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

June 9, 2018 - No Comments!

Why it Pays to “Break the Rules” – Are you a Rebel?

There is a new book out that is worth exploring.  Francesca Gino, Professor of Business at Harvard just published, "Rebel Talent: Why it Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life."

It is refreshing to read about others who break the roles, re-invent or change the world for better.  At a time when there is so much disturbing news and divide across the country, Francesca speaks to possibility and prospering even in this turbulent world.

The rebel leader is not just about people who lead others.  It is about those of us who thrive in a world of change and at times welcome discomfort.  It might be more natural for us humans to accept conformity, but Francesca shares rich stories of those that know themselves and stretch the boundaries.  One of her guiding principles is to encourage constructive dissent.  It is really about understanding all perspectives and gaining understanding before making decisions.  Her examples from Robert Kennedy to leaders at General Motors brings to life great rebels.

I so appreciated another one of her principles, which is "fostering happy accidents." One of our colleagues, Gina Codd from Edwards Lifesciences introduced the refreshing concept of "welcome surprises" at her company.  Cultures that welcome idea exchange, making mistakes and enjoying what you learn from accidents is clearly a place I would want to be.

What type of rebel are you? There is an assessment that allows us to explore that and learn.  Check out Francesca's book and begin to recognize that we need rebels in our work and life in order to bring about positive lasting change.  

 

 

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

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 21, 2018 - No Comments!

Don’t Network Like This

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

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

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

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

Tips:

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

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

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

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

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

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Communication, Management

April 17, 2018 - No Comments!

April Newsletter: Bill Carpou and Building the SoCal of Tomorrow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SB: And funding?

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

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

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

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

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

SB: Is there a roadmap for this?

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

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

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

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

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


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

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog, Newsletter

April 17, 2018 - No Comments!

April Newsletter: Artificial Intelligence and Business Intelligence with Gene Tange

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SB: How will HR move forward in this arena?

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

Concluding Comments

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

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog, Newsletter

April 17, 2018 - No Comments!

April Newsletter: Amy Sfreddo and the Importance of Social Capital

Companies growing social capital makes a Difference

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog, Newsletter