Archive for May, 2008

How much flexibility does a CEO have in cleaning house?

If am appointed as a CEO to a new organization, what is my flexibility in hiring new top level executives or replacing existing executives / replace existing execs to better manage the company? How would you go about achieving this?

What is the typical scenario between CEO and CFO, CRO, CIO, CTO, marketing director etc. There is the board of directors and let’s say I got the buy off from the board, and let us say some top level excs are pals with the board members, but they are not worth their dough / talent. How would you go about achiveing this?

Raman V

Intrapreneur, Entrepreneur [Open Networker, all invites welcome –] 2700 + connections

It depends on the organizational culture, the amount of autonomy the board gives you and the strategy that you’re expected to execute on.

I would recommend the following
-Document and confirm your role with the board
-Confirm the organization’s strategy with the board
-Meet with your existing executive team and confirm their roles, how they support with the organizational strategy and key performance indicators and goals for the next quarter
-Identify gaps that need to be filled (this will let you hire in new talent with minimal pushback)
-Set up a peer review process.

At the end of the quarter *objectively* evaluate your team. Get feedback on each team member’s performance from peers. If there are obvious missed goals or universal negative feedback from their peers, you’re more likely to get board support for changing the lineup. If you can definitively show that someone isn’t good for the business, the board will probably welcome you being the bad guy. (“Sorry, John Doe. I fought for you, but this new jerk of a CEO has the final say”)

If you swoop in and start firing people on day one, you’re likely to lose valuable skills, alienate your team and generally disrupt the business. I’ve been convinced that some individuals are a complete waste of oxygen. However, rather than firing them, I’ve shuffled the deck a little bit and found them to be top performers that were just in the wrong role. Had I gone with my gut and just fired them, I would have lost valuable resources and had to start from scratch with an unknown from the street. Remember that they must have had some skills to get where they are. Sometimes, just talking to the non-performer about your concerns will help you to re-position them to make more of a contribution

Cutting your losses

Decision time – what would YOU do? Your # 3 sales person has given 2 weeks notice and is going to a competitor.

Let’s say you have a total of 10 sales people in the office. She has already made it known to anyone that would listen that she is getting $5,000 more a year in base pay with a similar bonus structure.

Would YOU give in and match the increase? Why or why not?

(This delicate situation happens over and over again and I’ve handled it both ways in the past – curious as to your thoughts)

Richard A. Johnson

at SunTrust Bank

If she’s making a public noise about the money, your decision is made for you. Show her the door and do damage control. If you offer her the money to keep her, everyone is going to know what happened and you’ll have set a dangerous precedent. Wish her well. Throw her a nice going-away party. Keep very positive and supportive. Introduce your customers to the new sales rep/team and make it very clear that she’s moving on to a competitor. (one really important thing to do is make sure that you, or someone you trust, updates her voicemail message for the transition period)

Had she approached you privately and kept quiet during your negotiations, I would have spent more time trying to recover the situation. Most of the advice that you’ve already received fits that scenario. However, once she starts publicizing the situation, there’s not a lot that you can do. One other thing that you might want to consider is sweetening the pot for your other sales staff once she’s gone. It’s almost guaranteed that she’s going to try to poach them from you once she’s settled in the new position.

Good luck!”

My team is in the process of securing early-stage capital for a new firm that will be part of a higher educational incubator. This knowledge and process enterprise will be targeting distressed industries such as financial services and end-to-end mortgage management.

As background, we have created a detailed business plan, done the research, carved out a niche, created the financials, engaging potential prospects, prepared presentation and marketing materials, and we are actively building an experienced management and delivery team. The corporate offerings are best characterized as global sourcing or knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) in an effort to revitalize and retrain domestic workforces.

We would greatly welcome everyone’s advice on investment groups, angel networks, and other sources of funding that could benefit our effort. We are based in the American Midwest.

Your help is greatly appreciated!

Mark Dangelo

Strategist, Consultant, Outsourcing Advisor

Some of this is really going to depend on the amount of capital that you’re looking for.

My advice would be to work your own network first. Speak with your accountant, lawyer, bank manager, chamber of commerce, etc. and make sure that they all know what your doing and that you need capital. Your best promotors are going to be the people that you already have a business relationship with.

Once you have your network working for you, then start the cold calls. A good starting point would be your local SBA (Small Business Administration). They’ll have access to ACE-Net (a pay-to-play matching service run by the SBA.). They should also be aware of investors and groups in your area. Though, I’ve found that some SBAs are excellent while others are clueless. Your mileage will vary.

You can also try the angel directory that Inc. Magazine maintains: or the more comprehensive one maintained by the Angel Capital Association -

Good luck!

Corporate Promotional Gifts

Have you ever received a Corporate Promotional gift that made an impression? If so, what was it?

WALTER SABRIN 8400+ LION Invites Welcome – Toplinked

Pretty much anything that’s high quality and that you’d think twice about throwing out. I would avoid technology items since they become dated rather quickly. (though I admit to hoarding USB keys from trade shows)

I have a pen from the ISACA that goes with me everywhere. People always comment on when they pick it up to sign something or make a note. It’s nothing really flashy or extravagant, but it’s a solid, quality writing instrument that I’d give to someone before tossing it out. I also have a retractable network cable that I use constantly. But the logo has rubbed off it and I forgot who gave it to me (not so effective for advertising 🙂

I have nice quality leather folders, pocket knives, clocks, etc. that I also hang on to or pass on to colleagues.

Puzzles, anything made out of cheap plastic, stuffed toys or squeeze balls, buttons, and items that serve no practical purpose other than advertising go into the garbage or to the kids to destroy. I’ve seen some pretty nice ones that make an impression when you receive them. But they ultimately don’t leave a *lasting* impression.

If it’s a targetted gift, personalization goes a long way. You can buy plaques, desk clocks, crystal globes and other fairly inexpensive awards in bulk and then find a local engraver to personalize them for key customers. I had awards made up for a customer project team that I worked with to celebrate the successful completion of a project. I had my own company logo and the customers’ added and I still have people from them team comment on it years later.

Spend the extra money for quality. Unless it’s a quick hit for a specific campaign, you’re probably better off with something that has some longevity and will stay with your customer for awhile.

If you’re making a large purchase of gifts, it might be worth picking a few candidate items and running a small focus group.