We know time is of the essence at every business, and your to do list isn’t going to complete itself if you’re stuck in meetings all day. We feel your pain and we’re here to help! Meetings are a necessary evil, but you can run a productive and effective meeting in these simple steps.

  1. Consider the topic or project and invite the appropriate employees. We’ve all sat in on a meeting where we just… well, sat. There was no real purpose for us being included and we weren’t able to add anything constructive. To avoid this, make sure you are only inviting those who are actively involved, unless someone outside of the project has mentioned new ideas or an interest in getting involved. In this case, invite that person and let them bring fresh ideas to the table.
  2. Speaking of tables, consider the space where the meeting will be held. That conference room down the hall might be your go-to, but consider the park that’s just a block away or a coffee shop with lots of space. Changing up the space and getting people out of the office might inspire more creativity, and a little walking will get everyone’s blood pumping to their brain and fresh air to their lungs. You can’t go wrong!
  3. Always have a written agenda, and send it out ahead of time. This practice helps everybody. It forces you as a leader to formulate a clear and concise outline of what needs to be covered so no time is wasted off topic. An agenda also helps your employees better prepare for the meeting and attend ready to contribute. Bonus: if you find the agenda is looking pretty pointless as you write it out, cancel the meeting and send an update email instead. Everyone will appreciate the update and the time to work towards the broader project objectives.

With some practice and consistency, your team will start to feel energized and excited when they receive that meeting invite. Mustangers know that hard work pays off in big ways. Meetings might seem like a small part of the payoff, but they are a key ingredient to success.

This throwback photo of Mustang’s founding team from 1987 is significant – not because of those metallic blue shorts – but because Mustang Engineering took off not much longer after these photos were taken. It’s moments like these – where the whole team is working together, putting in the work, and celebrating milestones – that makes all those meetings worth it.

For more ways to build, motivate, and celebrate your teams, order a copy of Mustang: the Story, From Zero to $1 Billion by Bill Higgs and become a Mustanger today!

If you’ve had the chance to attend one of our speaking engagements, you’ll notice we bring a Snickers® bar to every function. Mustang Engineering snagged one of their biggest clients by winning them over with a Snickers® candy bar.

Candy is great and all, but it seems unrealistic to believe that something so small could make such a big impact, right? Obviously, there’s a whole lot more to it than that!

Here’s a short excerpt from Chapter 8 of Mustang the Story about how it all went down:

Our team walked in carrying an easel and the advertising boards – just hoping to get some attention. I then flipped the first board over to reveal the start of our presentation. Written in magic marker were the words:


The original presentation boards

I then probably broke all of the protocol rules of Metro and walked over into their space. I had a Kroger plastic shopping bag in my hand and starting with the first board member, I put a large Snickers® bar in front of each of them. Of course I sort of sang the Snickers jingle, Mustang style. Smiling and bouncing a little as I walked down the line, I told them that I wanted them to focus on this presentation…not lunch!! We were going to tell them about a company that is focused on solving their problems. Our feeling was that if we take care of their problems, they will gain trust in us, which will increase efficiency and lead to more work.

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 and their needs.    

By going into the board’s space and getting them laughing, we were able to totally change the whole dynamic of the room. We drew them into a great conversation about their concerns. We talked about how Mustang would help solve those concerns, if Metro would help us minimize the bureaucracy and paperwork required of our people. Before the “Presentation” was over, we were all working together to figure out how to take care of each other in a fully win-win fashion that really felt good and energetic to all participants.

It’s a great success story, but more importantly it helped demonstrate and reinforce three characteristics of work cultures that are other-oriented. Let’s break it down:

  1. Other-oriented cultures consider basic needs first. As Higgs writes, this meeting built trust between Mustang and the client. Small deeds like providing hungry and busy clients with a snack means you care about their needs. Sure, a Snickers® isn’t exactly a balanced food, but in this scenario the thought and gesture matter more than the snack. Higgs and his team demonstrated they considered the client’s basic needs; this ultimately led to a foundation of trust.
  2. Other-oriented cultures require (positive) thinking ahead. As soon as the Mustang team realized their pitch was right before lunch, they anticipated the potential for distraction. Instead of adopting a “we’re doomed!” mentality and trudging through, they found a solution and implemented it immediately.
  3. Other-oriented cultures change the dynamic for the better. Pitch meetings can be stiff, boring, and perhaps worst of all they can be a huge waste of time. Much of this is a result of an atmosphere that is way more serious than it needs to be. By cracking some jokes, singing a popular jingle, and getting everyone to lighten up, the Mustang team shifted that dynamic. This ultimately put the client in the right mindset to listen to Mustang present on how they would take care of Metro efficiently and with great care.

You don’t have to have a clever or quirky solution to every problem to establish your organization’s culture as other-oriented. All you need to do is follow these three mindsets and problem solving tactics, and you’ll be on your way to success.

So you don’t work at a company that has a strong culture, or you worked at Mustang Engineering, but now it has morphed, so what! You don’t have to work at “Mustang” to be a Mustanger.

“If you are not happy with the culture around you and want to re-define it, start with defining your own culture and transforming yourself.”

Create the culture you want to be part of. Nobody says “thank you” to you? Start saying “thank you” to others. Consider the people you work with. Who can you proactively say “thank you” to in a meaningful, personal and specific way? What’s stopping you?

An effective business relies heavily on the willingness of employees to work together and promote a positive brand and image.

Here are a few important things to remember when working to instill a culture for success.

Live Your Values

One of the primary elements of fostering a positive company culture is to stay true to the company’s values. As part of the company, evaluate and assess your mission statement and values to determine if you are leading in respect to what is expected and encouraged by management.

Leadership is Key

How you communicate and lead employees can drastically impact the company culture. But even if you are not in a management role, you are a leader. Take a close look at the team around you. Recognize that each of your co-workers has unique personality characteristics and work ethics. Accommodate your communication strategies to improve overall outlook and performance with your team.

Lead by Example

Be a team player to improve and develop the company culture. If you want a more cohesive workplace environment that relies on teamwork, jump in and do your part. Form teams that are diverse, yet complement each other. Pair individuals together who can build on each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and cross-fertilize – what Bill Higgs refers to as “bust communication silos” by joining teams outside of your own department as well.