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November 8, 2018 - No Comments!

Landon Taylor, CEO of Base 11: Accelerating Development of Talent November 2018

Last month, I had the opportunity to visit Base 11 to learn how their creative partnerships are making a difference for students and corporations in regional “ecosystems” across the country.  They are successfully collaborating and connecting all the right pieces of the talent gap puzzle for young talent in underrepresented populations.  My hope is that as you read this story your curiosity takes over to learn more and take action.

Sherry Benjamins: What brought you to the leadership role with Base 11 after many successful years of corporate and business strategy roles?

Landon: Running a non-profit company was not originally planned as a part of my career plan.  I have invested 25+ years building a career as a corporate executive and entrepreneur, including 12 exciting years as a senior exec with First American Financial which is what brought me to Orange County.  In 2014, after helping position the sale of a software company to CoreLogic, I had the opportunity to think deeply about what I wanted to do next.  I knew that I wanted to get involved in a project that not only leveraged my strategic leadership skills but also captured my passion to make a difference.  Many of us recognize the strategic importance of human development on an enterprise level and frankly, I predict that it will be the industrial revolution of the 21stCentury. A transformation that will change our country in big ways. With transformative education, and training and empowerment in real world scenarios and environments, we grow exponentially as individuals, and then have a multiplier affect impact on the organizations and communities around us.

This issue around solving the STEM talent pipeline crisis as a long-term solution to building a sustainable middle class in America made up of allAmericans, became a calling that I simply could not ignore.  So, four years ago I stepped in as CEO to design and drive the national initiative, which we now affectionately call “The STEM Revolution!”

SB: Are you optimistic about progress when the needs are staggering?

Landon: My optimism is fueled by the fact that there is no shortage of stakeholders who want to solve the STEM skill gap challenge. There is also a shared recognition for diversity and inclusion for this critical talent need.  We have significant progress in breaking down the silos that had existed prior to creating what we are calling our regional ecosystems.  The stakeholders are aligned around a common vision – and a problem to solve.  They are academia (K-University), philanthropy and government, industry and students.  They all care about solving the skill gap and have demonstrated that in our first regional ecosystem markets, LA, Orange County, San Francisco Bay Area and Phoenix. Each of those ecosystems has a successfully integrated partnership with diverse and fully engaged stakeholders.  We plan to add three more regional ecosystems by 2021 in Seattle, NY and Washington DC.

SB: How is success defined at Base 11?

Landon: Our true north has been set for 2021 and that is to accelerate 11,000 students on a pathway to what we call our "Victory Circle".  The Base 11 Victory Circle is achieved by completing a Base 11 program or a hands-on project in a Base 11 Innovation Center, which prepares students for STEM success at a four-year university, at a major corporation, or as an entrepreneur. We are on track to achieve this with 6,000 students already on their direct path to the Victory Circle.

SB: What have you learned from your members of the Victory Circle?

 Landon: First, I have learned to never underestimate our talented students.  Their passion, commitment and capabilities exceed our expectations.  Students who are under-resourced work twice as hard as others.  We know we are on the right path for we are confident they are our future leaders.

SB: How does this influence your 2019 goals?

Landon: Our plan in 2019 is to grow our regional ecosystems and bring in additional students and corporate employer partners.  More companies and students involved translate to better jobs, greater opportunity and more robust talent pipelines.

SB: What have you learned about yourself through this journey so far?

Landon: I have learned that I must always be learning and growing, and that is essential every day as we build this transformational capability. I have also learned that it is possible to align your professional experiences with something that creates a viable business (economic) opportunity while also solving a big societal  problem. It’s very fulfilling when you get the chance to work on something that will have a multi-generational impact. Everyone can define what that means for themselves personally.  There is not one path to take.  You can serve on a Board, be an advisor, identify a cause that you are passionate about and contribute in a meaningful way.  That might be contributing your expertise, time and/or money.

SB:  What is your advice to corporate leaders and those reading this newsletter?

 Landon: If you are interested in a cause that impacts business, growth of jobs, positive culture and individual empowerment – get involved.  We would be pleased to have you help us accelerate our goal to go from 6,000 students to 11,000 students on their pathway the Victory Circle.  You can offer to be a mentor, advisory board member, financial supporter and/or share our mission with your organization.   Ask yourself if you can see your company joining a powerful network of partners who want to empower 11,000 student leaders of the 21stCentury and create a positive impact for their families and our country at large.

 If you want to learn more call Ingrid Ellerbe, our SVP Partnerships at (714) 371-4200

Or check out site at  https://www.base11.com/

 Conclusion by Sherry

Landon’s energy and passion is contagious.  He and his team are inspiring a revolution.  I understand now that the results he sees in students energizes him and his team while changing their lives and their families in a powerful way.

We are in a time where this kind of difference making is purpose driven and feeds the spirit.   I believe this is a refreshing shift in energy from the drain of intense public and political discourse today to something where we can all have a positive impact.   Why not shift our perspective to the power we each have to change our community by developing others.

Published by: Corey Kachigan in Blog

October 17, 2018 - No Comments!

Newsletter – Bruce Swartz, SVP Physician Integration, Dignity Health – The Future of Care October 2018

Imagine having a unique leadership role and charter to disrupt healthcare as we know it today and have it designed for us the patient.  Sounds logical yet few have led the way.  We do have disruptors in healthcare using mobile platforms; however, I met with my friend Bruce Swartz who leads Physician integration at Dignity Health, the fifth largest health system in the nation and the largest hospital provider in California to learn about their transformation in healthcare.  Bruce leads integration of physician practices for Dignity Health and is building a patient experience with a foundation of technology that defines “care of the future” in entirely new ways.  I caught up with Bruce to learn how he sees this unfolding for this generation.

Sherry Benjamins: Bruce, it seems you have a very positive outlook about healthcare today.  Tell me about that.

Bruce:  I do have a positive outlook and we are focused on the future.  We are seeing the entry of Amazon, Apple, and Google, for example and we must maximize the applications of electronic records to create true sustaining clinical integration. Through Population Health initiatives, we have an aggregation of patient data across multiple technology platforms.  The analysis of that data into a single, actionable patient record is possible and our line of sight is to improve systems and clinical outcomes. When I first joined Dignity, six years ago, we were not connected and are now single instance linked throughout the Dignity Health enterprise which facilitates improved patient outcomes and lower costs.

SB: How will you define this patient experience?

Bruce:   Exceptional service and positive member experience is the answer.  For example, we are launching a fully integrated patient contract center to support the improved patient experience from end to end that not only meets your scheduling requirements, but also facilitates population health outcomes.  Eventually we will utilize Artificial Intelligence, and robotics in both the ambulatory and acute settings.  In fact, we are already we are looking at artificial intelligence to support scribing services for our providers.  .  That stated, we intend never to lose sight of the importance of the human connection throughout the Dignity Health enterprise.

Care of the future means newer and more efficient and patient centered clinics.  We took 42 people at all levels of our system and had them meet for almost a year as a task force to design the clinic they would want to work in.  This will be a footprint for the future and define how care is delivered.  Efficiency, better working experiences for our employees and patients is the driving force for this change.  Our goal is to create a delightful experience for all.

SB: Will virtual care take off?

Bruce:  Today, we are designing pilots that will offer virtual visits.  We are in the early stage here at Dignity but see the infrastructure to complement or go beyond the clinic when it makes sense.  There are many start-ups that are offering high end concierge and mobile apps. We will learn a lot in the next few years and incorporate this into our transformation as well.

SB: What advice do you have for our heads of HR who are looking at designing new benefit plans for their workers?

Bruce:  Don’t be afraid to be more prescriptive with your workforce.  Not everyone will be happy. Creating options and offering different plans to support more personalization matters.  We now have almost five generations working at the same time. Workers will have to support some of the cost. Integrating wellness initiatives is well meaning, but we have seen that the people utilizing those programs already value good health and understand they have a stake in the game to manage their wellness.  I recommend wellness initiatives that require a “stake in the game.” It is a very exciting time to look at revolutionizing care which goes beyond the clinical practice.  We are trailblazing and engaging our leaders to truly hear from our patients and workers about the future they imagine serves us all.

Conclusion by Sherry

Uber and Lyft disrupted the transportation industry. There are so many other examples.  It is exciting to hear about the disruptions in patient care as Bruce describes it.  The largest providers are not going away – however the focus has shifted to member engagement, care management, leading to healthier populations.

I am encouraged that organizations like Dignity Health are replacing old structures with healing environments and designs that will delight a patient and improve outcomes. Why not be a central place for the wellbeing of mind, body and spirit in health? The old system can no longer afford a focus on disease at the exclusion of wellness and self-health managing.  As consumers of healthcare, we are getting pretty sophisticated in choice making. I look forward to a day when we can embrace a conversation about our care with a positive, data-rich and informed outlook.

Published by: Corey Kachigan in Blog, Newsletter

September 11, 2018 - No Comments!

Jaclyn Martin: Story & Image, A Powerful Duo

Jaclyn Martin is a content strategist, writer and artist.  I was fortunate to meet her early this year when one of my long-time colleagues in HR connected us.  After you speak with Jaclyn, you'll quickly learn that she is passionate about listening, learning, and how to create a bold combination of words and images to tell a story.

She is wonderfully curious and, in her quest to understand others and what they want to achieve, she helps them find the truth of their ideas to write a unique story.  We have been fortunate to have Jaclyn as part of our team, participating in interviews with our new clients, writing, and creating web content to showcase their truth about new job opportunities.  I always learn something when speaking with Jaclyn, so it is my pleasure to introduce you to her as well.  


Sherry Benjamins: Tell me about your experience in the talent business? 

Jaclyn Martin: I first started in the talent business in 2001 as a proposal writer for an international staffing company. I learned quickly that there was deep internal expertise about their services, yet there was less known about how the customer or user perceived their service.  I decided to spend some time speaking with HR professionals and my sister, who led an HR function, to better understand the external user perspective.  

It was fascinating to work in an industry with diverse points of view and learn the challenge of selling a service rather than a product.  I believe it is all about potential – the potential of the people and the customer, as well as the potential of building a relationship that results in quality services and trusted partnering.  The different perspectives translated into addressing very different needs.  

My work in this business ranged from writing proposals, helping sales people create compelling presentations, to managing internal communications.   My team conducted research, collected data, interviewed internal and external clients, and identified themes and trends.  It was great to see how the data informed a new strategy, service, or decision about business investments.  I learned a lot about a wide range of businesses and industries, and found it was fun to help leaders craft a compelling story to engage workers or communicate more effectively with their clients.

SB: How do you incorporate story telling in your work?

JM: Everything we experience in life is a story – in order to engage others, we have to engage on that level.  I found I got the best results when engaging people in their own story.   It helps them clarify their desires, goals, and what matters most to them.  I could see that process moves them forward and hits emotional buttons to create connection.   

SB: What interests you in this work?

JM: People interest me – I want to know what motivates or drives them.  I enjoy the process of helping figure out how to get the reaction they want. There’s a difference between spinning a great story and misleading – I am about finding the compelling, honest story.  Helping people figure out how to take complex elements of their work and translate it into something other people can understand is very satisfying.  

One of the challenges we all face in communicating is, the more we know about our industry or work, the harder it is to explain to someone else.  While we’re speaking with insider colleagues we use a shorthand, efficient communication because we both know what we’re talking about.   That can backfire when your goal is to engage a broader group.  Some people are aware of this difficulty and some not, but it’s always a challenge for creating a simple, engaging, and effective message. 

SB: What do you attribute to your success in taking stories to reality?

JM:  Getting my writing degree was an important part of my foundation and allowed me to be humble as a writer.  I believe staying humble about what we know is a key to success.  Listening is important too.  I pay attention to clients and their challenges, but I also pay attention to the concerns and challenges of their clients or target audience because the content we’re creating needs to speak to both. Creating a strategy from that information is more critical than the actual task of writing.  That may not sound logical given my role of writer, yet, listening genuinely to the client and learning what they want to accomplish provides the understanding and context required to craft an authentic, compelling story.  

SB: As an artist as well as writer, how does being an artist inform your work?

JM: Because I work with both visuals and words, I’m more focused on producing less text. Instead, I pair the right words with compelling visuals to create content that’s truly engaging – giving the client more impact from their narrative.  

I get to do this when helping SBCo with their unique micro-sites for high-end talent sourcing.  We create one-page microsites to tell a unique story about a career or new job opportunity.  The unique combination of a compelling position description and engaging visuals in a web site tailored to the position and employer is a truly differentiated way of communicating about a job opportunity and grabs attention.  Our goal is for them to “see themselves in this job,” and elicit the desired response, “tell me more.”   I really enjoy creating a unique message platform that speaks to potential talent.

SB: What is your advice to companies that are starting the “story telling” journey?

JM:  First decide who or what you want to be – it should be based on your values and the authentic way you approach whatever it is you do. Then, check with your clients and employees to see if their experience matches the story you want to tell. Finally, create the simplest version of that story – if you can’t explain it in just a few minutes, it’s too complex and not as compelling as it should be. 

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog, Newsletter

September 10, 2018 - No Comments!

Jay Golden and Stories that Unlock Power

Early this year, I had the opportunity to meet Jay Golden and learn about the power of “retellable” stories. Jay is an author, keynote speaker, and storytelling coach, who helps leaders shape and share their stories in transformative ways. His work was so fascinating that I asked him to coach me through the exploration of my own stories and experiences to uncover what he calls our own “purpose” through discussion of journey. It truly changed how I see my stories, and how I view my career. I am eager for you to get to know more about Jay through this interview. I agree with him that the power of story helps us navigate in this unpredictable and chaotic business world. 


Sherry Benjamins: How did you begin this work on coaching leaders on storytelling?

Jay Golden:  I began working in all types of communication in the 1990s that focused on education, production, strategy, and video. By 2009 as a new dad, I took a break and looked around. I saw how many new forms of media were emerging every day, and instead of being at the edge, I wanted to be at the center. I knew that the center of all communication was story. And that it begins with personal stories. Audiences are open to hearing about what they truly care about on a personal level.  However, we often bury that or shift in a different direction because of necessity – lack of time, impersonal media, and the perception that people don’t want to hear stories. But how do we truly connect? After all the 1000’s of bits and bytes of information we absorb in a day, what do our audiences remember? And on a personal level, where do we keep and share our key life lessons and insights that guide our careers and organizations? I found that helping leaders, especially founders, identify their stories and use them as a guide towards the future they sought often resulted in a life change.  Whether you are speaking to thousands of people or one on one across the table, practicing the art of sharing stories brings people together. It reinforces why our work matters.

SB: What holds people back from telling their story?

JG: Today, with such an emphasis on rapid-fire communication and data delivery in the work world, we often miss the opportunity to reveal a greater journey, and illuminate lasting change for our audiences. Both the individual and company stories matter. They are equally important to ensuring lasting change. Stories that can be retold have personal power and impact.  Today, we are faced with such rapid, distributed information that is devoid of some of the most precious human elements that inform our organizations.  However, because so many of us are being asked to deliver on change in a rapidly changing world, we get to share our stories to support that process in highly effective and personal ways.

SB: Do you see confidence building as an outcome of your work with leaders?

JG:  Confidence builds as you explore the collection of stories that you hold, and the lessons you’ve learned along the way. These stories are alive - they live inside you. Once you tell them, they can inspire others to see a new way. And while many leaders can feel very separate from their teams, stories humanize them. That process builds personal confidence and organizational resilience.

SB: What have you learned from your clients?

JG: Everyone is different. It’s fascinating to take people back to a story that they’ve experienced and see if they can re-tell it. It does take space and a commitment to engage in this process, but I find that they absolutely can transform their leadership by gathering their stories and retelling them in a focused and fun way.  Heart-centered leaders adopt this practice quickly. They are not driven immediately to ROI on this process, because they see how it can transform communication and engagement in an authentic way. These leaders have an openness and willingness to change and set up the change which will most certainly impact the bottom line.

SB:  In our talk, you mentioned that a key part of change is in how you “set it up.” Tell me more about what “setting up the change” means?

JG: There is a deep dark place where we may not be conscious of our own story. Joseph Campbell says, “the hero is the one who comes to know.”  He refers to the belly of the whale, the innermost cave where the mystery lives. Think about Star Wars, when Luke, Leia, and Han Solo are in the great garbage compactor. The serpent almost takes them down – if there’s a serpent there’s often an innermost cave! This is the dark place of not knowing, and often we work very hard to avoid these difficult places in our stories, afraid we might get stuck there. But with some attention and practice, this becomes critical to your stories, and critical to the change you’re delivering. You may not think about it this way, but before social media, there was story-telling. Retellable stories were delivered to others across the world, to take them through a deep journey so the participants could gain the lesson without having taken the journey. This had far-reaching impact. There would be a mystery revealed, a journey explored and in the final moments, something became very clear and transforming. 

SB:  How is this like culture work?

JG: Companies are interested in how stories drive culture. And often this work is about finding those key stories that are hidden. They may be hidden behind the over-simplicity of testimonials, behind values that are stated on the wall but not understood on a visceral level, or hidden behind the focus on gathering ‘likes’ and not insights. Providing the right incentives to your audiences, either internal or external, can provide a treasure trove of data on what true changes you’re delivering on, and give real life to your values. It begins with a commitment to finding your stories. About 60% of my work is with the individual leader who is looking to clarify direction or engage and inspire others which supports empowerment or a culture shift. I’m interested in the stories that workers share and how that translates to their environment, trust and relationships.

SB: How do you see communication changing today in corporations?

Even with the acceleration of messaging, there is a recognition that we should return to mechanisms that offer personal relevance.  Everything is going to the cloud, yet human relevance is even more important than ever – that which is shared live, in conference halls, at lunch meetings, and in interviews. The cloud doesn’t help as much there. Deep, authentic connections become even more precious.  I lived through the boom and bust of San Francisco, while so much was changing. What stayed constant was this: what makes us individually alive and what we hold dear will remain. Our precious memories, our insights, and our lessons, well delivered, will hold our attention, and the attention of our audiences, even in difficult times.

There are so many changes coming at us from all perspectives that have social, political, technological, and economic impact.  I believe that the leader who has resilience and can adapt to and navigate these changes, while retaining the core of “what they are here to do” will thrive. Stories will be essential for them to inspire and take us into the future. 

Check out Jay’s book, Retellable: How Your Essential Stories Unlock Power and Purpose.

Conclusion

Have you ever worked for a leader who shares a story and it sounds like, “it’s always been that way here” or “this is just how things get done.”   It leaves you with a sense of resignation without much inspiration to change.  For good or bad, our stories offer a vision of how things are in our mind and we use them to interpret forward thinking actions.  Imagine if we could review our stories so that we can acknowledge our strengths and inspire others to challenge them themselves through the gift of personal story.

As you start to scan your own stories, think about what you learned and how it shapes who you are today. That is a great first step. Enjoy the journey.  

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog, Newsletter

June 19, 2018 - No Comments!

Does M&A Bring Welcoming Surprises?

This past week we hosted our pre-summer HRoundtable and were fortunate to have Gina Codd, VP of Global Talent Management & Development, Edwards Lifesciences, and Mark Oshima, Managing Partner of Aon’s Strategic Advisory Practice facilitate this session. 

Our HRoundtable is comprised of senior leaders in HR and meets quarterly to discuss forward looking topics and insights into relevant current challenges.  The goal is to learn from each other and think outside the box.  Gina and Mark did just that with a deep dive conversation into the world of M&A.  They were a fabulous duo looking at the work of due diligence and integrating companies, culture and people.   

Mark has extensive global experience with fascinating companies and provided the overview and the structure of a “perfect deal”.  He discussed the major phases of “doing the deal” and “making the deal work” as well as why deals fail and the criteria that drives a deal to success. There are a range of integration strategies based on the type of transaction and Mark shared insights on how the areas of Behaviors, Beliefs and Decisions intersect and ultimately shape culture.  

Gina has experience at the ground level with leading HR M&A efforts throughout her career.  Both Gina and Mark confirmed that while every deal is different, the value is in the learnings from repeatability and looking for patterns and trends.  Gina shared various dynamics and situations where a mentality of “welcoming surprises” and thinking like an air traffic controller is necessary to be agile through initial due diligence through integration.   

What is HR’s role in the M&A process? Both Mark and Gina talked about the critical role HR plays from the very beginning.  HR often enters at the integration stage but Gina shared what happens in the early stages of due diligence when companies are initially being evaluated and the initial requests for information are made.  Both Mark and Gina discussed how aspects of business acumen, critical thinking, adaptive capability, judgment and understanding cultural and strategic insight are all roles HR plays in Merger and Acquisition activity.  It dawned on me the Mergers and Acquisitions are an excellent opportunity for those in HR to get close to the business. 

I have been known when asked about HR career opportunities, to advise professionals to step out of HR into the business functions.  If M&A, business strategy and being the best HR Business Partner is a goal, then there could be nothing better than rotating out of HR to the business to gain this perspective.  In Ram Charan’s book, Talent Wins, there is a great chapter on “The New HR Career Path” that highlights specific case studies showing the power or rotations like this.   It is a two way street – for business leaders can rotate into HR for a talent immersion experience and HR moves out to the business to learn about adding value as well.   Want to add value to your business?  Consider this as a possibility to differentiate yourself and contribute at a higher level.  Although Gina is contributing her expertise from HR, she is clearly a key participant in a complex, multi-dimensional challenge with colleagues from diverse functions in order to help guide the company in its strategic business decisions.   Although Mark is a seasoned consultant in M&A he is extremely tuned in the importance culture and people play in the success of a deal.  The HRoundtable and I thank you both, Mark and Gina for sharing your wisdom in a fascinating interactive discussion which inspired us to think big.

If you are interested in learning more about joining the HRoundtable – please call Sherry at 562-594-6426 or sherry@sbcompany.net

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog

June 19, 2018 - No Comments!

Brad Younggren and the Future of Healthcare

Meet Brad Younggren, Chief Medical Officer at 98point6

Imagine realizing breakthrough solutions with a one of a kind approach to primary healthcare in a way that has never been possible before. The Seattle based firm, 98point6 is embarking on that journey. They are using AI technology paired with distinguished, hand-selected and board-certified physicians from all regions of the country to bring on-demand care, diagnosis and patient engagement to all via our smartphones.  It is evident that innovation in accessible care that enhances benefits and creates passionate employees is just a glimpse of what they are creating.  

I spoke with Brad Younggren, Chief Medical Officer, so that I might learn a bit more about their journey to transform care with affordable scalable solutions to patients young and old. 98point6 delivers personalized consultation, diagnosis and treatment by using technology and smartphones to patients in 14 states with the goals of reaching 50 states by year’s end.  

Sherry Benjamins: Brad, tell me about you?

Brad Younggen: My career into medicine began in the Army as an emergency physician in Iraq.  Early on I could see the potential of using digital technology in saving lives.  I also had a great experience in using ultrasound to transmit digital information. We saw that phones could be medical devices, which allowed us to scale beyond where technology began in telemedicine. A friend of mine connected me to the impressive leaders at 98point6 where I saw Robbie Cape’s vision for allowing physicians to do their best work in offering quality care for all patients.  It was clear that the notion of leadership and investment in the physician side of the business as well as the technology platform had tremendous value and opportunity so I joined the organization in early 2017.

SB: How are patients dealing with technology?  What needs to be done to overcome the hurdles to adoption?

BY:  Most of us have leveraged the mobile phone in ways that make it essential for daily living.  The relationship that we aim to create using mobile technology is already something people understand.  Who isn’t making texting the go-to for their communication with others? We are not seeing age as an obstacle in adopting our platform. We do have video capability but it may surprise you that people don’t naturally opt for that.  

The smartphone is at the core of how we live.  We were pleased to see broad usage across demographics. 30% are ages 25-34 and 28% are 35-44. Over 90% would use the service again and last month 42% of visits were returning users with a new condition or question.  It does not appear that the technology is getting in the way at all. The top 5 categories treated range from upper respiratory conditions, dermatology issues, gastrointestinal or digestive and ear, nose and throat issues.  

SB: What does personalization mean for your company? 

BY:  We are meeting our patients where they are comfortable with technology. There is a board-certified doctor on our back-end model which means a personalized diagnosis and virtual high-quality care for each patient.  We deliver the whole spectrum of primary care and we are seeing patients really responding to the platform.  Some wonder how a text-based service can offer quality care.  Much of what is diagnosed today by primary care physician’s in-person can be treated by our physicians via or app.  Our in-app resolution rate is consistently over 85% and in March it was 93% and April 96%.  If we are unable to meet a specific individual need, we refer patients to an in-person primary care specialist or urgent care.

SB: What attracted you to 98point6?

BY:  It was clear from my first meetings with our CEO that quality care and physicians are at the center of this solution. They are carefully selected and physicians participate in in-person strategy retreats and contribute actively to product reviews. They really get to do what they value most here and that is to deliver care and have an impact.  We now have more than 100 employees and some of the very best minds in technology, medical and regulatory.  We have a Medical Advisory Board of 18 physicians and are recognized leadres in their specialty. They guide us in a powerful way. We attract top talent because our social mission is as compelling as our technical vision. 

SB: What are you learning from this experience?

BY: There is a leadership commitment to investing in technology, but more importantly investing in technology as it intersects with medicine. Our core values serve as the foundation for our behaviors and allow us to be focused on selecting new hires that are a long-term fit. These values include a bias for action, building trust, collaborating and committing to our patients and our team members as well as relentless improvement that guides our growth and success.  These are not just words on the website, they are seen in the actions of our leaders.

SB: And what have you learned about yourself so far?

BY:  I am learning that amazing things can inspire people to do great work.  There is a drive and a collaborative culture here focused on solving complex problems and I have seen this energy and tenacity consistently here at 98point6.  Through this experience I am also improving my own capacity as a leader. 

Conclusion

To be totally transparent here, after I spoke with Brad I had to try this service.  They make it really easy for you to log in and ask your health question. The Automated Assistant even had a sense of humor! We already have personalized experiences with other virtual applications and services so this seemed natural in many ways. I did not expect that as the skeptical baby boomer I am.  All I can say is, Alexa, watch out!  Thank you Brad for introducing this innovation to our community and we will be eager to learn more about this transforming journey for all of us.   

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog

May 20, 2018 - No Comments!

A Unique College strategist – Meet Joe Teske

I met Joe Teske, business owner in the financial advising and career strategy arena, at a networking event this past March. I was taken by his passion and purpose around coaching others to be their best. He is a unique guide to those looking for answers and ideas about careers, money, college for kids or grandkids, or looking for insight and action in an unpredictable economy. 

Joe has been providing college planning and financial strategies for families for over 15 years.  Prior to this, he was an executive in aerospace, hiring/managing over 250 people. He has a deep understanding of college planning and job acquisition skills students need to succeed and he is a certified College Planning Relief specialist. His early years and continued expertise in financial planning helps him see the interconnectedness of financial and career in order to help families set direction and minimize costs. 

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Sherry Benjamins: How do you work with students before they are considering college?

Joe Teske: Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” I learned that there are numerous ways to make the college journey more efficient and effective. In our firm, Reliant College Planning Solutions (Reliant CPS), we work with students and their families to educate them on career, cost and college, in that order.

Up to 40% of students entering college undeclared (without knowing their major), will not graduate. I believe student’s and family’s focus should be primarily on the “40-year career” and not necessarily the 4-year college. We have tools to help students identify a best-fit career and major in which they will enjoy their work and be productive.  Isn’t this the hope of every parent – a child in an occupation they love?

The other element of this work is helping families characterize the affordability of college.  Oftentimes families don’t truly consider the total cost of attending college. Graduation rates in 4 years at public colleges averages 34%. Most students can take 5 or more years to graduate. When you consider this for each child in the family, and with the costs of college growing each year, it’s clear that laying out a multi-year budget is critical to understanding how a family will afford a college education.  

SB: What do you learn from students in this process?

JT: Each student has unique wiring. While the education system is structured around a relatively standard set of coursework through the first 14 years of education, each student can find a path that supports their specific interests.  Helping families themselves find the distinctive profession where their child will love the work they do is an extremely rewarding process.  

When you look at the education system outside the U.S., many adolescents are choosing their occupational direction by the 8th or 10th grade. It could be a trade, a technical path or academic. There are very few teachers bringing an assessment process to 10th graders. I believe that is a big loss. Why not introduce the potential careers to students much earlier?  When that is accomplished, there is a real sense of relief and hope as they are able to address their most pressing question, “What am I going to be/do?”  With a career narrowed-down, students choose classes in line with their future profession. I also see that often their GPA improves as they’re taking classes that match their wiring.  Life has just gotten much simpler – and easier for them.

SB: What are the stresses from their vantage point?

JT: The pressures placed on students today far exceed what we’ve seen, even ten years ago.  The competition now for each seat in college is international! And with an admission process that evaluates leadership, volunteering, extra-curricular activities, writing ability, and demonstrated interest, along with their GPA and aptitude test scores, our adolescents are facing more demands than ever before. The mental health of these students is strained to the limit. They are trying to please everyone – parents, teachers, coaches, friends, and even the yet-to-be determined college admissions office. Focusing your student on a direction matters, even if it changes over the process.  Earlier is better. 

SB: What is your perspective on the future of education?

JT: I am a parent of children in this age group and I see first-hand visibility of the demands placed on my children and others. In addition, with my background in financial advising, I understand the economics of the education system. Families are doing whatever they can to get in and get the degree. This has led to a national college debt level at $1.5 trillion- growing at $100 billion each year. This far exceeds credit card debt. College has become the new credit crisis.

I believe that going to college and finding your way – does not work any longer. Knowing your career path first is critical. It is too costly to be left to chance, and not knowing often leads to five or more years to get a degree. Families are exploring alternatives to this heavy cost burden. Many are sending their students to a 2-year college and then transferring to a 4-year university. Some colleges offer co-operative programs where the students alternate academic and work semesters to gain experience and pay during their education process.  Students are taking online coursework as well. One change I anticipate that will grow in the future is companies/industries working collaboratively to customize job structure and learning for their future employees. This has already started in the healthcare and information technology industries with certification programs. Entry- to mid-level position qualifications are met through specified course content without needing a 4-year degree.  The amount of money spent on education will draw more creative solutions like this in the near future.

SB: What is your advice to parents?

JT: Building a network is not just for the experienced working professional or parent. It is the right thing to do as a high schooler as well. Imagine having a LinkedIn profile and networking strategy starting in high school. This is now the new 21st century life skill.   


We will see creative solutions to these education challenges. We are learning from recent generation Z research, those children born into the digital everything, smart phone era, after millennials about how they learn and where they want to learn. They do not remember a time before social media.  Stay tuned for what education will need to look like for this next smart, start-up mentality talent of the future. 

If you have interest in learning more about the college and money challenges and solutions, please reach out to Joe Teske, Reliant College Planning Solutions at www.reliantcps.com. 

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog, Newsletter

May 19, 2018 - No Comments!

Education 2.0 with David Finegold, PhD

What will learning communities look like in the future?  Will universities transform themselves in light of the advancements in AI or robotics? What will students want to learn and how should their expectations be tailored to this new world of work? I met with a long-time friend, Dr. David Finegold, President of Chatham University, to listen to his perspective on these changes.

 Some of you may know David from his time at USC or the Keck Graduate Institute at Claremont before he navigated to the east coast with Rutgers and then onto some fascinating entrepreneurial ventures in the academic world. He has over 30 years of experience in higher education as a researcher, author, professor, academic dean, senior vice president and chief academic officer. He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard in 1985, and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, from which he received his DPhil in Politics in 1992. He has dedicated his career to education reform, the design of high-performance organizations, and extensive comparative research on education and skill-creation systems from around the world.  David’s story of his move to Chatham to focus on leadership is a fascinating one.


Sherry Benjamins: Congratulations on your role as President, Chatham University! Tell us about your path to this leadership role.

David Finegold: I have always been involved in advising students and have been open to where my career might lead.  I took assignments that I was passionate about and now it seems everything I have done prior to this has prepared me for the leadership work at Chatham.  I have a blend of working for large, complex Universities, like USC and Rutgers with thousands of students along with being at small, innovative campus environments such as Claremont. There were also entrepreneurial challenges at American Honors when I worked to grow an academic business. What makes Chatham unique is that it blends the big and the small:  I can make a personal impact given our relatively small size – 2,200 students – where I can get to know each faculty member and student. Yet we have a far more exciting work and complexity than most institutions our size: with three campuses, online innovation as well as focused and recognized success in our wellness and sustainability programs. Chatham offers over 40 undergraduate majors and over 20 graduate programs in sustainability, the health & lab sciences, business & communication, and the arts & humanities.

SB:  When you imagine the future of education, where do you see value and affordability?

DF: There is no doubt that access and affordability is critical, especially as we see the costs of a degree going up. As a private college we are addressing the challenges in several ways. First, we are doing more with scholarships and fellowships. Secondly, we are innovating creative ways to serve our students by looking at on and off campus options, such as online, cooperative arrangements with business and study abroad in order to expand our capacity. We have more part-time students, and are also very transfer-friendly, seeing the 2+2 path as a great way for students to lower the overall cost of getting a degree. Roughly 25% of our undergraduates transfer from a mix of community colleges and four-year universities. 

As we look to the future, there is a significant population of those over 50 who remain engaged and want to continue working, though perhaps in an entirely new career.  They are looking to have social impact and continuing to learn throughout their lives; we are in the early stage of exploring how we might best meet their needs.  Also, there is more with dual enrollment as we collaborate with high schools in order to help their students get a leg up on studies and their career goals at the university level.  

SB: Chatham is known as an innovator in areas such as, women in leadership, entrepreneurs launching new business, cooperatives and sustainability – what are your students asking for? 

DF: Students are attracted to our campuses for these innovative programs. Our Center for Women Entrepreneurship’s Women’s Business Center, ranked #1 in the country, offers experienced business owners the opportunity to engage with and enhance the work of women entrepreneurs.  We support internships and diverse work experiences which brings high quality business connections to the “eco-system of talent” in our region.  Students want good careers so that they can join or build companies that are socially responsible. They want a quality of life that supports their values and we have multiple ways to offer this through 60 undergraduate and graduate programs and innovative ways to deliver content and experience.

SB: How is technology influencing your longer term plans?

DF: Technology allows us to deliver strong online degree programs.  Chatham’s College for Continuing Education offers one of the largest and most successful Doctor of Nursing Practice programs in the US, serving working professionals across the country who wish to advance further in leadership roles. Students can also complete a range of other degrees with flexible and low-residency formats.  We also have business, psychology and nursing undergraduate online degrees, masters of creative and professional writing with a focused online production skill building capability and a doctorate of occupational therapy. 

We recognize the next wave of disruptive employment is at the intersection of AI, distributed learning and the internet.  One study suggests we are potentially going to see 2/3 of the US employment automated by 2030.  As one example, our University is already adapting to this new world by introducing a new interdisciplinary degree in “immersive media” or virtual reality.

SB: What is your advice to the new generation of talent? 

DF:  My advice to our students and the new generation of talent is that liberal arts continues to be very important.  Students want to go where they will learn the most and grow personally.  I do see a stressed generation across the system and at all abilities.  They are feeling anxiety, financial pressures and uncertainty.  They do have a social consciousness and want to make things better.   They are open to creative entrepreneurial options and have the platform to create global companies with the technology available.  They are not looking exclusively to larger corporations as a career choice.  It is ironic that the best education is returning to liberal arts for improving problem solving skills, using critical thinking, working in diverse teams, and learning to learn. These are high on the list of new literacies that matter. 


Learn more about Chatham on their website!

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog, Newsletter

May 19, 2018 - No Comments!

Kelly Hoey and the Future of Learning and Connecting in the New Economy

Where do we learn to network? I think it is a natural curiosity to understand others, however for many of us, it might be pretty scary too. We are seeing that building connections is a new leadership literacy.  Kelly Hoey has a unique take on why and how this works. After reading her book, Build Your Dream Network: Forging Powerful Relationships in Hyper-connected World, I reached out to her on Linkedin to thank her and ask if we might connect in order to explore further. She graciously agreed and I am so glad she did!


Sherry Benjamins: Tell me about your career path and how you developed the many professional hats your wear, which have included a lawyer, a social media influencer, a start-up advisor, an investor, and an author?

Kelly Hoey: Networking has enabled me to make some interesting career changes. I went to law school in ’91 and was working in a very suit-oriented world. I had the good fortune of working at prestigious law firms and there was decorum and an expectation around how you treated clients and how you held yourself in the world.  It was the way you interacted with people in your firm and profession. In the legal community, we refer to it as “practicing” law: you never reach the destination of expertise, but instead are a life-long learner.  That enabled me to go from lawyer to law firm management. Back then it was an uncommon change for lawyers to make.

Looking back, everything I’ve done has come from a foundation of successfully jumping into something new and working it out. I jumped into the deep end when I moved into the start-up world, and it goes back to that idea of what do you want to be known for?  What’s the reputation that you hold out to the world?  How do you interact with people?  A couple of women I respected had the idea for a start-up accelerator. They needed a third co-founder and when asking their network for anyone with a particular skillset, my name kept coming up. This is how opportunities happen.  Sometimes it means doing things that don’t make sense on paper.  Did it make sense for a lawyer with expertise in finance who had no experience in start-ups take on this new world?  I believe that it is not about what you know or who you know, but instead who knows what you know. That’s what can move one along their career.   

SB: Was it rare for a woman to be in investing at this time?  

KH: In late 2011, there were few investors committed to women led ventures.  Looking back, it was an overlooked and undervalued opportunity. Our idea was that “if you boys won’t invest in women, we will”.  It was a great thing to start and also a great thing to stop participating in when the time was right.  The realization though, came from the power of an entrepreneurial mindset.  I learned that even if you’re an employee, you should assume that mindset. Give yourself 1, 2 or 3 years to try something and ask yourself if it’s a long term venture and if not walk away.

SB: What did you learn from your start-up experience with Women Innovate, the NY accelerator?

KH: It was the best MBA learning experience I could have. It also affirmed my strengths as a business woman.  We can ask ourselves in our own careers: what am I really good at? What rocks my world?  Where’s the universe sending me a signal? For me, I realized that happens when I get handed big, bold ambitious projects with limited resources and somehow I make it happen. That was also the case in Law Firm management. So rather than thinking “outside of the box”, I like to get in the box and figure out a creative way through the problem. 

SB: In the forward to your book, Tom Peters says you have written about “revolution” not networking. What do you think he meant by that? 

KH: For Tom, its always been about the people. When you read the word “network” in a book title, you go to a certain place. Tom realized the book is about careers and ambitions and the decent human being in a digital age. It has everything and nothing to do with what we traditionally think about networking. It has to do with the importance of putting people first. Even though we are in an economic and industrial revolution with upheaval and uncertainty, the one thing that is more certain than ever is that our human relationships and people skills are more essential and valuable than ever before.

SB: How will building connections change in the future?

KH: We’re at an interesting inflection point because all generations are struggling with how to make meaningful connections. The more comfortable we get in being uncomfortable with how we make relationships is the first step to building strong, viable relationships and vibrant networks. The more we realize that these things can grow via a conference call, in person, or otherwise. It’s not one versus the other, it’s everything. The more we are genuinely, authentically ourselves, regardless of platform, the more we remember that it’s a real human being with a messy complicated life on the other end.  We are not just a user or a follower. To understand this is to become better human beings. 

SB: Talent forecasters say that “on demand” curated networks of people will replace the need to recruit. What’s your perspective on that?

KH: As long as you’ve got diversity, in the fullest sense of the word, the idea that people bring their whole network to their environment may solve some of the challenges in recruiting.  However, this rarely happens.   The notion that we’ll use these curated networks and also be aware of our blind spots in order to ensure diversity, could bring better problem solving, creativity, analytical thinking and more to our organizations. 

SB: What is your advice for the next generation of talent?

KH: I’m pausing for a second because don’t we say that every generation is going to be different and more difficult than the last? I’m thinking about Mr. Zuckerberg and congress. Tech companies were supposed to act differently, but when you think about it, he’s created a company that operates like the rest of them. You think about companies acting in extraordinary ways and they aren’t run by Millennials. It’s Patagonia or Ray Anderson of Interface Inc. When I think of revolutionary business leaders, it’s a bunch of older white guys and it’s kind of tragic. Why put pressure on a younger generation rather than look at it and say, we all have a responsibility to make this a success and strengthen how we interact and how we understand each other.

For the younger generation, I would say: It’s fine to have your way of doing things. We all have our preferences. Understand the environment you’re going into. Understand that you’re going to need to flex. You’re going to alter your choices. Know what your values are and what is most important to you so when you step into a workplace, you know which stuff you have to compromise on and which stuff you don’t. 


In closing, Kelly may be wired to connect the networking dots, but you can be too! I recommend reading her book and consider checking out her Creative Lives Program on June 6th. 

Don’t relegate networking to the bottom of your list.  If you want to pursue your dream career, networking must become a priority. It is about understanding others, how you add value to them and in return for yourself too.

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog, Newsletter

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