Sometimes, a little whimsy is all you need. Whimsy, and discipline.


It was certainly whimsy that led me to submit Floricane's name for ScopeAthon, an event organized by the Taproot Foundation and Capital One to help small businesses strengthen their processes. Believe me when I say that the six hours that Caroline, Theran and I spent working with a small team of Capital One process experts was worth its weight in gold. (Or whatever is in your wallet.)


It was, quite honestly, a bit like what many of you have experienced when you've brought Floricane into your own organizations.


We had a lovely start to our session. Amy, Krystal and Natasha were intrigued by Floricane. We talked about the history of Floricane, and our areas of focus, and the talented team that has assembled in recent years.


It wasn't long before Natasha leaned into the conversation and said, "So, one of the common threads that keeps coming up for me is that John is the bottleneck."


I resisted the urge to explain to her that it was really important for me to have my hands in everything, and that certainly my team appreciated my tendency to do their jobs for them because, well, I was awake at three in the morning and had some free time.


Instead, I shifted uncomfortably in my seat and listened as the group discussed the ways I was making their work more challenging and difficult. They were all very nice about it. At no point did anyone say I was a jackass or a micromanaging control freak. No, what emerged was a lot more subtle.


The core philosophy of Floricane, and many of the people, events, models and theories that inform it, live mostly in my head. Many of our core business processes aren't written down. Our standard tools change frequently. There are no clear pass-offs in our flow of work. And so on.


The result of this? Every decision flows through me. So, it kind of sucks if you work for Floricane and you're not me. And, guess what? It kind of sucks if you are me, too.


While it was nothing new, it was the first time we sat down for a half-day and allowed someone else to name it, explain why it was going to continue to create pain for us, and to help us begin to solve it.


The four process steps our team agreed to tackle include:

  • Everyone knows our mission, purpose and core areas of work. We'll spend some serious time learning together -- about Floricane's core philosophy, but also each team member's experiences and beliefs. We'll unpack each of our core lines of business -- strategic planning, coaching, facilitation, organizational development -- and ensure all of us understand how we do what we do. 
  • We'll move from process mapping to process training -- making sure that every team member can speak about our work effectively, write a proposal and contract, and pass off new client information to our bookkeeper.
  • We'll establish new metrics -- both to track our business performance, and to evaluate the effectiveness of the work we are doing for our clients.
  • We'll shift our approach to business development with each of us responsible for a different mix of new and existing client work.

Between now and the end of December, we have more than six days blocked out for the Floricane team to work on the business. And we have a check-in on the books in January to report back to our Capital One overlords. I already miss the whimsy.

John Sarvay

"The $10 toolkit on situational leadership was fantastic. John provided helpful materials and explained the concepts clearly, concisely, and using lots of examples that made it easy to understand the concepts quickly. It was very eye-opening to how I can immediately improve my leadership in my company and was definitely enough to get started on implementing the concepts immediately. Thanks!"

-- Paul Cassimus, King of Pops

American Civil War Museum
Draper Aden Associates
VCU Office of Development and Alumni Relations
American Civil War Museum
Draper Aden Associates
Arts Council of the Valley
Byrd Theatre Foundation
Chesterfield Chamber of Commerce
Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce
Medical Legal Partnership Richmond
Richmond Public Library
Richmond Symphony
The James House
Virginia Audubon Council
Virginia Beer Wholesalers Association
Virginia Dental Association
Dodson Property Management
Girl Scouts of the Commonwealth of Virginia
Virginia Society of CPAs
International Coaching Federation, Nov. 14

Dive Into Self-Discovery on December 4

Our most popular workshop returns on December 4th! InsightsŪ Discovery gives you a new way to picture yourself and your team -- in full color. We're complex beings, more than just the sum of our parts. By seeing where your personality fits within a broader spectrum, you'll see how easy it is for us to feel like we're stuck on different wavelengths from each other. But individuals who hail from all over the Insights Color Wheel can bring their array of strengths together to form a stronger team.



At the full-day InsightsŪ Discovery workshop, you'll focus on yourself as an individual -- getting a sense of who you are, what you like, how you work best, and what kinds of things really throw a wrench into your productivity. You'll walk away with a comprehensive InsightsŪ Discovery personal profile, and concrete ideas on how to approach your work in new ways. 



Through a series of low-key exercises and discussions, you'll get to know how each personality type operates. Soon, obstacles that once seemed unsurpassable will start to seem a lot less intimidating as we go over how each type works best with others.



Better Managers
Leadership Lives at Every Level of an Organization
By John Sarvay


Leadership sits at the heart of so much of our work at Floricane. Whether we're working on strategic planning, organizational change or coaching, a focus on leadership is front-and-center.

I've said for years that we believe two things about leadership:

  • Good leadership is a powerful, and positive, force in organizations.
  • Leadership lives at every level of an organization.

I'd like to add two more beliefs to my list:

  • Good leadership does not equal good management.
  • Great organizations grow and develop good leaders and good managers.

After six years of working with thousands of people in hundreds of organizations, I've seen consistent evidence that leadership and management skills are at the heart of the most good and engaged organizations.


We don't just need better leaders. We need more better managers. [read more]


Floricane turns SIX this month, and we are so grateful to everyone who has helped us get this far. 

We'd especially like to thank all of our clients, many of whom have become friends:


1708 Gallery

The Age Wave Project

American Civil War Museum

ART 180

Arts Council of the Valley

Audubon Council of Virginia

Blue Sky Fund

Bonner Center for Civic Engagement at the University of Richmond

Bon Secours Richmond Health Systems

Bon Secours Virginia Health Systems

Brothers Concrete and Paving

Byrd Theatre Foundation

ChildFund International

Children, Incorporated

Coalition for Healthy Communities

Commonwealth Parenting

Community Idea Stations

Consumer Alliance of Virginia

Creative Change Center

The Daily Planet

Dodson Property Management

Diamond Healthcare

Draper Aden Associates

Fan Free Clinic

Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond


Free Clinic of Powhatan

Friends 4 Recovery

Gelati Celesti

Girl Scouts of the Commonwealth of Virginia

Greater Fulton Neighborhood Resource Center

Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce

HCA John Randolph Medical Center

Historic Richmond Foundation

The James House

John Randolph Foundation

John Tyler Community College

Leadership Metro Richmond

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

The Library of Virginia

Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission

National Alliance on Mental Illness Virginia

Metro Richmond Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Coordinating Committee

National Association of Professional Organizers

The NewWell Fund

One South Realty

Partnership for Nonprofit Excellence

Peter Paul Development Center

The Podium Foundation

Powhatan Free Clinic

Price Studios


Richard Bland College

Richmond Association of Realtors

Richmond Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau

Richmond Public Library

Richmond Society of Human Resource Managers

Richmond Symphony

Richmond Times-Dispatch

Rx Partnership


Software Consortium

Southside Community Partners

Super Radiator Coils

Swedish Match

University of Richmond School of Law Library

U-TURN Sports Performance Academy

Valentine Museum

VCU Development and Alumni Relations

VCU Medical Legal Partnership

VCU Office of Health Innovation

VCU Parkinson's and Movement Disorders Center

VCU University Relations

Virginia Association of Counties

Virginia Association of Fundraising Executives

Virginia Beer Wholesalers Association

Virginia Clean Cities

Virginia Council of CEOs

Virginia Credit Union

Virginia Dental Association

Virginia Dental Association Foundation

Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development

Virginia Department of Taxation

Virginia Historical  Society

Virginia Nurses Association

Virginia Oral Health Coalition

Virginia Poverty Law Center

Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects

Virginia Society of Association Executives

Virginia Society of Certified Professional Accountants

Virginia State Golf Association

Virginia Trial Lawyers Association

Visual Arts Center of Richmond

West Cary Group

Young Nonprofit Professionals Network RVA





Catalyst Conference
Henrico EDA helping small biz

Floricane knows full well that young, growing businesses need all the support they can get! So when we heard that Henrico County's Economic Development Authority was putting on an event for small businesses looking to grow, we knew Floricane had to be involved. Which is how John found himself at the inaugural Catalyst conference on October 16. He was able to both moderate a panel discussion and engage the conference's participants in a series of facilitated discussions all day. The room was full of bright entrepreneurs who are doing great things in Henrico County and beyond!

The James House
Strategies for the next 25 years


Floricane's very first strategic planning client was a small nonprofit serving the Tri-Cities area. We've always appreciated The James House's willingness to take a leap of faith with us, and have followed their success over the past six years. The small nonprofit continues to make a big dent in helping to meet the needs of individuals affected by sexual and domestic violence. They hit their 25 year milestone this year, and we're excited to be spending time with their board later this month talking about the next 25 years of life-saving work.


First Chair at VMFA
Sharing the power of classical music

Some of you know that we talk a lot about the correlation between classical music and leadership, symphonies and organizational effectiveness. With the First Chair program, Floricane and the Richmond Symphony guide business leaders through a musical experience that emphasizes our beliefs. Last week, John and Maestro Steven Smith shared the story of the Symphony's First Chair program with a group of national business leaders at a Conference Board event. Organized by MWV and held at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the gathering was an opportunity to showcase several Richmond cultural and civic organizations to a national business audience.

$10 Toolkit
Join us November 19

We're committed to offering the RVA business community some low cost, high impact opportunities to skill-up, which is why we launched our new $10 Toolkit series at the beginning of the Fall.


Join us at our November 19th $10 Toolkit class, which will focus on the basics of Emotional Intelligence and why it is hands down the most important concept you will ever embrace as a leader! No, seriously. It's important stuff. (Think about your worst boss ever. What did they lack? Right. No emotional intelligence. None.) This is a great chance to slip out of the office early and put some new business tools in your own professional toolkit.


Click here for info and registration!

International Coaching Talk
Discovering what organizations need

We're looking forward to an upcoming opportunity to talk about Floricane and why we think effective -- and flexible -- coaching is key to our work. John will be "interviewed" at the November International Coach Federation's Richmond chapter meeting about Floricane's work in the coaching space. While the real work is actually done by our awesome professional coaches, Debra Saneda and Anne Chamberlain, the Floricane team as a whole is committed to developing coaching solutions that meet our clients where they are. Sometimes it's individual leadership coaching, and sometimes it takes the form of peer-based group coaching. Sometimes, it's something entirely different. It's all about discovering what organizations need. Feel free to join the conversation on November 14.

Virginia Audubon Council
Taking wing with an organization's future

Sometimes amazing things emerge from simple conversations. That was the case last month when we gathered at Maymont with a dozen representatives from the Virginia Audubon Council. The state organization sits in an awkward space -- between a strongly branded national organization and local chapters who connect with local bird lovers. How do you help a state council -- with few resources to call its own -- grow and add value? When your core product is 3.5 million acres of amazing habitat in every corner of Virginia, the answer is sometimes staring you right in the face. At the intersection of a strong brand, the endangered Wood Thrush, Important Bird Areas and Kickstarter sits a compelling strategy.  Read about our day on the blog.


Hey, guess what? Adding a baby to a household is disruptive! And disruption creates challenges for everyone. 

I'm pretty sure this isn't a surprise to anyone reading this. After all, small babies have operating systems that have not been synchronized with the established family Cloud.

Jack's operating system, which at nine weeks has rapidly progressed to OS5, has evolved since birth. He's added new laughter and smiling apps, and recently integrated peeing during diaper changes. But his core needs can still create havoc on the home front, especially in the mornings and evenings. 

A typical morning in the newly expanded Sarvay house involves tired people pulling in multiple directions to fix breakfasts, pack lunch, get dressed and meet the disparate needs of four people and a dog. The evening is different in that we're even more tired.

Welcome to life with four, and a dog. It's different than life with three.

I'm finding -- under the combined pressures of time, sleep deprivation and decreased mental acumen -- that the balancing of long-term, short-term, personal and relational is not easy. It is, in fact, close to impossible.

It's a good reminder for me of the challenges so many of our clients face as they work to juggle the immediate and urgent needs of the day with the strategic and relational demands of leading people. It is easy to spend too much time and attention on fixing things that are going wrong -- correcting problems, people and things -- and not investing energy in helping more things go right with people and with the work.

An old mentor of mine, Peter Block, once told me, "Creating new possibilities takes time. Under the pressure of time, we will choose the past -- every single time." 

It's hard not to yearn for life as it existed ten weeks ago, but the challenge of change is that the easiest direction -- counter-intuitive as it seems in the moment -- is forward. In order to embrace new possibilities, it is critical to reduce the pressure of time. 

One of my professional heroes from my days as a journalist is Ben Bradley, the editor of the Washington Post who passed away in October. This becomes most obvious under the pressure of time, when my style begins to echo Bradley's post-meeting directive, "So get the [expletive] outta here, and get back to work." Last week, Nikole jokingly called me John "Moving On" Sarvay. (Maybe jokingly.)

Helping more things go right requires me to start with what's most important, not what's most urgent. A good day in our family (or work team) should be built as much around relationship as it is around execution and implementation.

Possibilities don't operate on clock time, but over time. Investing in personal and emotional connection -- over time -- is the foundation for helping more things go right. I can still move on, but in the right way.