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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

March 12, 2018 - No Comments!

A Strategic Connection: SBC & EveryBusiness HR Essentials (EBHR)

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When two companies share a truly unique approach to their customers and are committed to the people side of business, why wouldn’t they team up? This year, S. Benjamins & Company (SBC) and EveryBusiness HR Essentials (EBHR) have agreed to a strategic partnership.  We believe that growing our shared resources will benefit our clients and teams.  Through this effort we are demonstrating the importance of openness and agility needed in business today.  SBC and EBHR are practicing what we preach.

We help organizations attract and hire great talent.  In addition to “finding the one”, we expand the conversation to include talent strategy and solutions beyond a single hire.  Sonya helps her clients embrace customized HR solutions at various key stages of their business growth.  Neither of us are a “one size fits all” firm and it is an exciting time to combine forces.

As we advise our clients about what workers want today and how they will thrive, we see less importance on hierarchy and more emphasis on reciprocity and creative collaboration.

How did we pair up? 

I met Sonya ten years ago.  We were hosting a learning event for HR leaders in transition and Sonya had just returned to California from a successful mid-west entrepreneurial venture.  She was looking for that next opportunity and what author Jenny Blake calls, “the pivot” to something new.  The successful pivot starts with a foundation of core values and understanding your strengths.  Sonya was entirely grounded on that front and was in the process of creating a vision for another chapter of her career in HR.  As  years passed, we developed a great relationship and exchanged ideas about our focus on the human side of business.  When she was ready to leave the corporate world and start her own company, we met to talk about the entrepreneurial life, which of course included the risks and rewards.

What I observed was Sonya’s quiet transparency, business savvy smarts and genuine positive spirit.  She was and remains open, curious and authentic about what matters.  She places purpose front and center.  EBHR cares about community, giving, learning and bringing the best ideas to her clients.  Our team values that too.  Most importantly we both approach our clients with a kind of care and commitment that I find energizing.  Together our firms support On Demand HR, Business Essentials (Work Design, Talent Strategy and Search) and Learning Forums/HRoundtables.

Our Plan

Kate Kjeell, our Managing Director and I are excited about this change and partnership with Sonya’s firm.  We’ll continue to focus on talent strategy and management search. That means finding our clients great leaders (in HR, Sales, Marketing, General Management, Operations) or helping them build their own capability to do that for themselves. For the past twenty years, we have utilized a project on-demand business model to deliver candidates and fill key management openings.  We augment our client’s existing Talent Acquisition function in a variety of ways.  Story telling in search is a key differentiator of ours.  We use creative approaches to help our clients tell their story to ensure we “find the one.”  Video, podcasts, marketing micro-sites are an example of the ways we increase our response rate with passive candidates.  The goal is to develop a high quality pool of talent for our client’s immediate and future needs.  It is all about meaningful and ongoing conversations.  We hope to hear from you to learn what you are up to and how we can stay connected and continue to learn from each other.

You can learn more about us at sbcompany.net & everybizhr.com!

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog, Communication, Management, Newsletter, Recruiting, Talent Economy

January 31, 2018 - No Comments!

Leadership in the Future Turns Models Upside Down

It may be too late to catch up, as Bob Johansen, author of The New Leadership Literacies states, but it is a great time to leapfrog.  Looking beyond skills, Bob introduces us to the new literacies that are really a combination of practices and world perspectives.

We will not see predictability and volatility and uncertainty will prevail.  So, how will leaders prepare for this?  In the future, Bob maps out forecasting as a tool to look ahead and then back to prepare for changes that are coming.  He also introduces low-risk gaming (great chapter on gaming)  to hone our skills.  Personal energy will need to be high and this matches up with the emphasis these days on health, well-being and mindfulness.

As a search consultant, our role has been to find the talent that our client has profiled for success.  It can be a financial leader of HR VP.  There are often long lists of requirements as we launch a search and it becomes the challenge to triangulate hard skills, strategic skills and character for a gbob j picood fit.

Clarity will be king in the future.  I mean, if we are clear on who we are and what we value, and what our business is intended to deliver, this will serve as our guide in making decisions and evaluating talent.  Those long list of requirements will transform into a "top five criteria and deliverables" for success in your organization.  The hiring team will embrace that and use advisors or trusted talent evaluators in their company to keep the team headed in the agreed upon direction.  Then, we will start to see the old job posting and description become an artifact of the past.  The new mindset is select for potential and fit with both top fives addressed.  What was certainty in writing those old artifacts will shift and be "clarity" on what it takes to succeed and show up authentically.

Future talent will be continual learners, embrace challenge and lead from the edge of complex networks.  Bob says, hierarchies will come and go and "mutual benefit partnering" will take hold.  If a new leader needs an expertise he or she is light on, there is encouragement to partner inside or out.  Experimenting and learning will be a celebrated process for the best leaders.

It used to be that leaders needed to learn it all and know it all - that is gone in this future.  Now, we will be measured on how to nurture and develop shared resources and ourselves from wonderfully diverse networks.  Sound good?  Our development will be as good as our network is.  Our success will be based on how open our companies are about listening to and learning from our talent.  Are you ready to leapfrog!

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Communication, Management, Recruiting

November 22, 2017 - No Comments!

Can You Tell Your Story in Three Minutes? Absolutely!

Charles Antis, CEO of Antis Roofing invited an impressive group of OC leaders to an event yesterday (in their amazing Irvine headquarters) to learn from an accomplished and inspiring Story Teller.  Charles models the power of story and purpose in big ways for all of us. He generously hosted Jay Golden, Author, story coach and storyteller who showed us how to tap into our own stories so that they are retellable and impactful.

It only takes three minutes and within a very short time we were practicing our stories with each other.  Jay says, that "the ability to find, shape and share your own story - told one to one and one to many - is one of your greatest assets as a leader."

What is a retellable story?  Jay's new book introduces concept using a simple framework.  You would think that we know how to do this. Not really.  I learned it can be simple and yet powerful in creating connection quickly. It does start with us.  Our stories reveal a lesson that helps inform and inspire others.   Antis 2

At this time of  year, we often retell stories at family gatherings or create new experiences that become future stories.   It is not just simply a beginning, middle and end process.  There is more to it and I recommend getting Jay's book to dive into this for yourself and your team.

Stories matter today.  The human connection we make with a memorable personal story takes our relationships and engagement with others to a different level.  This takes us beyond the noise and data flying at us every day. I can see the direct link of story to insight and creativity. I am going to try this out.   Jay says in his book, "The twists and turns of the story draws us in, gives form to the journey and enables us to gain new understanding. The teller is the guide to that understanding."

The concepts fascinate me and I am going to reflect on the stories that have been meaningful for me so that I may share them, plant some seeds and see how they grow. Any one who references Joseph Campbell is my hero, Jay closes his book with a quote from Joseph, "The hero is the one that comes to know."  Bravo.

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Communication, Employee Engagement, Management

October 14, 2017 - No Comments!

Are Robots Taking Over?

Some people think that dramatic improvement in robotics and AI puts us on the road to a jobless future.  MIT researchers Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee say we are in the "second machine age."  It is true that many jobs will be at risk of being automated and it is happening right now.   It is true the workplace is transforming.  However, the job market does not show that robots are on the rise yet.  Our clients share that they see a shortage of skilled folks and not a labor surplus.  If automation to replace humans was really impacting us now, we might see more job turnover.  One study written by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation says that "levels of job churn are at historic lows."  Barcelona star sculpture

We can't deny huge changes in work, workers and the workplace.  I respect what exists today and look forward to having the influence to change everything.  This sculpture is in the harbor in Barcelona, called Miraestels.  I was just there and loved this inspiring structure - he is holding a hidden star behind and he seems to pose a question, and imagines a possibility yet he is awaiting a response.

We in the people business don't have to wait for a response.

To get at some of the workplace questions, we hosted Kevin Mulcahy, author of the Future Workplace Experience and Dean Carter, head of HR and Shared Services for Patagonia on October 3rd with 100 senior executives to ask questions and learn of their perspective on change.

One message was, "The strongest organizations today are learning machines."  That does not mean robots that learn, it means humans learning to leverage technology and be agile in the face of huge change.

There is a focus on productivity (app-ification) for almost everything, from performance, to how you give feedback, understand your talent and worker expectations as well as profiling success.  The majority of our attendees, who are senior executives in HR or Talent said that digital analytics and workforce analytics is the next big thing for them. Data is king.  But there was recognition that having a strategy and clear assumptions about change needed is essential.

Kevin Mulcahy says, "Pick your trends."  Make the case for change and articulate the assumptions around this before you leap ahead with analytics or how you want to transform the workplace.

There was also discussion about Recruiting and the automation that will allow greater efficiency and the ability to build eco-systems of talent that are aligned with the organizations values, purpose and career paths.  Dean Carter talked about building communities of people who might want to work with Patagonia but the company or individual may not be ready.  His company curates conversations with talent that shares their values and purpose driven culture.  He urged us all to think broadly about ongoing and continuous conversations with talent and why having a clear and compelling employer brand is critically important to answer  the "why work here" question.

Are you a workplace activist?  You need to be...the robot will not play that role at all.  We have the opportunity in the people business to be the catalyst for change and to speak boldly about the big bets for the future and what can be started now. Go to it.

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Communication, Employee Engagement, Recruiting

August 28, 2017 - No Comments!

SBC August Newsletter – Meet Gayle Karen Young, Culture Builder & Catalyst

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Today leadership is about visibility and being authentic. Earlier this year, I attended a session with my favorite living poet, David Whyte, who inspires us to be vulnerable in being ourselves. I have followed his writing and enjoyed his workshops for many years. This session included a most intriguing organizational expert, Gayle Karen Young, who I was totally taken by. I found her perspective on leaders finding their way in this messy organizational life quite mind shifting.

Gayle brings wisdom and warmth to the conversation about how we develop as leaders within complex and changing systems.  She calls herself a “rogue provocateur.” Join me in our fascinating conversation about how we thrive in this unpredictable place called leadership.

Sherry Benjamins: Tell us about your perspective on leadership today.

Gayle Young: Its been fascinating to watch my own thoughts on leadership and culture evolve as I’ve moved from being an external consultant to taking on a role as Chief Talent and Culture Officer (essentially the CHRO) at the Wikimedia Foundation, and then going out on my own again.

For background, the Wikimedia Foundation is a fascinating organization for being one of the top five visited websites in the world. It’s the only top 50 website that is a non-profit. The actual organizational size is small, but a huge number of volunteers help run it and essentially create the product. Each language has their own Wikipedia and governing bodies. The volunteer base influences a lot of the dynamics. We worked in more of a network or influence-based structure.

Any dynamic that impacts the geopolitical news landscape, shows up on Wikipedia. Whether it was a downed flight in Ukraine or conflicts in South America, you can see ideological differences pop up across different wikis. It taught me a lot about complexity, permeability, culture, and of course, the day-to-day of business management like performance, quarterly goals, large implementations, etc.. I grew to have an appreciation for the intersection of complexity and organizational development and culture.

Being a leader in these contexts for me means having a capacity to work both the mythic and the mundane. It requires working on the mission, the values, the intangibles, and the day-to-day experiences that become tangible components that nudge a complex system in a particular way, like the way that decisions are made or that meetings are run. I say “nudge” because I believe that we don’t get to manage culture. We do small things that ripple through a system in profound ways.

SB: You’re now collaborating with fascinating leaders and companies.  What made you decide to go out on your own? 

GY: I was at the Wikimedia Foundation for four years and I loved it. It was a great place to practice leadership and my own mission. I was working with one of the executive directors, Sue Gardner, who I would follow anywhere. There was a leadership transition where the organization didn’t need me in the same way and I had personal needs that led me to take a year off. At that time, I was at a retreat at the Burren Executive Leadership Program, which aimed to foster a leader’s action by way of reflection. That’s when I first met David Whyte, who was an artist in residence. It changed the course of my life.

SB: Tell us about what you do to help a leader with running their company? 

GY: I do have one-on-one coaching with clients where we reflect on their own practices of leadership. I also work with executive teams. Sometimes I go in and support a new team as it’s coming together. We explore how do they lead together? What does collective leadership look like? A team that’s high-performing doesn’t just do their own thing and then come together. They practice what they want to do.

I also have my passion projects. I work with an organization called Hidden Leaf that offers grants for personal development for social justice leaders, or I work with organizations like Uncharted, that supports social entrepreneurs.

SB: What would you say to a CHRO today about their leaders and the organization  of the future? 

GY:  I think it starts with understanding the evolving nature of the workforce and it’s an interesting one. There’s an upsurge of people looking for meaning. A lot of Millennials tend to be part of the compulsive-awesome generation. In terms of designing work and roles, people are asking, “what is their evolving portfolio of their skill set?”

An organization’s culture is a nested set of environments. If you’re going to understand the culture of Wikimedia, for example, you have to understand the values of the Enlightenment and the spirit of the Gutenberg Press, as well as seeing that it is rooted in the ethos of the free knowledge movement and in the open nature of the internet itself. Those streams of values, norms, and beliefs are part of the operating ecosystem. A CHRO can understand and track the streams that are influencing an organization’s culture.

SB: How do we start to see the often subtle influences at play when understanding what influences us? 

GY: If you’re going to try to understand yourself, try to understand the contexts you emerge from as a beginning. I’m an immigrant with a Chinese family, raised in California.  Each of these things gives a window into what makes me up. In that way Toms Shoes would be influenced by philanthropy, the shoe industry, manufacturing, and its location in Silicon Beach. It’s like mapping out what all the elements are of being you, but at an organizational level.

SB: As we reflect on who we want to be as leaders, are you seeing more partnership between CEO’s and HR?

GY: If you're CEO doesn’t get you and has a traditional view of HR, in other words, a compliant-based version of HR instead of a development-based version, that makes for a very difficult relationship and forward thinking partnership. Particularly if the CEO doesn’t appreciate and value and support that function, it is almost a non-starter.

SB: I attended the workshop that you and David did together and I’ve followed David’s work for over 20 years.  He facilitates new conversations that guide  personal development. . Do you see executives investing in this way?   

GY: If you want people to follow you with a kind of whole-hearted engagement, then personal development and professional development are inextricable. One metaphor is the difference between a hollow core and a robust one, and that IS visible in the world whether you know it or not. As a leader, by the very of nature of leadersihp, you must have a willingness to really be seen. What you’re seen as standing for, since every movement you make is watched and noted on, as an active, conscious choice, makes all the difference in the world. That’s where the self-knowledge comes in. With the work David does, he helps get us to be grounded in our own robust vulernability. But we have our own work to do to understand how we want to be seen in the world, what we stand for, and what we live out. It’s this notion of when you’re unaware of what you put into the world, Jung said, “that which remains in the unconscious comes back to us as fate.” Unless you work with your own interior landscape, then you don’t have a hope of influencing what it is that you invite.

In closing...We are in a time when doing the “internal work” of a leader is seen as high value, yet many find it challenging to accomplish. Gayle’s refreshing and honest perspective encourages us all to dive in to move forward. Clearly, the benefits of finding a friend or coach to help you in your leadership journey are invaluable.

June 9, 2017 - No Comments!

Pressing Re-Start in Bali – Many are doing it

We just returned from one of our favorite places on earth - Bali.  It had been six years since we had visited our Balinese family (former business partner and friend of my husband) and now our adopted family far away but close in heart.  Life is changing there and while all the magic and beauty of the island remains, you can see that business is more entrepreneurial, tech savvy and global.  For me global means a richer more diverse group of people doing work and living in Bali than I observed years ago.  We met Europeans, Americans, Australians, professors, musicians, academics and entrepreneurs - it was more like a mini United Nations. 

Eighty five percent of the population in Bali (which is 4 million people) are Hindu.  They belBali offeringieve that spirits inhabit trees, stones, forests, and places.  It is truly a fascinating mix of ancient tradition and contemporary life yet a focus on culture, spirit, family, music and art.  I always wondered how the mash up of corporate work and spiritual practice would play out as businesses grew. It seems to work so far with such an influx of folks from all over the globe who respect this wonderful culture and people. 

This island in Indonesia offers a confetti of sensory experiences, smells of frangipani and burning trash along with sounds of Gamelan that soothes the soul.  What better place to grow an idea, start a business or re-start your psychic and physical energy.   I even found a company called Hubud (hub in Ubud) that brings coworking, coliving and colearning experiences to entrepreneurs from all over the world. They look for digital nomads.   I do hope all these global citizens or corporate escapees embrace the gift of Bali culture and respect for tradition and not change it too much. 

There is a total engagement of social media now that we did not see six years ago.  Trip Advisor is king in a land of tourism and growing hospitality businesses in a big competitive market.   I don't recall on previous visits the requests in a  very nice yet direct way for feedback, comments on facebook, and please share your customer experience.  We met two business owners that are focusing on marketing plans, improving their on line presence and learning about branding.  That is new.

The good news is that religious expression, colorful ceremonial dress, daily offerings, dance and music remain key to their life.  Ceremonies which are daily communicate ideas about community, status and aspects of life as well as afterlife.  People embrace living fully and honestly today for it might impact later in the next life.   Not a bad idea to take with us and cherish in our home and work here today.

      

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Communication, Management, Talent Economy

April 24, 2017 - No Comments!

Writing as an Active Practice

KPCC hosted the first event of three this past Sunday called UNHEARD LA.  It is about the stories where we live.  There were ten fascinating people that told their story to an auditorium of 400 people at Whittier college on this first night of the series.  It just so happens that one of those people was our son, Erik Benjamins.  The stories were incredible and so diverse and offered an inside view of living in Los Angeles.  It truly highlighted what many of us love about LA - the multicultural community and culture, openness, along with stories of opportunity and possibility.  The storytellers were from very different backgrounds and experiences for sure and KPCC did their magic in producing a rich introspective into people where we live. Erik FullSizeR

So our son, Erik shared his story about a recent successful book project.  His book is called Last Day First Day and he shares the process of gathering the letters from 186 individuals from all over the world and this country so that they could write to former President Obama and incoming President Trump on what they wanted to say to each on their last or first day.

I really appreciated that Erik talked about writing as a practice like going to the gym. Through this project he realized so many of us are hesitant to or chose not to invest in this practice for ourselves.  Maybe it is easier to text these days.  In this exercise others were asked to express thoughts in word, image, drawing or whatever to write this letter to our outgoing and incoming Presidents on January 20th.

I like the idea that writing is a personal and even intimate practice and there are so many rich ways to express our thoughts and vulnerabilities.  The individuals that told their stories were vulnerable, honest and inspiring.  They expressed an optimism and possibility even in light of some that had great adversity to deal with.   Thank you KPCC for bringing the voices of LA to our community and thank you Erik for encouraging us to write and start new conversations.

 

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Communication, Employee Engagement

April 9, 2017 - No Comments!

Helping Others Drives Success

We launched our second HRoundtable this past week with the help of my long-time friend and wonderful consultant, business owner Sonya Kemp. Sonya believes in the notion that giving to others and allowing a group to learn from each other strengthens the outcome for everyone.  Adam Grant talks about this in his giving book, "Give and Take."  We have eight wonderful managers in this group from premier companies and they are already demonstrating their passion to give to each other and learn.

They are energized to be sitting at the table with their peers from other companies and industries.  The range of perspectives is broad and fascinating.  They will meet quarterly to focus on forward looking ideas in order to build their influence as new managers and strengthen their strategic points of view. hroundtable logo 3blue

The idea of a peer learning group is not new.  We have seen many models like this across the executive suite and beyond into other functional areas.  What is exciting about this group and our HRoundtable in general is that we build the notion of giving from the start and it becomes the norm for the group.  People carry it forward in their interactions and ultimately this improves the process and how they contribute overall.  The bar is raised on who fits in the group and how they will build enriched networks and collaborate too.

It dawned on me that the HRoundtable that Sonya is now leading is embracing the four attributes that contribute to being a giver.  As Adam Grant writes about this in his book he states that "givers rise to the top."  The have a unique approach that includes; networking, collaborating, evaluating and influencing.  Adam also explores  how givers, takers and matchers build networks.  It is quite different.  The taker might be described as a self promoter or self absorbed. The giver looks at the world in abundance terms and in generosity.  Givers gain.  Thank you Sonya for being a part of this newly formed group and giving your generous spirit and experiences to this team.

January 15, 2017 - No Comments!

Last Day First Day

Following the election last fall, our son, Erik initiated a project called "Last Day First Day." I was taken by his initiative and timing to ask us all to actively reflect through writing.    Writing, creating, performing allows reflection and self-expression.  Whether you voted for either candidate in the election, the process of sharing your views in a simple letter results in shifting or embracing a new mindset and yes, we are creating art in doing this simple act.

We can apply this exercise whether it is for a political, personal or business reason.first day last day  Engagement means diving into new conversation so that we understand more clearly where we stand and learn from each other's perspectives.  How about embracing honesty?  There is honesty in our own action and words.  Every day we have a chance to share an honest perspective and walk through new doors; maybe you have the first day in a new job and a last day to leave what you knew behind.  You now have a new story to write. The story will emerge through your words and experience.

I am suggesting (thank you Erik) that whether you are writing to Obama or Trump, or writing to your old boss and or a new one, the power of your reflection opens you to creativity and courage that might surprise you.  Julia Cameron, author of the Artists Way, suggests daily morning pages. What if you simply wrote for last and first days of any change this year.  New job, new project, new boss, or new relationship.  Let your creative self speak up this year. Imagine the stories you have inside you.   Thank you Erik for inspiring us to action and an idea that might serve us all well over the course of this new year beyond January 20th.