Invest In The Right "Seeds" with a Talent Mindset

"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant" - Robert Louis Stevenson

Photo Courtesy of Code Poet via Compfight

We are having a heatwave in the Midwest with a high of 52! The snow is rapidly melting  and already  the crazies are out in their shorts and sandals. Many gardeners have already started seeds inside for spring planting or they are preparing to do so. I start some of my seeds inside in February so that I can pop the plants into the ground right after our last frost in May. I love the smell of fresh dirt and growing seedlings when I open the door to my grow room in the basement. Every flower has it's own scent and it makes me itch to get outside!

Experience quickly taught me that buying cheap just doesn't pay in the long run. The same goes for seeds. It's crucial to find high quality fresh seeds or you may end up looking at bare dirt under your grow lights. That being said, remember to read planting instructions closely because some seeds need to be nicked or soaked prior to planting. Likewise, some flower varieties need to be sown a good 12 weeks before your last frost date. In order to grow the best, you need to start with the best.

Passionate gardens often become seed collectors to save for planting the next season. It's a great way to perpetuate unusual varieties, save money, and share with others. If you receive some seeds from a friend or have some left over from last year you want to make sure that they will germinate so that you don't get frustrated. Here's two tests to see if you have good seeds:

  1. Water Test: Soak your seeds in a container for 10-15 minutes. If they sink then they should germinate. If they float you had better just dump them.
  2. Germination Test: Take a few of your seeds and place them in a row on a moist paper towel and fold the moist towel over them. . Place them in a sealed plastic baggie. Keep them damp and place them someplace warm like the top of your refrigerator. Check periodically to see if the seeds sprout. It could take a while so be patient. Obviously if they sprout, they are good.
You want your offspring to get the best start that they can this spring to avoid disappointment or seedling death. Here's some tips for getting your seeds off to a strong start:

  • Spend more money up front and buy quality seeds. Skip the dollar store or off brand seeds. Check the expiration date on the back of the packet to see how fresh they are.
  • Consider buying heirloom seeds, organic certified, specialty, or no chemical seeds. These products are often top of the line genetically or in their production and will grow for you.
  • Read the instructions on the packet! Some seeds need a little help to get going by being soaked or scratched. 
  • If your seeds are super small like Poppy seeds it may be worth buying extra because they are so hard to plant without needing magnifying glasses!
  • Be selective and don't go overboard. It's SO easy to buy way too many seed packets because they all look good like candy in a candy store. Be reasonable and consider your growing space. I've overdone it way too many times.
  • Do your homework on your planting space to verify that if you are growing shade plants that you have a shady area to actually plant them in...... 

"The people you surround yourself with in your organization make or break your success. No one succeeds alone" - Stacy Feiner, PsyD 


Just like the seeds that I grow I am passionate about "growing" people. I love to find that special "something" in someone and bring it to fruition. This isn't easy and from time to time I have really wanted a "garden plan" to help. I finally found one in Stacy Feiner's new book Talent Mindset: The business owners guide to building bench strength. What I love about this gem is the passion that Stacy brings in addressing the need to identify great talent, foster it, and bring a new mindset to organization's.  Our people really are our foundation and we need to ingrain this in our company culture. I particularly enjoy that Stacy's book is geared towards business owners and small businesses who really have a stake in having strong talent in order to survive.

Feiner is clearly passionate about the importance of talent development to the survival of an organization. Moreover, she is adamant that this isn't just an HR responsibility, it's every body's job in the company. Most importantly the owner/CEO must have a stake and invested interest in the road map detailing  how this process can be done and how critical it is. The entire talent concept is deeply embedded within a company culture. She presents ideas that form a completed puzzle and plan which involves 9 interlocking "pieces" called Center's of Excellence. These Center's are organized into 3 corridors: Acquisition, Development, and Deployment. These corridors tend to give leaders the most "people pain" that seem to never go away. The Centers of Excellence enable a company to optimize talent, grow, lead for the future, and to find talent and successors for the company.

It's up to the owner/CEO to own and steer the process of a company's talent and strategy. It's this leader who has the ability to change the culture and really make finding and developing new talent a key variable in the culture long term. Moreover, Some owners may have succession concerns and many don't like to think about the future or acknowledging that they are the key to making talent a priority in order to continually build the business. Feiner  interjects that "A players look for A Companies" and that means owners must be at the helm of a complete human capital plan to bring in, grow, and develop talent. Ultimately a company shines with excellence when it attracts top performers, invests in them, has a rotating path for growth and providing greater opportunities. "Selection is a high form of risk management". Companies that turn a blind eye to risks don't stay in business very long. Are you ignoring your talent pool and development plans? Do you have a plan for growth?

I love how Stacy encourages companies to engage new team members with enthusiasm. She stresses that energy needs to be high and off running immediately. Rolling out the red carpet is a must for newbies. The goal is to "accelerate productivity and generate energy". It's expensive to bring in new people and more expensive to lose them. Don't let it happen. Stacy  champions the corridor of  "development". Look at individual learning styles, level of the team member, their experience. Don't use a one approach fits all mentality. Owners need to instill a feeling of collaboration, continuous learning, and empowerment in employee development. He or she must set the tone for continued learning and cross training. You can't just stop there. You need to fold feedback and coaching into the organization as well. Training isn't a one time trip. It's continuous, requires conversations, and feedback must go back and forth. Growing people is like growing plants - give them what they need to grow and look out!

Perhaps the most important area for family businesses is the need to have leaders waiting in the wings to jump in the leadership seat when the time comes. Call it anything that you want but a lack of succession planning can sink a company with a few years - or sooner. Feiner emphasizes that talent has to be identified, nurtured, challenged, competitive, and be offered expanded roles every 3 years. Creating "multiple layers" of talent is critical for future leaders and family owned businesses must bring outsiders in to help fill the talent pipeline. It's critical to have the right people in the right place and maintain a "deep bench of talent". People are tools and capital to bring growth and stability. Smart companies have programs in place to develop and "deploy" people throughout the organization. Don't be the leader that let's the pipe run dry or allows talented people to run off.

One of my favorite chapters in Stacy's book speaks to the importance of employee engagement. Once you have lead or worked in a company where people are engaged and the culture is strong, you can't imagine how the bottom line is impacted. Not only is it a people impact, it directly impacts profitability. The quote "Leaders of organizations are stewarding a cause, not just a company" gives me chills. People depend so much on their professions to support their families, for personal growth, lasting friendships and engagement, and their future. Providing a great "growing" environment really sets the tone for unbridled growth and a nurturing culture. Engagement is a "building block" of culture. It grants an immense competitive advantage in the marketplace. It envelops everyone and encourages employees to take ownership of their roles, individual talents, and champions growth. Employees are a company's brand and they need to be nurtured and cared for.

I highly recommend Stacy Feiner's book  Talent Mindset particularly if you are a company owner or if you have even a little finger in finding or developing new talent. The book offers numerous real life examples of companies and leaders who have struggled with "talent pain" and have had proven success using Stacy's strategic system. People are so important to the growth and survival of any business. Pick up Stacy's book today to guide you down the  path of growing and cultivating your talent! 

Just as with seeds we all have a responsibility to provide what our people need to grow and develop. Tender seedlings quickly wilt and perish if they are neglected. Can you afford to let your team do the same?