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:
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.
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:
And the 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.
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!
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
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
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
Friend and fellow CEO Trustee Joe Tait passed away in March of this year. He was a husband, father, brother, son, and friend to many. The entire Tait family appreciates all the support, outreach, and offers to help.
Joe loved helping people. He was an avid networker and mentor. He made time for everyone, but he especially loved helping students. Joe’s family feels the best way to keep his memory alive is to continue helping and mentoring students.
They have established the Joe Tait Networking Fund through Temple University which will go directly toward mentoring students and helping them network with alumni and area professionals.
The goal is to have this fund reach endowment level ($50,000) so Joe’s legacy will continue in perpetuity with no further fundraising. The Tait family is asking friends and family to take this one opportunity to donate to the fund by clicking the link below:
Joe Tait Networking Fund
If we all do our part toward helping students, we might just equal the work Joe would have done.
Joan, Josh & the Tait Family
You may also donate through the CEO Trust. Simply go to donate on the site. That will make CEO Trust's donation more impactful. We will combine your donation with previously received donations and submit to the fund before the end of October.
by Tim Askew at Inc.
CREDIT: Getty Images
Management savant Peter Drucker supposedly said, "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it." The only problem with this frequently cited quote is that Drucker never said it. In fact, he actually said things quite the opposite. Like "Culture eats strategy for breakfast."
Last week I attended a fascinating all-day seminar at NYU's Stern School of Business titled "Ethics by Design: How to Use Nudges, Norms and Laws to Improve Business Ethics," sponsored by Ethical Systems.org, the Behavioral Science & Policy Association and CEO Trust. There were over 150 attendees, mostly top-drawer academics with a sprinkling of executives and entrepreneurs. I found it thought-provoking, useful, and even startling.
The day covered many topics, but the general trope was cautionary concerning our ubiquitous business emphasis on quantification, measurement, and goals. While acknowledging that goals can encourage persistence and performance, almost all seminar participants emphasized the caveat that rigid goals will have deleterious effects on corporate culture and long-term corporate health. While historic studies point to the positive impact of goals on increasing business performance, more recent research, including by many of the attendees and presenters, pointed to the the fact that overemphasis on goals encourages unethical behavior. The symptoms of this include increased moral disengagement, decreased individual self-regulation, and hazardous risk-taking.
for complete article: http://www.inc.com/tim-askew/the-slippery-slope-of-goals-and-incentives.html
Included in the article are quotes by Lisa Ordonez, Vice Dean at the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona and by Marc Hodak, Managing Director of Hodak Value Advisors and professor at the NYU Stern School.
by: Jerry Dilettuso
Why is it that individuals sometimes behave in ways that deviate from their values and aren’t even aware that they are doing so? How important is context to ethical behavior? How is it that conflict of interest disclosure often leads an adviser to offer biased advice more freely? Why is it that managers will tend to manage the measure rather than focus on the activity or event measured? Why are employees often reluctant to speak up about problems and concerns? How can organizations create climates more open to employee input and honest upward communication? Has the corporate search for “best practices” in reality become a drive toward common practices as cautious boards gravitate toward a safe norm?
These are just a few of the questions contributors explored in Friday’s “Ethics by Design” Conference at New York University’s Stern School of Business. The event was a partnership between Ethical Systems and the Behavioral Science and Policy Association, with CEO Trust and support from NYU Stern School of Business.
The conference played to a packed auditorium. I was joined at the conference by fellow CEO Trustees who, like me, signed up and stayed for the entire daylong conference, which I thought was a testament to the importance of the topic and the quality of the content. Several Trustees spoke about their experiences, and many volunteered to facilitate lunch discussions. More than 20 of the most noted academics and practitioners in the field of ethics shared their research and insights, including Nick Epley, Professor of Behavioral Science at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business; Ann Tenbrunsel, Professor of Business Ethics at Notre Dame’s Mendoza School of Business; Linda Trevino, Professor of Organizational Behavior and Ethics, at Penn State’s Smeal College of Business; Carsten Tams, SVP of Ethics and Compliance at Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA; and Brian Beeghly, VP of Ethics and Compliance at Johnson Controls, Inc.
Jonathan Haidt, Professor of Ethical Leadership at the Stern School, states, “Business ethics today is like medical practice was 50 years ago. It’s not based on evidence.” With the help of Ethical Systems and its collaborators, Jonathan believes we can design an ethical environment that makes moral behavior easy, automatic, and habitual, and thereby, “change the world.” I was proud that CEO Trust was a contributor to the discussion.
One of the things CEO Trust speaker Sydney Finkelstein learned about great leaders while researching his latest book Superbosses is how they are very particular in what they’re looking for when they hire talent. According to Sydney (Steven Roth Professor of Management and Faculty Director, Tuck Center for Leadership at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College), working for a superboss is one of the best ways to turbo-charge your career, so it’s worth paying attention. And not just for CEOs, but for your kids, students, mentees... anyone trying to figure out what it takes to get a great job. His new BBC column outlines the three traits you’ll need to get hired by the best bosses.