• Check out The Aspire Success Story

    Learn how clients have succeeded with Aspire (right click and 'save as').


    Success Stories 


  • Sign Up for a Free email Series!

    Leading Your Business To Success!

    A free (but valuable) resource - you'll learn essential strategies to grow your business...the right way!

    sign up here!




  • RSS Feed

  • Sign Up for Email Updates for Blog

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

  • Recent Posts

  • Google+

  • Archives

    View All Archives

  • Aspire » Inspire

    29 Dec

    Gratitude - Relax

    I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately on what it takes to be happy and successful (not necessarily the same things by the way…). It’s interesting that one of the ideas that keeps coming up is the importance of consistently and authentically practicing gratitude in your life. (As an example, it’s physically not possible to be mad/upset and grateful at the same time…so if you’re having a bad day, taking time to find something to be thankful for can really shift your mood).

    Overall 2014 has definitely had it’s challenges – but with the idea of focusing on the positive, here are 14 things I’m grateful for in 2014:

    1. Family

    I love watching (and participating) with my kids as they make the tough transition to adults – it’s a very cool thing to see happen. I also deeply appreciate my wife and extended family for their support and connection this year.

    2. Clients

    I enjoy working with my clients – and I’ve discovered that one of the best things is the opportunity to celebrate their successes. And I have some really sharp clients, so that’s been happening a lot in the last few years…!

    3. The economy – finally starting to show some signs of life

    Despite the huge vacuum of leadership in Washington, we are finally starting to see the overall business environment pick up. I started Aspire back in 2007, right before the economy crashed, so it’s been a long stretch of down years, which makes it great to see even the small sparks we’re seeing now.

    4. Opportunities to TravelSouth Africa - Cheetahs on the hunt

    We had the chance to take one of our bucket list trips this past summer to South Africa and it was everything we could have hoped for (and then some). It’s difficult to put an exact value on travel, but I can tell you that a great trip will make everything else you do better…and that’s worth a lot.

    5. Networking Partners

    The past year has really been a good one in terms of developing relationships with business contacts that I admire, enjoy and have opportunities to collaborate with. These great relationships are also starting to pay off with quality introductions and referrals (in all directions) – creating the kind of environment you have to have for continued growth.

    The Quadrafoil Electric Boat6. Cool Technology – example: The Quadrafoil

    My entire life I’ve been inspired by cool ideas of what could be (probably because my Dad had me reading Science Fiction in grade school…). We live in an amazing time where technology is really starting to meet (and often exceed) what was only dreamed of years ago. Quick example – I don’t want a boat and I don’t live near water, but I can’t deny how cool the Quadrafoil is for a lot of reasons – check it out: The Quadrafoil

    7. Friends

    With work, family and all of the other obligations at hand, it’s not possible to spend as much time with friends as I’d like, but I do value the time that I have been able to spend this year (and I will be pushing to spend more next year…).

    8. Time to Think – White Space

    Another key to success and happiness that I’ve been reading about (and observed this year) is finding time to unplug and find some white space. I haven’t quite worked up to meditation (although I’m sure that’s good for you as well) but I definitely appreciate the benefits of finding some quiet time.

    9. Entrepreneurship

    When I worked in the corporate world the ongoing message was doom and gloom with never-ending challenges. Maybe that’s why I so appreciate the optimism and energy of entrepreneurs and small business owners.

    Photo by  eagle102.net via Flickr

    Photo by eagle102.net via Flickr

    10. Gary Pinkel and Mizzou Football

    The Tigers were supposed to struggle this year, but ended up going back to the SEC Championship and winning at least 10 games – and Coach Pinkel has built a program that’s gratifying to root for.

    11. Bill Snyder

    I didn’t go to K-State but you can’t help but be impressed and inspired by their great football coach. Unfortunately I’m getting old enough to really appreciate what he’s been able to accomplish at his age…or at any age.

    12. Abundance – example Solar Energy Revolution

    I first ran across Peter Diamandis and his book Abundance a couple of years ago and I was struck with what a different (and great) message he had. The essence of the book and most of what Diamandis does is that technology is building the capability for a golden age in the next 10 to 20 years. One recent example from his blog is a write-up on the Solar Energy Revolution. As you can see from his blog (and the book) – the possibilities are amazing. I’m grateful to be living in a time where the world is fundamentally changing and often for the better (despite what you hear on the news).

    13. Marvel Comics – Bringing us great Movies

    One of my Christmas gifts was a copy of Guardians of the Galaxy – one of the best movies of 2014…not one of the best superhero or comic book movies, but overall one of the best movies period! And Marvel also brought us the excellent Captain America – The Winter Soldier this year as well. I’ve always been a fan of superheroes and science fiction and now we’re getting a chance to see great adaptations on the big screen!

    14. Health

    Probably no surprise that as you get older you start to clearly realize how your body works…or doesn’t work. I don’t always enjoy going to the gym or eating right, but I definitely appreciate feeling great and staying healthy (and relatively) fit. It’s harder work than it used to be, but I think that makes it even more valuable.

    What are you thankful for this year? You don’t need to write your own post, but I would encourage to carve out at least a few minutes to think about it. It’s a great stepping stone for planning next year. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

    Shawn Kinkade Kansas City Business Coach

    22 Dec

    Prefer to listen to this post – just use the play button below and leave us a comment at the bottom:



    Whether you know him as St. Nicholas, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, or Santa Claus, he is arguably one of the most recognized figures in world.   From his 4th Century origin as a bearded Christian bishop who was famous for his generosity to the poor to a man who now magically travels the entire world in a single night, Santa knows his business.   Over the years, these are a few things he taught me.

    Be someone others can count on.    Santa’s customer base is kids (no age limit!).  If you’re a kid there is a pretty good chance Santa is going to find your house on Christmas morning.   He is someone you can count on.   And, over the years Santa’s spirit of giving has even spread to organizations like Toys for Tots, the Salvation Army, and more directly in Kansas City Operation Breakthrough to help ensure Santa or his helpers find a way into every home.   Be someone people can count on.

    Checklists work.  Every year Santa is “making his list and checking it twice.”  He also has his “Naughty List” and “Nice List” (Which one are you on this year?)  Santa has learned the importance of writing down things down.  He should know; he has been refining his system for over 1,600 years!   He recognizes that Checklists reduce the chance of making errors.  So, if you’re trying to reduce errors in repeatable processes, try creating some checklists that are easy to follow.  Checklists work.

    Eat the cookies…occasionally.  It has been said that Santa has never found a cookie or glass of milk he didn’t like on Christmas.  But, that doesn’t mean he eats like that every day.  It is OK to treat yourself and your (reindeer) team to something special, especially when there is something to celebrate, like completing a big project by Christmas day!  Many businesses forget to celebrate successes throughout the year.  Keep it within your means, but eat some cookies and celebrate your successes with your team.

    The joy in giving.   This is the best part of Santa’s business model.  Santa knows there is nothing like seeing the joy on the face of child on Christmas morning.  It was at the heart of St. Nicholas during the 4th century and it was the message of a baby, born in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago.   Recently, I witnessed the joy of giving at a client’s Christmas holiday party.  The owner not only had nice gifts for all the employees, but there was something for every spouse and their children too!   Make giving part of your business model and experience the joy it gives back to you.

    We hope everyone has a great holiday season with your family and friends.  Be safe if you’re traveling…please don’t text or drink and drive.   And if you haven’t already, consider helping Santa by supporting some of the organizations mentioned above.    As always, feel free to leave any comments in the space below.    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

    Chris Steinlage  Kansas City Business Coach

    24 Nov

    If you’d prefer to listen to this post, click the start button below – and leave us a comment when you’re done!


    Thanksgiving Parade Picture from Martha_Chapa95 via Flickr

    Thanksgiving Parade Picture from Martha_Chapa95 via Flickr

    There is no other single day of the year that causes us to pause and give thanks more than Thanksgiving.   As the biggest travel holiday of the year, more friends and family are gathered together during this period, than any other holiday.  We spend time with family, we usually eat way more than we should, and we give thanks for what is good in our lives.

    Business owners may not have an official thanksgiving day, although I think some would say it is the day after they finish their YE taxes. ;-)    But as a business owner or manager we all have so much to be thankful for.  Not just once or twice a year, but every day of year.   Here are 4 that I think we all should raise a glass and have a toast to:

    Always Be Thankful for….


    It has changed the way we do business. The world can be your market place.  Today even the smallest companies can look as big as they want on the internet.  Brick and Mortar is not a requirement or measuring tool for success.  “The Cloud” has allowed businesses to be more remote than ever before.  The ability to access information, network and share ideas, and outsource business functions has never been easier; and it will only get better.  Be thankful and leverage this.

    Social Media.

    Technology created it and there are negatives with everything, but the positive impact of social media is changing the game of traditional marketing and how we connect with our customers. Big advertising budgets are often being replaced with leaner more targeted social media strategies that can connect and interact with their target markets instantaneously. Be thankful and tweet it, pin it, or share it!

    The USA.

    It is easy to find things to complain about when it comes to owning or operating a business.  We all hate taxes, over regulation, etc. etc. and globally there may be other countries that are more business friendly.  But, the powerful blend of culture, resources, and the laws that guide our country are unmatched. The bottom line is, the USA still offers tremendous freedom an opportunity to those who choose to go out and get it.  Be thankful for our freedom and all those who gave their lives so we could have it.

    Employees, Business Partners, Friends, and Family.

    The anthem of the business owner in independence. But the people we surround ourselves with ultimately have a huge impact on long-term success. Take stock in the people around you.  Thank them for their contributions and support. Let them know they are valued and appreciated.  These people (esp close friends and family) are often the people who support you the most and are acknowledged the least.  Be thankful they are in your life and let them know.

    On this Thanksgiving, we would like to thank all of those who have contributed to our successes in life and in business, especially our families.  It is through your trust, support, understanding, and encouragement we are where we are.

    Finally, we are thankful for our clients who allow us to help them in their businesses and entrust us to be part of their business success story.  We are thankful.

    What are you thankful for?  We always appreciate your comments.  Happy Thanksgiving!

    Chris Steinlage   Kansas City Business Coach

    10 Nov

    Want to listen to this blog post? Click on the start button below – and then leave us a comment.


    Powerful business - Signficant

    In life, success without significance is possible, but significance without success is nearly impossible.   In most cases long term success in business follows a very similar path.  The question then is which path is your business on?

    Recently, Kansas City area author, Dan Stalp was a guest speaker at an Aspire Book Review.   He used “The Reunion”, a book he co-authored, as the framework to challenge his audience on this subject.   His book tells the story of a High School Reunion with a cast of 4 main characters.  Each of them has led a very different life since their High School graduation day.   Ultimately, the story will challenge the reader to look in the mirror and reflect on their own life.   It is a great short read.

    The fact that 76 million baby boomers have been moving through the different stages of life at an avg. rate of 10,000/per day over the last several decades probably has something to do with the increase in this type of personal reflection. Regardless of the reason, it is also fair to say there has been a significant shift in the awareness or desire of companies to “make a difference” instead of just “making money”.    And even if they aren’t doing it at their core, there certainly are a lot of companies at least trying to portray that image publically.

    It is critical for any for-profit business to actually make a profit, without that there is no growth, no hiring of additional employees, no goods or services, and no profits to pay taxes on (which in turn fund things like schools, gov’t agencies, and our infrastructure).   There has to be a profit.   But if making money is the only thing you focus on, will that produce a long term successful business?

    “Successful Businesses may make Money…Significant Businesses also make a Difference”        –  Aspire Business Development

    Let’s agree that  there are examples of companies and entire industries that have made (and still make) a lot of money from what would not be viewed as significant businesses, at least not in a positive context, that’s part of the free enterprise system.

    Significant Businesses possess qualities and traits that tend to go a little deeper than the dollar sign.  Financially they tend to be very sound and profitable businesses, but the revenue is more of a by-product of the way the entire company operates. Below is a starter list of some qualities Significant Business exhibit.

    1. Strong ethical leadership that believes in accountability, honesty, and integrity.
    2. The business has a defined core value system that is reflective of who they are.
    3. Customers and Customer experience are a high priority.
    4. Positively impact the lives of their employees, the employees enjoy working there, and the company has a desire to give back.
    5. Provide products or services that have a place, fill a need, and they constantly strive to get better.

    Does this sound like your business?   Would you want to do business with this kind of company?

    A quick side note on this topic of significance…. Which city and fan base do you think the world viewed as being more significant the morning after Game 7 of the World Series?  The news of burning cars and arrests in San Francisco or the news of Kansas City fans that generated an unsolicited letter to the editor by a San Franciscan billionaire that went viral?

    Focus on Significance; chances are pretty good it will improve your business and the world around you will be a better place because of it.

    As always, we would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.   If you have any traits or qualities to add to the list above please feel free to share them.

    Chris Steinlage  Kansas City Business Coach

    13 Oct

    Click start below if you’d prefer to listen to this week’s article…and let us know what you think by leaving a comment.


    This is for dedicated to all the fans of baseball past and present.   Next week we’ll get back to business.

    He was born and raised about 100 miles NW of the current Truman Sports Complex.  He was a dairy farmer by trade, but those who knew him will tell you when it came to sports, baseball was his favorite.  As a young man, he played baseball on a local team comprised mostly of other young farmers who also had a passion for America’s pastime.   And, as I understand it, most of their games were played on Sunday afternoons, because a lighted ball field was a luxury that most teams didn’t have in rural America in those years.

    Because the Royals quickly established themselves in the Major Leagues; in his lifetime he never experienced many years of the Kansas City Royals not being expected to compete for the American League title.  Today, that’s hard to believe, but the last season he saw them play was 1989; the infamous 92 win season that many baseball experts think may have been the best team the Royals ever fielded.   Unfortunately, that was before the expanded playoff format and the third best record in baseball only earned you a spot on the couch in front of a TV to watch the remainder of the season play out.

    He loved his baseball.  When the Royals Stadium first opened, one of the first family vacations was a Kansas City trip to World’s of Fun and a Royals game.   The family may have enjoyed the entire trip, but make no mistake, the amusement park was for his kids, and the Royals game was for him.  In the years that followed, most summers usually included at least one trip to Royals stadium.  One of his favorite positions was first base, at 6’ 3” that had been his regular spot “back in the day”.  For the Royals,  Big Bad John Mayberry and Steve Balboni were two of his favorites to play the #3 post during the 70’s and 80’s.

    As Royals fans know, from day one in Kansas City the voice of the Royals has been Denny Mathews.  During the baseball season on the farm, Denny’s voice was part of milking cows, throwing hay, and doing other work around the farm.  If there was an AM radio nearby and a game was on, you can bet he had it tuned into WIBW 580 out of Topeka.   Few games were on TV and even if they were, unless it was Sunday afternoon, Denny’s call over an AM radio mounted on a tractor fender, usually won out over the RCA console TV and recliner in the living room.

    When his boys were old enough to play baseball, the rural community he called home his entire life did not have an organized summer baseball team.  So he, along with two other farmers in the community decided it was time to start a summer ball club. Apparently, his past baseball playing experience, coupled with his 8th grade diploma and Army GED was enough to qualify him for that role.

    Funding was simple; they held a pancake breakfast in the church basement before each season.  The proceeds of that breakfast plus a little revenue from concessions provided enough to fund an entire season.   During the early years, the home games all had to be played on Sunday afternoon, because the field still did not have any lights.  In time, lights were added and eventually a score board, bleachers, and an enclosed concession stand.

    He would go on to coach for years while all 5 of his sons played through the 3 different divisions that spanned from elementary thru high school age farm kids.  It truly was a “farm system” in the purest sense of the word.  Over the years his teams collected a number of league trophies.  As good coaches will attest, winning is the goal, but win or lose he wanted his players to have fun, knowing that both ends of the scoreboard were character building lessons in their own way.  Today, his oldest son still continues that family coaching lineage on that same baseball field.  As a side note, over the last two decades his son’s team’s aggressive base stealing tactics would make Rusty Kuntz and Ned Yost proud, but that is another story!

    This year is the 25th anniversary of that 92 win season and the passing of my dad, Lambert Steinlage.  He would absolutely love this Royals team.  The young rising stars, the veteran leaders, their never quit attitude, their passion and energy, the team chemistry, and the fact that so many are home grown through the farm system.  He would love it all.  But mostly, I think he would love the way they have fun playing the game.  Dad, if heaven has a front row seat, I hope you’re in it.  Win or Lose, this is going to be a lot of fun.  Let’s Go Royals!

    Chris Steinlage  Kansas City Business Coach