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Ascend – Solve The Performance Puzzle

Blue Rooster Web is proud to launch the Ascend Performance Group’s website. Ascend helps businesses grow by providing leadership and organizational development, as well as, performance coaching. To better explain Ascend’s philosophy and thought process, we had a little help from Jim Knittel, Principle at Ascend.

Solve the Performance Puzzle

Each year, organizations combine to spend over one billion dollars on talent development, yet leaders often report that their employees fail to hit expected goals. Part of the problem is that in many cases, leaders don’t care what pieces are in the box, they just want to see the completed picture. In other words, they don’t get bogged down with the process of how talent development comes together, they just care that their employees are knowledgeable, skillful, engaged, motivated, and executing their job requirements. But as anyone good at putting puzzles together will tell you, the process is critical to the end product.

In my 20+ years of helping organizations solve their performance challenges, I’ve found that the corners of the performance puzzle include:

  • Process and accountability
  • Neuroscience
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Resilience


Each of these pieces bring a wealth of knowledge and insight into how we maximize performance. This article will look at key findings from each of these areas and propose a process for putting this puzzle together.


There are two lines of thought that must be considered in relation to neuroscience:

  1. Human brains are wired for survival and instinctively trend to the negative to ensure safety (fight or flight). That means we’re working against thousands of years of evolution to create new tendencies that look for the positives first.
  2. We know that only 5% of the decisions we make come from the prefrontal cortex – which is the thoughtful, logic-oriented part of our brain. To maximize performance, we need to be aware of the brain’s tendencies and be committed to operating in a manner that takes control over our emotions.

Therefore, when focused on talent development, we need to take into account our brain’s tendencies and incorporate a strategy to overcome years of evolutional control. Techniques such as questioning, meditation, and physical activity can create new pathways that will drive better thinking and, in turn, the potential to improve performance.

For the sake of simplicity, I have done an injustice to the complexity that has been uncovered in the area of neuroscience. For the purposes here, we need to know our reptilian brain is working against us, yet we can create new pathways that will drive better thinking and the potential for improved performance.

Process & Accountability

When we think of performance in any discipline, we naturally think of process and practice. Look at any high-performing organization and you’ll find one that has a clear vision, defined expectations, agreed upon ways of achievement, and a commitment to excelling through practice. When we compare those high-performers with the rest of the pack, we see an unwavering discipline to process. Successful organizations are not only committed to a process, but they demonstrate an inflexible commitment to holding everyone accountable to extremely high standards. They have identified a path, that when followed will ensure success, and in turn they have built strength through a community where everyone understands what their role is and how they each contribute to the larger goal.

As I reflect on organizations that I have witnessed, there is a general tendency to operate through vagueness, a lack of accountability, in-fighting, and a pervasive attitude of “good enough”. I’m sure we’ve all been part of teams where everything was an effort. Hopefully, many of us have also experienced being part of something where everything clicks. What creates the difference?

When we look to solve the performance puzzle we must ask ourselves, is our mission clear? Is there a defined process that explains what we’re doing, how to do it, and why we’re doing it? Does every member of the team understand their role and are they being held accountable to the high standards needed to excel? Are we incorporating practice, coaching and other developmental solutions to ingrain the skills needed to perform?

Emotional Intelligence (EI)

Popularized by Daniel Goleman, emotional intelligence refers to the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. I’ve captured EI as a separate bucket from our neuroscience bucket but there are many consistencies between the two. While both start with the inner-workings of the brain and bring us back to the ongoing struggle between the limbic system and the prefrontal cortex for decision making abilities, for the purposes of this conversation we’ll look at EI with a slant away from the science and toward the demonstrable skills that enable leaders to maximize their own performance and their followers’ performance.

Goleman identifies the five skills that make up EI – self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill. Not only did Goleman find that EI proved to be twice as important as technical skills and IQ as ingredients of excellent performance, his research showed that high levels of EI creates climates in which information sharing, trust, healthy risk-taking and learning flourish. In Leadership and Self-Deception, and The Outward Mindset, The Arbinger Institute calls out “the biggest lever for change is not a change in self-belief but a fundamental change in the way one sees and regards one’s connections with and obligations to others.” If our mindset shapes how we engage with others and behave in every situation, and an outward mindset allows us to behave in ways that further the collective results we’re committed to achieve, it would stand to reason that by developing our emotional intelligence we will be better skilled at getting out of our own way and maximizing the relationships with others.

If we start to look at the patterns emerging across neuroscience, process & accountability, and now EI, we see how important it is to operate in the present. Being aware of our mental and physiological states and how those states influence our decision-making, collaboration, accountability and creativity is paramount to our ability to perform at a high level. High-performers realize that processes, practice and habits are the elements that lead to results.


Evaluation of high-performers also uncovers the importance of resilience. Research shows that we need to be aware of our feelings and their power to control our choices. We need to acknowledge and overcome the reality that we will never achieve greatness unless we become better managers of our feelings and be willing to push ourselves beyond our perceived limits. Leaders and high-performers in any discipline share one trait – a defiant commitment to doing whatever it takes to achieve success. These people do not give into the feelings of “not today”, “not now”, or any other barrier their mind – or others – can put in front of them.

When we focus on performance improvement we need to create an environment that embraces a no-excuses mindset. It is not until we are willing to push beyond the fear, the discomfort, and the unknown, that we will begin to achieve the greatness that we are capable of.

Putting It All Together

We started this conversation focused on investigating how to maximize performance. While we only scratched the surface we have uncovered the key pieces to the puzzle. Improving performance and achieving success is not an easy process, otherwise talent development would not be a billion dollar business. What we need to recognize is that there are a lot of pieces to the puzzle that need to be well-constructed in order to achieve the picture we’re looking for.

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Empreinte Is An Art To Philanthropy

It is no coincidence that the holiday’s are the time of year that we all think about giving. So much so, that it is almost expected. With that type of pressure, who has time to vet out who you are giving to? Well that is exactly what happens to large corporations and private equity on a yearly basis. They get pounded by every non-profit for a donation.

Empreinte Consulting, LLC is a full service philanthropic consulting firm that partners with individual philanthropists, non-profit organizations and corporations that are looking to make an impact on their community. They help guide you on a path to give to charities who need it most and who’s mission aligns with your community beliefs.

Likewise, Empreinte helps non-profits to help them find them the right major donors. They consult with the non-profits to make sure that they are sending the right message and attracting the right philanthropists.

There is an art to Philanthropy. Empreinte has mastered this art by marrying the philanthropist and the non-profit. Thus creating a good synergy that helps the community they serve.

Blue Rooster Web is proud to launch Empreinte’s brand new site. Come check them out at https://empreinteconsulting.com and tell them what you think.


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Maria Ricciardi may possibly be one of the most amazing and interesting people I have ever met in my life. Introduced by an old college friend and now her husband, I met Maria for the first time in Chicago on a cold and blistery day in late January. Maria has been the reason for the season ever since that moment, through her travel photography, I have experienced so many amazing things. The stories she can tell with just a picture let alone the words that can go along are captivating in its self. The relationships she builds in-person, with people, and with her photography bring life to the human condition and pose a different perceptive on the world.

Maria IS her website. She does live authentically, bravely and with lots of gumption. This portal into her travels and life, I could never do it justice, however, I can let her speak for herself.

“I am Maria Ricciardi and I am a traveler, writer, and photographer.  I started adding my journal entries to the photos I take to share my adventures and experiences one photo at a time.  At the end of the day, you will be able to walk the same path I did through my visual storytelling. I love to travel and experience new things, meet new people and photograph the world.  Supporting local economies, conservation of wildlife and environmental sustainability are incredibly important to me, and what I am conscious of as I explore. I hope to enhance your experience of travel through the trials and errors of mine, and take you on a journey of visual wanderlust.  My goal is to live authentically, bravely and with gumption…with my camera in hand.  Would you like to join me on one of my photographic adventures?” -Maria Ricciardi

Please check out Maria’s website at https://mariaseestheworld.com/ Drop her a line and tell her what you think. Also, come back often to her site and checkout her photo updates and awesome new worldwide adventures.


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Home is where the heart is, the launch of Calculating Destiny, a reimagined brand.

When she came to me with the original idea, I thought she was crazy. Financial services paired with the idea of home. Calculating Destiny is a professional  services and accounting company, dedicated to the tag line (which we created for them); “Strategic solutions that revolve around numbers allow you to exactly calculate your growth model through creative marketing, compliance, and metrics. Our partnership with you is designed to help direct your books, to turn ideas into profits.” How could this be about home?

Home is where the heart is. It is where we begin our day and end our day. In between, we think about home; our partner, our children, our pets and the spaces that surround them. In between the love of home, is the right to protect, nourish and grow it. This is where the financial part comes in. The numbers are what help build these memories, the structures, and the family. As business owners/leaders, our drive to create comes from our businesses, and what our business produces. Although it was crazy, the marriage of these two idea’s is genius.

Lets remove the sterile environment of company, corporate, partnership of firms, and lets come home.

Sun Sign Designs Inc, and Blue Rooster Web proudly announce the launch of Calculating Destiny’s new website. https://calculatingdestiny.com

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Blue Rooster Web Launches JK Executive Services

Located in Rochester New York, JK Executive services provides professional services in recruiting, staffing, and executive search. The site functions as a job search engine for the local Rochester, Buffalo and the state of New York. The state of New York has approximately 450,000 business with 100 or less employees and the city of Rochester has approximately 70,000 in total employment.

JK Executive Services connects leaders, strengthen culture and deliver results. Their initiatives are founded upon custom solutions, a conscientious approach and confidentiality at all times.

Please check out their site and our work at jkexec.com.

Affordable Website Design

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Launches Tabanero Cigars

Sun Sign Designs Inc, Digital Marketing Tampa Fl., is proud to offically launch the Tabaneros Cigars’ new website and mobile site. We were contracted to design a mobile platform to handle Tabanero’s cigar inventory in an innovative way. The mobile site features a vertical and horizontal product slide display and an one touch product purchase system. Tabanero vision was to present an experience to the cigar smoker life style. Their product photography needed a way to show case the cigar lifestyle, Cuban hand man cigar craftsmanship, and extraordinary packaging. With that said, the entire site was designed around the cigar lifestyle and the expectations of the cigar smoker. To stream line the buying process, a one touch purchase system was built to allow a customer to choose their favorite cigar and proceed to check out. Returning customers would be sent directly to payment processing with out the need to fill in a form.

The site integrates current marketing intelligence and dovetailed consumer remarking to the Tabanero brand. All of this with the intentions to build a market place for other product vendors fitting into the cigar lifestyle paradigm.

Please check out Tabanero Cigars website http://tabanerocigars.com.c1.previewmysite.com both on desktop and on Smart Phone.

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Blue Rooster Pairs Up With The Dirt Road Project

Blue Rooster Web has paired up with The Dirt Road Project to Help Build Communities of Hope by donating 5% of our monthly on going revenue. That means each time you purchase a Blue Rooster Web plan you are providing $58.80 yearly to a child who is in need in the United States or in Haiti.

Go to www.blueroosterweb.com and sign up today to help grow your business and provide for someone who is in need at the same time.

The Dirt Road Project inspires courageous living through empowering under-served communities with hope, passion, and purpose; leads in love and reaches the broken with respect and integrity; values all human life, particularly society’s most vulnerable; and seeks to develop diversity through meaningful enterprise by embracing all peoples.

To learn more about The Dirt Road Project and how they serve people who are in need, go to www.thedirtroadproject.org

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Sun Sign Designs Launches Dentist Savings Website

Sun Sign Designs Digital Marketing Tampa Fl is proud to announce the official launch of DentistSavings.com website and the digital marketing campaign associated with the brand. Dentist Savings is a dental discount product program that compliments and/or replaces dental insurance. The website is an SAAS system that allows you to choose the type of carrier, purchase a plan, and instantly receive benefit cards without waiting. The system also allows you to search virtually every dentist in the United States to see if they take a specific carriers benefit plan package.

Sun Sign Designs role started with inheriting a previous programmers work and bringing the system to the goal line. With the launch of this site, SSD was then contracted to do all of digital and print marketing and advertising for the brand. We are ecstatic to have this opportunity. Please check out the site online at DentistSavings.com

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Sun Sign Designs Digital Marketing Launches Kerr Financial’s Website

Sun Sign Designs Digital Marketing Tampa proudly announces the launch of Kerr Financial’s website. Kerr Financial is a financial planning and advisement firm in Up State NY. The firm contracted us to solve three major challenges.

1 Their site did not efficiently display or manage their newsletter content.

2 The site did not use the newsletter content to help with onsite content marketing.

3 The lack of content marketing effected on site creditably and SEO.

The solution to these challenges was to upgrade the website to a CMS system that was easily managed.  We internalized the newsletter system into the website, centralizing the content and broadening the foot print of the website. By increasing the foot print of the website, we allowed search engines to see more relevant content on a regular basis. This increased search traffic and improved conversion rates. With regards to content marketing, the newsletter content was so well written by the client that pair with the above solution, the perception of creditably and capability were elevated a new value on trust. This was also achieved by the new graphical content and messaging.

You can see our work below and also encourage you to visit www.kerrfinancial.com to see for yourself.