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  • March 24, 2019 1:18 PM | Theresa Boyce (Administrator)

    - written by Philadelphia member - Philadelphia Chapter CEO Trustees met on March 13th at Synovos in Radnor, PA for a roundtable business discussion.  We had a lively and engaging conversation on several business topics including leadership alignment, talent attraction and retention, on-going self-development and other top-of-mind topics. We also had an overview of Synovos business in the MRO supply space and some of the priorities for the team.  Overall, it was a very engaging discussion and an excellent networking event.


  • February 15, 2019 5:29 PM | Theresa Boyce (Administrator)

    Join us for CEO Trust's "Landing Board Seats" Webinar with Mike Lorelli on February 26th. In anticipation of that event here is a related article:

    By Michael K. Lorelli, CEO Trustee and upcoming webinar keynote

    There are 3,671 public companies with $500 million-plus in revenues in the United States—half the number as in 1996, according to a Nov. 17, 2017, Wall Street Journal op-ed piece. In contrast, private equity (PE) has quietly exploded, with an estimated 17,103 portfolio companies today, according to Private Equity Info. The vast majority of these companies have boards. But why? Public companies have little choice. Private companies have little obligation. Yet both company types typically have a working board of directors that meets regularly, sets agendas, and has committees.

    PE firms aren’t exactly known for their lack of IQ or a shortage of scrutiny on every dollar spent on general and administrative costs. While the value of having boards at PE-owned companies is largely anecdotal, insights from those who manage portfolio companies or have served as directors of such companies reveal the ways in which having a board can be critical to sustaining the success of a privately held company.

    Why the Hold Period Matters

    The average PE firm owns a portfolio company for 5.6 years, according to Private Equity Info, which makes for an environment operating at a breakneck pace. The PE firm’s agenda in a new investment typically kicks off with a comprehensive 100-day plan, providing a lightning start on a strategic plan that will also wring any excess spending out of the equation from the very first second of the hold period. Keep in mind, PE is driven by three measures:

    ■■ The internal rate of return or the net return earned by investors over a particular time.

    ■■ Cash-on-cash return.

    ■■ Hold period (less is more) or the length of time the PE firm owns a company.

    Two of these three measures are time-driven, hence the incredible speed inherent to PE firms. Tomorrow really means this afternoon. Next year means next week.

    “Putting a board in place and doing a GAAP audit are essential to our 100-day plans,” says Pamela B. Hendrickson, COO and vice chair of strategic initiatives at The Riverside Co. Hendrickson is a 13-year veteran of Riverside where she oversees a portfolio of 81 companies. “There’s no time to mess around in this high-multiple environment. You really need the growth plan pretty quickly. A good board will help you formulate as well as identify pitfalls.”

    What’s in It for the PE Firm

    “When you’re working with other people’s money—i.e., limited partners—you can’t run [the company] like a proprietorship. No one person has the answers,” says Allan Grafman, a former operating partner at Mercury Capital. “With a good board, we get to the destination faster, and usually with a smarter answer, with more of the right people rowing. I’ve never seen a portfolio company without a board.”

    “Various entities are formed to limit liability. A properly structured and run board can add to the shield,” says Robert S. Tucker, managing director at Capital Partners. “A board takes an interest on behalf of investors, lenders, and employees while others aren’t watching, caring about the interests of those who aren’t always there.”

    Hendrickson adds: “I can’t think of a time when we didn’t put a board in place. Even our Strategic Capital Fund, where we take minority interests, insists on a board where we (the investor) will have one director. Governance is so much of our focus. If proper governance is in place, everything else will follow.”

    The value of a board is underscored upon exit of the portfolio company, says Tucker. “Every PE firm obviously discounts the management projections by some number, based on the perceived quality of management and other factors,” he explains. “To the extent that there are tight practices, audits, key performance indicators, rigorous reporting, all decrease the discount. The lack of a board would result in a larger discount. Existence of a board with meeting minutes signals a higher level of professionalism.”

    Private Company Governance

    Hendrickson also believes that company valuations are influenced by the existence of a board. “Valuations are definitely more art than science. A seller doesn’t want the lack of a board to be one more thing the buyer believes he will have to fix. And on Riverside’s exit, one reason we get paid well is we’ve done these things right,” she says.

    The value boards bring to smaller companies is enormous. “Good outside directors will often see things the CEO misses and will ask provocative questions and push for alternate scenarios,” Hendrickson says. “For example, ‘Have you ever thought about...?’ and highlight potential pitfalls calling on their own experiences.”

    An informal survey of managing directors and operating partners suggests that the number of portfolio companies with boards is likely 85 to 90 percent. Said one fund manager: “Operating partners with investment banking backgrounds make crappy operators. You need outside directors who have been there, done that.”

    The surveyed managing directors agreed that there are compelling reasons to create a board, although the execution varies: larger private equity groups tend to have a more structured approach, while smaller private equity sponsors are more ad hoc. In both cases, the board model is the same. The model calls for one outside director with industry expertise and a second director with deep functional expertise in the area crucial to the portfolio company. One operating partner suggested what he called the “unanimous success formula” for private company board composition. The elements of this formula include:

    ■■ Having serial board members. They know how to zero in on the leverage points, participate efficiently, and lend a hand to the C-suite where appropriate.

    ■■ Laying out the 12-month rolling board meeting calendar in advance, complete with committee meetings.

    ■■ Supplementing the engagement with a monthly financial call so the board is always up to speed and engaged. This dispenses with lengthy financial reviews at board meetings.

    ■■ Keeping the financial review during in-person board meetings to 30 minutes.

    ■■ Creating a board agenda that strikes the right balance between strategy and tactics, knowing that a meaty strategic agenda will fully utilize the outside directors.

    ■■ Sending the board book to directors at least a full week in advance of the meeting.

    ■■ Having the CEO reach out informally to board members between meetings.

    ■■ Encouraging directors to lend a hand to some of the B players in management to help them better their odds of success.

    Capital Partners’ Tucker believes that larger private equity firms will all have boards. Only small, and perhaps fundless sponsors, might not have a formal board. Tucker also believes in smaller board sizes. “Typically, five or seven members [is best], and always an odd number,” he says. “The independent directors bring value with an outside perspective and an ability to challenge the inside thinking.”

    There may be pushback from a CEO who really doesn’t want other people in his or her sandbox. “Boards that are too energetic can get in the way,” observes Tucker. “But I haven’t seen management resistance, though there may be some grousing unbeknownst to us. And while SOX [the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002] is a public company regulation, tentacles of it nevertheless emanate to the private markets.”

    What’s in It for Directors

    If you’re being checked out for a portfolio company board role, one of your first questions should be where the company is in the PE firm’s hold period. If the firm is just buying the company, great— everything should be going well unless this was a distress sale (and you’ve already climbed onto the fire truck). Otherwise, you’ve got five years to hopefully gain some stock-option appreciation. If there are fewer than four years left in the average hold period, the runway for your options is obviously shorter. And no living pilot would think to take off from halfway down the runway.

    “We’re careful in the selection process,” Hendrickson says. “A small company board is a lot of work, and that makes the process mutually self-selective. The better outside directors get asked back again, and all are invited to our annual Riverside University two-day offsite,” which, she adds, is both “an educational experience and a perk.”

    Unlike public companies, private companies tend to start with just two of the usual board committees: audit and compensation. There is no burning need for a nominating and governance committee since, given the shorter runway, there is not a lot of time devoted to CEO succession. With a typical hold period of 5.6 years, CEOs aren’t given the benefit of the doubt very long. One private equity CEO remarked that he felt his tenure was like “the half-life of uranium.”

    Directors are likely to be involved in the full bandwidth of the agenda, considerably more than in a public board environment. And since the board is smaller than at a public company—typically comprised of the CEO, two directors from the private equity firm, and two or three outside directors—the atmosphere and interaction between board members and management will be a lot more intimate. Hendrickson demands that “outside directors be active, provide insight and direction, and ask hard questions.” The hidden value of the board, she says, may be that “the operating rhythm of a company is in large part set by the board meetings. It forces discipline.”

    Again, brace yourself for the rocket launch provided by the PE firm’s 100-day plan. While the work falls squarely on the management team, the board is close enough to the action to be watching and feeling the artillery fire.

    The 100-day plan is actually the first strategic exercise,” says Mark A. Pfister, CEO of Pfister Strategy Group and author of Across the Board: The Modern Architecture Behind an Effective Board of Directors (M.A. Pfister Strategy Group, 2018). “Boards with extensive strategic planning experience have historically out-performed those lacking this important discipline.”

    A new strategic plan is typically in order, and the PE firm will book an offsite with the management team and board, usually with an experienced strategy-work facilitator. The opportunity and expectation should be for outside directors to add their personal value—knowledge of the category, high-level introductions, experience with companies in similar stages of growth, and the like. Talk to the PE firm in advance, and gain insight as to their expectations for the session—and plan to earn your keep.

    A PE firm is likely to have piled on a hefty portion of debt, so “covenant watch” is an integral part of the board’s responsibility. It’s easy to scrape close to the guardrails when you’re speeding along at 160 miles per hour, so management should provide the board with a rolling eight-quarter covenant projection model. That way, the company is in a position to alert the lender months in advance and hopefully remain on the forward side of credibility.

    Outside directors often serve a double role—vetting board or management candidates, and conversely selling those candidates on the opportunity. Enthusiasm is contagious—and appreciated. Another valuable role played by the outside director is that of a confidant and sounding board to the CEO. After all, it is lonely at the top, and even the CEO needs someone to confide in and, occasionally, vent frustrations. It’s better to do that with a director than with subordinates. The best outside directors I have had in my four CEO roles were those who offered an ear to me, and in my years as a director, I’ve returned the same courtesy that was thoughtfully given to me.

    Blink twice and, a couple of board meetings later, the target setting for the next year’s operating plan will begin. It may feel like the final approach, but these budget-setting conversations can be testy, given that potential bonus dollars will be on the table.

    And so the cycle continues. With one additional nuance: it’s never too early to be thinking about the exit. In truth, it actually began before the acquisition closed.

  • January 24, 2019 11:37 AM | Theresa Boyce (Administrator)

    CEO Trustees met on January 18th at WHYY studios in Philadelphia for an engaging conversation with Bill Marrazzo, WHYYs CEO. Bill connected immediately with fellow CEOs and successfully tailored his discussion to the questions and interests of the Trustees. His open and candid responses revealed the everyday and long-term challenges WHYY faces in a media driven, rapidly changing and demanding world. Lively conversations and personal connections and interactions with each member ensured a successful and well received morning event.

    CEO Trustees learned that during Bill's tenure, he has tripled the size of the newsroom, significantly grown its audience, and enabled WHYY to have the reputation as the "most trusted source of news and information". 

    Bill talked about the nature of the business and its challenges. This includes the changing demographics of its audience, funding sources, new avenues of reaching its audience, and disruptors (like satellite radio). Bill’s passion for his job and drive for excellence was evident. He feels that as a nonprofit, the bar should be even higher than a for-profit as they receive donations, do not pay taxes, and receive some government funding. He holds himself and his organization to an extremely high standard and clearly strives to provide exceptional service. Bill has brought the discipline of previously being a public company CEO and molded and shaped it to drive the success of WHYY. We also learned that PBS and NPR are network brands, individual stations are their own entities developing content, and thus WHYY is responsible for building its own brand.

    Of particular interest is the innovation that is being pursued in reaching WHYY's audience and meeting their needs (current and future) through programming. Just one example is the use of billboards and alerting drivers of what is coming up on their radio station so they can tune in (if not already). And like many great organizations, WHYY is data driven – analyzing everything and making smart decisions. Bill deferred to Art Ellis his VP of Communications and Public Relations for facts and details around targeting, markets, and funding. Art’s knowledge and scope of the business was impressive and added to the depth of the discussions.

    Across from our meeting room was the set of the new program, "You Oughta Know". Being in the studios was exhilarating. Rounding out the morning was a surprise drop in visit by radio personality Marty Moss-Coane, making it a truly unique experience.

    Mark Spool, Ph.D., owner of Management Development Solutions, a leadership development consulting firm, arranged this meeting.


    • April 08, 2018 12:26 PM | Theresa Boyce (Administrator)

      RECAP OF A CEO ROUNDTABLE:

      We came into the historic Farmhouse out of the chilly early morning rain to a warm, cozy, dark wood-lined dining room with a table that could have hosted Ben Franklin or other early forefathers. Over breakfast we discussed a range of topics from civility to hiring and education. It was a lively discussion, and while the topics were serious, the tone and openness was cheerful. The recommended books/video illustrate the range of the discussion:

      ·      Getting Naked: A Business Fable About Shedding The Three Fears That Sabotage Client Loyalty by Patrick M. Lencioni 

      ·      The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM) by Hal Elrod and Robert Kiyosaki

      ·      How to Have a Good Day: Harness the Power of Behavioral Science to Transform Your Working Life by Caroline Webb

      ·      Video: Naval Admiral William H. McRaven: Commencement Address - If you want to change the world start by making your bed

      We closed the meeting at 9 am to get off to work. The morning seemed warmer and the dreary start to the day seemed distant, in the past. I left with added energy to tackle the day and some fresh valuable ideas too.


    • February 22, 2018 1:43 PM | Theresa Boyce (Administrator)

      Join us for CEO Trust's "Private Equity Play" Webinar with Mike Lorelli on February 27th. In anticipation of that event here is a related article:

      By Michael K. Lorelli, CEO Trustee and upcoming webinar keynote

      A heads-up to directors: Sure, private equity and public company chief executives carry some of the same DNA and title, yet the operating and expectation differences can be huge—and capable of creating a fireball.

      Shareholder vs. Shareholders

      Not having the ongoing management of shareholders is a plus for the private equity (PE) CEO—no public earnings releases, analyst conference calls, important shareholder phone calls, preparation of fancy annual reports, and the like. The PE CEO enjoys the simplicity of one or a couple of shareholders—or does he? The PE firm has powerful and timely motives to succeed, creating a different set of pressures. I will disagree with every article that says PE companies are not under quarterly earnings pressure. In many cases, it’s substituted with monthly EBITDA (Earnings Before Income, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization) pressures and loan covenants that sometimes require NASCAR caliber skills to stay off the guardrails.

      The PE shareholder is focused on three metrics: return on investment, cash-on-cash return, and hold period. Two of these three metrics place enormous emphasis on time. Public company long-term earnings-per-share (EPS) growth is not as time-sensitive as the bragging rights of a four-year hold period. The public company CEO has no hold period.

      The result in some ways is perpetual. There is no hard cliff date, after which you’ve failed. This can (and does) lead to more financial intrusiveness into the PE CEO’s daily life. It can be a plus, as the newly minted MBAs on the deal team are, after all, pretty good at this stuff and can carry much of the burden when it comes to areas such as renegotiating the loan or resetting covenants.

      PE firms usually expect their CEO to be heavily focused on operations, and in some ways to behave like a COO. That can be invigorating and fun for the right kind of CEO, particularly since the focus on EBITDA often doesn’t afford the management layer of a COO at all—certainly a reality in small-cap companies.

      The PE CEO, therefore, needs to be totally comfortable and have the bandwidth to shoulder many responsibilities, even the mundane. The flip side, particularly in the small-cap PE environment, is that it is truly “lonely at the top.” Where do you go to confidentially kick the dog? My experience with PE deal teams is that the average IQ is about 160, so there is no shortage of mental stimulation. At one firm, I would book a half day in their office, often between board meetings and with a scant agenda, just to see where the conversation flowed. These were times when it was therapeutic to just let one’s guard down and perhaps experience a few bonding moments.

      PE CEOs of new companies have additional agenda items, such as the 100-Day Action Plan (how the deal thesis will be translated into an operational plan from the word “go”), and exit planning. Here is where the PE partners’ contributions really shine. They have mastered the art of the 100-Day Action Plan and typically have tremendous resources to craft an Excel likelihood-versus-purchase multiple exit target matrix, with which the CEO can go and artfully cultivate relationships with the CEOs of potential next parents.

      Exit planning at a new company begins on day one. PE deal teams nevertheless should be forewarned: Add value to your CEO or stay out of the way! There is a real difference between adding value and simply having your hand on the rudder. There’s no faking it. The CEO’s respect is earned. There is an art to constructive suggestions and engagement versus leading with your electoral votes.

      PE CEO Candidates

      A Top 5 PE firm has said that in 50 percent of its acquisitions there is an understanding that a new CEO will be recruited. Either the founder/owner/entrepreneur is cashing out or by mutual agreement, it is deemed that a different set of skills is needed for the next stage of the company. That same PE firm also said that by month nine, 50 percent of the CEOs are not standing. This redefines the expression “half-life of uranium.” This unfortunate result has lessons for the board involved in the selection process, for potential candidates as they boldly “opt in,” for the recruiter who may want to notch another successful placement, and, of course, for the PE investor who at this stage may have tested his gymnastics to the limits with his limited partners. The time and money involved are significant: severance, recruitment fees, the onboarding of the second CEO, and so on. In the meantime, the hold period meter is ticking. A lost nine months because of the wrong CEO pick can seem like a lifetime—and to a PE firm, that is a lifetime.

      The following characteristics best describe the PE CEO:

      • “Jack be nimble, Jack be quick.” The time pressures (hold period, etc.) of the PE environment put pressure on the stakeholders to change out the CEO much earlier if there are performance questions. Call it a faster trigger if you will, but those are the stakes. Management answers to their limited partners who are focused on returns. History suggests that Wall Street has more patience. Board members and recruiters would be well advised to err on the side of the candidate who both tolerates this immediacy and thrives on it.
      • A Jack-of-all-trades skill set. She or he is indeed the chief cook, bottle washer, CEO, COO, Chief “Lended” Officer, and—given the scarcity of administrative assistants—may even have a trip to Staples on the to-do list.
      • No corporate staff to write a strategic plan, and certainly no budget to commission assistance from a big-name consulting firm.
      • The new PE portfolio company CEO had better cozy up and love the tight quarters shared with the deal team because they’re in this foxhole together—and may even be sharing a pillow some nights.

      It has been said by one recruiter that if you want a CEO candidate from a company like General Electric or PepsiCo, don’t recruit an executive directly from GE or PepsiCo. Instead, find the executive who left one of the Fortune 50 companies to be the biggest fish in a smaller pond—only to fail, get kicked, fall in the streets, get rained on and shot at, and then picked themselves up, learned from the smaller company transformation, and successfully pulled themselves up by the bootstraps, and having been bruised, yes, by the experience, nevertheless learned the hard way to think and perform in an environment without all of the support systems.

      To directors of PE firms, think about these observations from both sides of the fence. Some of these recruiting characteristics may have applicability to the search process for the new dawn of public companies, where Wall Street is becoming less and less patient. After two tours of duty as a PepsiCo division president, I couldn’t do what I do now without the skills I learned in that high-performance culture and environment. Yet I wouldn’t trade my present day PE life for all the bitcoins in the world. The PE world offers truly unique and rewarding challenges, for both the portfolio company CEO, and its PE firm. The ideal next PE CEO candidate may be a blend of large company, smaller company, and PE experience.

    • October 09, 2017 9:50 AM | Theresa Boyce (Administrator)

      On Thursday morning, we sat down with Patrick Harker, CEO of the Philadelphia Federal Reserve. Pat took a few minutes to share a top-line view of the economy and the local Greater Philadelphia region. The remaining hour was a fascinating discussion that ranged from talent mismatch with company hiring needs to levels of student debt and the concern about many state debt levels. Pat mentioned a couple studies. The links to those are: 

      Investing in America’s Workforce study: 

      https://www.philadelphiafed.org/-/media/community-development/publications/special-reports/investing-in-americas-workforce/iaw-report-on-workforce-development-needs-and-opportunities.pdf

      And the Apprenticeship Guide: 

      https://www.philadelphiafed.org/community-development/publications/special-reports/apprenticeship-guide

      This was an off the record conversation with Pat Harker, a fellow leader, not a statement coming from the Federal Reserve, so I won’t summarize the content in detail. This was not video taped for CEOs who could not attend.  

      After the meeting, we had private tours of the underground vault. It was an experience and interesting. We marveled at the sophisticated machinery, and at the same time, it seemed quaint, as much of the process seems unchanged in many years. One surprise for me, was the distinct and recognizable smell of money, somewhat overwhelming at the beginning of the tour, fading as we moved to the area where the bills were sorted and repackaged to go back out into circulation. Of course the security and locked down nature of the operation was impressive.

      A well spent morning.


    • August 07, 2017 3:26 PM | Theresa Boyce (Administrator)

      written by Bryan Mattimore who is Cofounder and Chief Idea Guy of the Growth Engine Innovation Agency in Norwalk, CT, and author of the books, Idea Stormers, and 21 Days to a Big Idea.

      A recent CEO Trust dinner-event in Connecticut, sponsored by Milford Financial at the Stonebridge restaurant in Milford, CT, featured a compelling talk by entrepreneur Mario Leite. Chief Executive Officer of the five-year old CT ice cream company Tea-rrific!, Mario, along with his wife and cofounder, Souvannee Leite, shared some of the hard-won lessons, along with the tremendous satisfactions, in starting a new business based on a combination of personal passion and creative persistence.

      If you don’t know Tea-rrific! and its products, it is tea-infused ice cream. Flavors include such exotically named products and ingredients as: Matcha Green Tea, Chunky London Mist, Ginger Matcha, London Mist, Masala Chai, Chamomile, and Lavender's Blueberry.

      Yes, at first blush, it seems like an outlier, even crazy idea, right? Tea in ice cream? Turns out, it’s a wonderful combination… as all the CEO Trust members can now attest from their own personal taste-tastings. Comments included: “absolutely delicious,” “light and refreshing”, “tastes more natural and healthier than other ice creams,” and “the tea adds such extraordinary flavor!”   

      Mario’s willingness to share the inside story of the significant challenges: including financing (from friends and family), product development, packaging, production, sales, and marketing... and the solutions he and his wife conceived to creatively address them, made for a fun and fascinating look at their five-year journey to success. Here are five key takeaways/lessons learned from Mario’s talk:

      Quality is King (and Queen)

      In these times of quick hits, short new product development time frames, and occasionally shoddy product quality, it was clear that Mario was passionate about creating quality products, and taking the time necessary to do it. He and his wife experimented for a full year to get just the right combination of ingredients and blends to create a delicious, healthier all-natural ice cream. His undergraduate major in molecular biology (before embarking on an investment banking career with RBC) clearly was invaluable in helping him create his innovative products. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the care that Mario and his wife put in the development of their products can be tasted in every bite.    

      A Unique Offering Goes a Long Way

      In the supermarket industry, retailers are: a) “cutting the long tail;” that is, limiting the number of products they offer in order to maximize sales and supply-chain efficiencies, and b) championing their own private label offerings. This creates a particularly tough environment for new brands to get distribution, especially for a start-up like Mario’s that didn’t have the start-up capital to pay slotting fees.

      What made the difference? How was Mario able to get distribution in Whole Foods and other national chains – and not pay slotting fees? Quite simply, it was by having a unique, high-quality product. Once the buyers tasted his product, they were sold. 

      Listen to Your Market… Continuously

      One of the challenges in launching original/truly unique products, is that if the product is premium priced, the barrier to trail can be high. Consumers are reluctant to buy expensive or large sizes of products, if they aren’t sure they’ll like them. Mario’s solution: Offer a line of lower-priced single-serve offerings (priced at $1.95 versus a pint priced at $5.95) that allow consumers to try different flavors, and discover the flavors they are most passionate about before trading up to a full pint.   

      Be Flexible in Your Distribution and Marketing

      As supermarket chains get more sophisticated in analyzing the weekly and even daily sales performance of the products they carry – and ultimately the return per square foot -- there is a constant pressure to get the “turns” they are looking for. If a product doesn’t sell well day in and day out, retailers are much quicker now to de-list the product.

      So, Mario explored other channels of distribution including shipping containers of frozen ice cream to Brazil and Japan. Two of the more surprising – and most successful – channels he developed are corporate and college cafeterias where his single serve packages have achieved a passionate following, including in the Facebook and LinkedIn corporate cafeterias in California.       

      Be Aware of Trends… and Never Stop Innovating

      What trends are emerging now in new food products? Heathier, more natural ingredients? Bigelow Tea, and their highly-successful new Benefits line is a good example of this trend. Cleaner, simpler labels/fewer ingredients? Consider Jolly Time’s successful new Simply Popped line of butter popcorn. The importance of single serve/on-the-go offerings? Entenmann’s mini versions of their classic cakes has been a big hit. Cleverly, Tea-rrific! has leveraged all these trends in its current line of products.  

      What about the future? How about an allergen-free offering? Even dairy free ice cream? Mario and his product development team; that is, he and his wife, Souvannee, are currently working on new products in both of these areas.

      So, what are the most important lessons learned from Mario’s talk for corporate innovation leaders? Simply put: Be passionate about the products and services your organization is creating, don’t take the easy road of developing a me-too product, be relentless about quality, make it easy for potential customers to try your product… and never stop listening to, and innovating for, your customers!

    • January 26, 2017 12:55 PM | Theresa Boyce (Administrator)

      We were thrilled to join Jeremy Cage on January 17th 2017, the official night of his book release, for the NY Chapter’s most recent event.  During “All Dreams on Deck – Charting the Course for your Life and Work ” Jeremy shared his adventures of sailing around the world with his wife and two young children and the life lessons he took from that experience.   

      Jeremy used his story to challenge all of us to be courageous and to follow our dreams as he had.  He said that taking this step changed his life and gave him and his family great fulfillment and confidence to pursue other dreams. 

      During the interactive discussion, Jeremy shared the insights that allowed him to successfully plan and achieve his dream.  One of his insights was to "dream specifically" (which is to say that the clearer you visualize your dream the more likely it will be successful), and to "dread vaguely" (which is to say you need to understand that most things keeping you from pursuing your dreams are not the insurmountable obstacles you first believe they are). 

      Jeremy noted that the lessons can be used to allow people and companies to become more creative, successful, and satisfied by unleashing their true potential.  The session definitely gave us all great pause to think about our dreams and how to think and act differently in order to realize them.

      Photo: Stephanie Grayson, Twitter: @Critiques4geeks

    • October 23, 2016 6:15 PM | Theresa Boyce (Administrator)

      Unless you have been living on a remote island for the past decade, you have seen or experienced the impact of major innovation in the Media Industry due to technology. Not surprisingly, McKinsey http://www.mckinsey.com/industries/high-tech/our-insights/digital-america-a-tale-of-the-haves-and-have-mores shows the extent to which this phenomenon, in the form of digitization technology, is affecting 22 sectors. With Media second on the list and having personally lived through those changes, I offer some hard and fast lessons to prepare CEOs for your company’s inevitable crash with technology.

      Lesson 1 — You have a lot less time than you think

      Whatever lead-time you think you have to pivot or be ready for tech’s impact, cut it in half. For complete article go to Ray Carballada's Blog _ Don't be Blindsided

      Article by Ray Carballada

    • October 21, 2016 8:38 AM | Theresa Boyce (Administrator)

      Wednesday night’s Voila Chocolat event was a thoughtful tour through the mind and business of the entrepreneur and chocolate visionary, Peter Moustakerski. The evening began in the private room of the chocolate atelier where wine and canapés were served by the in-house master chocolatier Christophe Toury. Then Mr. Moustakerski gave an insightful, honest and compelling presentation about his business, the world of chocolate and his plans for future growth and national presence. 

      The night was punctuated by a chocolate tasting led by by Chef Toury. The participants tasted 5 uniquely delicious truffles, and learned about the process of making truffles using premier cru ingredients. Participants learned about the Voila Chocolate experience but also gained insight into the multi-faceted chocolate industry, the principles of chocolate making and the challenges and opportunities of scaling a successful business. As many of the participants are entrepreneurs themselves, the event resonated in a personal and inspiring way. 

      -- Written by Kate Edwards, Photos by Jia Li

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