Leading Through Change

Jeffrey D. McCausland, Ph.D.  Colonel, US Army (retired)

Watch the video
View the PPT deck

Introduction

Our guest speaker Jeff McCausland, CEO of Diamond6 Leadership & Strategy, discusses organizational culture and the impact of implicit assumptions among members of the organization. A master storyteller, Jeff uses real-world examples and compelling quotations to demonstrate how to create a climate for change that will “stick” over time.

My top takeaways:

Two strategies that guarantee failure

For leaders and business owners, there are two “deadly” assumptions in the world today. One is that the pandemic will go away soon enough and the new environment won’t be different. The second, and possibly worse, is that the best strategy is to have none until the new environment is known.

Strategic leaders know how to influence culture

Why is culture important to leaders? Four reasons. A healthy and genuine culture gives organization members identity, facilitates collective commitment, promotes social system stability, and shapes behavior by helping members make sense of their surroundings.  

Modifying culture through change

Culture doesn’t change because of our desire to do so. Culture changes through organizational transformation. While crisis provides an immediate need for change, it is still all-important to do so with essential ingredients such as securing buy-in from the appropriate people, looking for the early, easy wins, and sustaining the right level of urgency.

Change is hard. Now what?

There are many obstacles to change. Why is it so hard? And why does it fail so often? Among the several reasons that Jeff discusses, the lack of change agents is a common misstep. What’s needed is a powerful guiding coalition. Without organization members who understand, support, and actively promote the change, the effort is likely doomed.

No Comments »

admin on July 19th 2020 in NEXGEN - On Day 91

Digital Marketing in the COVID Era

Speaker: Hema Dey, Iffel International Inc.

Introduction

Our guest speaker Hema Dey, an expert on SEO marketing and sales, joined me in a hearty discussion of how companies must rethink their business and marketing strategies in the rapidly changing, COVID-induced market.

Tom’s key takeaways:
WATCH VIDEO

Changing times demand new strategies

What’s chaos for some can be opportunities for others. Or, in the words of Winston Churchill: “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” Companies that are growing sales, even in the current COVID era, are urgently rethinking their business strategies and re-assessing their customers’ new realities. They are learning how to use empathy in marketing strategies that are increasingly digital in nature.

From e-nothing to e-everything

E-commerce is taking off. Companies that aren’t already visible on electronic platforms may be left behind as the world moves to digital. Companies in industries like e-security, e-learning, and e-health are growing in today’s COVID environment.

Think small, like the size of an ingrown toenail

Now, more than ever, companies need a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy to successfully market products and services. Using storytelling, Hema shared how her team devised a laser-focused digital content strategy for a California physician, taking her new business from zero prospects to a growing business. For the back story, you need to watch the meeting replay. Trust me, it’s worth it!

Q&A topics

  • Given the current market changes mean our prior analysis is no longer valid, where do we start?
  • What are trends in the area of new, emerging software and tools?
  • What are the best systems of tracking SEO to sales?

No Comments »

admin on July 10th 2020 in NEXGEN - On Day 91, Web Stuff

Step 2: Pivot With Purpose

Speaker: Jim Davis — author of Sacred Leadership

Introduction

Our guest speaker Jim Davis, former public school superintendent and author of the book “Sacred Leadership,” talks about key factors needed to successfully pivot with purpose.

Tom’s key takeaways:

Do the right thing

Now, more than ever, it’s all-important to “do the right thing” – in particular for your employees. They are watching and will return your loyalty. Gone are the days of seeing employees as “disposable.” See your employees as the “source” of your success. The story of Best Buy is one example, something the Best Buy CEO calls “leading with a noble purpose.”

Remote productivity

Business owners are anticipating, with considerable concern, a future that does not have all employees co-located. Factors include how to retain if not increase productivity, collaboration, and mentoring.

Benefits of purpose

Employees want more than profit. Millennials in particular place high value on companies that purpose-driven. With this in mind, explore how your purpose and that of your employees fit with the purpose of the company. If you can bring purpose along with the pivot – authentically — you will build a more successful company for today and for the future.

Watch the complete video

No Comments »

admin on June 21st 2020 in NEXGEN - On Day 91

Step 1- Get out of the muck

Speaker: Carol Marzouk, or the Executive Lion Tamer®

Introduction

Our guest speaker Carol Marzouk, also known as the executive lion tamer, described approaches she has used with clients who find themselves “stuck in the muck.”  She relayed her own personal journey from an executive in the corporate world, to a successful coach, mentor, and motivator.

Tom’s key takeaways:

Don’t fear the fear

Rather than live in the house of fear and doubt, make the choice to live in the house of strength and power. This is possible. An important first step is to envision your worst-case scenario and work from there.

3-Step Process

Carol described three steps to enable a successful pivot to a better future, starting with a “brain shock” and ending with a series of activities that build toward taking action.

What’s your currency?

It’s all-important to stay accountable. Carol shared several techniques, including giving away money (“an amount that hurts”) to someone you trust, who will keep it safe. As you reach milestones, that person gives you a portion back.  If you fail, you don’t get the money back.  

Interested? see the PowerPoint presentation to learn more! 

No Comments »

admin on June 13th 2020 in NEXGEN - On Day 91

Growing Reliance on Internet Brings Focus to Digital Accessibility, Part 2

Speaker: Rachelle Golden,  Associate Attorney of Hatmaker Law Group

Introduction

Our guest speaker Rachelle Golden of the Hatmaker Law Group is an expert on proactive ADA compliance strategies. In the first of a series on this topic, she described the federal and state regulations that apply to website accessibility. She also outlined the financial implications of not being fully compliant.

In this second part, Rachelle goes deep into digital accommodations and how to protect companies from potential lawsuits for non-compliance with Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 AA/2.1 standards.

Please contact me if we can help on the marketing side!

Tom’s key takeaways:

Common barriers

There are four web experiences to strive for: perceivable, operable, understandable and robust. Your web developers can eliminate the known barriers to providing those experiences. 

Website audit options

There are two approaches to website audits: live manual and automated. The automated audit has limited, short-term value (and several serious pitfalls). A live automated audit is vastly preferred for robust compliance and long-term maintenance. When selecting a vendor, there are 10 questions to ask. Chief of among is to make sure the vendor is absolutely familiar with the new WCAG 2.1 standards. (For the full list, watch the replay.)

COVID just raised the stakes

Accessibility needs to be part of how we do business. In the COVID era, more people are working and searching online. An estimated 25% of that increase can be people with disabilities.

Don’t be intimated

The enormity of the challenge to bring a website into full WCAG compliance can seem daunting. Don’t be intimidated. First efforts do not need to be perfect, but can help show your intent to accommodate all customers. For example, at a minimum, start with an automated audit tool to give you a cursory review, while planning your strategy for an end-to-end upgrade and ongoing maintenance. Also, during the planning phase, be sure to post an accessibility statement on your site landing page regarding your intentions for further improvements.

Q&A sampling

A handful of questions that Rachelle answered:

  • How to respond to a demand from a lawyer regarding ADA access?
  • Can you be legally responsible for third-party service providers being WCAG compliant?    
  • Will Employment Practices Liability (EPL) coverage cover my company?
  • Other than medical and government space, what other business types are required to be compliant by law?   
  • What about a website that only tells the company’s story – more like a blog post that doesn’t exchange commerce. Am I bound by these same guidelines? 
  • Where should an accessibility statement be posted?   

Watch the replay for full details. 

Link to PowerPoint Prestations coming soon

No Comments »

admin on June 5th 2020 in Web Stuff

Growing Reliance on the Internet Brings Focus to Digital Accessibility

Speaker: Rachelle Golden,  Associate Attorney of Hatmaker Law Group

Introduction

Our guest speaker Rachelle Golden of the Hatmaker Law Group is an expert on proactive ADA compliance strategies. In the first of a series on this topic, she described the federal and state regulations that apply to website accessibility. She also outlined the financial implications of not being fully compliant.

Tom’s key takeaways:

Now, More than Ever

Even in a healthy economy, “predatory lawsuits” and well-intended lawsuits concerning the poor website and mobile-device accessibility can wipe out a business. In the current economy, where businesses cannot afford additional expenses, it’s even more important to preserve and invest in business and mobile applications, also reducing the risk of litigation.

Website Accessibility

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) covers technological aids such as websites and mobile devices.  The Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 AA/2.1 are not law, but guidance for how to accommodate auditory and cognitive disabilities, speech impairment, and others. The guidelines touch on areas including website code to ensure compatibility with screen-reading software.

Start Now!

Business owners – no matter the size – should be considering how to ensure full access to their online sites. As you do so, consider posting an “Under Construction” notice that explains you are working to improve the site so that everyone can access it. But that in the meantime, visit our page on Facebook.  Facebook and YouTube sites are compliant with WCAG 2.0 AA/2.1.

More to Come

Rochelle will continue the discussion at a second session Thursday, May 28, 2020.

Watch the video

No Comments »

admin on May 25th 2020 in NEXGEN - On Day 91, Web Stuff

CA Labor Laws – Ever Changing!

Speaker: Cindy Flynn of HACKLER FLYNN & ASSOCIATES, APC

Introduction

Our guest speaker Cindy Flynn, founder of Hackler Flynn & Associates and an expert in labor law, detailed the Paycheck Protection Loan Program, or PPP. She discussed updates to PPP and to unemployment benefits, including changes announced as recently as last week. She also shared guidance on how to safely bring employees back to work and on best practices for employees who prefer to remain working from home.

Tom’s key takeaways… watch the video because she shared a lot!!

PPP Funds Still Available

PPP covers a wide range of expenses for qualified business owners: in addition to payroll costs and compensation (capped at $100), healthcare benefit continuation, mortgage interest, rent, utilities, employee cell and internet costs, and more. The original $600 billion in Small Business Act loans has not been depleted. As of this week, there are $100B in available loans. The covered period is February 15 to June 30.   

Bringing Back Your Workforce

CDC and OSHA guidelines are must-read materials before bringing employees back to work. OSHA has identified three employee risk categories, with regulations and guidelines for each. Cindy outlined steps to take (and what to avoid) for when, after their return to work, employees test positive or show symptoms of the virus.

Cindy’s firm has developed a playbook for how to bring employees back to work, including a sample welcome back letter. She also has a checklist for the 19 things to track to be compliant with related labor laws. For copies, contact Cindy at her email: cindy@hacklerflynnlaw.com.

No Comments »

admin on May 18th 2020 in NEXGEN - On Day 91

Know Your Price or Pay the Price

Speaker: Per Sjofors Founder of Atenga Insights

Introduction

Our guest speaker was Per Sjofors, “the price whisperer” and co-founder of Atenga Insights. 

Pers began the session by discussing pricing psychology and willingness to pay, including real-world examples to illustrate how to select the right pricing. He also itemized several strategies to increase sales at higher prices.  Tom’s takeaways:

Role of Data and Science

Pers’ practical pricing theories are based in behavioral economics and “stand on the shoulders” of industry thought leaders Peter Drucker (i.e., “Customers rarely buy what the business thinks it sells them”) and Warren Buffett, the master of pricing power.

Price is important, of course, but profits come from three variables: cost, sales, and price. Price has the highest leverage. In one example by Pers, if you increase sales by 1%, profit goes up 3.5%. If you reduce costs by 1%, profit goes up to 5.5%. But if you increase the price (decrease discounts) by 1%, the price goes up 11%.

Leverage Price Walls

Price walls are psychological price points where a small change in price generates a significant change in sales volume.  Some companies – especially large companies – can use trial and error as an approach.  Pers recommends defining via price-specific market research to accurately measure what people are willing to pay.

Importance of Segmentation 

Segmentation is often more important than pricing. This involves identifying the product or service attributes – for example, features and functions, sales channels, and marketing messages. When you know how each of these affects willingness to pay, you have a winning recipe for how to go to market.

Proven Strategies

Pers detailed three other strategies for practical pricing: price anchoring, leveraging small price changes, and increasing pricing on low-volume, commodity products, and services.

Interested? Watch the presentation replay to learn more! 

No Comments »

admin on May 11th 2020 in NEXGEN - On Day 91

Fears and Liabilities as Employees Return to Work

Introduction

John Tulac, international business transaction attorney and lecturer emeritus at California State Polytechnic Pomona, discusses the pandemic-driven challenges facing distributors, manufacturers, and service providers as they consider re-opening.  

Tom’s top takeaways:

Fear No. 1 Factor   

As they consider re-opening offices and plants, companies need to prepare for their employees to be fearful to return to their jobs. John stressed the importance of installing a variety of safety procedures and described what one California distributor did. He also noted some companies may face a different new reality: Employees may opt to stay off the job, preferring to receive unemployment benefits that exceed their normal income.

Get Ahead of the Curve

Many companies are planning for how they will re-open. John shared the approach taken by a California distributor that adopted safety practices that are applicable to businesses of all sizes. Originally categorized as non-essential, the company paid its workers to stay home for five weeks. When new state regulations allowed, the company re-opened but with new practices like creating a staggered schedule, with half the workforce at a time on alternate days. They reconfigured the workspace to allow for social distancing and introduced an array of safety procedures and required practices.

New Liabilities for Employers

Historically, employers were not held liable for employee illness, largely because there was no case to be made that the workplace was the source. Today, however, employers may be vulnerable to such claims if employees can clearly point to circumstances where protections were inadequate.

Interested? Watch the presentation replay to learn more! 

No Comments »

admin on May 4th 2020 in NEXGEN - On Day 91

How to Handle Collections in Today’s Corona World

Takeaways from Lisa Spiwak’s Talk April 26, 2020

Lisa Spiwak, a Los Angeles attorney specializing in collections, shared how to optimize the collections process in the midst of the Corona pandemic. Calling it art, not science, Lisa offered immediately actionable recommendations as well as best practices for ongoing customer relationship building.
Tom’s Top Takeaways:

Temper Your Approach for Receivables Calls
Open the call by asking how they are doing, and how their business is affected by the pandemic. You do this for two reasons: it shows that you care, which better enables a more productive follow-on conversation, and the customer is more likely to share about the state of their business.

Something is Better than Nothing
If your customer asks to defer payment, don’t say yes. Instead, reflect on the impact on you and your business, and suggest they pay something. The amount depends on the nature of your relationship. The customer is likely to juggle multiple creditors. Your goal is to be among the creditors being paid.

Communicate as Your Customer Prefers
Use the communications method that your customers prefer. If you are working with boomers, you’re probably going to pick up the phone. If your customers are millennials, they may be most responsive to an email or text.

Warning Signs to Watch for
If you’re reaching out to your customers, and they are not responding, this is a big red flag in terms of securing their commitment to a re-payment plan. It’s at this point you may need to express your concern for the non-response and articulate the consequences. That communication might start with “I’m not comfortable doing more work under our agreement until I can touch base with you.”

Use This Slow Time to Revisit
Now is the time to get your written agreements in order. (This should be done annually.) Are they current? Are they signed? Should you need to take action against the customer, you will face challenges in court over agreements that don’t specify terms of payment and that aren’t current and signed.

Four “Must Have” Items for Effective Written Agreements
When revising written agreements, Lisa itemized the four items that most people don’t know to include.

Watch the presentation replay to learn more!

Organizer – Tom Reynolds
Moderator – Linda Feinholz
Communication Director – Kenis Dunne

No Comments »

admin on April 26th 2020 in NEXGEN - On Day 91