Kicking off the Year? 5 High-Impact Ideas

Do you want to improve the trajectory of your growth this year?  What are you willing to change to make that happen?  And what can you do additionally, beyond your current activity – which is probably fantastic and challenging enough already!

Let me share 5 ideas to help you shift the company toward new heights in the coming year!


If your strategy is to grow certain product lines or markets in the coming year, have you positioned your culture to support that strategy?  At one of my companies, we decided that one of our service divisions needed to develop its own strategy and its own separate growth plan, and not just be a cost of being in the product business.  We wanted this division to focus on its own growth and its own financial success.  So we set a new strategy with the leader of that business.  Of course, the structure and the culture needed to be updated in order to support this new strategy, so we changed it.  Our goal in this example was not to change the culture.  The strategy we chose determined the culture we established.  We do not change culture for the sake of changing culture.  We do it because we believe it will enable us to get to our goals and achieve our growth strategy.  We did have bumps along the way of course.  There was tension as we made this monumental (don’t underestimate this!) shift in strategy, structure, and culture.  But with a dedicated and talented leadership team, we delivered the results and ultimately put our company onto a new growth vector.  It starts with clearly identifying our new strategy, building the structure and team that can achieve it, and then personally leading that change.  These steps, Strategy-Structure-Culture, are the logical way to change your company and make it more valuable to your customers.


I recently helped one of my customers to kickoff the year by planning and facilitating their annual kickoff meeting.  We had a lot of interaction with the sales team and the execs about markets, the competition, and current activity.  We reviewed our quota for the year in the core business and what we wanted to do specifically to achieve those goals and improve our performance.  We also talked about the hurdles facing us, and the biggest challenges to the business.  All of this leads to focusing on the areas that are most important.

These meetings do not have to be boring.  They can be engaging and motivating.  You can use a Kickoff Meeting as a momentum builder if you think through the format and take some time on the content.  It can be led by the CEO and the marketing and sales team.  If you can include other departments at least for part of the meeting, that would be smart too because it is a team building opportunity to get everyone working together toward the annual goals.  If you are not on a calendar fiscal year, you can structure it as a mid-year Business Update.

If you are planning a kickoff meeting, make sure to plan for these topics:

  • Recognition of accomplishments from the past year
  • Strategies for the coming year
  • New products that will be launched this year and associated development plans
  • Orders quota / targets by product
  • Pipeline analysis (sales team)
  • Have a “Call for Orders.” Let the sales team know in advance you want to do this. It’s about getting out of the gates quickly and balancing the longer-term strategy, with the needs to still hit Q1 financial targets.

“The kickoff meeting is more than just a meeting.  It’s a team building, strategy-focusing, momentum-building experience.”

Gary Ross


Every New Year’s Day while everyone was watching football games, I would personally walk around the office and leave a bookmark on every associate’s desk with a message from me. The bookmarks would include our theme for the coming year.  It was a symbol of where we were going – a commitment to a strategy for the coming year.  Some years I would buy books to go along with it, but the bookmark emphasized how important the associates were going to be in making our success happen!  See the sample graphic to the right:

Note the last sentence where we brought out a theme for that year, “Bring Your Best Today.”  This became a theme not only for our company wide kickoff meeting, but as a consistent message in future communications throughout the coming year.

Our associates seemed to love this bookmark idea. After several years, some associates would hang multiple years of bookmarks on their cubicle walls – next to their family pictures!  I was honored by this.  It became something special between me and that associate.  They told me it helped them feel confident about the direction of the company and our ability to hit challenging goals in the coming year.


I love to create unique and authentic communication and teambuilding opportunities.  During one particular sales breakout at a kickoff meeting, I did not present any charts.  Instead, I grabbed a chair and sat down with the sales team in a circle, and we just talked for an hour.  We talked about many things. About things that were holding them back.  About their frustrations.  About opportunities.  We had no agenda.  It received such high feedback that we started doing it every year after that, and the sales team looked forward to it.  We called this session “Gary Unplugged”.


Do you want to really engage your associates?  Bring a customer into your Kickoff Meeting!  Although your team will hesitate at first because this is supposed to be our internal meeting,  the customer will change the tone and focus, and they do not have to be there for the whole meeting.  This is motivational and makes your meeting much more interesting – and much more focused on what we should be talking about – the customer!  That is the focus, right?  And customers love being part of your team and helping you win. 

At one of our Kickoff Meetings, our customer opened up so passionately about her view of our company, why she thought we had lost our way in the past – and how we were now getting it back – that she literally had some of our associates crying!  I am not kidding you.  It’s because our people cared.  And our customer cared.  It was unbelievable – a moment I will always remember as a leader.  You can create these moments too!



The bottom line is this:  If you want to increase our growth rate, you have to do something new and different to make that happen.  And you can give it a boost by engaging with your team on one or two of the ideas above.  You CAN create more team energy toward your goals!  And that new energy will provide a tailwind for your business and your team – and take your business all the way to the top!


Ready to explore your potential?

  1. 1-on-1 Coaching: Gary has implemented the ideas above successfully with his own teams, and he is actively refining them today with his CEO coaching customers. Can we help you implement positive results in your company? Contact Gary directly:
  2. Learn at your own pace: Join The Growth Cube Academy – a training school for small business CEOs that includes 20-minute video workshops conducted by Gary that you can listen to at your leisure, and focus in on specific topics.
  3. Think – Order Gary’s book, The Growth Cube, or join Gary’s newsletter and stay up-to-date with new successful models and tools!
  4. Learn more about how Gary is applying these principles real-time in his startup company. Go to and sign up to see a demo or invest in Gary’s AI and imaging analytics software products that help improve patient wound healing.