Finding Your Peak, Mastering Fear in Business Planning

Speaker: John Thompson



Our guest speaker John Thompson, president of Simpl Mortgage, discusses tried-and-true techniques when it comes to business planning.

My top takeaways:

Thinking Like a Lizard

The reptilian part of our brains – often referred to as the lizard brain — is all about our instinctual behavior, including how we respond to fear. COVID is an example of how our fear of the implications of a pandemic has given us an excuse to avoid making decisions and moving forward. It’s why so many of us are finding it difficult to self-motivate. How to defeat the lizard brain?  Eliminate self-criticism. Be open to new ideas. Instead of avoiding new opportunities, determine to make a plan to embrace them.

Success Can Breed Failure? Oh, the Irony

There is such a thing as “fear of opportunity.” Does success breed resistance? In other words, those who become used to being successful can become so comfortable that they no longer move forward – in other words, complacency. To counter this, they need a plan that is not grandiose but immediately actionable – 90 days not 3 years. 

Roller Blade Whenever 

Break the norms, change the rules. We are in unprecedented times. John talked about coming across a mother and her young son roller-blading in the morning hours mid-week. This exemplifies “breaking the norms” – a workday and school day, but now we work and learn from home. Thanks to COVID, where the so-called new normal isn’t fully determined, it’s OK to break a few rules. Have some fun, and live life fully.

Interested? Watch the presentation replay to learn more! 

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admin on December 9th 2020 in NEXGEN - On Day 91, Web Stuff

Gettysburg Leadership Lessons for 21st Century Leaders



Speaker: Jeffery McCausland

Colonel, U.S. Army (Ret)  

Speaker: Tom Vossler

Colonel, U.S. Army (Ret


Our guest speakers Jeff McClausland and Tom Vossler, co-authors of the new book “Battle Tested,” use storytelling to illustrate how key leadership traits observed in the battle of Gettysburg remain relevant in business today.  

My top takeaways:

Why Gettysburg?

Gettysburg is an amazing foundation for discussing leadership lessons from a battle that occurred more than 150 years ago. It is a story that illustrates traits of initiative, authority vs responsibility, and timing. In many ways, the lessons of Gettysburg were the gateway to another leadership model, the OODA cycle (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) developed by USAF Colonel John Boyd who served in the Korean War.

Nuances of Leadership

It’s easy to confuse leadership with management. They are actually quite different.  Leadership is about vision, motivation, and trust – including mastering change. In contrast, management is more about work standards, resource allocation, and organization design. Many can be managers, but fewer are true leaders.

Initiative for the Greater Good

One of the best tests of leadership is to observe an organization experiencing monumental change or crisis. Watching how individuals “step up” with initiative often requires asking why they are making a choice: for their own benefit or for the organization as a whole.

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admin on November 23rd 2020 in NEXGEN - On Day 91, Web Stuff

It’s Gone From e-Nothing to e-Everything – Easy Tips to Grow Sales

Speaker:  Hema Dey of Iffel International Inc.



Our guest speaker Hema Dey, an expert on SEO marketing and sales, offers tips and lessons learned on 2021 strategic marketing for businesses of all sizes and industries.   

My top takeaways:

E-Everything is Everywhere

Since March 2020, there has been a radical shift to digital marketing – mobile and online. If you are not on digital platforms, your competitors are getting your business. And this “e-everything” environment is congested and combative. This means being equally aggressive and strategic in building marketing plans for 2021.

Where to Start?

Be surgical, not scatter-shot, in your marketing investments. First up, examine your website.  Are you talking the language of your buyers and customers?  (As opposed to telling YOUR story.)  Are you focused on how you will solve their problems?

Find the In-Grown Toenail

Hema describes how she helped her client podiatrist to invigorate the doctor’s digital strategy. The first step was to identify the doctor’s top cash-cow client and market specifically to those potential buyers. In the podiatrist’s case, she chose in-grown toenails. Why? She was an expert at it, her services provided immediate relief, and it would generate the greatest income. This is a solid tenet for all businesses wanting to rapidly reset: identify cash cows that are selling in 2020 and promote those products as part of your 2021 marketing strategy.

Aristotle Had It Right

To engage with customers, you need to craft a compelling story. This means, as always, establishing your credibility and trustworthiness — ethos.  And your presentation needs logos: messaging that reinforces logic (reasoning, facts, data, and case studies). Most importantly,  you need to forge an emotional connection – pathos – that reflects what’s in it for the customer. This is known as the Aristotelian Rhetorical Triangle.

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admin on November 16th 2020 in NEXGEN - On Day 91, Web Stuff

Make your Business Stronger In 2021

Secrets to creating innovation from within

Presenter: Jim Twerdahl


The Takeaways

  • How to look beyond what you’ve done in the past.
  • Springboard for discussion with your senior team.
  • How to challenge outside resources.
  • “If it ain’t broke” you’d better break it.

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admin on November 9th 2020 in NEXGEN - On Day 91

Hackers Innovate. Who Is Attacking? What Do They Want?

Speaker:  Dave Watts of Inovo InfoSec

Watch the Video


Our guest speaker Dave Watts, an information security expert, discusses cybersecurity risks and opportunities.   

My top takeaways:

High Risk, Higher Damage Potential

The perpetrators are not bored college kids looking to make a few bucks or entertain themselves. These are professional criminals (basically organized crime) who are often in different countries where there are fewer or no laws making their activities illegal. Because there are no global government measures to guarantee your data safety, mediation is up to you, the business owner.

What’s Their End Game?

In the realm of Small and Medium Business (SMB), basically, every company has something of value to cyber-criminals. While high-profile news coverage would imply the top want is big money (as in, ransom), often it’s not so. Many attacks are aimed to compromise vulnerable systems in order to sell access to specialists who will monetize the data. Others are looking to distribute malware, send spam, or help launch a denial-of-service attack.

IT to IS: Apples to Oranges

In the majority, it’s the Information Security (IS) team that is responsible for averting breaches. Information Technology (IT) should be a partner in executing policies and procedures, but it is the IS organization that creates the company’s strategy, roadmap, and budget.

Key Partners in (Avoiding) Crime

Statistics show that 60% of all U.S. small businesses go out of business six months after a cyber-attack. Being proactive and pulling in all partners is the best strategy to avoid this fate.  In addition to IT and IS teams, business owners should coordinate with their attorneys – Which laws and regulations apply? What are my legal obligations if my clients’ information is breached? – and with their insurance agents – Do I have cyber liability insurance? What does my policy cover and exclude? In other words, a good offense is a good defense.

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admin on November 2nd 2020 in NEXGEN - On Day 91

Milton Reynolds and The secret to marketing with fresh eyes

Lessons from my Grandpa and marketing the first ballpoint pen

2020 has been a challenging year for many businesses. It is hard to predict what 2021 will bring. If the pandemic was good for business, will the recovery be good for business? If the last 9 months hurt business, when will it turn around?  Either way, you should be looking at your marketing with fresh eyes.

My family’s marketing story that echos even today

Milt Reynolds – “Inventor” of the Ball Point Pen and Aviator 

My Grandfather, a manufacturer with a family to feed, was out of work during WWII. He started an import business selling retailers luxury goods made in Mexico. In late 1945 Milt attended an auction for the patent of a “Biro” aka ballpoint pen (capillary action). Biro was invented in 1938 and used by the British Airforce to write at altitude. The auction price was too high, but undaunted Milt went home and reengineered a ballpoint pen based on gravity-action. He cornered the market for overproduced tiny ball bearings used in aircraft bomb sites, blocking the competition ability to get them.

Next Milt went to a major department store offering the “exclusive rights” to sell the pen if they ran a full-page ad in the next day’s morning paper. When the president of that store awoke, he found 13 full-page ads. Milt had made the same deal with every retailer in New York! The retailers were furious until it caused a buying frenzy. Gimbels Department Store set a world record for the most transactions in a single day. (Watch Scene Godfather One)

Milt knew Sales and Promotion

After WWII, Milt predicted a pent-up demand for unique Christmas luxury items. He planned to grab the market before the competition knew what hit them. He made history, a fortune, and launched a new industry.

The ballpoint pen had been around in some form since the turn of the century, so what did Milt have that made his ballpoint fortune?

  • The right product.
  • Competitors who did not understand timing or how to market.
  • A loyal network to sell too – Retailers.
  • The promotional know-how to create “PULL demand” for a “new” idea with a compelling story.

Let’s get better sales opportunities, not just more “leads”… apply this story to your business


  • If your business is down, look around. Start with the real facts. Look at your financials, determine your most profitable products or services.
  • Ask your best clients this question. What is the best thing about doing business with your company? Craft your selling message around what they say.
  • With keyword research, identify your digital footprint as well as two competitors’ digitals footprint. Identify what they are promoting and where and how.


  • The economy is down. Some of your best CONTACTS are getting laid off. Find where they are, call, and explore opportunities with them. 
  • Join LinkedIn and find In-Person industry forums and networks to attend, ask questions, and be seen.
  • Talk to your customers. Think about what they need and how you can make it better, faster, or cheaper.


  • Your website is not just a piece of literature. MAKE IT SELL.
    • Update the website to meet Google’s required standards. 
    • Bring your content capabilities and pictures up to date. 
    • Post articles monthly about the “most profitable” product or service you identified. Show people know that you are an engaged, expert, and leader in the field.
    • Be in the top five for your best keywords on a Google search page. 
  • From client feedback on working with you, take the common themes, and make that your “story”.
  • PULL IN SALES by leveraging your digital footprint with SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Social Media, and email marketing.

The Reynolds Group’s purpose is to help clients increase profitable revenues and repeat business with efficient marketing. The Reynolds Group achieves this with sMarketing and SEO2Sales that have been proven to increase sales by 20%.

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admin on October 22nd 2020 in Web Stuff

“I Wouldn’t Do That” – Watch out for California’s Labor Laws

Speaker:  Cindy Flynn of Hackler Flynn & Associates



Our guest speaker Cindy Flynn discusses why business owners in California need to be particularly diligent with employment practices today.

My top takeaways:

Rules and Risk Applies to Many

It’s not just the business owner, but anyone with seniority or in a supervisory position who needs to understand the risks and how to prevent legal actions. During the hiring process, each interviewer should know what they can and cannot ask a candidate. For example, as an ice-breaker, casually asking a female if she has kids at home can be interpreted as discrimination. Similarly, talking up the company by promising fat bonuses or certain promotions might be considered a verbal contract.


In the context of performance management, document every conversation and communication. If it’s a casual hallway discussion, send yourself an email summarizing the exchange. Assume that if it’s not documented, if a lawsuit should occur, it’s as if the conversation or communication never happened.

Lawsuits on the Rise in Today’s COVID World

With all of the employee-impacting actions that the pandemic has forced employers to take, there is already an increase in related lawsuits. An additional surge is expected, due to employees reporting perceived lack of workplace protocols or failure to follow safety guidelines. These employees may be shielded by laws relating to Whistleblower Retaliation.

Have a Lawyer on Speed-Dial

Business owners want to do the right thing for their employees, but the famously restrictive California labor laws can put even the most diligent employer at risk of legal actions.  We need to think “worse case” (a costly lawsuit) and establish hiring and performance management practices that reduce the likelihood of being sued. Regarding aspects like interview practices, employee handbooks, and employee agreement, it’s worth the investment to have a legal review. 

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admin on October 16th 2020 in Web Stuff

Resilient Organizations, Beyond Surviving to Thriving.

Speaker:  Robin Johnson, a specialist on the Secrets of Building a Resilient Organization



Our guest speaker Robin Johnson discusses resilient organizations, beyond surviving to thriving.

My top takeaways:

Why Resilience Matters

Perhaps under-appreciated, resilience is a “must-have” for leaders and organizations today when so much is beyond their control. A resilient organization benefits from reduced anxiety and stress and has greater energy and creativity. Another trait is the learned capability to identify and enhance areas of strength.

Resilience Doesn’t Just Happen

There are a number of building blocks – protective factors – that can be used to ensure resilience at both the individual and organization levels.  For example, real-time resilience is a strategy that helps us be ready for unplanned change. Another tactic is realistic optimism: using evidence (that is accurate) to frame the change, rather than taking a “Pollyanna” approach or focusing only on the negative.

Know Your “Why”

The most successful companies have employees who know why their companies exist: what’s the actual benefit, not just what they manufacture or sell. An example is the maker of WD-40, a company that is about more than just a can of oil; they make families’ lives better and companies run more efficiently.  

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admin on October 9th 2020 in NEXGEN - On Day 91, Web Stuff

Ultra-Low Power Machine Learning at the Edge for Voice and Sound

NexGen – 45-Minute Business Brief
Presenter: Dave Garrett
Watch Video

Putting Machine Learning (ML) algorithms into edge applications on the Internet of Things (iOT) is the latest use of ML to solve interesting business problems using voice and sensor analysis. In the post-COVID19 world, the voice interface is becoming much more important to solve real-world challenges.

The Takeaways

  • A tremendous amount of computing needs to happen at the edge (cloud-compute is not an option for everyone)
  • Machine Learning (ML) is amazingly good at solving recognition problems
  • Syntiant has a combination of custom ultra-low-power silicon, and ML software infrastructure

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admin on October 2nd 2020 in NEXGEN - On Day 91

Learn Why a New Client Should Choose YOU

NexGen – 45-Minute Business Brief
Speaker:  Bruce La Fetra – Managing Partner and Growth Strategist, Eastwood Strategy Advisors

Watch Video
Think Like a Client Handout
Why. Should a Client Choose You Summary


Our guest speaker Bruce La Fetra (aka, the Client Whisperer) describes how to reverse engineer your marketing approach from the customer’s point of view.  

My top takeaways:

  • A simple lesson that makes your marketing far more effective.
  • How to connect faster and deeper with prospects using basic neuroscience.
  • How to think like your clients by asking yourself one question.

Client Don’t Care About You

What do clients care about? How you can help them achieve their goals. And to do so, you need to think like your clients. This means developing a different mindset in order to secure an emotional connection as early as possible.

Enlist Your Best Clients

Use your best clients – the ones you would clone if you could – to learn about yourself and why your service is valued. You won’t get honest input from vendors, industry experts or prospects. To identify practical and actionable insights you need to talk to real clients.  This is the key part of the reverse engineering process.

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admin on September 28th 2020 in NEXGEN - On Day 91