Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Does Your ‘Trust Battery’ Need a Charge?

Sunday’s NY Times Corner Office profile about trust in the workplace got us thinking. Tobi Lutke, CEO of the ecommerce software provider, Shopify, described how every new employee starts at Shopify with their “trust battery” charged at the 50 percent level. As time goes on, the charge level goes up (or down) based on interactions with managers and whether the employee becomes more or less trustworthy and whether or not he or she delivers on what they promise.

Sound familiar?

If so, you can apply the trust-battery concept to your dealings with your clients, vendors, strategic partners and independent contractors. They’re doing the same with you. They’re asking themselves if you’re delivering on what you promise. Are you contacting them proactively or waiting for them to call you only when there’s an urgent matter? Are you paying your bills on time? Are you blowing off weekly, monthly or quarterly progress meetings? Are you constantly rescheduling or making excuses for missing deadlines, information requests or deliverables?

According to Lutke, there are only two kinds of days—“one when your team gets better and ones when your team gets worse.”

While the article didn’t go into great depth, we ask you to look at your team and your client roster? Is anyone’s trust meter below 25- or 30-percent? If so, it’s time to take remedial action or else, set them free.

Our blog and website have more about this and related topics.


Everyone’s hyper busy, but at the end of the day we’re all accountable. If you think every client and team member is 80-percent or better, we suggest you check you meter and make sure all the circuits and wiring is up to code.


Tobi Lutke, Shopify, trust in the workplace, delivering what you promise

Monday, April 04, 2016

Incorporating Video into Articles and Posts (and vice versa)

It’s no secret that we’re visual creatures. Most of us would rather watch TV than read when given the choice. So we’re not surprised that more and more of you have been asking about creating videos to supplement (or replace) your text-based articles, posts, tweet and emails.

Research shows that 90 percent of information transmitted to our brain is visual. Our client Naylor, LLC is pretty aggressive about experimenting with content and they’ve documented the value of adding videos and images to your tweets and newsletters.

But don’t chuck out your keyboard and scratchpad yet.

We first started discussing the merits of blending video and text about two years ago in this blog.

As was the case in 2014, adding video to your written content can substantially improve engagement and recall with the written content. On the flip side, a concise text-based summary that accompanies your video will greatly increase viewership. Our client, Coyle Financial Counsel found that viewership of its twice weekly video blogs increased substantially when it started offering a text-based summary right below its video player. The text summary always includes snappy “Key Takeaways” or as Naylor calls them, “Tweetables.” That’s right, each of the key takeaways in Naylor articles can be instantly tweeted by using a handy embedded widget (scroll down first page here).

While it’s easy in this era of disruption and killer apps, to replace old with the new, most things in life are not so binary. It’s not a matter of either/or, it’s a matter or either and or.

Even those in the media trade are questioning the ROI of video once you get past the cool factor. It’s certainly harder to produce and distribute well compared to good old fashioned text. Another drawback to video is that it’s harder to summarize and preview than written material is. Remember, most of your clients and prospects have become a gun shy about clicking on video players and having their browsers co-opted by intrusive video ads that can take 30 seconds or longer to play before you have the privilege of watching. Who has time for that in this day in age?

Stanford University study is not a light read, but it does confirm the need for thumbnails and other forms of video summarization. Also, the penalty for a poorly produced video (bad lighting, bad sound, amateurish editing) is significantly worse than the penalty for sub-par written material.

blog and website have more about this and related topics.


Just as a well-diversified portfolio usually outperforms a concentration in a single stock, sector or country, a well-diversified thought leadership strategy should include a blend of text, video, infographics, PDFs and multimedia, that work together to keep your message relevant, clear and worthwhile sharing.

TAGS: Naylor, LLC, Coyle Financial Counsel, video in text, video in emails, tweets, Stanford University study on video summaries, Folio magazine on video ROI

Friday, March 25, 2016

Working Out the Changing Nature of Our Work, Part 2

Last week’s post about the changing nature of our work, generated more feedback from usual. Chris Shay, Global Sales Manager at ADP, Global Enterprise Solutions, said we were basically on point, but that the workforce has a way to go in terms of being comfortable with criticism. “For some reason, I find current feedback is a) sandwiched between niceties, b) given in a performance review as a one-time event to check the box, or c) not given because it's uncomfortable,” said Shay.

Shay also found that NextGen is better with constructive criticism in the workforce, “but unless you play pro sports, or work for [hyper-transparent hedge fund mogul] Ray Dalio, you likely have to solicit feedback. Maybe the point was criticism, which is raw feedback, will be rampant. If it can become constructive the business and the individual will gain,” added Shay.

Jennifer Johnson of Raleigh, NC-based Johnson Meeting Group, said NextGen’s attention is split more than ever by communication from different areas (social media from work, family and friends; email from work, family and friends and on-line entertainment." Johnson's advice? "Do SOMETHING noteworthy to grab their e-attention and then try to hold it by being RELEVANT to them. And we cannot have a bunch of 40 and 50 somethings determine what is relevant to the next-generation. We need young people’s input.
Our blog and website have more about this and related topics.


Whether you’re brand new to the workforce or counting the days to your retirement (and handing over the reins), the modern workplace moves faster with more transparency and flexibility than ever before. Longtimers can learn a lot about adaptability, technology and pivoting from their younger colleagues (i.e. reverse mentoring), but NextGen needs to respect not only their elders’ experience, but their ability to think on their feet, speak and present in person and build relationships while unplugged from the grid. As with most things in life, the truth lies somewhere in between the extremes.

Enjoy your friends and family on this special weekend. Best, HB


TAGS: ADP Global, Ray Dalio, Johnson Meeting Group, Millennials in the workplace

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Working Out the Changing Nature of Our Work

Did you see Sally Krawcheck’s post this week about career transitions and the changing nature of work? Yes, that Sally Krawcheck, once one of the highest-ranking women on Wall Street who left Citigroup during the global financial crisis because she clashed with management about doing more to protect clients who’d been burned by investments that Citi sold them. Krawcheck is now the CEO and Co-Founder of Ellevest, a digital investment platform for women, to be launched later this year.

We’re not here to plug Ellevest, whose goal is to
close our country’s “gender investing gap.” We’re here to call attention to career agility for employees, business owners and independent contractors alike. Krawcheck’s argues that successful careers will increasingly be built not by climbing the ladder at one organization, but by finding interesting work at many different organizations and building one’s skill base and contacts through strategically-planned lateral moves. Keep this in mind if you or a close colleague or client is considering a career “pivot.”

Most businesses are changing, pivoting and being disrupted at lightning speed. Krawcheck points to “the forces of technology and globalization are fundamentally altering any number of industries; that means what worked for decades won’t be a given any longer, she said. Whether you’re in media, financial services, technology or any other line of work,
Krawcheck argues that we have less job security than ever before, but more career flexibility and business startup opportunities thanks to cloud-based computing instead of buying servers, shared workspaces instead of multi-year leases, video-conferencing instead of business travel, crowdfunding instead of venture capital money or bank loans and freelancers instead of full-time hires. We couldn’t agree more.

Krawcheck offers five keys for success in the new world of work and we’ll weigh in on each below:

1. Successful leaders will ditch corner offices as well as a strong, decisive management style. Instead, the will encourage
open-mindedness, intellectual flexibility and an interest in understanding others’ perspectives. Our take: All good attributes, but without strong decisive leadership—and having an ultimate decision-maker willing to make tough calls, you are vulnerable to analysis paralysis and institutional inertia that plagues so many academic and not for profit organizations filled with smart, talented people. Also, whether you’re at the helm of a Fortune 500 company or the ground floor of a startup, company leaders need to close the doors to the office from time to time in order to think things through and have private conversations (see #4 below).

Embrace a certain intellectual discomfort and a willingness to fail. This one can be tough because Krawcheck argues that females tend to take a failure harder than men do, personalizing it. We agree you have to embrace discomfort and be willing to fail in order to get better—we don’t think women take failure harder than men. Failure’s hard for everyone. We all fail. It’s all about how quickly you can bounce back. Let’s not confuse willingness to talk about failure with feeling the sting of failure, Sally.

3. Get comfortable being criticized. Krawcheck says this is another tough one for women because “so many of us were socialized to prioritize relationships.” We don’t agree. You can’t learn or get better if you don’t receive constructive feedback from your clients, peers, bosses and subordinates, regardless of what your gender is—or theirs.

4. Give yourself the time to really think things through. Amen to that! We agree with Krawcheck that It’s more easily said than done in our hyper-connected 24/7 world. But you’ve got to do it. One thing that works well for us….turn off your email and text messaging SEVERAL TIMES EACH DAY. Unless you work in a hospital, air traffic control tower,  emergency dispatch center or missile control room, for how many things in our work lives really demand an immediate, ASAP, instantaneous response?


Finally, Krawcheck advocates “playing in traffic.” That means going out and engaging with people, getting a feel for a new industry or position. Don’t wait for a headhunter’s call or a colleague to pick up the phone—be proactive, she added. Or, as ancient Roman philosopher, Seneca the Younger famously observed: “Good luck happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

Keep plugging away. Listen to your self and make your own breaks!


Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Saluting Great Work by HB Clients

This month marks the 6th anniversary of the Association Adviser media channel that we created for Naylor, LLC in 2010. What began as a monthly eNewsletter for Naylor’s 11,000 trade association clients and prospects, has morphed into a robust website, blog, social media platform, web TV channel and annual industry benchmarking study with over 1,000 executive directors and CEOs taking part. During that time, Naylor has acquired an event management company, an online career center provider, an association management software company and an online learning solutions company. As Naylor has grown and evolved over the past half dozen years, we’ve been privileged to grow along with it.

But, Naylor isn’t the only HB client evolving and doing great work. In January, we helped Gary Klaben of Chicago-based Coyle Financial Counsel launch his third video blog, Grown Up Money, just for millennials and celebrated our third year helping Wayne, Pennsylvania-based Independence Advisors produce its Independent Thought blog. Meanwhile, Rochester-based Professional Financial Strategies recently launched a new website with a robust video and white paper library. Stephen Haidt, founder of Mobile, Alabama-based Retirement Advisors, Inc. has a new e-book, The Retirement Answer downloadable on his website. 

Paul Carroll, founder of Houston-based Efficient Wealth Management has a new financial planning eBook for United Airlines pilots. We’re also helping Anthony Glomski or Los Angeles-based AG Asset Advisory complete a new e-book preparing technology entrepreneurs for liquidity events. Christi Staib of Silver Sail Wealth Management, has a new e-book addressing the financial needs of widows and divorcees and Irvin Schorsch of Pennsylvania Capital Management has a forthcoming book, Reinventing Wealth: More Money, More Memories and More Meaning.


Keep up the great work. Don’t be shy about sharing your personal story, expertise and leadership philosophy with the rest of the world. You never know who might be reading or tuning in.

blog and website have more about this and related topics.


TAGS: Naylor LLC, Coyle Financial Counsel, Professional Financial Strategies, Independence Advisors, Retirement Advisors Inc.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Nice Gig if You Can Get It

NPR linguist Geoff Nunberg, recently anointed the noun “GIG” as the word of the year. Whether you’re a business owner, full-time “monogamous” employee or independent contractor, you’re affected by our increasingly on-demand economy aka, the “1099 economy”, “peer-to-peer economy”, or “freelance nation.” According to the Financial Times our work will be less secure, but a lot more exciting in the future since we have the freedom to make our own schedule and hours, pick the projects that interest us, work from anywhere and try our hands at different trades.

But most of you reading this blog already know about what Nunberg calls "solopreneurs" and "free range humans" with "portfolio careers." You’re entrepreneurs or at least intra-preneurs for your organizations.  Many of you run your own financial advisory practices, media properties or professional associations. You have built your enterprises by hiring the past and brightest independent contractors you can find. In most cases you pay them well, treat them well and refer them well.

If you’re a wealth advisor, chances are your overhead is pretty low, but your earnings are quite high, since you bring in CPAs, estate planning attorneys, tax specialists, planned giving officers and more, depending on each client’s case. If you’re running a media property, you keep the full-time staff low and bring in designers, content shapers, web gurus, social media specialists, independent sales reps, videographers and production people as needed. If you’re running a trade association, you’re full-time staff is low, but you’re a master at wearing multiple hats and bringing in highly talented volunteers and centers of influence from your industry to help on any task imaginable.

See my latest Corner Office profile of Betsy Monseu of The American Coal Council for more on the joys of wearing multiple hats.

 As our client Gary Klaben, of Coyle Financial Counsel posted last week, “The idea is to team up with people who complement your skill set. Don’t try to do it all yourself. In today’s Internet age, it’s never been easier or less expensive to find highly qualified specialists for every task imaginable and to put together a great team.”


Figure out what you really do best (and like to do best) and leave the rest to the experts. You’ll get more done in less time and have more hours in the day for your friends, family and passions. Who knows, one of those passions may turn into your next Gig!

blog and website has more about this and related topics.

TAGS: Gig Economy, solopreneur, Betsy Monseu, American Coal Council, Gary Klaben, Coyle Financial Counsel, portfolio careers, Geoff Nunberg, NPR

Friday, February 12, 2016

Can Anyone Explain the Suspicious Market Sell-Off Since Jan 1?

Like many of you, we’ve been fielding lots of questions lately about stock market turmoil and the global economic slump. While we work with many talented financial advisors and wealth managers, we’re not licensed financial advisors ourselves and don’t pretend to be.

Maybe some of you who are can
help explain what’s going on.

From where we sit as individual savers and investors, things shouldn’t be all that bad. To no one’s surprise, The Fed finally raised interest rates a little in early December and it didn’t cause a market meltdown. Throughout 2015, the Middle East remained highly unstable, the Chinese economy slowed dramatically, oil prices plummeted, corporate earnings in the U.S. were mediocre, and the U.S. dollar rose consistently against most other major currencies thus, making our exports more expensive.

OK. We get it.

But what’s really changed since Jan 1?  All these factors were at play long before the calendar flipped over to a new year and most U.S. stock indices ended 2015 flat +/- 1 percent. Why are we down about 10 percent already this year, the worst start to a new year in history?

We’re also confused because the domestic economy—while not great—hasn’t had a single quarter of declining GDP. We believe you need two of those in a row to have a recession, right? Also, the jobless rate fell to an 8-year low of 4.9 percent and the past six months were the best extended period for employee paychecks since the recovery began 6-1/2 years ago. Housing supply reached the lowest level since 2005 and the “quit rate” hit a 9 year high–that’s the percentage of workers who quit their jobs voluntarily to take a new job or who have the confidence to find a new job soon after leaving. Finally, with oil prices at such low levels, shouldn’t U.S. consumers be benefitting from much cheaper prices at the pump and much lower home heating bills?


Again, these are concerns of rational, individual (i.e. non-professional) investors and savers. Please
contact us directly if you can share any light from the trenches. We’d love to hear from you.

Have a great Valentine’s Day. Be thankful for the one’s you love.

Our blog and website has more about this and related topics.

bear market, recession, volatility, stock market