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Last Update: Saturday September 18, 2021

Key Idea: Cultivate Ideas

Employees brainstorm in groups everyday and ideas are valued.

Key Question:


Boardroom produces at nearly five times the rate of the typical Fortune 500.  Marty attributes the success mainly to their "I-Power" techniques. Every week he simply asks the employees to come up with two suggestions for making his/her own department's work more productive -- ideas that will enhance the whole company.

Q: Why does this simple activity have such a great impact on the business?

In general, the single largest budget item in a business is people. This may not be the case in some types of manufacturing concerns because the cost of materials could exceed the cost of employees. However, the true cost of paying people is much more complicated to calculate than is the cost of any other item in a business budget. Why? Because people are paid, often whether they produce a result or not. Measuring the results of work is difficult especially in a business like publishing. Marty has created an environment where people contribute more of themselves than people do in other workplaces. It may be as simple as: when people feel good they do good. Marty treats people with respect and rewards efforts. Because he expects people to contribute suggestions, they do. These suggestions then turn the organization into a more efficient place. You saw Marty sing to an employee and present an anniversary gift, then you heard the employee say, "This is the best place I have ever worked."

Q:  Why don't more bosses and business owners use these same techniques?

A: Marty believes in human potential and he believes his number one job is helping others learn and grow. Most people don't really believe this, or, they think people ought to take care of themselves and not depend on a boss to build them up. Marty knows that most of us grow up with tremendous negativity. School teachers and parents spend too much time critiquing us rather than praising us. So, by the time we get into the workforce, we are insecure and have low self-esteem. Marty recognizes this and works to convince his employees that they truly are talented and together this group of exceptional people can do anything. Another reason more bosses and business owners don't use these techniques is that they are insecure and have low self-esteem themselves. Or, these bosses and business owners are selfish and too self absorbed to focus their energy on others.

Think about it

Could "I-Power" work for your organization? Do you really believe in the people who work for you? If not, why are you paying them?

Clip from: Boardroom, Inc.

Stamford, Connecticut:  In this episode of the show we go inside one of the most productive businesses in the world (using the ratio, gross income to total number of employees). Where the Fortune 500 companies average under $300K per employee; in this small business, it is over $1M per employee.

How can any business be so productive? You'll learn right here.

Marty Edelston, founder of Boardroom, Inc. started this company in 1971. Today they are the publisher of the world's largest subscription-based newsletter, BottomLine Personal; this business with just 78 employees will do over $80 million in sales. This is about five times the productivity rate of the Fortune 500 companies.

He believes these results come from a powerful process he calls, I-Power. Marty believes every person has an endless supply of ideas, especially ideas to improve their workplace. Every week every employee is asked to answer two questions: What can I do to improve my work area? And, what could others do that would cause my work area to improve? Simple, brilliant, easy to do, so what are we waiting for?

Marty was 47 with three children at home when he quit his job as a salesman in the publishing business. He had worked for some of the country's biggest companies and felt there was a need for a publication that ". . . helps people live their lives in this increasingly hostile world."

All the key ideas and videos of this episode...
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Boardroom Inc.

Marty Edelston, Founder & CEO

281 Tresser Blvd
Stamford, CT 06901

Visit our web site:

Office: 2039735900

Business Classification:
Information Services

Year Founded: 1971

Cultivate Ideas

Unidentified Man #1: OK, idea number one.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) The centerpiece of Boardroom's corporate culture is something called I-Power.

MARTY: (Voiceover) I-Power is a simple suggestion system that's sort of automated.

Unidentified Man #2: We have many premiums in inventory in very small quantities that are still usable, but they're just not being used, so my idea is why not test a premium offer for Bottom Line Personal and Moneysworth in which we give a mystery gift of six different premiums, our choice.

MARTY: It was something that Peter Drucker suggested, not with that name, but he said, `Make your meetings more interesting. Ask the people at their next meeting for two suggestions,' which I did, and I was just knocked over by the suggestions. They were just so fantastic.

This is the essence of the Japanese system, which is "kaizen," and that was given to them by Deming as continuous improvement. It was imposed on them by MacArthur. Deming was brought over there by MacArthur, and the leaders of Japanese business were told, `You pay attention to this man.' So that it was imposed on relatively small businesses at that time, and it just grew and grew and grew. It works. It's just amazing, and it's not just the suggestions, that's the detail. It's how we get people to think, and it brings about a huge amount of cooperation. The I-Power meeting that you did attend only hinted at it. But at some of these meetings, you'll come out with an idea and someone else'll say, `But we could make it blue,' and then someone said, `Yes, but we could put yellow polka dots on it.' And, obviously, I'm saying it wrong, but it's just so exciting when that building goes on.

HATTIE: The give and take and the back and forth between departments and between units who would not normally talk to one another, and then maybe eventually jeopardize each other's productivity, not on purpose, but just because they weren't talking. But the I-Power gets them together to talk.

MARTY: And we've used it--once you become adept at it, you can use it in other ways. We've had differences between people here, some really unpleasant situations, where--you're gonna have in any business, we had it too--and others have tried to solve it, and then I came in a couple of times and I say, `Hattie, would you please give me five reasons--five things you can do that would make Marty's life better.' And, `Marty, would you please give me five things that you can do to make Hattie's life better.' And also, `Hattie, would you give me five things that Marty is doing that steps all over your feet,' and vice versa. `But give it to me, don't exchange it,' you know? `Give it to me, I'm in the middle, and then I will edit it out and change the language so it's acceptable.' And it's just incredible. It's just like magic.

HATTIE: I-Power, then, is a way for you to describe your corporate culture.

MARTY: Indeed. Besides the ideas, the important thing with I-Power is the development of the individual.

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