Wednesday, July 08, 2009

"Corporate Mojo" - Mike Peter, CEO of Campus Advantage Speaks at ACG

The Central Texas Chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth July luncheon featured Mike Peter, CEO of the fast growth student housing corporation - Campus Advantage.

ACG has a long standing tradition of having some of the most talented Austin area executives speakers sharing their experiences at the monthly member luncheons, and Peter was no exception.

His calm, casually understated, authoritative and experienced speaking style was coupled with his message of outstanding corporate culture, making his presentation both memorable and educational for all in attendance.

Peter's message centered around "Corporate Mojo", his term for that hard to define piece of a company's culture that can not tangibly be described, but which is the magic that differentiates the amazing business from the mundane. "Corporate Mojo" is that feeling that impacts, charms, attracts and inspires employees, customers, vendors, the media and beyond.

You feel this "mojo" any time you interact with a special company - and it is coming from the employee's deep rooted attitudes.... not from some mission statement painted on a wall. Think of these examples:

Southwest Airlines vs. Delta (having just had a horrible experience with Delta last month, I can attest to the fact they have no "mojo")

Jimmy John's vs. Subway.

Amy's Ice Cream vs. Baskin Robbins.

A company with good "mojo" makes a difference. Peter attributes this "mojo" to the fast growth of Campus Advantage over the past several years. Now with 54 student housing properties over several states, and over 1000 employees, the company is a national leader in this very fragmented, competitive and changing industry.

That intangible "umph" that helps the company thrive is tried and tested. Campus Advantage was named on of the "Best Places to Work" in 2009 by the Austin Business Journal.

When you have an amazing reputation for this "mojo", you no longer need to worry about executive search, as the best employees have a way of seeking you out. Your existing team recruits their friends and you never worry about filling your key positions.

People will quit a job, but they will die for a mission. Campus Advantage sees the success of their clients, the students who live in their properties, as their purpose. Working together with staff, parents, educational institutions and the students, they help create an environment where the individuals will thrive. This cause encourages and motivates employees at all levels to go beyond their job descriptions.

Strong employee enthusiasm and high performance go hand in hand, in any economy. While the recessionary times are having an impact, his company is continuing to see success.

To prove to your team that this "mojo" is real, the executives must lead by example and find ways to do the right things for everyone involved. Peter calls it "intimacy with the employees", where those on the team know and understand that the company leadership always has their back. Employees cannot doubt management's commitment.

Two years ago when a senior team member was hit by a car in a hit and run, the company committed do the right thing for the employee's family. This was not just the CEO making sure that the employee was paid during recovery, but without prompting other employees began cooking meals and assisting the family in other ways. When this level of commitment is honest and real, it transcends the org chart. Take care of your people and they will take care of the clients - and each other!!!

"Corporate Mojo" is not rhetoric. The passion must be visible all of the time. If the leader is shy about wearing their passion on their sleeve, then the company culture will suffer. Clients can tell instinctively when your company has that something special.

Have A Great Day.


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