Roberta Chinsky Matuson
Creating Exceptional Workplaces and Extraordinary Results
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Humane Leadership, Courtesy of Brunello Cucinelli

Brunello Cucinelli

I love all things Italian. I mean, who doesn’t? And I now love Italian born Brunello Cucinelli, although we’ve never met! At least not yet. 

I watched with interest this week’s CBS Sunday Morning, which featured Brunello Cucinelli, who is both a world-class luxury clothing designer and a humanitarian. His story is impressive, and his approach to business enlightening.

Hope he inspires you as much as he has inspired me.

Growing up Cucinelli

Brunello Cucinelli was born into a peasant family in Castel Rigone, a 15th-century little hamlet nearby Perugia in 1953. To say he was poor would be an understatement.

Cucinelli recalls watching his father return from what was a very unwelcoming environment. In an interview conducted by Om Malik, he was quoted as saying,

“From the teary eyes of my father. When we were living in the countryside, the atmosphere, the ambiance — life was good. We were just farmers, nothing special. Then he went to work in a factory. He was being humiliated and offended, and he was doing a hard job. He would not complain about the hardship or the tiny wages he received, but what he did say was, “What have I done evil to God to be subject to such humiliation?”

This experience inspired Cucinelli to nurture his dream of a capitalism that enhances the human being.

Cucinelli went on to say, “Basically, what is human dignity made of? If we work together, say, and, even with one look, I make you understand that you are worth nothing and I look down on you, I have killed you. But if I give you regards and respect — out of esteem, responsibility is spawned. Then out of responsibility comes creativity, because every human being has an amount of genius in them. Man needs dignity even more than he needs bread.”

Building a Successful Business Without Breaking Your People

If you think you have to squeeze every ounce of dignity out of your people to experience significant growth, think again. Brunello Cucinelli S.p.A net revenues for 2018 rose by 8.1 percent at current exchange and 10.7 percent at constant exchange rates to reach 553 million euros (626 million dollars).

Here are seven beliefs that Cucinelli has applied to his organization that you can use to grow profits humanely.

1.   No one in the company is permitted to work past 5:30 PM. In this company, you cannot send emails after 5:30 PM, when the company closes for the evening. Cucinelli believes it’s essential to have time off to recharge your battery. He also believes employers should not intrude on their employee’s personal lives.

2.   Employees receive a 90-minute lunch break, and at the corporate office in Italy, most dine at the heavily subsidized company dining room. The food served there resembles that of a five-star dining experience, as opposed to a casual fast food restaurant.

3.   No emails can be sent to more than two addressees, just one or two. No group mailing. Cucinelli asks, “Why must a single email be read by 10 different people unless it’s the 10 people who are interested in that specific issue? In order to disperse responsibility?”

4.   Mobile phones are not permitted in meetings. Cucinelli wants people to look at one another in the eye when they speak to each other. He also wants people to come to meetings prepared. They shouldn’t need their phone to search for information they should have on hand.

5.   Everyone is a genius. Cucinelli believes in the human being, and that this is the creativity of a company — “Let’s say you have a company with 1,000 people. Maybe we were told that there are only two or three genius people in the 1,000. But I think that if you have 1,000 people, you have 1,000 geniuses. They’re just different kinds of genius and a different degree of intensity.”

6.   Employees and vendors are paid well. For the most part, Cucinelli pays his suppliers and staff 20 percent more than the average on the market. He does so because he believes it’s the right thing to do.

7.   Work-life balance matters…a lot. Cucinelli is interested in the quality of working hours, not the quantity. He’s quoted as saying, “Do you think that during the first five hours of the day you are the same as you are in the last five hours? No way. You’re tired, and if you’re tired, you stop listening, and the decisions you make are risky.

Tell me which ideas spoke to you and what you vow to do to create a more humane work experience for your employees. Reach out to me at to discuss this further.

© Matuson Consulting, 2019.

For more tips like this, subscribe to my newsletter, The Talent Maximizer®.

Posted in Business Growth, Creating Exceptional Work Places, Leadership
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The Easiest Way to Become the Person You Want to Be

Career Success

My mentor, Alan Weiss, says the easiest way to become the person you want to be is to be that person. I may be paraphrasing this, but you get my gist. Here’s what that means for you.

If you want to be seen as an expert in your field, then start acting that way. Instead, many people have self-limiting beliefs such as, “I have to get my certification before I will be seen as an expert.” Or, “When I finish my degree, I’ll go after that promotion that will tell the world, I’m tops in my field.” None of this matters when you start acting like you’ve already arrived.

A coaching client of mine came to me right after being passed over for a promotion. Naturally she was disappointed that her dream job went to someone else. However, she sure as heck didn’t want this to happen to her again.

We quickly assessed what was holding her back and then something interesting happened.

With my counsel, she began acting like a leader. She sought out problems and began to fix them. She volunteered to tackle the most difficult challenges in her department. She even began to dress differently. People started to come to her for advice and management began to notice.

One day, she arrived at work only to find out her boss had been fired. This time she didn’t wait to be overlooked. She went into her manager’s office and asked for her boss’s job. Two days later, she was promoted into his position.

Most likely, this promotion wouldn’t have happened had she wallowed in her disappointment and continued to operate as if she had, prior to her wake up call.

Nope! Instead, she made it clear that she was the only choice for this position.

As you look at your own situation, what kind of person do you want to be? If you’re fine with where you are at, that’s okay. If you’re not, then what do you need to do today to become this person?

We’ve got less than five months left in this calendar year. If not now, when?

© Matuson Consulting, 2019.

Call or email me ( to discuss “The Me Project.” This is an eight-week coaching offering that I’ve put together for those interested in rapidly moving forward one goal that’s of utmost importance to them. Together, we’ll identify this goal and with complete focus, you’ll take steps to achieve what’s important to you.

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Is Your Coach Helping You or Wasting Your Time?

Some coaches follow a model of coaching that says you should not provide the answers to your coachees. You should help them find their own answers by asking them the right questions. This is complete crap.

Coach or therapist?

Executives hire coaches because of their expertise. Imagine me asking a CEO, “Well, what do you think you should do?” I’d be tossed out of his or her office in a nanosecond. If this is how your coach operates, then I’m not sure why you are paying this person a cent. You can hire my mother for free and she’ll do the same for you.

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No Such Thing as a Quick Fix

Leadership takes courage

The CEO of a company reached out to me last week and asked if I could do a one-hour session to teach her people how to conduct an interview.

I said I could teach them, but it would require more than one session. She said, “Thanks, I’m going to keep looking.”

I wrote back and told her to be wary of anyone who told her they could do this in an hour. If something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

You’re not going to lose 10 pounds in 10 days, nor are you going to improve your interviewing skills in an hour. It’s simply not going to happen.

Selecting the right people for your organization takes a bit more skill than picking ripe fruit at the supermarket and costs a lot more if you make a mistake doing so. It’s estimated that a bad hire can cost a company two to three times an employee’s annual salary. (If you want an exact number, you can use the free employee turnover calculator that I have on my website.)

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Even the most experienced of interviewers can benefit from learning how to select for success, especially given the changing landscape of the workforce and employment market. Today’s candidates have plenty of options, which means interviewers will need to showcase the opportunity being presented and the company in the best light possible. I’d say the majority of people interviewing on behalf of their companies are unaware of how to do this, which is why they could benefit from the right type of skill building.

There are books out there on interviewing, as well as online courses. However, neither approach to learning gives participants the opportunity to rehearse what they’ve learned and receive feedback while doing so.

Think about it. You might watch a few YouTube videos on learning how to ski. Are you then ready to ski down a black diamond trail?

No, of course not! With some ski lessons and lots of practice, you may eventually get there without killing yourself.

Training by itself, without an opportunity to apply learning in real-time, is simply a nice time together—and a very expensive one at that.

Before taking on any initiative, consider the following questions:

·     What objectives are we looking to achieve?

·     How will we be better off as a result of this initiative?

·     What measurements will we use to indicate that progress is being made?

·     What’s the best route (not necessarily the easiest or cheapest) to help me achieve my objectives?

·     What’s the ROI?

If my prospect asked herself these questions, she may have concluded that she was about to go down a dead end road and would have been open to other options. Had she told me she couldn’t afford to devote more time or money I would have advised her to do nothing.

No matter how tempting the price might be, quick fixes often do more harm than good. Avoid them at all costs!

© 2019, Matuson Consulting.

For more tips like this, subscribe to my newsletter, The Talent Maximizer®.

Posted in Hiring and Recruitment, Leadership, Management
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The One Question You Need to Ask Yourself

I have a secret that I’ve never shared before.

Years ago, I was at the height of my career (so I thought).  I was heading up the HR function for a fast-growing overnight delivery business, where I was able to make a massive difference in a short period of time. On the outside, everything looked awesome—Great job, surrounded by terrific co-workers. On the personal side of things, I had a solid group of friends and was a proud homeowner.

Inside, I was miserable. I no longer was having fun at work, even though I was supposed to be. I seriously considered throwing in the towel and finding myself a new career. Of course, I had no idea what a new job might look like, so I hung on as long as I could.

Eventually, I engaged an executive coach who worked with me to identify what gave me joy in my life and what sucked the energy out of me. My coach helped me garner the courage to make a bold move. I quit my job and started my consulting practice.

That was twenty-two years ago. I’d be lying if I said every day of this journey has been fun. It hasn’t. However, I’ve had considerably more fun days than miserable moments, so I think I’m doing pretty darn well on the happiness scale.

What about you?

Are you happy at work?

I mean, are you having fun?

Or are you marking time with the hope that a headhunter will swoop you up and take you out of your misery?

I’m here to tell you that hope is not a strategy.

  • Find a mentor who can help you sort through the fact and fiction you keep telling yourself at work.
  • Seek guidance from a colleague at one of the professional organizations.
  • Or do what I did. Engage a coach to help you gain the clarity you need, to get yourself out of the fog.

Here’s to finding a clear path to a joyful next chapter!

© 2019, Matuson Consulting.

Looking for a coach or a mentor? Let’s talk! If we’re not the right fit for one another, I’ll refer you to someone who may be right for you. E-mail me at Engage my services by June 30th, 2019 and receive an additional month of coaching or mentoring for free. (That’s over a $1,000 value.)

Posted in Coaching, General Observations
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Who Pays for the Coach Matters…A Lot

Executive Coaching

When a coach is hired by a company to coach one of their people, ultimately the client is the company. When an individual hires a coach and pays this person directly, the individual is the client.

Here’s why this matters.

If your boss is paying the bill, a coach may be limited in terms of what kind of advice they can offer you. For example, suppose the person in need of shifting their behavior is your boss and not you. Or it’s clear the only way to improve your situation is to leave your employer. In all likelihood, your coach isn’t going to be able to say to you, “Get the heck out of this company!” Instead, they’ll help you make the best of a not-so-great situation. When you’re paying the coach, they have your best interest in mind at all times. They’ll tell you what you need to hear and without concern that they may never work in your company again. Something to consider when engaging a coach.

Special Offer: For the month of June, I’m offering anyone who signs up for my Mentoring/Coaching program an additional month at no cost. That’s a $1,000 value.

Details about my private mentoring program can be found here:

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Wahoo! My Birthday Gift to You!

Here’s to a sparkling new you!

It’s my birthday this week, so I get to set the rules. Here’s what I’m doing. I’m offering gifts, rather than accepting them.

I’m giving away an additional month of mentoring for those who sign up for my mentoring program (over a $1,000 value) in the month of June.

The mentoring program is right for you if you’re looking to catapult your career. We’ll work through issues that are top of mind for you. Maybe you’re having some challenges with your boss or you’re not sure if it’s time to move on from your current position. Perhaps you are interested in being promoted and you want to become the obvious choice.

Here’s the really neat part. During our time together, you’ll have UNRESTRICTED access to me!

To learn more about this opportunity, visit: Feel free to share this with those in your network.

Here’s to another joyous year of life for me and for you!

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The ‘Jeopardy!’ James Approach to Talent Domination

Talent domination the Jeopardy! way.

I’ll admit it. My husband and I are hooked on Jeopardy! We weren’t loyal fans of the show until James Holzhauer took control of the buzzer. As of this writing, James is winning hand over fist over his competitors and has earned $2,382,583!

Here’s how to use his winning strategy to create talent domination for your organization.

Be fearless. Most Jeopardy players begin at the top of the board, where the more straightforward questions are located and work their way down. They do this to get some easy wins under their belt. Not James. He starts at the bottom of the board, so he can accumulate the wealth needed to make significant bets when he hits a daily double. He also does this to unnerve his opponents.

Stop looking for talent in all the easy places. These areas are overfished. Instead, go for the more challenging hires. This may mean convincing someone who is currently employed to consider your offer or hiring someone who everyone else appears to want. By the time others realize that you are capturing the lion’s share of talent, you’ll be well on your way to grabbing even more. No one else will be able to catch you.

Be relentless. Every now and again, James answers a question incorrectly. When this happens, he doesn’t stop to lick his wounds. He keeps charging ahead to the next question.

You’re not going to get everyone you attempt to hire. Realize this and move on. Keep your foot on the hiring accelerator and don’t take your foot off until you’re fully staffed, regardless of what happens along the way.

Play offensively. James doesn’t have to play defense, as his offense is so fine-tuned, others can’t keep up.

Create a talent strategy that will place you in a position of dominance. Double down in your efforts when you need to, and don’t let a few dollars get in your way when you’ve got the right candidate on the line.

Cause some buzz. Everyone is talking about James. Is anyone talking about you? I didn’t think so. You’ve got to change this, and you’ve got to do this now.

Listen, it’s a heck of a lot easier to hire people when they come to you, as opposed to you having to go to them. Just look at Google. They have a ton of candidates wanting to work there.

You may be a cool company as well, but if no one knows you exist then so what? You have to build a strong employment brand. One that demonstrates why you’re the company people should be lining up to work for. I’ve taught thousands of others through my LinkedIn course called, Employer Branding to Attract Talent on how to do this. It’s not difficult to create an employer brand. However, you have to be willing to put in the effort and commit to the process.

Go all in. I love it when James hits a daily double, and when asked how much he’d like to bet, he cups his hands and pushes them forward while saying, “all in.” This guy knows that to win big, he has to bet big. He’s confident that he’ll come up with the right answer, which he does!

So, let me ask you. Are you all in with your recruitment efforts or are you merely dipping a toe or two into the water and pretending you’re in it to win it? Write to me and tell me where you think you are with this, and I’ll give you some suggestions on how to go all in.

Educate yourself. When James was asked how he prepared himself for ‘Jeopardy!’ he said he spent time in the children’s section of the library reading children’s books. These books were easier to digest than books in the adult section.

How educated are you in terms of what’s going on in the employment market? Perhaps your only knowledge is what it was like when you looked for a job, back in the day. The labor market has changed dramatically within the past year. If your talent strategy hasn’t changed to adapt to these new circumstances, then you may as well hang up your buzzer and go home.

Stay in control. James is in complete control of the game. You have to feel sorry for his competitors, who don’t stand a chance.

That’s the kind of situation you want to create in terms of talent domination (without the feeling sorry for your competitor’s part.) You can totally dominate your industry in terms of talent. To do this, you have to take control.

What are you waiting for? Let’s get this done!

©Matuson Consulting, 2019.

Final Jeopardy Question: How would you rate your company from 1-10 (with 10 being high) in terms of talent domination? Send me your answer and I’ll set aside 30 minutes to discuss steps you can take to rule your talent market!


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Steer Clear of These Delusional Hiring Practices

I don’t know about you, but I’m growing tired of hearing leaders complain that they can’t fill jobs. When asked, they can come up with a dozen reasons why this is so. Are you guilty of this as well?

Imagine a VP of sales telling her CEO that she is unable to bring in deals. Do you think she’d be told, “That’s OK; everyone else is having a tough time selling.” No, of course not!

Yet, CEOs keep giving their teams a pass when it comes to unfilled jobs. And to make matters worse, they are looking the other way when a particular executive has a higher turnover than most.

Too many organizations are delusional when it comes to their hiring practices. They have a system in place and continue to use it, regardless of the dismal results. This is nuts!

Here are some of the more common delusional hiring practices that I see.

If you build it, they will come. Let’s say you’ve created this great company. You pay people a fair wage, and you’ve got the standard cool perks that have become commonplace these days. Your feeling is that people would be crazy not to work for your firm.

You post your jobs online, and what happens next? Nothing — absolutely nothing. OK, I’m exaggerating here. You get a few resumes from people who are responding to every post they see.

You tell a friend about your situation, and he assures you the same thing is happening to him. You both blame the low rate of unemployment in your area because let’s admit it; it’s easier to place blame than it is to find the cause.

Offering additional crazy perks.

Have you noticed that perks are getting even more insane as the labor market tightens? I’m here to tell you that all the free beer in the world won’t make employees delusional enough to stay and work for a crappy manager. Don’t believe me?

Have a third party reach out to employees who have recently left your firm and ask them why they choose to leave. (Do this even if they’ve gone through exit interviews, as it’s my experience that people are less than truthful on their way out the door.) Listen carefully to the feedback you receive and be prepared to take action.

Relying on HR to fill jobs.

By now, you’d think most companies would have figured out that if HR could fill these jobs, they would have done so already. They can’t.

You need to turn your entire team into a hiring machine. I know this works because I’ve done this with other organizations. Do this today.

We’re already spending a ton of money on recruiting and can’t afford to spend more.

I’m not suggesting you pay more money. What I am recommending is that you blow up your current approach and invest your resources more wisely.

We’re doing the best we can with the limited resources we have.

Here’s the thing. There are lots of things you can do to improve your hiring practices that don’t require additional capital. The first step is to be open to change.

We need buy-in from everyone before hiring.

Every step you add to the hiring process will slow things down. In today’s tight labor market, speed trumps perfection time and time again.

Look at your hiring process with an eye towards dramatically reducing the time it takes to make a job offer. Begin by making a list of everyone currently involved in the hiring process. Draw a line through the middle of this list. The people under the line should be immediately relieved of their hiring responsibilities.

Posted in Hiring and Recruitment, Talent Acquisition and Retention, Talent Maximization
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The Real Truth About Learning

I was recently asked to coach an executive, who was having a difficult time assimilating into her new leadership role, even though her company had invested a ton of money sending her to an executive leadership program. She confided in me that she could barely recall what she had learned six months ago. I’m not surprised.

I’m going to let you in on a secret, that will save your organization millions of dollars a year. Real learning takes place in real time.

Think about it. You can’t learn how to ride a bike by reading a book or attending a two-day session on the theory of bike riding. You have to get on the bike. The same is true, regarding leadership development.

Let’s say you’ve attended a leadership development program where you learned how to deal with difficult employees or something more tactical, such as basic interviewing skills. You’re fortunate in that you don’t have any problematic employees on your team, nor do you have any job openings.

Six months later, that all changes. You look at the notes you took in your training class and can’t decipher what you wrote. You’re too embarrassed to ask for help, so you wing it—a move you soon regret.

What if instead, you had access to an expert who could help you quickly think through your options and provide you with feedback regarding your next move? Having this would free you up to make better decisions more rapidly. You could then use this time to advance the goals of the organization, as well as your own.

This expert might be an internal resource. That is if your organization has enough people on staff to provide real-time coaching. Or they may be an external coach, hired to provide timely advice when needed. In both scenarios, the results provide a much higher ROI than most leadership training programs.

My most successful clients use a hybrid approach. Managers, who attend leadership development programs are assigned coaches to support them. As a result, they’re better able to apply their learning, by working through their leadership challenges as situations arise.

What’s your experience been? Have the management training classes you’ve attended been a worthwhile investment in terms of your time, or would you be a better leader today, had you been given a coach?


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