EVENTS: Speaking at CIX (Canadian Innovation Exchange)

Pleased to be on the Speakers list for CIX, the Canadian Innovation Exchange, “where connections are made and deals get done”.  CIX is a must attend technology innovation destination, where investors, innovative companies, entrepreneurs, and facilitators converge to drive economic growth and accelerate the development and implementation of new ideas.  This two-day, internationally recognized technology investment conference includes a range of sessions and powerful networking opportunities, including the showcasing of CIX’s Top 20 Companies for 2018, a group that I had a hand in selecting again this year, as a member of the Selection Committee.  This year, the Top 20 includes companies from Ontario, Quebec, BC, PEI, and Saskatchewan.

Experience has taught me that action-based implementation assistance is an area that young companies do not always fully appreciate.  Implementation tends to require far more time than anticipated and involves more challenges than one would expect, resulting in many promising companies failing to reach their potential.  What’s critical is having access to experienced resources, be it advisors, investors, or senior level executives, who possess tried and true strategies that accelerate growth.  No matter how poised for success you might think your company is, don’t make the mistake of failing to build out your team to include experienced people who have the ability to help generate success and avoid pitfalls.

If you are a leader of a high potential company attending CIX, feel free to drop by and say hello.  See you in Toronto!

NEWS: Selected for the Women in Capital Markets Board-Ready Directory

Pleased to announce that I have been selected for inclusion in the Women in Capital Markets Board-Ready Directory.  This directory serves as a valuable resource for Board chairs, senior leaders, and recruiters to identify women who are eminently qualified to sit on public, crown, private, and not-for profit Boards of Directors.

The purpose of this initiative is to provide a pool of qualified female candidates to encourage greater gender diversity on corporate boards in Canada.  The latest CSA Staff Review of Women on Boards and in executive officer positions found that only 14% of major Canadian Board members are women, despite regulations that were established more than a year ago.  This roster of women has successfully completed a qualification process, meeting or exceeding established criteria and well positioned to make an impact.

Women in Capital Markets’ (WCM) mission is to accelerate gender diversity across the financial industry and corporate boardrooms of Canada.  WCM is the largest network of professional women in the Canadian financial sector and the voice of advocacy for women in the industry, including all segments of capital markets and related services.

On a personal level, I’m thrilled to be part of this important group that is working to ensure that women have a seat and voice at the Board table.  Speaking as a former venture capital executive with a significant amount of governance experience, this diversity imbalance needs to be resolved and I am proud to be in a position to help make gender inequity history.

Feel free to contact me to discuss how I can contribute to your corporate board.

MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (September, 2018)

Fun to be back in the studio for the CBC News Network Weekend Business panel, alongside Jeanhy Shim and John Northcott.  In a business week where stories ebbed and flowed, we landed on two stories that are well suited for looking forward and back:

  • The 10th Anniversary of the Global Financial Crisis.  Ten years after the stunning failure of Lehman Brothers, marking the start of the global financial crisis, what lessons have been learned?  Could another crisis be on the horizon?
  • NIKE’S New Ad Campaign.  Despite an initial backlash to NIKE’s new endorsement deal with Colin Kaepernick, online sales quickly re-bounded, tracking an increase in excess of 30%.  Is this trend here to stay?  What could this endorsement mean for other brands?

There is so much that could be said on each of these stories, but here’s my quick take:

I remember the start of the global financial crisis like it was yesterday, characterized by the stock market falling and bleak corporate stories rising for days on end.  As past crises have taught us, the business world is one where a relatively small segment of players find ways to make significant amounts of money on the fringe; residing out on the edge of acceptable conduct, finding gaps in the regulatory environment and acceptable norms.  Too often, these people make their money by putting their own position ahead of others, resulting in considerable detriment to many, such as in the case of failures in the housing and corporate markets.  This “rogue factor” makes the case for the importance of smart, focused regulation, enacted by those who have a good understanding of where the gaps are.  Well intentioned guidelines too often miss the mark, and it’s important to recognize that more is not always better.

Having said that, what could the challenges of the future look like?  As much as companies will continue to fail (a trend that isn’t going anywhere), expect the next crises to include some new factors, such as the impact of technology, demographics, trade issues, shifts in alliances, and uncertainties associated with areas such as cryptocurrency.  With technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, self-driving vehicles, and a greater level of control at the consumer level, what will the impact of inevitable job losses have on the economy?  What will be the first domino to fall and where will the chain of events that is triggered end?  Recognize that the crisis that comes next could look very different than what we have seen in the past, a mere 10 years ago, which, in reality, represents a much longer developmental timeframe.

In the case of NIKE, many of us can recall when a little known NFL quarterback made headlines when he “took a knee” in protest of racial injustice.  Whether in agreement or disagreement with Kaepernick’s actions, he clearly took a risk in expressing his point of view.  This concept of risk is consistent with what NIKE did when launching its newest campaign, an interesting parallel to what inspired it all.  Risk creates uncertainty, something that stock markets are known not to like; however, it also requires courage, faith, and knowing that much could be lost.  While Kaepernick remains an unsigned free agent, NIKE’s initial losses have been replaced with gains, at least in the short term, with the future yet to be seen.

What could be fueling this response?  Over the last couple of years, numerous people and groups have been standing up (or, perhaps, taking a knee) for causes they believe in, such as gender inequality, gun control, abuse, and yes, racial injustice.  With what seems to be no end to the distasteful rhetoric coming from a range of extremist groups and even the White House, many people seem to have found their own voice, recognizing that this type of world isn’t what they want for themselves, their children, or their community.  As it has been said, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything”, it seems that many have been displaying this sentiment through their actions.  Perhaps, this is what is fueling both understanding and support for those who are willing to go out on a limb for their beliefs and risk it all, in response to what is wrong, unjust, or unseemly.

Personally, I couldn’t agree more.  If we are not willing to speak up when the chips are down, what are we left with as a society?  Thanks for watching and see you next time!

EVENTS: Speaking at the Business Builder Retreat

Pleased to announce that I will be speaking at the Business Builder Retreat in Quebec City this November, with tips to rethink your strategic plan, given the unique challenges and opportunities associated with the “new economy”.  Business leaders are facing the most robust macro-level dynamics in a generation, in terms of technological advancement, industry disruption, economic change, and financial uncertainty: are you ready?

The Business Builder Retreat is designed for growth oriented business leaders.  Experience a unique educational event designed especially for business owners on an exponential growth path. Explore topics critical to your leadership development, with a network of business owners from across Canada who understand the challenges you meet daily, competing in a world awash with unprecedented change. The focus is equally on healthy living priorities and the strategic business decisions required to prepare your company, and the stakeholders around it, for opportunities in today’s new economy. Take 24 important hours to refresh and refocus and get more of the personal and business results that you seek.

Details and registration are here.  See you at the Retreat!

EVENTS: Speaking Tour Announced

Coming to a city near you this November for the Continuing Education (CE) Summits, focusing on year end planning for investors and small businesses.

I have traveled on speaking tours with The Knowledge Bureau for several years and it is always great to meet session attendees who are seeking to gain knowledge and improve their companies.  Those who do so have the opportunity to differentiate themselves within the competitive marketplace (yes, they are in the minority, which only increases the impact).

Year end planning is not only important for advisors, but also for their clients. Taking a proactive approach to stay on top of new developments raises the likelihood of being of a valuable resource to clients, so don’t miss this opportunity.

Stay tuned for future updates, but in the meantime, you can register here. Looking forward to seeing you on the road!

MEDIA: Appearance on SET for Success (680 CJOB Radio)

Pleased to have appeared on SET for Success on 680 CJOB with Richard Lannon to discuss some important areas that business leaders need to address to successfully grow and develop their companies.  Being a market leader is a goal for many, but in order to realize a company’s full potential, it’s critical to identify what that means for your business and then develop and successfully implement the plan.  This process is one that is fraught with challenges, but having the right assistance could made success much more likely, to the benefit of your company.

As a business advisor, my approach is to bring a holistic perspective, recognizing that all functional areas within a company are related and impact one another.  For a company to grow on a sustainable basis, all functional areas must be operating well, to provide the foundation for building capacity and sound operations.  Those who do this well are in a position to become market leaders, representing the choice of investors, strategic partners, high calibre employees, and customers.  Those who take a piecemeal approach tend to end up frustrated, wondering why their results are not better.

When companies are growing (or planning to do so), they must also recognize that capital is an important component; this is something that business leaders tend to discover too late.  As a former venture capitalist still active in the industry, the vast majority of business plans that I see are not investor ready; this is the case at least 95% of the time.  Investor readiness involves understanding the expectations of financial partners and investors, which differ significantly from where business leaders tend to focus their efforts.

Advisors could be helpful in a range of areas, including assisting companies with investor readiness and developing strategies for growth and implementation.  As important as planning is, the most significant failures could occur during the implementation process, which is another lesson that business leaders tend to learn too late.  If the objective is to generate sustainable growth and build value in a company so it could be transitioned to someone else in the future, market leaders would not attempt to do so without sound advice.

You can listen to our conversation hereContact us to learn more about taking the next steps in growth for your company.

HAPPENING NOW: Book News

The summer months are a great time for writing and I’m pleased to announce that I have a new book project in development.  As I celebrate 10 years as an independent business advisor, it’s important to continue sharing knowledge with the goal of helping leaders to identify strategies to build stronger companies and is consistent with my previous books, courses, and the many articles that I have published over the years.

In my travels, I see various “leadership” resources; however, many lack practical tools that could be readily implemented to generate meaningful results, while others bring little in the way of direct business experience.  To each their own, however, I prefer to focus on fundamental actions that business leaders could take to build value in their companies, while filtering out areas that detract from doing so.  As an executive, I’ve had a direct role in launching, growing, and transitioning companies, which is a very different type of experience than the norm (if you’ve done it, you will know what I mean).  Focusing on strategies that get results and having a resource who has been in the trench is an approach that can move companies forward more effectively and this has never been more important than in today’s new economy.

I have a theory that companies find reasons to opt out of what is in their own best interest.  Take a moment and think about what that means.  Those who resist this temptation, and instead, face the challenge of building a better business head on, represent the relative few who are positioned for market leadership.  This is a powerful mindset and ability, representing the companies that are the choice of strategic partners, investors, successors, and of course, customers.  With the right strategies and assistance, this could be your company.

I hope that everyone has an enjoyable and successful summer.  Stay tuned for book publication and release details coming soon.

MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (July, 2018)

We were fortunate to have a long segment to discuss the week’s business news this past Saturday on the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (on live TV, you never know what the news morning might hold!).

Elmer Kim, Natasha Fatah, and I chatted about the following stories:

  • Trade Tensions Between the US and China Heat Up.  With the world’s two biggest economies enforcing $34 billion in tariffs on one another, where is the global economy heading?  What’s next for Canada and companies in our country?
  • Bombardier’s Latest Competitive Threat.  As Boeing and Embraer announce a $4.75 billion joint venture to enhance production in the small jetliner market, what does this mean for Bombardier?  Can the marketplace support both the C Series and E-Jet family?

With the newly enforced US/China tariffs expected to be only the beginning, it’s important for Canada to continue to stay the course on developing its global trade strategy.  NAFTA talks have quietly continued, and with US and Chinese goods becoming less attractive cost-wise, Canadian companies have an opportunity to provide an alternate source of supply in some areas, particularly in terms of doing business with China.  Canadian companies that seek to do so must ensure that they conduct targeted research to understand the opportunity, determine how to approach the market, and ensure that there is an appropriate implementation plan in place.  Assuming that there are not any differences from a company’s current customers and line of business is usually a mistake.  Advisors can be helpful, in terms of assisting companies with strategies to approach new markets efficiently and successfully.

In terms of the ongoing Bombardier and Boeing story, well managed companies understand who their current and potential competitors are, as well as with whom they might partner.  Strategic partnerships position companies to achieve more than could be accomplished on their own, and both joint ventures (Bombardier/Airbus and Boeing/Embraer) are examples of that.  Bombardier has the benefit of already being active in the marketplace with Airbus, providing an opportunity to maximize sales before the Boeing/Embraer deal is closed.  What’s more, if both jets are truly what customers want, two providers could have the impact of building a bigger marketplace for their product.

As always, it’s great to be in the studio and to be able to share our thoughts on the week’s business news with CBC viewers.  As I reach almost a year of having the privilege to do so, a special mention to the talented men and women who ensure that we are camera-ready; thank you!

When Canada Day is also Tariff Day

Happy Canada Day!  I’m very proud to live in such a beautiful, diverse, and well respected country.

This year, Canada Day includes all of the usual celebrations, but also a particular action that demonstrates our strength and resolve as a country; newly imposed tariffs on the United States, in response to those that have been in force against Canada and other countries since June 1st.  As indicated by both our Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister, Canada had “no choice” in terms of imposing these tariffs, which represent a response in equal measure, not escalation.  Our government has also taken various steps to help industries impacted by the tariffs, including export diversification, training, and business liquidity support.

Although there are various complexities around how tariffs work, the expectation is that there will be price increases on some items, for both consumers and companies, making the need to source products that are not subject these measures of particular importance.  As there is a lot being said about the implications for consumers, let’s consider some things that Canadian businesses should be thinking about:

  • Know your costs:  Too often, companies do not have a good understanding of the actual cost to deliver products and services, on a current, comprehensive, and complete basis.  Typical shortfalls include not recognizing all of the costs that should be included (such as overhead items or allocation of all labour costs) or not reflecting cost increases and other charges on an ongoing basis.  Not only does this provide a false sense of product margins, it also results in a poor basis for establishing prices.  The latter can be particularly destructive for companies, with each sale occurring at a price that is too low to support operations.
  • Identify supplier options:  Although companies might have longstanding supply and other relationships, it’s never been more important to expand the list.  Managing risk involves identifying a range of suppliers, including outside of the United States, to ensure that options can quickly be accessed, in the event that pricing or delivery terms become untenable.
  • Research market opportunities:  Tariffs can create business opportunities for Canadian companies, in situations where US goods become less price competitive.  Fulfilling market opportunities requires targeted research, and assuming that new business is no different than a company’s current customers is a recipe for disaster.  Take the time to fully understand what’s needed in order to generate success.
  • Secure necessary capital:  Business leaders don’t always remember that approaching new opportunities and generating growth require capital.  Reasons include the need to expand facilities, procure raw materials, increase distribution, hire staff, or conduct the previously mentioned research, often in advance of when sales proceeds are received.  In order to ensure a successful outcome, it’s critical to understand capital requirements, as well as the source, before approaching growth opportunities.
  • Monitor financial results:  As new business opportunities evolve, financial results must be monitored on a timely basis, to ensure that progress is on track.  In order to do so, a company must have a strong complement of fundamental systems, processes, and procedures in place, to ensure that good results and information are being generated.  This includes ensuring that the person in the senior finance role has the right qualifications, skills, and experience, particularly for a growth related company.

Putting these key areas into place generally takes longer than expected, so business leaders should be doing so now.  Advisors can be particularly helpful, including identifying market opportunities, action planning requirements, implementation options, access to partners, and tested solutions that can be fast-tracked, representing a competitive edge.  Feel free to contact us for more information during this important time in the Canadian economy.

NEWS: CMC-Global Institute Launches New Website

As Chair of the Marketing Committee of CMC-Global Institute, I am pleased to announce the launch of our new website, on behalf of the Board of Directors.  CMC-Global Institute (CMC-GI) was launched in 2013 and is affiliated with CMC-Global, formerly the International Council of Management Consulting Institutes.  Its purpose is to create a forum for management consultants in countries where CMC-Global does not yet have a local institute for potential members to join.

Consultants anywhere in the world where there is not a local member institute can apply for membership with CMC-GI, providing the opportunity to pursue the internationally recognized Certified Management Consultant (CMC) designation, participate in professional development programming, and network with other members. When a sufficient number of CMC members is attained in a given country, a national institute can be established.

CMC-GI provides various services to its membership, including access to:

  • A professional association with other like-minded professionals;
  • The opportunity to apply for, earn, and maintain the CMC designation;
  • Virtual professional development activities to maintain the CMC designation; and
  • Publications and resources of interest to management consultants.

The image that is on our website and other branded materials conveys the diversity of our global membership, welcoming consultants in a variety of languages.  We are proud of the diversity of our organization and the opportunity it presents for consultants around the world; feel free to share the translation of “consultant” in your language with us!

Please contact us to learn more about how your management consulting practice could benefit from CMC-GI membership, providing an important differentiation in what can often be a crowded marketplace.  We look forward to hearing from you.