It Takes a Team

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I did a pretty dumb thing recently. At a very critical moment of public recognition, in front of the press and hundreds of the most important people in my life, I forgot about my team. 

It was the night of our Shark Tank Viewing party, and the whole world was about to see my appearance on the show. I was excited, nervous, and, most of all, I was SO grateful. But my team - my core group of employees who played a huge role in getting me there and worked almost around the clock leading up to this big event - didn't know that. Why? Because I mentioned everyone in my “thank you” speech except for them. *cue facepalm* 

Your team is the lifeblood of your business and showing how you feel about them is critical to your culture. Conventional wisdom says there's the boss, and there are the worker bees who are there to serve the boss without complaint. The boss is inaccessible because the boss is too busy and too important. And if you subscribe to this method of leadership, you can stop reading now, because the world has changed, the workplace has changed, and the culture of your company will never, ever be what you're hoping for it to be. In fact, this "Top Dog" mentality will almost certainly ensure that your teams will be frustrated, never reach their full potential and, eventually, leave.

If you're still reading, I have two questions for you:

Do you know your employees?

Do they know how you feel about them?

I get it-you're busy, and you're probably thinking, "Do you know what my schedule looks like? I barely have time to know my own family, let alone my employees." I hear you, and I'm suggesting that your workload and your schedule will become more manageable, and your business culture much healthier when you adopt this new mindset toward leadership: 

YOU work for THEM.

People will be over “you,” and any magnetism you may personally have, probably quicker than you think. On the other hand, passion, along with genuine humility and gratitude, will naturally attract talent, resources, and loyalty. When your people know that you genuinely care about them, amazing things will start to happen. Employees will start showing up early, staying late, being proactive, and looking for ways to help. You'll create advocates and friends instead of "I'm just here for the paycheck" robots.

There is no magic formula for making this happen. It’s a big job, but if we all gave up because of the enormity of the task, leadership would cease to exist. So, start with your core team. There are no limits to jobs they could be doing today, and they've chosen to work with you. Make them important. Show them that you care and, I promise you, good things will happen. 

Oh… and if you're ever lucky enough to get the chance to thank them in front of hundreds of people, don't blow it. Trust me, that would be the worst.

Joe Altieri is the Inventor and CEO of FlexScreen. His product – the world’s first and only flexible window screen - was featured on ABC’s hit show, Shark Tank, where he hooked a deal with the proclaimed “Queen of QVC,” Lori Greiner. joealtieri@flexscreen.com

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BY JOE ALTIERI

Joe Altieri is a third-generation entrepreneur, inventor, speaker, and the President and CEO of his own multi-million dollar company. He learned the value of company culture and building strong teams by watching his father and grandfather operate successful businesses.

During his 20+ years in the window industry, Joe recognized the inherent problems with traditional window screens and dealt personally with constant customer frustrations. Always an outside-the-box thinker, he knew there had to be a better way, so he set up shop in his garage and got to work. After years of trial and error, FlexScreen, the world's first and only flexible window screen, was born.

Since its introduction into the marketplace, FlexScreen has gained international attention and earned multiple industry awards. Most notably, FlexScreen was catapulted to the forefront when Joe appeared on ABC's hit show, Shark Tank, in January 2020. Three of the five Sharks battled for a piece of FlexScreen with Lori Greiner, the Queen of QVC, ultimately winning the deal.

Joe is a firm believer in giving back, and he is generous with his resources and his time. Several years ago, he was honored and recognized as one of Pittsburgh's Volunteers of the Year. He lives in Pittsburgh with his wife of 25 years, Alisha. They have four children, four grandchildren, and two very pampered Cane Corso's.

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