Archives for April 2018

April 21, 2018 - No Comments!

Don’t Network Like This

It is no secret that we are all trying to network and forge new relationships in our business and in our life.  It is a way of life these days.  It happens to be a new leadership literacy that strengthens your ability to thrive and be happy today inside and out of organizations.  There is research that supports this by the way.

Access to others is the new economy for sure.  We interviewed Kelly Hoey, author of Build Your Dream Network and she helps us redefine what it means to network.  Watch for our May newsletter interview with Kelly.  She certainly helps us see connecting with others in a  fundamentally new way.

I bet you know folks that are amazing at networking.  They make is seem easy.  I have to admit I value this process of connecting and learning the stories of others and maybe that is what makes it seem easy to me.  The idea of building a connection that matters and adds value is at the top of the list for us, yet, for many it is not intuitive.  I receive emails almost every day from someone who wants to "network" with me or in some cases, it is disguised as network but really it is "can you introduce me to people you know?"  I don't know them, but someone that knows me has suggested they reach out.

I am all for supporting that process of meeting and learning from others however, it needs to be reciprocal.  Here are my tips in order to strengthen your ability to connect with others authentically and not just to tap into their contacts.  Matter of fact if your goal is transactional, save the time in writing an email and don't do it.  I say that with sincerity and wanting to help you be effective.

Tips:

  1. Don't surprise someone with an email referencing a friend "told me to connect" to you.  Ask the person that offered the referral to email first and "ask permission" to receive a reach out email from you.
  2.  Time is a factor - if you send an unsolicited surprise email to someone you do not know - that email may sit in their inbox a long time. Using the permission approach is significantly more effective and respectful.
  3. If you are going to send an email to someone you barely know or do not know - start with something about them....show interest in that person's business, be curious, ask them a question or comment on an observation from their linked in profile or web site before you start down the road of "I was told you know a lot of people in my industry."
  4. Take the words, "If you hear of something that seems to fit me, keep me in mind" and never use them again!  Don't leave that on a voice mail or email!  Sorry, it is bad form and does not send a message that you care about building a relationship with them at all.

If you feel awkward about reaching out to people you don't know - that is normal. I highly recommend starting with people you do know or those you had some connection to and maybe it has been years since you said hello.  That is far more effective than emailing a stranger.   Again, research in this area, as shared by David Burkus, author and speaker on this topic, says that data shows improved results and those six degrees of separation stories flourish when  you reach out to friends, old friends, or friends of friends.

We all want to foster authentic relationships. It is more fun and exciting as you see what might emerge for your business and your friendship.

Suggestion:  Make a list today of people you have not connected to in awhile and call or email them. 

Taking this step will surprise you in learning new aspects of what they are doing and you get to share what you are up to as well.  Win win all around - go for it!  Kelly Hoey says avoid the 911 call - an emergency reach out that says, " I need your help finding someone, getting funding or whatever."   The networking journey is about sharing stories and experiences on an ongoing basis.  With that approach,  your network comes along with you on the journey you take in your work or career and you are there for them too.

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Communication, Management

April 17, 2018 - No Comments!

April Newsletter: Bill Carpou and Building the SoCal of Tomorrow

Bill Carpou, CEO of OCTANe, is driving innovation in OC and the entire Southern California region. We have some of the nation’s best engineering talent and top ranked universities as well as a diverse community of investors and innovators. Bill met with us to share his perspective on his leadership path as well as what it means to help create the SoCal of tomorrow. That means growing entrepreneurs and companies, but most importantly fueling the growth of jobs in our community.

Sherry Benjamins: How did you get into the business of transforming companies?

Bill Carpou: My career started in sales, working at Xerox so growth has always been part of my DNA... For 16 years I was focused on sales management with a responsibility for regional teams. I then joined Ikon Office Solutions, which was an organization that required significant transformation. It brought me out to the west coast and the change forced me to think about the people I wanted to work with and what strategy needed to be implemented. I learned your gut instincts are generally accurate. That was in ’98 and from that point forward, I realized the need to have a sound strategy and surround myself with great people.

SB: Was there an aspect of this journey that prepared you for this role?

BC: It’s been three years this week! I don’t know if there’s ever a single event that prepares you to be a CEO. From my perspective, it’d be the sales and customer focus at Xerox, the leadership and people development at Ikon, and the performance and accountability I learned at Blackstone. I pull something from each of them every day.

SB: Let’s talk about Orange County and the transformation that’s been happening in our region. The Chapman report for instance discusses significant changes in our  economy. How is Octane viewing this future?

BC: It’s a collaborative effort. While OCTANe is a key convening organization (that pulls resources together), there’s no single organization that can lead this transformation across the board. It’s important because on the opposite end you can have complete anarchy, absent of leadership. I believe a handful of organizations should lead in their respected areas of influence and competence. It’s important to underscore the collaboration that’s required. What we need to accomplish is bigger than any one organization. We bring organizations together in an ecosystem that focuses on tech and medtech and we’ve established performance metrics as part of our Vision 2025 strategy. The creation of high paying jobs is our top priority and we’ve forecasted 22,000 jobs by 2025. Jobs result in both economic vitality and sustainability. I would like OCTANe to be known for it’s high impact to our community which will occur as we increase the inflow of capital and provide greater operational expertise for early stage and small – mid size companies.

SB: 22,000 is a big number!  What are the hurdles to overcome?  

BC:  We’ve created an achievable forecast. And we're on track! Our financial model is based upon an assumption that as a non- profit organization our base of support continues to grow moderately. Any reduction of sponsors and partners would be an issue. The second area is additional funding to increase resources that will create hyper growth. It’s actually pretty simple, we have the process and model in place.  What we need are more resources to execute the strategy; we need more people!

SB: And funding?

BC: Providing capital to early stage companies is the primary focus of our LaunchPad accelerator. Access to capital remains our priority and we have expanded our relationships with institutional and non-institutional investors, not just on the west coast but in major money centers such as New York, Boston, London and parts of Asia.

SB: Companies should be knocking on your door! Looking at what’s happening in OC and the need for new business and innovation,  I’m hoping this will happen for you and our community. 

BC: You’re right! We’ve always been under branded and that is changing. We’ve gotten our story out there more in the past 18 months, however you’d think there’d be a line around the block waiting to get into OCTANe! 86% of the companies that come through our accelerator get funded and 88% of those companies are still operational. These are incredible statistics that reveal the high quality of our portfolio companies.

SB: What is your advice to innovators / future leaders who are really serious about doing their own thing? 

BC: Seek as much input as you can. Orange County has a terrific ecosystem, however it’s not quite as intuitive as other regions. Engage in events. Learn of the organizations that can support your growth. Pick a strong team and be willing to accept constructive feedback. Companies that follow what’s going on in their community are going to have a much greater success rate.

SB: Is there a roadmap for this?

BC:  We recently created a roadmap, directing organizations into the ecosystem by working with them and introducing them to early-stage incubators. The next step is for them to engage our LaunchPad SBDC accelerator and then Growth Services which will enable them to grow and scale faster.

SB: Are there places in the country where this kind of convergence of resources occurs? 

BC: The Bay Area is the most intuitive. Boston and New York are strong. Austin and Dallas are growing as is Salt Lake City. What’s interesting about SoCal is that we have all the ingredients here, it’s just not as intuitive. You’ve got to peel it back and know where to go. Recently we have created a coalition of like minded organizations to bring resources across all of Southern California, as that accelerates I have no doubt we will be seen as a top choice for companies to start and many companies to locate into.

SB: What have you learned about yourself in this three-year path so far?

BC: I don’t like a set routine. I get bored fairly quickly so I prefer every day to be different. OCTANe has provided that for me. I enjoy building teams, being accountable, and establishing the culture  to grow companies and jobs. I enjoy coming to work every day and feel like it’s an opportunity to give back to the community with the experiences that I’ve been fortunate enough to have. We are offering leadership to an objective that’s bigger than any one organization. It’s pulling our community together in powerful ways.


For those interested, the OCTANe Technology Innovation Forum (TIF) will be from May 31 to June 1 at the Newport Beach Marriott and Resort. The theme is Building the SoCal of Tomorrow and it will focus on the importance of innovation and growth. You can find more about TIF along with the detailed agenda at www.TIF2018.com

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog, Newsletter

April 17, 2018 - No Comments!

April Newsletter: Artificial Intelligence and Business Intelligence with Gene Tange

Everyone is talking about artificial intelligence. It has leapt into the consciousnesses of many, including CEOs and today’s leaders. As it becomes a reality for many of us, there's been a focus on how to raise our workers' abilities to learn and improve. In the face of such a big change, how can we realize better outcomes, stronger growth, and the ability to compete for the best talent? The journey may begin by understanding the islands of disconnected data that exist within our companies.

With all the discussion about human and intelligent machines, I reached out to my friend and highly respected business owner, Gene Tange, CEO of PearlHPS. Gene’s company, based in the bay area, is a cloud-enabled predictive analytics firm shaking up how we predict the successes of teams. He helped me understand this arena and the technological and cultural accelerations occurring that will determine the winners and losers as we move forward.

Sherry Benjamins:  What are CEOs talking about in the context of BI/AI?

Gene Tange: Business Intelligence is the use of data to derive insights. There are some misused terms in AI. In order to simplify it, think of AI as a way to do research and build a capability which uses tools to look at data. When it comes to thinking about AI, I’m meeting CEOs who are in three camps. The first, which makes up about 70%, are listening and engaged in learning. There’s a 20% camp that's doing something about it; building an AI team, applying tools and looking at ways to strengthen business outcomes. And then the last camp, which makes up around 10% or less, are companies like Netflix or LinkedIn that are already transforming how their companies work. They're determining how to derive value to the business. This means improving revenue, net income or reducing cost.

SB: What attracts C levels to use AI/BI?  What are the applications?

GT: A joint venture between Avanade, Accenture & Microsoft produced a study of 500 business leaders looking at smart technologies that will deliver ROI and game changing solutions.  They talked about doing business in this competitive environment in three areas of impact: sales revenue, financials, and business execution.  This last category is where the people and human impact applications are studied.

CEOs know that most acquisitions don’t get the results they set out to achieve. Building human expertise inside their organizations is critical and the stakes are high to get this right. Five years ago we would have looked to the single individual leader to get the “execution plan” right.  Today it is all about a cross-functional team and their performance.

SB: How will CEOs prepare their organization for this new intelligent technology machine age? 

This is a massive challenge and demand is exceeding supply. Right now, there are over 10,000 openings in the US for Data Scientists yet we don’t yet have the capability to fill those needs. Our client, the CEO will look at where the biggest impact can be in his/her organization so that there is a prioritization of need. They will experiment with solutions that tackle a specific issue. Is there a tool that might advance a product release into a competitive market or accelerate an acquisition’s track record? It is easier to start in one segment and expand to other areas once there is success. A good example of one early introduction is the launch of Amazon Go's pilot store early this year in Seattle. It is the first semi automated retail store. No checkers or lines!  You take the product off the shelf and walk out and the application automatically charges your account. It also tracks inventory, buying habits and a host of other bits of information to make your buying experience better.

SB: How will HR move forward in this arena?

GT: The HR function is not moving as fast here as other functions. They have historically focused on tactical initiatives in Total Rewards, Talent Acquisition and Development. The cross-over to a business outcome with measurement on the impact to the bottom line will shift them from tactic to strategy. Teams are the source of most complex business outcomes. This seems obvious but it is a critical revelation. Data that provides insight into team performance in a predictive manner will change the conversation and credibility of HR. I see more CEOs looking at resource allocation and making sure that HR is focused on the core drivers of business.

Concluding Comments

Just a few years ago, who would have thought that data initiatives would have created platforms with tools that can talk to you or predict the operational success of a team launching a new product? Imagine the culture change in companies that are implementing these predictive execution tools that Gene has developed in his company. The good news is that this work will elevate our role and add value to the business if we boldly go into this future. Do you have an analytics function? Lead the way in this effort and reimagine your work. Ask the tough questions about your company’s readiness to compete and join the winners in this landscape.

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog, Newsletter

April 17, 2018 - No Comments!

April Newsletter: Amy Sfreddo and the Importance of Social Capital

Companies growing social capital makes a Difference

Our community is known for its entrepreneurial growth in technology, life sciences, medical device, cyber security and more. There is another dimension to this growth which transcends across all business and that is “doing good” in the community.  As a Board member of OneOC, I am learning a lot about companies that are seeing bottom line results and improved employee engagement in doing good work and doing good in the community. I met with my board member colleague, Amy Sfreddo, Philanthropy Publications Director, at the Orange County Business Journal, to learn about her work and her leadership in how companies are getting recognized for their impact.

Sherry Benjamins: What led you to working with companies that embrace purpose?

Amy Sfreddo:  When I transitioned my business journal career from the bay area to Southern California in 2005, I joined the Orange County Business Journal with a primary responsibility of helping nonprofits with their marketing and donor outreach. Over time, I created and managed four different annual nonprofit publications to help build more awareness and support of the OC nonprofit community. My goal continues to be helping grow our impact and seeing the difference we can make in supporting community minded businesses and incredible non-profits in our county.

SB: Where do you see the greatest opportunity for impact?

AS: There are so many small to mid-size companies that see the power of engaging their employees in something greater than themselves. Some have CEO role models who know the value of connecting their mission to something bigger. In a strong economy like this one, having a clear “social good” platform to communicate gives your talent a reason to stay and/or join you. We know that the millennials place giving and volunteering high on the list of criteria when deciding where to work and what to buy. We see an opportunity in having a company start small and link it to their mission.

SB: How might a company build on its success and its brand in giving?

AS:  You can set goals that move you forward in volunteering or giving initiatives and measure results. Learn about the non-profit organizations in our 2018 Giving Guide.   Create the stepping stones for growing this effort, engage your employees, share the success and ultimately be recognized for your work. The Civic50 provides a platform for this recognition. This is our second year in hosting the Civic 50 awards luncheon in partnership with OneOC. It is an opportunity to recognize the 50 most community-minded small, medium and large companies in OC. Civic 50 is based on an on-line survey that measures dimensions like employee time, talent or skills, investment and leadership and allows a company to apply for this recognition and be considered for the award. The survey is open from 4/16 to 6/29. Those selected are honored at an awards luncheon in October 11, 2018 at Hotel Irvine.

If you are interested in learning more feel free to reach out to Tiffany Bogle at tbogle@oneoc.org or access the survey and more details at http://www.oneoc.org/occivic50.

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog, Newsletter