Front Line Heroes

It is  possible to develop and grow powerful organizations in challenging times—it just takes courage, determination, and actionable techniques that work. In Front Line Heroes, Bruce Hodes offers executives and business leaders advice culled from 30 years of coaching privately held companies ranging from $5 million to $100 million in size. With humor, real-world examples, and step-by-step guides, the book explains:

  • How to make mission, values, and BHAGS relevant to daily organizational life
  • 7 essential rules for effective strategic planning
  • How to transform groups into high-performance teams
  • 4 organizational enigmas and the missing link that solves them
  • How to eliminate mediocrity from employee performance—for good

If you are ready to stop playing victim to the times, Front Line Heroes will arm you with the tools you need to achieve sustainable business growth.

“If Bruce Hodes was a physician, he’d have the skills of a neurosurgeon; the wisdom of an internist; the insight of a pathologist; and the bedside manner of a general practitioner. As such, he is the perfect healer for whatever ails your company.”
Bob Clouston, Retired Corporate Executive (formerly President and Chief Customer Officer, Sargento Foods, Inc.)

It is  possible to develop and grow powerful organizations in challenging times—it just takes courage, determination, and actionable techniques that work. In Front Line Heroes, Bruce Hodes offers executives and business leaders advice culled from 30 years of coaching privately held companies ranging from $5 million to $100 million in size. With humor, real-world examples, and step-by-step guides, the book explains:

  • How to make mission, values, and BHAGS relevant to daily organizational life
  • 7 essential rules for effective strategic planning
  • How to transform groups into high-performance teams
  • 4 organizational enigmas and the missing link that solves them
  • How to eliminate mediocrity from employee performance—for good

If you are ready to stop playing victim to the times, Front Line Heroes will arm you with the tools you need to achieve sustainable business growth.

“If Bruce Hodes was a physician, he’d have the skills of a neurosurgeon; the wisdom of an internist; the insight of a pathologist; and the bedside manner of a general practitioner. As such, he is the perfect healer for whatever ails your company.”
Bob Clouston, Retired Corporate Executive (formerly President and Chief Customer Officer, Sargento Foods, Inc.)

More Endorsements


Dina’s Book Review- The Truth About Employee Engagement by Patrick Lencioni

Like Lencioni’s other books, this is written as a Fable which makes it a quick, easy, relatable read.  It is a story about a CEO, Brian, who has run his Machine Fitness Company successfully for the past 17 years. The business is doing well, it is profitable, and the employees are happy working there.  

When the Board informs him, they are selling the business to a bigger company, he is willing to get the best price and deal for the business as possible, emphasizing that it is the employees who work there that make it appealing to any potential buyer.  

He and his wife retire to Lake Tahoe where they begin to enjoy and settle into retirement.  One evening when they were coming home from a day of skiing, they decided to stop by an Italian restaurant named Gene and Joe’s for takeout.  Their experience was very underwhelming from the order taker to the person who they paid for their food to the lack of cars in the parking lot.  

After some convincing of the Owner Joe, Brian became co-owner and Manager of the Restaurant. For the first two nights Brian just observed how the business ran, how the employees were doing their jobs, and what it would take to make the employees happy to come to work and the restaurant to thrive.  Brian started thinking about the theory of the three root causes of what will make a job miserable, anonymity – not being known, irrelevance – employees’ matter, and they need to feel their job matters and mismeasurement – if employees cannot measure their success, how do they know they are succeeding?          

For the next six months, Brian gets to know each employee, what interests them, what motivates them, what gets them to work on time every day. He also gets them to know each other. He has them measure their own progress or success and has them look at who’s lives they are impacting, not just their families, fellow workers, or manager, but out there in the world. The end result is the employees are happier, the restaurant is doing much better and making a profit and Brian is moving onto his next challenge… a sporting goods company!

I highly recommend this book to all CEO’s, Managers and Employees to read and utilize the concepts discussed here.  As an employee, I enjoy our company outings and more than that, I enjoy being told, “thank you, what you do makes a real difference in how we service our customers and how I can focus on them.”   

The Truth About Employee Engagement by Patrick Lencioni on Amazon.

Bruce’s Book Review- Scaling up By Verne Harnish

May you and your organization be thriving in the first quarter of 2022!

Recently, I have read a great book that I am recommending to my favorite business leaders who are out to make a difference. You have made that list.  The book is Scaling Up by Verne Harnish. This book has won numerous rewards. The author also wrote the Rockefeller Habits which has been acclaimed by many and which I also recommend. Scaling Up is updated and much more robust than his first book.

Scaling Up is rich with ideas, references, and templates. I really like how the author suggests many other books and resources that are useful.  This book is a bible for someone who wants to grow their organization and scale up.  The book covers key points that are critical. There are four principal sections: People, Strategy, Execution and Cash. 

In the People section, the author covers the critical aspects of having the right people in the right seats of the organization.

In the Strategy section, the author emphasizes the need to think through what truly differentiates your company from your competition and makes you more than a “me too”. 

Execution is not talked about enough.  In this section you explore how you are going to fulfill on and execute the strategy. 

The last section is the Cash section, and it really allows the reader to deal with and think through how you can fund Scaling up.  I especially liked how the author outlines the pitfalls and challenges of doing this.  Being able to fund the organization during growth is critical.  To quote someone “Cash is King…”

Another thing that I liked about the book is that You can read the sections that call to you. One does not have to read it from beginning to end and each section is pretty stand alone.  The only thing that I found weak in the book is the author’s commentary on technology and social media.  If I think the book is weak here, you can only imagine.   There are many other resources that can support you here, so this lack of up-to-date thinking is no big deal.  Overall, I recommend the book and its resources highly. 

I invite you to read it and to also check out the website as it contains many useful templates.  To buy the book on Amazon and to go onto the Scaling Up website Scaling Up Performance Platform — Growing Leaders and Companies for additional templates and resources. We look forward to your thoughts on the book and hearing how you are utilizing it.

Bruce’s Book Review – No Ego by Cy Wakeman

Highlights From No Ego


The following really stood out for me:

  • The average worker spends 2.5 hours in drama No Ego by Cy Wakeman
  • Suffering is optional and usually self-imposed
  • Venting is the ego’s way of self reflection
  • Our suffering does not come from our reality; it comes from the stories we make up about our reality
  • The impact of a leader does not come from what she or he tells team members but from what he or she gets them thinking about
  • Accountability is the death of ego
  • Your circumstances are not the reason you can’t succeed; they are the reality in which you must succeed
  • When asked for my absolute best advice ever I reply stop believing everything that you think
  • Self reflection is the ultimate ego-bypass tool. It is the core driver of accountability
  • Great leaders make reality conscious and visible so that action can be intentional and not accidental
  • Your happiness-engagement is not correlated to your circumstances but to the amount of accountability you take for your circumstances
  • Attachment is the source of suffering. Get fluent in the new but not attached

If any of the above provoked you, interested or annoyed you then this book is worth reading. I recommend it and I also encourage you to have those around you read it. This book is one from which you can build a high performance culture. After you read it let me know if it is an I-am-better-for-reading-this book or if it is a throw-it-at-Bruce-yelling-what-were-you-possibly-thinking book.

No Ego by Cy Wakeman on Amazon. (We do not get any money…)


Get Started with a Free Planning Session

Like exercise, a little planning is better than no planning. More planning is better than a little planning. Get your sessions scheduled, get started, and get into action.

Lastly, consider getting a business coach, aka me – it’s a lot harder to do it yourself. Create a future worth living into by scheduling a free planning session with me today.



Dina’ Book Review – Tony Soprano on Management by Anthony Schneider

Dina's Book Review | Tony Soprano on Management by Anthony SchneiderI instantly became interested in reading this book because, after all, it is Tony Soprano! Even though, I confess, I never watched The Sopranos, I was intrigued by what a mob boss would know about management and I wanted to know the comparison between this fictional character and real business situations, real managers and leaders.

Tony Soprano on Management is a quick read with stories and examples weaved into the real content of managing a business, employees and yourself. It is amusing – the first rule – don’t take yourself so seriously and it is relevant to being a good manager and leader in today’s business world as well as in your life.

Each chapter contains a management subject, lessons on how to be and act, a case study as an example, a wrap up or summary of the chapter and a Worksheet or Checklist to ask yourself and go through to make sure you completely understand the Chapter and its contents. When I went through the Worksheet quickly I would get an answer I knew wasn’t accurate. I found myself slowing down, rereading parts of the chapter and taking time to honestly answering the questions on how I am as a leader in my job and my life. (Some things I have down, others, I need a little more or a lot more work!)

The book was very informative on how I lead at work, at home, at other areas of my life and has given me ideas and rules to follow on how I can improve and manage better and differently. The author states: “Obviously you can’t whack ‘em like Tony Soprano” and you can take on the subtleties of negotiating, communicating, listening, being empathetic, being prepared for meetings, having meetings and talks go your way…

I’m taking what I learned from Tony Soprano into my own life when I have meetings with my boss and when talking to my husband and children. Also, when I’m coaching people and dealing with vendors. And, my husband and I have started watching The Sopranos!

Dina’ Book Review – Getting Naked by Patrick Lencioni

I knew, from the beginning, this is a book about business and I was looking forward to reading it.

Like Lecioni’s other books, this is written as a fable so it is a quick, easy, delightful read. It is a story about a Sales Consultant who is trying to sell his company’s consulting services to potential clients. When his firm (the BIG firm) buys a smaller firm who is much more successful with clients than the BIG firm, he is instructed to go into the small firm and find out what they are doing that gets and keeps clients so loyal to them, even when they charge more for their services than the BIG firm.

Jack, the character, then explains it to the Big firm what the small firm’s strategy is. Getting Naked is about being a vulnerable service provider that always consults, never sells, and gives away the business.

Reading this book answers questions for me about how we, CMI, operate. Bruce follows this model with every client we have. He is always giving away his expertise to all, through added value coaching sessions, being vulnerable with our clients, apologizing for things that didn’t go exactly the way we, and the client, thought they should go and generally doing what’s best for the client. Gloria and I have followed along in this model, without really knowing it. For our Clients, we are now referred to as the CMI Team!

I recommend this book to all who have businesses, who are a part of a business and also for those who want things to work better in their personal lives as well. For me, I see how I can improve our work and work environment by shedding the three fears described in the book. By being vulnerable, asking dumb questions, making dumb suggestions, celebrating my mistakes etc.… I can be more productive and on the same page as Bruce and our clients and we can all be successful! And not only in business but in my family as well, for example. My husband recently experienced a health scare, and before reading this book, I would have kept all information about him to myself and to the few “need to know” people. Through practicing “Getting Naked” I have received so much support, love and connectedness from all areas of people my life, I feel successful and loved.

Bruce’s Book Review – White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

White Fragility has made an indelible impact on my psyche. I have been avoiding this book for about a year. My friend has been encouraging me to read it in order to confront my racism. My excuse was that I did not want to; racism is an uncomfortable subject and I would rather avoid it. Frankly, I was certain I was not really a racist so why read the book? The times that we are in, the murder of George Floyd, and what is going on around us forced the issue.

What is brilliant about Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility is why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism. What is outlined in the book is exactly my own white fragility around how hard it is for me to deal with and talk about race and racism. That is what had me avoiding reading the book. It for me has been a hard and difficult read. As I struggled with the book, I had to rearrange some of my strongly held beliefs and confront that some of my accomplishments were a function of white privilege. This for me was hard in that I had thought all of my success had come from just hard work and some luck. I now think differently.

This book is researched and thorough. It begins with the challenges of talking to white people about race and racism and then dives into illuminating our white supremacy culture. There are no punches pulled here, no sugar coating.  Our history between the white and African American races is fully reviewed and exposed. That is then connected with what is now occurring. I cannot and will not run from the systematic racism that exists everywhere in this country. Just look at the neighborhoods, the schools, and the penal system.  When you look at what really exists the reality that racism exists is undeniable. This book helped me take off blinders that I did not even know I had on. Through the reading blind spots were revealed in how I see and experience the world. 

The book then goes into how racism has shaped the lives of white people and how we have developed white fragility as a response. Our racial triggers and our stance of anti-blackness are highlighted. The book concludes with how to deal with one’s own white fragility and those of others. Next steps and possibilities are outlined.

I request that you read this book.  For me, this was and is an uncomfortable task. I request that you begin the journey towards being someone who can talk about and confront racism. I request that you act towards ending racism. The way into that is admitting that it exists and that you are a part of it. This review is bound to raise issues and create reactions. I welcome your thoughts and comments and look forward to the dialogue.

Keep causing and creating!

Robin A. Sheerer

“Bruce Hodes knows his stuff. He’s been in the trenches as a business consultant for many years. His wisdom, experience, commitment to the success of his clients, and quirky sense of humor all come through in his book. It’s well worth reading and will help managers grow their companies.”
– Robin A. Sheerer, President, Career Enterprises Incorporated

Jim Graham

“In reading Bruce’s book, I found him to be spot on. A company needs to have goals and strategies built around values. In Bruce’s book he clearly gives the reasons why and functional material to work from. I know because I manage my company in this manner and it works. On the issue of managing versus coaching, I am very excited about these pages. Bruce has valuable insight to explain the difference and to explain where each is used in an organization. Coaching is exciting because it helps good employees become great employees. And, great employees become the organization and worlds rainmakers. Bruce again explains a very functional approach to this explanation of an individual’s journey to greatness. That in turn it makes for a great organization.“
– Jim Graham, President, A to Z the Growth Partners

Patrick Bye

“Bruce has an uncanny way of getting you to look at yourself and/ or the situation from a different perspective. His new book gets you in that same frame of mind of looking at situations, companies, people, yourself and creates the vision of how things can be different. His examples and tools assist the reader to layout and execute their desired change.”
– Patrick Bye, President, Energy Dynamics

Ron Kotecki

“Bruce has the unique ability to competently address cultural shortcomings of any corporation, to quickly absorb the details and then provide a practical outline of solution, taking the problem very seriously without taking himself seriously, keeping his response simply but not simplistic, a whip without the sting.”
– Ron Kotecki, President, Integrated Building Systems, Inc.

Michael T. Fox

“Bruce Hodes has truly captured the short-comings of most company’s top level versions of their mission statements, values and BHAGs. Even more important in his new book he lays out prescriptive measures to help those of us in need overcome these obstacles to growth.”
– Michael T. Fox, President/CEO, Ingenuity IEQ

Bill Renick

Finally an author who actually tells us to pick and choose the best parts to consume! I love buffets! Bruce walks us through our journey with the tools and the advice we need, all while writing in his personal style as no other. My hat is off to Mr. Hodes – he gets it and he helps us get it”
– Bill Renick, President,Xten Industries LLC

Tim Buividas

“If you are looking for a reason to read Bruce’s (or this) book – it is all about the reason for being! Bruce has finally helped clear up the ambiguous definitions of Mission, Vision, and Values. With these definitions and Bruce’s tips, tools, and techniques any organization can get more aligned and aimed at greater performance and success.”
– Tim Buividas, CEO, Corporate Learning

Bob Clouston

“If Bruce Hodes was a physician, he’d have the skills of a neurosurgeon; the wisdom of an internist; the insight of a pathologist; and the bedside manner of a general practitioner. As such, he is the perfect healer for whatever ails your company.” – Bob Clouston, Retired Corporate Executive (formerly President and Chief Customer Officer)
Sargento Foods, Inc.

Chris Corcoran

“It has been my honor to collaborate, connive and work with Bruce for over 15 years. Working with Bruce has always been challenging, he is insightful and intuitive about business and the business culture, these traits lead him (and you) down many, many roads less taken. This book is your opportunity to free your mind from conventional business thinking and to move your organizations culture from wherever it is now into a culture of shared accountability, living your values and execution management.”
– Chris Corcoran, Division Vice-President, Crothall Laundry Services

Jack O’Riley

“As usual, Bruce’s approach is a little offbeat but captivating. He always has had a way to capture one’s attention and this book is no different. I look forward to recommending it to business associates and friends.”
– Jack O’Riley, President, The Coaching House, Inc.

Leo Sheridan

“Advanced Group grew up in the 90’s – an era when a “rising tide floats all boats”. When I began working with Bruce he challenged me to understand that we could do better – even though we were receiving awards like the coveted Inc. 500. We didn’t want to be a flash in the pan and needed to develop a sustainable, engaged organization that could live up to its vision and mission. We focused on developing high performance teams within a culture of commitments and accountabilities. While having fun doing it! Trust is now embedded into the company and we can walk the walk. I’m thrilled Bruce has written this book – his ideas on business and successful growth are refreshing.”
– Leo Sheridan, CEO, Advanced Group of Companies

Jaime Hurtado

“Bruce’s dedication and insights are themselves heroic and he does have something to say about what it takes to build performing cultures and not a culture of performers. Perhaps even the way he addresses this possibility gives you a glimpse of his mastery and experience and what will take to have an environment in which all have the opportunity of great performance vs. an environment where some perform and are the exception to the rule. He truly addresses what never seems to be addressed in organizations—If someone is interested in the whole of the organization performing—this is a must read kind of book.”
– Jaime Hurtado, President, INTEC

Craig Freedman

“Finally, a real business book for real business people who are in the trenches day in and day out. I can really relate to what Bruce is trying to convey as there is relevance to what I do every day. Bruce makes you look in the mirror and it really makes you reflect and want to take action. Who would think that a business book could also be so beautifully written. Great flow. An easy must-read for anyone on top of a small-mid-sized business.”
– Craig Freedman, President, Freedman Seating

Tom Crowley

“I can speak firsthand about the material in this book, because I’ve worked with Bruce since 2000. It works. Bruce works. Read it, follow it and enjoy the ride.”
– Tom Crowley, CEO, MBX Systems

Rick Carpenter

“Bruce has a unique way of sharing ideas about leading people and organizations. His methods will challenge your thinking and beliefs in a way that brings positive results. Bruce was a very valuable resource as we grew our company.”
– Rick Carpenter CEO, Central States Mfg., Inc.

1. Posters, Plaques, and Horse Manure
The foundational material—mission, values, and “BHAGs”—of a company can be critical to the overall success of the organization; it can also be immediately forgotten. Outlined here are simple and powerful ways that a leadership team can create a mission, corporate values, and BHAGs that are memorable, useful, and relevant to the company.

2. The Coach’s Handbook
What does it mean to be a coach? What is the difference between coaching and managing? Why should managers become coaches? When and how to coach is explored, in addition to how you will know when you are an extraordinary coach.

3. ABCs, OH Baby Now …
Staffing your organization with the best employees is critical. Let mediocrity go work for your competition. What is revealed here is a methodology for leaders and managers of an organization to adopt when thinking about employee performance. While some may find these steps challenging— even confrontational—this methodology produces powerful and productive results.

4. The Lucky Sperm and Egg Club
Having family in your business can be a godsend or a curse. This cautionary piece advises how and when to take the “family” out of “family business,” outlining what to watch out for, what to be concerned about, and how to take corrective actions.

5. it’s All About the Middle
This is the dieting portion of the book. Not. It is actually about how critical middle management is in growing a company. The lack of a dynamic middle management group can bring growth to a screeching halt; I have seen it with my baby brown eyes (one of my cutest features). If you are going to avoid this common pitfall, make sure you read this piece.

6. High-Performance Work Teams
This is not the chapter claiming that teams are good and all other ways of organizing are bad. Teams are powerful constructs, and high-performance ones do not spring up by magic. By the same token, business teams are not the answer for every organization’s performance issues. If you have a team whose performance you want to improve or if you want to form a team from scratch, these are actionable tips and techniques you can use.

7. Seven Rules of Planning
Strategic planning is a critical part of growing a successful business. In uncertain times, it is a must. Here, I review a powerful planning process that will help businesses and organizations successfully plan for and implement a powerful future.

8. Why Hold Annual Kickoff Meetings?
Kickoff meetings allow the leadership team and employees to focus and set priorities—and they are underutilized in companies. Shocking. Included here are ways you can design these meetings to be valuable, worthwhile, and—yes—even enjoyable.

9. Making Green from Green
If you think this “sustainability” hubbub is just a fad, you were probably one of those who thought climate change was a myth and organic food would come and go. Business sustainability is here to stay. Your organization must make use of the green opportunities available. Outlined here are ways organizations are growing in this brave new business world—and suggestions for how your company might do the same.

10. Why Stoopid Games?
Can you imagine slipping rubber bands over your ankles— along with your colleagues’? Can you imagine working, laughing, looking silly, with fellow employees? Can you imagine that by really listening to each other you can solve business problems? Would you like to learn how Stoopid Games can help businesspeople be more productive and creative? If you are interested and provoked, then by all means, read on.

11. Books as Compost
How do you bring new ideas into your organization—without the bloodsucking consultant fees? The answer is by reading, of course. Get everyone in your organization to read books. If everyone reads the same book, even better. I have been amazed at the type and depth of changes that my clients have seen from simply reading and implementing the ideas from great business books. This piece outlines ways that you can design and implement this type of initiative. I also include a bibliography of great business books. For bonus points, you can start your “books as compost” with this book. Guaranteed results.

12. The Missing Link: Addressing the Four Enigmas
What happens after you create the plan? How do you keep employees focused and executing on the right stuff? How do you make sure manager and employee goals and expectations are aligned? Here, I present a simple and powerful system that will knock your socks off and stimulate your thinking.

13. Go Live With the Whales
Come to Patagonia with me and meet the penguins. Recognize that you are your own most valuable resource. Explore how to get the most of that resource. Also look at what you can actually learn and apply from truly getting away. It is a whale of an adventure tale that you will enjoy.

14. Appendix
Here we have an assortment of documents and tools that will be useful. Come check out a planning process for small companies and departments as well as useful definitions for the planning process. There are even Stoopid Games that can be played within an organization as well as a list of the best business books for changing company cultures.