In this article, I wanted to open up about some little-known facts and behind-the-scenes things that I know I have never shared before about Profit Strategies, me, and how this business came to be.
As I gear up for the coming new year, I’ve been focusing on many projects going on at Profit Strategies (“PS”). I started PS in 2002, and, since then, it’s been a passion, profession and creative outlet all at once.
I tend to be a very reserved person, so it’s enjoyable for me to get to write about this topic because my days, like yours, are “strictly business”. I hope you enjoy reading the behind-the-scenes facts at PS.
1. The Idea of PS originated when I worked with “The Business Doctor” in 1992.
When I worked with my father in his business, Troutman Industries, Inc., he hired a business coach to teach me how to develop a strategic plan. His name was W. Kent Kise Jr., and in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area he was known as “The Business Doctor”.
He was president of Herrmidifier Company, Inc., was an active, award-winning community business leader, and authored the business book entitled, “Prescription for Winning the Game of Business”, based on his regular Lancaster New Era column in the “Business Month”.
While typing this article I discovered that Kent had passed away February 25, 2015. Reading his obituary, I was reminded of all that he accomplished in his career, and why he was one of the two most influential mentors in my life, the other one being my father, Gerald E. Troutman.
Kent was a wise, white-haired gentleman, with a warm laugh, and eyes that sparkled. It wasn’t uncommon for him to break out into song while we worked together. I remember during the recession of 1991-92 that he guided me to analyze what to do to “stop the bleeding” of cash, and to act to grow the business when other companies were going out of business. What he advised me to do worked.
I was in awe of him. He generously gave his time and attention to me, and displayed confident ease. I thought to myself that one day I wanted to be like him, to help others with this same display of professional demeanor, and hard-earned, well-acquired business knowledge. I had that opportunity when we sold our business and I started Profit Strategies.
2. You may not really know that much about PS, me or what I do.
This is because I work deeply with only a few clients at a time, and don’t do much marketing. I have been blessed to meet people who are willing to hire me, and keep me engaged for years.
I’m also not from the Chicago area, hailing from Berks County, Pennsylvania. So I’m not well-known in the area. And being a “reserved” person I don’t do self-promotion very well. I attribute this to my Pennsylvania German roots, where a cultural belief is “don’t bring attention to yourself.” Yet, in spite of these things, PS has grown into a vibrant executive advisory and consulting firm.
I want to grow PS, and have many exciting ideas how to fuel growth through increasing marketing outreach, and offering additional strategic services, educational business books, and online ecourses.
All that I have to do is tap into what I learned from my mentors to know how to accomplish this! Part of the reason behind wanting to expand PS is my husband plans on joining me in the future, after having had a successful career in corporate finance at the VP level. He will offer business valuation and cash flow management services in addition to the strategy, culture and high-performance teamwork services I offer. So game on!
3. I can’t help looking at a client’s business through the lens as if it were my own.
I was brought up and guided by my wonderful father in the world of business, and was being groomed to run his company one day. Working by his side everyday he taught me everything he could, and had me work just about every job there was in the company, from washing and packing parts in the shipping department, to being a machine operator on the plant floor, to being his right-hand confidant in later years.
He taught me how to look at all the pieces of the business and to determine which ones were working well, and which ones needed attention to improve business performance and outcomes. It was from him that I learned how to lead teams of employees, in the most respectful manner, and guide them to high performance. He was an exquisite model of leadership in action.
So when I work with my clients, my natural approach is to look at the business as if it were my company, identify what is working, and what needs to be adjusted. I am always respectful to the leaders of the companies I work with that my role is the objective trusted adviser, who has good eyes, and can see something that they don’t see (yet).
4. There is an art to balancing the critical demands of business and putting people first.
Coming from an industrial manufacturing and engineering background, and now working in the same environment, things are very logical, “numbersey” and I use a lot of spreadsheets and analysis in my work.
Today, businesses are operating in an intense and disruptive business environment. It would be easy to get lost in the numbers, analysis, and what tasks urgently need to get done (quickly) to compete. But I don’t let that happen because I am keenly aware that people are more important than tasks, and working with people to get what needs to be done is better than all the planning and pushing to “do” tasks could ever be.
People and helping them achieve their dreams and desires trumps everything else, and is the best thing to focus on to help the business achieve its goals. So I work very hard to balance these two forces, and always put people first, looking for where they fit best in anything I am doing with a client. People gain trust me very quickly because I always treat them with respect, and a whole lot of appreciation.
5. Inspiration never ceases.
I am an avid continuous learner and never tire learning something new about a topic to discover the nuances of something that I can learn even more deeply. It is common for me to be reading multiple books at one time because I like to mass-synthesize this information into a new insight. My notebook serves as a depository for ideas I have floating around in my mind, and my bookcase is a joy to behold.
6. I love fine things and the PS brand reflects this.
I love beautiful, fine things whether it be creating a lovely home, hosting a classy cocktail party, traveling and staying in historic 5-star hotels, and luxury (and fast) cars. I spend my money with care, but well when I do. PS reflects my personal brand personalities of Prestige, Mystique and Ruler.
I care deeply care about helping leaders build great, enduring companies, and am ambitious in my quest for PS to earn the designation of an elite consultancy by being tenaciously results-oriented, and offering best-in-class insights.
7. Creativity is my hobby.
When I was in high school I wanted to be an artist. I took every art course I had time to take, including oil painting, Sgraffito pottery (the most beautiful, rarest, and most expensive form of Pennsylvania Dutch pottery) and was part of the drama club stage design crew, where I helped design and paint the backdrops for high school plays.
My father told me I couldn’t make a good living being an artist. But that didn’t stop me from minoring in art at Penn State. After graduating from college I studied watercolor painting with a professional artist, and my home has much of my own artwork framed and hung.
Today I don’t paint as much, yet I do hand-write letters in a calligraphic style: if we met at a business event you may have received one from me. I decorate my home, do fine needlepoint, crochet, knit, gourmet cooking, do canning of seasonal fruits and vegetables, make my own Italian-style limoncello at Christmas, and bake bread from my own homegrown sourdough starter.
Whenever I have some sort of personal time I love to take on an artistic project. Right now, I’m needle-pointing a set of three gingerbread “people” to place in front of a gingerbread house.
8. My father’s wisdom guides me every day.
Working from home, I work well alone, and the quiet time I have helps me assist my clients how to solve their biggest challenges. Yet, sometimes I need guidance, and when I do, I ask myself what would my father do? How would he handle this problem? The answers always come to me.
One time a local newspaper reporter asked my father what he attributed to his success. He gave him a simple, humble answer: “I made more good decisions than bad ones.” Simple, yet powerful advice, and something I strive for daily.
My hope is that you learned some things about the history and story behind PS, and that this has been interesting to you.
If you have any questions, I’m always glad to answer them. In the meantime, I thank you very much for reading. If you are a client, we will convene again soon! And if not a client, you can check back here for another article or sign up to receive nuggets of wisdom from our newsletter.