it into a message about Mustang Engineering being other-oriented.

In Mustang The Story, Bill describes, “Starting with the first board member, I put a large Snickers® bar in front of each of them. I told them that I wanted them to focus on this presentation… not lunch!! I had worked my way down to putting a large Snickers® in front of the last board member, when I said ‘Oh and here is a small one for your baby’. That comment got everyone on both sides of the room laughing, because she was pregnant but not yet showing. It was very obvious through sight, sound, smell, taste, touch and feeling of empathy, that Mustang was really going to be focused on Metro [the client] and their needs…That is why we served Snickers® bars at all functions. We want to continually remind people to be other-oriented in our ongoing effort to build trust. Being other-oriented in all of our actions is a very positive differentiator that many find hard to believe at first.”

What can you do to create a winning deal and a lasting impression?  For Mustang, it was all about building trust with the client.  Satisfy their hunger for a strong collaboration, a useful contract, or perhaps just a tasty snack, and make a deal worth skipping lunch!



Whether you are a start-up or a seasoned business owner, you’ve likely spent time trying to figure out how to be better than your competitor. Stop tying to be better and dare to be different.

Mustang Engineering went from zero to $1 billion in revenue in 12 years — not because they followed the industry standards, but because they rebelled against them.

“Being rebellious aids creativity”

Upon Mustang Engineering’s inception, co-founders Felix, Paul and Bill looked hard at their industry and talked about what they liked and didn’t like in the companies where they had previously worked. They talked about their competition, and what they believed was working in their favor, and what was worthy of replication.

In Mustang The Story, Higgs wrote, “Paul, Felix and I were bothered by the treatment of project people in Houston. Top management at engineering and construction companies seemed comfortable with a “plug and play” mentality towards engineers, drafters and support people on their projects. They felt the ebb and flow of project people was mandated by the vagaries of winning bids, compounded by capricious industry cycles. There was nothing they could do to create continuity of work for more than a core team.”

They recognized early on that their careers would depend on their core values and ability to support each other through the severe pressures of a startup. Mustang dared to be different because they focused on people and projects. They built an industry leading culture that took care of “Mustangers” (employees) and made heroes of clients and vendors. Because they dared to be different, Mustang created reimbursable contracts (essentially getting a blank check from a client) instead of the industry standard lump sum bids.

Do you have the courage to be different? Need help figuring out how? Higgs is full of inspiration and shares Mustang’s secrets to success in his team building talks.

Book him today through Haven Creative. Contact Jeni Bukolt, 704-256-4008.

In an ideal world, we all want to be Yes-Men! That is, we want to be everything to everyone, particularly a client whom we’re trying to win-over or maintain the best working relationship possible. However, this results in inherent problems for all involved, which is why the art of saying “no” to a client is of the utmost importance.

Essentially, saying yes to one thing is saying no to another. Each commitment you make is an opportunity cost, and in some cases are worth it, and in some cases, not.

Fstopper contributor Peter House recounts, “The more things I said yes to, the more I had on my plate. I was busy, very busy in fact, but it was not the right kind of busy. I was stretching myself thin making promises all over the board. I would cave to client requests and soon I found myself falling short on a lot of my promises…I filled my time with so many things that I was soon over committed to everyone. I could not fulfill my tasks in the time frames I had promised nor could I deliver the kind of results I truly wanted.”

The key to saying no while still winning over clients is to make them feel like you’re actually saying yes. Solid communication and compassion for their plight are cornerstone strategies to employ. At the most basic level, having a willingness to problem solve with your client, regardless of whether or not you take on the actual tasks in question, is typically perceived as a sign of good faith and support to their cause.

When client-facing, it’s critical to avoid over-commitment and learn to identify reasonable requests. And while “reasonable” is a relative term, the more you understand your own core competencies and endgame, the more likely you’ll be able to pushback when something leads you away from it.

To learn more ways to foster client service, schedule Bill Higgs to speak at your next event. Contact Haven Creative – 704.256.4008 or email us – jeni @


As it is said, the whole is greater than the sum of all its parts. In business, each employee is a representative of not only a company’s collective service offerings, but also, its brand. And for this reason, when a manager recognizes an ill fit, they need to be the one to take action – swiftly and respectfully. Essentially, there IS a right way to fire someone, and we’ve identified three ways to let an employee go gracefully:

  • Document. Document. Keep a log of evaluations and/or feedback in reference to the employee in question. If you think termination is a possibility, utilize any time you have to build-in warning discussions and/or specific goal developments. According to Mustang Founder Bill Higgs, many managers try to avoid talking to the employee in question. However, he encourages three documented counseling sessions to force communication. If productivity is more the issue vs. behavior, then enable the employee the time to achieve very specific and identified metrics that either justify their place in, or dismissal from the organization. “I’ve seen people turn it around or actively find another slot in the company,” says Higgs.
  • Be respectful of timing. Try to avoid already stressful times of year, such as the holidays, but transparency is really what’s at the core of this point. AOL CEO Tim Armstrong says, “The first thing you want to do is give them as much predictability as possible. Firing someone without warning and on the spot sometimes happens, but good bosses are quicker to give people warning.” give them as much understanding as possible. There are studies that show that people who are told why it’s necessary [to let them go] are less stressed about it.”
  • Offer to Help. If at all feasible, offer up a lead to a different opportunity or perhaps constructive criticism on what sort of role might be a better fit. If an employee can leave with some understanding of why the decision to fire them was made, they might have better odds of finding success at their next landing spot.

The act of firing an employee is never welcomed or easy. And for a manager, it takes a certain amount of skill and finesse to do right by themselves and those they must let go.




Whether you’re just starting out or a seasoned business owner with a reliable reputation, how you represent yourself and those you hire to do the same will, ultimately, be the cornerstone of your success. It’s for this reason that having a process in place to hire the right people for your organization is of the utmost importance.

Here are three steps on how to hire the right people for your organization:

  • Define the job. What skillset does it require and how can you best find a candidate to match? The Balance (@thebalancecom) Contributor Susan M. Heathfield says, “Employee job descriptions provide an opportunity to clearly communicate your company direction and they tell the employee where he or she fits inside of the big picture…Alignment of the people you employ with your goals, vision, and missionspells success for your organization. As a leader, you assure the inter-functioning of all of the different positions and roles needed to get the job done for the customer.”
  • Plan your recruiting strategy. Strategize to be proactive, not reactive, to give yourself ample time to seek out the talent and personality that best fits your goals. At Mustang, Co-Founder Bill Higgs coined the term “Operation Horsethief” to identify the “Mustangers” in other companies and go out and get them. Essentially, identify the top performers among your competition and/or industry and keep them at the forefronts of people’s minds, while fostering positive professional relationships. After all, good people know good people.
  • Interview, Interview, Interview. In the office, out of the office, one-on-one, panel format – utilize them all to get a 360-degree assessment of your candidate. Ask problem-solving questions to understand how someone employs logic and reason to come to a conclusion. Ask behavioral questions to see how they would handle themselves in potential scenarios that may arise in the context of the job. And finally, observe them…How do they treat those around them — from the colleagues they meet with and greet throughout the day; the administrative assistant who essentially holds the “keys to the kingdom”; and even spouse on the other end of a call.

At the end of the day, and as the adage goes, you’re only as strong as your weakest link. Consequently, take the time upfront to hire the right people that can help you achieve your goals!

For more tips to optimize workplace dynamics, schedule Bill Higgs to speak at your next event. Contact Haven Creative – 704.256.4008 or email us – jeni @

Buy Mustang The Story on Amazon – HERE.

If the fastest route from A to B is a straight line, then it should be stated that businesses on the same page, internally, stand to reach their destination – a winning proposal or sale — the quickest. And it’s for this reason that tackling any potential or mounting strife at the onset is the key to success. We’ve come up with the three steps to resolving issues in the workplace:

  1. IDENTIFY: Clearly identify the real issue because the stated problem is rarely the real one. Forbes contributor Glenn Llopis (@glennllopisgroup) agrees, stating, “Leaders who lack this wisdom approach problems with linear vision – thus only seeing the problem that lies directly in front of them and blocking the possibilities that lie within the problem. As such, they never see the totality of what the problem represents; that it can actually serve as an enabler to improve existing best practices, protocols and standard operating procedures for growing and competing in the marketplace. They never realize that, in the end, all problems are the same – just packaged differently.”
  2. COMMUNICATE: As Mustang Co-Founder Bill Higgs often says, “All problems are communication problems.” Part of Higgs’ philosophy on avoiding communications problems  is “busting silos” — getting people to communicate across departments to solve issues. Reach across the spoken and unspoken lines of an organization, recognizing that communication can be bridged at any and all points along the chain of command. When the team meets to discuss an issue, stay focused on the task at hand, avoid tangents, and don’t be afraid to suggest solutions.
  3. SOLVE: Solving issues takes time, but if you have a clear vision and value system for your organization you will find that solving them is easier and more efficient. Three types of resolutions usually emerge when meeting to solve a problem – immediate action to solve it, the issue is merely awareness and the conclusion is that everyone concurs with that awareness. And the third is that an issue may need more research to a follow up meeting to understand what is really happening.

For more tips to optimize workplace dynamics, schedule Bill Higgs to speak at your next event. Contact Haven Creative – 704.256.4008 or email us – jeni @