Tag Archives: Good Bosses

More great bosses

After releasing the eBossWatch Best Bosses of 2009 list last month, we received feedback from many people praising their own managers.  We’d like to honor and feature some of these great bosses.  This is how their employees describe them:

■ Robert Stack is the founder, president and CEO of Community Options.  Community Options is a national nonprofit organization that develops small, community-based homes and innovative employment opportunities for people with disabilities and has been doing so for over twenty years.  Notably, this has been a tough year for everyone but for some reason, Robert has persevered and has taken us all along with him.  With a workforce of over 2,500 people in 32 cities throughout 9 states, Robert has inspired his staff to open more homes, take more people with disabilities out of institutions and provide more employment opportunities all at the same time.  When the economy got rough, Robert became more innovative.  Robert has not made one layoff during the recession but instead has invested in more training and appropriate resources for our existing and new workforce.  Robert is a complete inspiration and it would be so nice to profile someone who is running a true business with a social purpose that is changing the lives of so many people across the country.
 
■ On 4/10/2009, Erickson Publishing, LLC ceased operations, letting go a team of 14 incredibly talented people (I include myself in that number, not so sure I should include myself in the talented part).   We were all devastated because we all truly loved our job.  We produced a women’s magazine called BRAVA, that had been part of the viewing community for 7 years as well as the producer of the Madison Women’s Expo – a tradition of 200 exhibitors, celebrities and approximately 8,000 mostly female attendees.
 
Not to give up our determination for jobs we loved, a group of employees gathered together the following Monday to discuss a strategy to keep our jobs either by creating a new magazine or finding an investor passionate in bringing this back.
 
It was a long drawn out summer of meeting with potential investors and we struggled to keep our team intact in a horrible economy not exactly forgiving to the print media some taking leaps by not accepting positions doing other things.
 
Brad Zaugg, a veteran of the publishing industry of 16 years, met with our team and through painful negotiations and struggles, he started Brava Enterprises, brought the magazine back to life (bigger and better with more creative flow) and the Madison Women’s Expo (11th annual!) just took place in November.  I couldn’t ask for a better team lead by this man who would humbly say he didn’t do anything special.  But he saved all of our jobs and our love for it.  Not to mention he is the only man on our team – poor guy!
 
He deserves kudos.
 
■ I work for a start up that’s looking to change the face of youth sports. Our first initiative are the High School Rudy Awards.  The founder of the company, John Ballantine – is remarkable.  He has put together a team that is working to each of their strengths.  We’re encouraged to write our own job descriptions and to adapt them if they need changing, or if they don’t pander to our strengths.  He is consistently trying to uncover untapped strengths within each of us and wants us to ‘build our own brand’ which means to put ourselves out there in the community and press and reach out in any way we see fit.  I worked in the film industry for 20 years and have never had the level of support or encouragement I receive from John.  It makes you try harder, shoot for the moon and then some.
 
I’ve been laid low with the flu over the holidays.  He has repeatedly asked what he can do for me, do I need anything, can he go to the store and bring me groceries… and when I was being a stubborn pain in the ass and got worse, he offered to take me to the doctor.  Truly – how many bosses out there would even think of doing that?  What a gift this man is in my career.
 
■ I work for an online English learning company called TalktoCanada.com.  We’ve taught people in more than 80 different countries, and currently have a staff of just of 20 teachers.
 
I would like to nominate my boss, Marc Anderson, as the best boss of 2009.  Working online is a different concept than working face to face with your colleagues and especially with your boss.  My “relationship” with Marc has only been via the internet and the telephone these past 2 years that I have been working with him, but our relationship is no less real.
 
I am a Canadian living in Uruguay — so daily communication with Marc (who is in Ottawa) happens over a 10,000km distance.  I think it is awesome that he trusts someone as much as he trusts me since he has never “met” me and the distance factor is sometime a little overwhelming.
 
I have been working as the Programs Manager (doing everything) for the past year – and I can confirm that Marc is the BEST boss of 2009 not only because of his willingness to trust and give people opportunities and chances, but also because he is a really kind and funny person to work with.
 
I look forward every morning to waking up at 2am (because of the different timezones that we work in) to chatting with him and working through the different projects at hand.
 
■ I have the best bosses ever.  I have been with Choyce Peterson, Inc. for ten years now and have never worked for nicer people in my entire career (25 years).  Mr. Alan R. Peterson and Mr. John P. Hannigan are both very considerate, humorous and caring gentlemen.
 
As examples, Secretary’s Day is a big celebration.  I am always presented with a beautiful bouquet of flowers in the morning which is then followed by a wonderful lunch at a nearby Greenwich, CT restaurant.  My birthday is never forgotten – again, another celebration with a cake and singing and laughter.  For the holidays, we enjoy a company dinner with Kris Kringles.  Each one of us picks a name out of a hat and we buy gag gifts and roast each staff member during the course of a lovely dinner.  Fun is had by all.
 
They are both very family oriented — family always comes first and are understanding and thoughtful of family needs.  Charities are well remembered throughout the year not only during the holidays.  They encourage and support charity marathons and walks with which the staff are involved.  Every evening before I leave for the day, they always thank me for the day’s work.  They make work fun with their humor and sometimes pranks.
 
It’s simply a pleasure to come to work each and every day.  I am truly blessed.

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The eBossWatch Best Bosses of 2009

In a year that has been characterized by layoffs, unemployment, instability and tension in the workplace, eBossWatch is excited to announce the Best Bosses of 2009.  The actions of these excellent managers serve as an inspiration to bosses and workers across the country.

1. Brian DeAngelis, store manager, PA Wine & Spirits Store, Whitehall, PA

Donated his kidney to save the life of one of his employees

Earlier this year, the employees at the PA Wine & Spirits Store in Whitehall noticed their coworker Rob Fenstermaker slowly dying of polycystic kidney disease, a hereditary and fatal condition.  They discussed ways to help their colleague, and a few employees went to get tested to determine if their kidneys were potentially compatible to Rob’s.

Their boss, Brian DeAngelis, also agreed to be tested, and his kidney was found to be a perfect match for Rob.  DeAngelis did not hesitate, and in May, doctors successfully carried out the transplant operation that saved Rob’s life.

Last month, DeAngelis was commended by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, which operates the state’s Wine & Spirits stores, for his excellent work as store manager and his remarkable compassion for a coworker and friend.

During ceremonies at agency headquarters in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board Chairman Patrick J. “P.J.” Stapleton III said, “We know that Brian does a great job of managing the Whitehall Premium Collection Store; it’s one of the best stores in the state.  But more than that, Brian’s an incredible human being. All of us are incredibly touched by what he’s done. Brian gave a kidney to a fellow employee who’s here today. We’re awestruck by that gesture of generosity and compassion.”

2. Paul Levy, CEO Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA

Engaged employees to find ways to address budget shortfall; saved 530 jobs

Last March, Paul Levy found his organization facing a $20 million budget shortfall because of the economic crisis.  Instead of ordering the layoffs of the 600 workers necessary to cover the $20 million deficit, Levy decided to discuss the problem with his employees and to solicit their feedback on how the medical center should respond.

Levy said the following at a meeting with employees of the medical center:  “I want to run an idea by you that I think is important, and I’d like to get your reaction to it.  I’d like to do what we can to protect the lower-wage earners – the transporters, the housekeepers, the food service people.  A lot of these people work really hard, and I don’t want to put an additional burden on them.  Now, if we protect these workers, it means the rest of us will have to make a bigger sacrifice.  It means that others will have to give up more of their salary or benefits.”

His words were followed by an enormous amount of applause from the employees, the vast majority of whom expressed their willingness to take pay cuts so that none of their coworkers would have to be laid off.  Over the next several days, Levy received over 600 emails from employees suggesting various ideas for reducing expenses.  These ideas enabled the medical center to find creative ways to trim $16 million in expenses.  The plan developed by Levy and his staff ultimately saved 530 of their coworkers’ jobs.

3. Leonard Abess, owner and CEO, City National Bank, Miami, FL

Gave $60 million as a gift to his employees after selling a controlling stake in his bank 

After selling a controlling stake in his bank, Abess gave $60 million to his 471 employees.  In explaining this huge gift, Abess said, “I just never thought that I was solely responsible for the success of the bank.  I always realized that there were 400-plus people doing the work, making it successful.”

Abess also said, “We have never had a layoff. We have paid a bonus to every employee, every year. We have never raised the cost of insurance. Today, the employee’s cost is the same as it was 20 years ago….I tell young CEOs, that before you cut anybody’s compensation, before you fire anybody for economic reasons, you deal with yourself. Your perks go, your bonus goes, your salary goes.

“We provided, I think, an atmosphere of caring. We were always there. I know my employees. I know their names. I know their spouse’s names, their parents, their children. So we always tried to have a family atmosphere.  We attend each other’s events — birthdays, weddings and funerals.  In hardship, we try to take care of each other.  I think we had an atmosphere that, for people, was comfortable and they felt welcome in, so they stayed.”

4. Jack Windolf, CEO, Bollinger Insurance Solutions, Short Hills, NJ

Shared his $500,000 bonus by giving a $1,000 check to each of his 454 employees  

Last year, as part of the sale of 51% of the company, Windolf received $500,000 in deferred compensation, and he decided to share it with all 454 of his employees.  Employees said that this type of generosity is not uncommon for Windolf, who is known for giving out regular holiday bonuses and for treating his employees with kindness and respect.

Windolf believes that treating employees well is not only the right thing to do, but is also good business practice.  He said, “You have to share with your employees and that’s all we’re doing. It’s not really a gift, it’s an investment.

“Loyal employees will work harder and smarter, and I believe that they will treat customers with the same care and respect that they receive here at Bollinger.”

About eBossWatch

eBossWatch was launched in 2007 to help people avoid hostile workplaces.  eBossWatch is a popular career resource that enables people to rate their bosses in a professional and non-libelous manner so that job-seekers can evaluate prospective employers and avoid workplace bullies

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Boss donates kidney to save employee’s life

As employees at a liquor store in Lehigh Valley, PA noticed their coworker Rob Fenstermaker slowly dying of polycystic kidney disease, a hereditary and fatal condition, their discussions about how to help led a few employees to get tested to determine if their kidneys were potentially compatible to Rob’s.

Their boss, Brian DeAngelis, also agreed to be tested, and his kidney was found to be a perfect match for Rob.  Brian did not hesitate, and in May 2009, doctors successfully carried out the transplant operation that saved Rob’s life.

Brian Deangelis

Brian DeAngelis

Rob Fenstermaker and his amazing boss have fully recovered from the operation and both have returned to work.  They are now close friends who share a unique bond.

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The boss who fired himself

Riley Drake, as CFO of a company that provides management services for trade shows, witnessed a budget crisis unfolding after a number of clients canceled orders last year.  Drake saw the need to reduce overhead to keep the company within budget, and he believed that the company had little choice but to lay off one of its workers.

In a bold step, Drake decided that he would resign his position so that none of his colleagues would have to be laid off.  His CEO was surprised at his willingness to sacrifice his job, especially in the midst of a deep recession, but she accepted his resignation.

Drake then decided to start his own business, CFO4Lease, to offer financial guidance and assistance to small and mid-sized companies that aren’t yet large enough to afford a full-time chief financial officer.

We commend good bosses like Riley Drake who place the well-being of their employees above their own.  We support Drake in his new endeavor, and we encourage companies to do business with CFO4Lease.

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Generous CEO gives $60 million gift to his employees

When Leonard Abess, the owner and CEO of Miami-based City National Bank, sold a controlling stake in the bank last fall, he gave $60 million as a gift to his 471 current and former employees.

In explaining this huge gift, Abess said, “I just never thought that I was solely responsible for the success of the bank. I owned the bank. I enjoyed the profits, the dividends. And I always realized that while there were 400-plus people doing the work, making it successful, the profits were going in one direction.  I felt, particularly based on longevity, that these people were owners. They acted like owners. They worked like owners…. I wanted to acknowledge that.”

while the extent of Abess’ generosity is extremely rare among CEOs, it seems consistent with the way Abess has run City National Bank.  Here are a few comments Abess made in an interview which demonstrate his unique management style:

We have never had a layoff. We have paid a bonus to every employee, every year. We have never raised the cost of insurance. Today, the employee’s cost is the same as it was 20 years ago…. I tell young CEOs, that before you cut anybody’s compensation, before you fire anybody for economic reasons, you deal with yourself. Your perks go, your bonus goes, your salary goes. I am very surprised when I see huge amounts of money that go to the people at the top [even] as there are massive layoffs, especially when they accept government money.

We provided, I think, an atmosphere of caring. We were always there. I know my employees. I know their names. I know their spouse’s names, their parents, their children. We have multiple generations there, multiple members of families, people who have met at work and married. And then their children have come to work there. So we always tried to have a family atmosphere. We attend each other’s events — birthdays, weddings and funerals. In hardship, we try to take care of each other. I think we had an atmosphere that, for people, was comfortable and they felt welcome in, so they stayed.

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Generous boss shares $500K bonus with employees

At a time when bonuses have become a relic of the past, the employees at Bollinger Insurance were surprised with a $1,000 check paid by company CEO, Jack Windolf. 

Last year, as part of the sale of 51% of the company, Windolf received $500,000 in deferred compensation, and he decided to share it with all 454 of his employees. 

Employees said that this type of generosity is not uncommon for Windolf, who is known for giving out regular holiday bonuses and for treating his employees with kindness and respect. 

Windolf believes that treating employees well is not only the right thing to do, but is also good business practice.  He said, “You have to share with your employees and that’s all we’re doing. It’s not really a gift, it’s an investment.”

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Management Lessons from the Somalia Pirate Incident

The unbelievable events surrounding the pirate attack on the US cargo ship Maersk Alabama off the coast of Somalia should provide inspiration and hope to bosses and employees nationwide. 

Capt. Richard Phillips risked his life by offering himself as a hostage to the armed pirates in order to safeguard and secure the release of his employees, one of whom called Phillips a hero and said that “The whole crew misses him…we owe the captain our lives.”

If this kind of selfless sacrifice and camraderie can flourish in such a difficult and stressful workplace, where coworkers live and work together on a ship 24 hours a day, then then more bosses across the country should make it a priority to cultivate similar work environments based on trust, respect, teamwork, and loyalty.

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