January 2012

Platinum turn cons inve

Business Value Survey

Happy New Year to all our readers!

We’d like to poll our followers to see what’s on their minds in the coming year as to how they plan to improve the value of their businesses. Results will be shared in next month’s eBlast.
If you identify yourself, we'll draw one lucky winner's name and award a $100 gift certificate to a local store.

This month’s survey question:
What is the single most important issue for your business in 2012?

Take the Business Value Survey


In the Community

Building Businesses to Dramatically Change Lives

Bob Stewart and John Hehre of Platinum are both involved in Cheetah Development, a non-profit organization set up to join with local people in underdeveloped parts of the world to build businesses that will dramatically change the lives of thousands of people.

"Building businesses is far more challenging than giving aid, but the results can be bigger and more permanent," says Bob. "Cheetah Development aims for sustainable change for the poor by investing instead of giving handouts. While micro-lending has been an important form of development capital in recent decades, Cheetah is working at the next level up – building small-cap businesses that will employ a number of people, provide products for the local market and cycle profits back through the local economy."

According to John, "One current example of a Cheetah project is our work to build a bicycle factory in Tanzania. Most agriculture in Tanzania is done at the end of single-track trails not suitable for motorized vehicles or even donkey carts. Cheetah’s team of world-class bicycle designers has created a unique bicycle that can be manufactured in Tanzania and can carry up to 1,000 lbs (500 kg). Such bicycles will enable farmers to transport goods from the field (pushing on wheels – not carrying on their head) and ride back for more. This increases the capacity for bringing goods to market at least fourfold. The factory being created with the help of Cheetah will be owned and run by local people."

The first prototype of Cheetah Developments’ bicycle for transporting goods in Tanzania.

If you would like to learn more or contribute to this important mission, please visit the Cheetah Development website at Thank you.


Lesson Learned

The Art of Hosting Meaningful Conversations

By Bob Cass, Platinum Partner

In this complex, fast-paced world, it’s rare to find the space and time to think at a higher and deeper level about our businesses and ourselves. From a recent training session on how to host conversations that matter, I learned a powerful lesson on how to create space within companies to engage in meaningful conversations with employees. An atmosphere of trust and a safe space is essential.

Based on this newfound knowledge, I am leading organizations through an employee engagement process asking one simple question: "Why are you here?"

One young man answered: “I don’t know if I want to be here yet. I just graduated from college and I’m experimenting with my job and the company.” Talk about being REAL! Many might think that he should be let go. I personally want this young man to work with me because he’ll always let me know when I can help him become fully engaged within the organization. Another response to this question came from a young woman who said, “They were the only organization that wanted all of me;” not just to fill a company need.

While this all may sound too “touchy feely” in a business setting, I can only tell you through experience that these meaningful conversations may be the most important you can initiate as a leader. They are the key to linking a common purpose between a company and its employees, which gets to the very core of how personal fulfillment creates a more engaged workforce.

What do you think? Email Bob at


In the News

Book Review: Great by Choice by Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen

Take a few simple ideas, back them up with solid research and illustrate them with lots of interesting examples. Jim Collins used this approach in his last three books, Built to Last, Good to Great and How the Mighty Fall and relies on the same approach in his new book: Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck — Why Some Companies Thrive Despite Them All. A review by John Hehre, Platinum Member, was written for the Manufacturers Alliance.

According to John, “Some of the ideas presented are counter- intuitive. We’ve all admired the visionary and heroic risk takers that dare to be bold. The research however shows that these 10Xers take fewer risks, change relatively slowly, and are surprisingly less innovative than their less successful counterparts. Instead they embody three consistently similar characteristics. The leaders of these successful companies all display an extreme consistency or ‘fanatical discipline’ in maintaining a focus on the direction they’ve set for the company.”

To read the rest of the review, click here.


Platinum Group
952.829.5700 • 9855 W 78th Street • Eden Prairie, MN 55344

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