Featured Get Your MoJo! Guest Blogger: Barbara Kline,Serial Entrepreneur

Barbara Kline: Serial Entrepreneur Founder and CEO of Breakthru CenterOne of the goals of the Appreciative Leaders and Organizations Blog is to support people who are striving to make a difference as leaders in their lives and in their organizations—to “get their mojo!”   We hope that this blog serves as a platform for you get to know and connect with other amazing people who both live their lives and lead organizations appreciatively. 

Our contributors provide cutting-edge Get Your Mojo! tips and ideas.   Barbara Kline has a lot to offer the nonprofit leader or business entrepreneur who is looking to “get their mojo” as they grow into a successful sustainable organization.    A self-proclaimed “serial entrepreneur,” Kline has been at the forefront of developing six start-ups, including the  Breakthru Center, which has a mission to “demystify the process of growing a start-up into a sustainable company through the process of second stage growth.”

Kline cut her teeth as a “pioneering woman” in the high-tech industry during the dot.com days.  She knows first-hand how organizations can go from boom to bust; her goal is to help entrepreneurs manage so that they can avoid that fate.  “Breakthru Center is a natural extension of what I helped move my clients through in more than 30 years of marketing and business consulting,” said Kline.

We got a chance to ask her what she thinks are her mojo-must-haves for a successful start-up, and she said, “Passion and leadership”– two of what she refers to as the Four Pillars of a Successful Startup.

Read the article below on why Passion and Leadership are winning qualities of organizations that have their mojo.

Passion and Leadership – the Qualities of a Winner

Barbara Kline Serial Entrepreneur Founder and CEO of Breakthru Center

By Barbara Kline, Founder and CEO, Breakthru Center

Entrepreneurism is the new “new thing.”   With so many people out of work, starting a company has become a way to bring in some money.  Mom and Pop enterprises and craftsman-like work are the basis of many of these new businesses.    Others are launched with the idea of creating new markets, new industries, and a legacy that will last for generations.

If your goal is this second type of company, you need to look beyond the heady startup days when evaluating your idea’s long-term potential was all you needed to do.  Passion and Leadership are two of the Four Pillars of a Successful Startup that are absolutely necessary to propel you from startup through the establishment of a successful and sustainable company.    


“If you’re passionate about what it is you do, then you’re going to be looking for everything you can to get better at it.”  ~Jack Canfield

Without passion, why would anyone even contemplate the long hours, uncertainty and challenge of starting a business?  Passion is why you take a leap of faith.   Passion gets you through the early days when prototypes don’t work, investors are not forthcoming, customers are not materializing, and your core team wants a raise out of your non-existent funds.   When looking for your role model, think of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Thomas Edison.  Find your own deep passion and share it with your team – and with the world.


“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”  ~Dwight D. Eisenhower

Eisenhower knew what he was talking about. As the visionary, you must be able to translate concept and passion into terms that can be understood and adopted by others.  During the startup period, you probably have little to offer other than a great idea, excitement, hard work, and dreams.  It takes a leader to focus and inspire the team until the concept is proven and revenues start flowing in.

Look at Apple’s Steve Jobs, a creative upstart, so charismatic that he not only built a revolutionary personal computing system, but also nurtured a legion of passionate fans and new entrepreneurs that enabled the company to gain traction and hit one home run after another (with some notable flops, of course) in a market that was originally dominated by IBM and its clones.  As disruptive products blending computing with increased miniaturization and new capabilities, iPhone and iPod are defining new markets today.

Without Leadership, a startup has little chance of producing a viable product or service, and no chance at all of progressing to the second stage of growth – Business with a capital B.  Leadership is the all-important transitional pillar of success for a startup that leads to the ability to grow.

Growing Your Business

Some startups are going to turn into “lifestyle companies,” where they stop growing when a satisfactory income is achieved that sustains the founder’s lifestyle.

However, if you want to grow beyond that, it will take leadership skills to keep your team focused on standard blocking and tackling and generating the long-term revenue streams and expansion opportunities, including jobs and training opportunities that are required of companies that are in it for the long haul.  It takes leadership to create a sustainable business with clearly articulated products and benefits, scalability, jobs, and corporate responsibility.

Do you have what it takes to be a leader?  Here are a few things to consider:

1)      Can you clearly articulate your goals and the steps you need to get there?

2)      Do you listen as least as often as you talk?

3)      Are you comfortable training your direct reports so that you can successfully delegate?

4)      Are you able to synthesize the insights, ideas, and objectives of your team into a cohesive and coherent plan?

5)      Do you make it a point to continue to educate yourself in both the technology and the business practices of your business?

It takes a village to make a leader – and a successful business owner.   I started Breakthru Center to assist with that growth.  If you are serious about growing as a business owner, there are many resources to support you at www.breakthrucenter.com.

If you are a woman business entrepreneur you will be interested in I Break Thru! A  blog for women who have started companies, women who have grown companies successfully, women who want to start companies, women who want to grow their companies and women who have been frustrated in their efforts and want to figure out a new way to address business growth.  Check it out!

If you would like a complimentary session to discuss how coaching might help you develop your leadership skills, you can schedule a session at the website of Dr. Lynn K. Jones.

P.S.  Thanks in advance to anyone who chooses to add their comments to the discussion or wishes to forward the blog link.

Dr. Lynn K. Jones, Certified Personal and Executive Coach

Your MOJO! Maven

Dr. Lynn K. Jones is a Certified Personal and Executive Coach based in Santa Barbara, California and a sought after coach and consultant for organizations and individuals across the US.   Her doctoral work completed at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University concerned organizational culture; she coaches, consults and trains organizations on what they need to do to create organizational cultures that are aligned with their vision and values using a process of Appreciative Inquiry.  She coaches individuals on achieving their reflected best selves.  An MSW@USC faculty member, Dr. Lynn K. Jones, MSW, DSW, CSWM, teaches Human Behavior and Social Environment.


  1. anon on December 12, 2011 at 4:00 am

    Kline is all about the business start-up, but it seems to me that her principles and her five-point leadership guide apply equally to not-for-profit management, where the challenge is just as great but the focus on leadership is often blurred.

    • Executive Coach on December 12, 2011 at 5:01 am

      I agree. As the new co president of the Association for Women in Communication I was thinking that her points would be helpful to consider as we startup this relatively new nonprofit.

  2. Calla Gold on December 12, 2011 at 4:12 am

    I like Kline’s five articulated steps. Never was I so glad to be an entrepreneur than when I saw people loosing their jobs, getting downsized and struggling when their bosses made wrong choices and they paid for them.
    As an entrepreneur, I’ve done fine in the downturn.
    I agree with Anon that these principles could work wonderfully with the non-profit sector as well.

    • Executive Coach on December 12, 2011 at 5:07 am

      Calla, You are such a great model for why Kline suggests that being an entrepreneur is a good answer to these difficult economic times! Thanks for sharing your experience as and entrepreneur.

  3. Alison Alio on December 13, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    Ms. Kline mentions some very good points. Many people forget the mundane parts of a business that are very important-such as the technology involved to help simplify business, and the business practices of your business.

    Learning how to work with a team effectively-assessing their ideas and insights can open the owner up to things that they wouldn’t have thought of on their-own to make a better more rounded plan.

    Listening at least as often as you talk is really important. No one likes a one sided, know it all person. It’s a give and take world for all.

    • Executive Coach on December 13, 2011 at 9:45 pm

      Alison, I like your take-aways for the business owner regarding the way they work with and think about the other members of their team!

  4. Madeleine Vite on December 13, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    I really enjoyed whats up with the mindset…it is like a gift for me I am going to watch my thoughts and learn .

  5. Keisha Lowe on December 13, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    Kline’s blog is awesome! Her discussion about passion really stood out to me and caused me to be reminded that passion is what encourages me with pursuing my goal of advancing my career in nonprofit and wanting to start a consulting firm. As Kline points out, passion is why a person takes a leap of faith and works longs hours, which I can attest to. Again, this is a great blog to help people to get their mojo in their life and career!

    • Executive Coach on December 13, 2011 at 9:47 pm

      Glad that this blog connected for you that having your mojo is about being in touch with your passion! That is especially true in the nonprofit world where so much of the work can seem thankless from day to day.
      Dr. Jones

  6. LaShasta on March 15, 2012 at 10:47 am

    I found the advice Barbara Kline gave on Serial Entrepreneurism. When two of the four pillars of a successful start-up were expressed, I would agree that passion and leadership are two of the most important. Kline gave a great definition of the passion and leadership and how the two greatly impacts start-ups and how they play an important role to a start-ups overall success.

    • Executive Coach on March 16, 2012 at 10:50 am

      Passion and leadership certainly are essential keys in any successful start-up. Without them I don’t think anyone could sustain all the headaches that they will be facing!

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