Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Big Blessings

There's a New Sheriff in Town at the Vatican Finance Dept. and It's Not His First Showdown.

Saint Peter's Square
Juan Zarate
Juan Zarate

 Juan Zarate is no stranger to facing international strife and threats head-on. Zarate was responsible for developing and overseeing the implementation of the U.S. government's counter-terrorism strategy in his role as deputy national security advisor for combating terrorism under the George W. Bush administration from 2005 to 2009.

During that time, Zarate served as the deputy assistant to the president and was also responsible for overseeing all policies related to transnational security threats, including counter-narcotics, maritime security, hostages, international organized crime, money laundering, and energy infrastructure protection - all of which prepared him perfectly for a higher calling - literally.

Vatican Coin
Earlier this month, according to Bloomberg, Pope Francis appointed Zarate to a newly formed four-person board at the Financial Intelligence Authority, following a multi-million-dollar money laundering scandal within the Vatican.

The five year term teams Zarate with an international cadre of directors from Italy, Switzerland and Singapore with experience spanning business, philanthropy, public policy and academia (Zarate currently serves as a visiting lecturer at Harvard Law School).

You don't need pontiff status to bring the unparalleled experience of Juan Zarate to your organization (in fact, we recently booked him to speak at the annual conference for a leading cloud-based treasury management technology firm). The financial warfare innovator, senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Senior National Security analyst for CBS News, and national security and financial integrity consultant is available through BigSpeak.

Big Issues

Big Issues

The world is changing. Rapidly. One need only witness the recent upheaval in Iraq and Syria with the rise and surge of ISIS militants, as well as the Russia/Ukraine conflict, fluctuations in the Chinese economy, and the status of the Euro. While demographic shifts are turning long-held assumptions about global and national economies inside-out and shale energy undoes decades of dependencies, the immutable rules of geography are breaking down established global free trade systems. The forces of change are even being felt on the soccer pitches of Brazil, as the world witnesses once-dominant, long-standing futbol dynasties being upended.

And it is all happening at the same time.
How do we get a handle on all of this and frame it in a practical perspective? What will this new world-in-flux ultimately look like?

Peter Zeihan

Peter Zeihan is a renowned speaker, expert and consultant on geopolitics. He studies the impacts of financial, economic, cultural, political and military developments across the globe and presents customized executive briefings to a wide array of audiences encompassing financial professionals, Fortune 500 firms, energy investors, and a mix of industrial, power, agricultural and consulting associations and corporations.

The Accidental Super Power
With a mix of analysis and wit, coupled with an engaging and accessible style, Peter shows what this new world looks like from any number of angles - government, corporate, financial, domestic and foreign - so audiences can understand what's coming, and plan ahead.

In his upcoming book THE ACCIDENTAL SUPERPOWER (hitting shelves in November), Zeihan examines how geography, combined with demography and energy independence, will pave the way for one of the great turning points in history - one in which, he posits - America will reassert its global dominance.

He argues that no other country has a greater network of internal waterways, a greater command of deep-water navigation, or a firmer hold on industrialization technologies than America, and that the U.S. faces a promising future as the only country with enough young adults to fill the capital-generating void that will be left behind by 2030.

Featured in, and cited by, numerous news publications and outlets including The Wall Street Journal , Forbes, AP, Bloomberg, CNN, ABC, The New York Times, and MarketWatch, Peter breaks down today's geopolitical issues and more, with unparalleled insight and expert analysis to forecast the impact on your industry, regardless of geography.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Big Risk


Santa Barbara Fire

Here in Santa Barbara, with its confluence of clear skies, warm temperatures and unmatched spectacular vistas from the Santa Ynez Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, we're reminded daily of how blessed we are to call this amazing place home. We are also acutely aware that these very elements we celebrate are also the ones that make ours, a precarious paradise. This was especially evident over the past few weeks as our neighbors to the south endured horrific wildfires - fueled by hot, dry winds and a dearth of seasonal rainfall - that raged through San Diego County from Rancho Bernardo to Carlsbad.
Santa Barbara Fire
Many of our speakers and colleagues reside in the region and our thoughts, concerns and empathy are with them in such trying times. Our thoughts also turn to one speaker in particular, (and not just because she's difficult to book during scenarios like these) who tends to stand out in extreme crisis situations. When she's not competing in adventure races, triathlons, world-record paddling attempts or motivating, leading change and building teams on stage, Robyn Benincasa is a full-time San Diego firefighter.

Robyn Benincasa

And she literally walks the walk on leading change. After being diagnosed with osteoarthritis Robyn now continues her blistering life pace on a pair of titanium hip replacements without missing a beat. In fact, two weeks ago, she was named a "CNN Hero" for her work with Project Athena, which helps women who have survived medical setbacks achieve athletic goals.

Robyn Benincasa
Robyn Benincasa
In light of the recent shooting tragedy that has befallen our own community, we realize the unique mindset a first responder must possess to motivate teams, overcome adversity and make crucial leadership decisions amidst chaos and crisis.

Whether she's on the front lines of a raging wildfire or racing through the jungles of Borneo, it is through these harrowing, life affirming and occasionally hilarious experiences in the world's most grueling challenges, that Robyn has emerged with a refreshing and unique perspective on what it takes to build the kind of world class teams that succeed against all odds, triumphant in the face of adversity and winning as one in times of great challenge and change.

Big Risk/Big Leadership

Thomas Kolditz
Lately we've seen quite a bit of interest in the topic of leadership in extreme contexts. Our own exclusive speaker, Brigadier General-turned-Yale Business Professor, Thomas Kolditz has been busy lately on multiple fronts.

Forged on both battlefields and in boardrooms, Thomas Kolditz possesses unique and distinct leadership acumen - - that you won't find anywhere else. In demand from the highest levels of global leadership, to the nation's top business schools
Before coming to the Yale School of Management, Kolditz, a retired Brigadier General and titled Professor Emeritus by the U.S. Military Academy, led the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership at West Point for 12 years. He also served for two years as a leadership and human resources policy analyst in the Pentagon, and a year as a concept developer in the Center for Army Leadership. Adding an extra dimension of In Extremis to his resume, General Kolditz served as the senior instructor for the West Point Sport Parachute Team as well.
Thomas KolditzAn internationally recognized expert on crisis leadership and leadership in extreme contexts, Kolditz is active in the development of programs for leadership and leader development in everything from project teams to large organizations.
His book In Extremis Leadership: Leading as if Your Life Depended on It has gone big in China and will be re-released and updated with new cover art.  You may also have seen Gen. Kolditz speaking about extreme leadership on this month's edition of 60 Minutes Sports, with Everest mountaineer Alison Levine, currently airing on Showtime. 

Additionally, with the recent uprising in the Ukraine, General Kolditz has been called upon to participate in the Ukrainian Leadership Summit. Kolditz will present Building Trust in Uncertain Contexts during this two-day event in October, where top scholars and local and regional business leaders will come together to share their knowledge and expertise to support leadership development in this emerging country's time of need. According to Kolditz, "The country needs leaders who people willingly trust in conditions of threat and uncertainty. Conditions are in extremis: a matter of life and death." While stability in the region is contingent on many factors, leadership is seen as the crucial element that could settle separatists' disputes.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Big Tour

How Ben Casnocha and LinkedIn Founder Reid Hoffman are Disrupting the Employee/Manager Relationship

Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha

Two weeks ago, the BigSpeak team was privileged to witness a masterful display of raconteuring prowess by best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell as he swung through Santa Barbara. Speaking on his latest work, David and Goliath, he explained that the driving question behind the book was, "Why do people choose to rebel?" Utilizing two disparate examples of rebellion, including "The Troubles" in Northern Ireland and a gold-digging, turn of the century socialite suffragette, he wove an intriguing case against traditional deterrence theory - a type of risk/benefit analysis in which individuals or groups decide that the potential risks of rebellion outweigh the benefits. Gladwell feels a better explanation is " legitimacy theory" which posits that three conditions must exist (or not, in the case of uprising) for compliance with authority: if a group feels the system is fair, if they feel respected, and if the authority is deemed trustworthy.

deal making
The post-presentation Q & A was dominated by young college students and millennials, many of whom cited Gladwell's earlier book Outliers as a particularly strong influence and questioned the author on his career path and early life choices (one even sported a "10,000 Hours" tattoo - a reference to the Outliers concept of the time it takes to achieve perfection and success in a chosen endeavor).

So, how does all of this relate to you and your organization? Also visiting our town recently was speaker, author and tech entrepreneur Ben Casnocha. Ben has noted that this fickle and uncertain spirit exhibited by the students at Gladwell's presentation is also pervasive in the mindset of today's emerging young workforce, where new hires often stay with companies an average of two years or less before moving on, presenting corporations with a challenging new HR dynamic. Gone are the days of guaranteed long-term employment in a business environment that today, is defined by continuous change.

Ben's latest book (set to hit shelves in July) entitled The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age and co-authored with LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, upends the standard employee/manager relationship and challenges the time-honored notion of employees considered either family or free agents, but instead, seen as allies.

"As a manager you want your employees to help transform the company for the future. And your employees want the firm to help transform their careers for the long term. But this win-win scenario will only happen if both sides trust each other enough to commit to mutual investment and mutual benefit."

Casnocha suggests implementing what he terms "tours of duty," similar to the military deployment model. Allowing for the realities of the modern economy, the alliance begins with managers acknowledging that great employees might leave the company, and with employees being honest about their own career aspirations. Employees and managers then create a pact (tour) based on reciprocal expectations that are mutually beneficial to employee and company and can be completed in a realistic period of time.

Ben Casnocha
Ben Casnocha
By placing this new alliance at the heart of their talent management strategies, companies will not only bring back trust, they'll be able to recruit and retain the entrepreneurial individuals needed to adapt to a fast-changing world and reduce the costs of constant, unexpected turnover (which estimates place at over 5 trillion dollars annually in the US).
Through his book and presentations, Ben provides a bold but realistic and practical guide for managers and executives, while equipping them with the tools needed to recruit, manage, and retain the kind of employees who will make a company thrive in today's world of constant innovation and fast-paced change.
For more information on bringing Ben Casnocha and The Alliance to your organization, give us a call.

Big Comeback

How Ford Used a Setback as a Set-Up for a Comeback.

100 dollar bills

Last week marked the 50th anniversary of the iconic Ford Mustang, originally unveiled at the 1964 New York World's Fair, which reminded us of the remarkable comeback mounted by the automotive giant and the role BigSpeak played in their restructuring initiative almost a decade ago.
In 2007 (after six quarters of losses and long before the automotive bail-outs) Ford Motor Company approached us to bring in a
motivational expert to become the "Speaker of Record" for the first phase of their re-organization efforts.
Dr. Willie Jolley was chosen to help Ford become profitable again by implementing an initial employee buyout program. The employees had been reluctant to take advantage of the buyout offer and the Ford executives hoped he could help them reach their goal of reducing the workforce by at least 25,000 employees. For most of October and November of that year, Willie traveled to cities speaking at Ford plants across the country. The buyout offer ended in November and the results were released: As illustrated in the video below, 38,000 people ultimately participated in the buyout (over 50% more than they had hoped for).

Iconic Mustang Grill                            Click image to play video

As a result of the success of Phase One, Willie was asked to return and be an integral part of Phase Two, which involved developing an Attitude of Excellence among the Ford employees, inspiring and increasing worker productivity, and creating an exceptional customer service experience through speeches, coaching and training. He also taped a series of television spots for the Ford internal television
network to be played throughout the plants.

predictable Revenue
Since that time, the automaker has enjoyed several billion-dollar quarters, re-established brand dominance in its market and achieved profitability without accepting government bail-out assistance.
The long road to Ford's success was incumbent on many factors, and while we can't guarantee as dramatic a turnaround for your organization (your mileage may differ), it does serve as a shining example to illustrate the impact of going the extra mile and tapping the expertise, creativity and potential of our speakers beyond the keynote.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Cold Calling is Dead.

And we know who the killer is. In fact, we just signed him exclusively. Aaron Ross graduated from Stanford University, the Boulder Outdoor Survival School and is a former Ironman triathlete, but what's even more impressive is the system he created as one of the key architects of the sales organization at CRM provider (and now, available for any organization's sales force) that will change the way you look at b2b sales, marketing and how your company generates and converts leads into predictable revenue (even at $3 billion in revenue and 10 years after it was first implemented, still uses this same basic framework for its teams around the world).
Aaron Ross
Aaron is the author of Predictable Revenue: Turn Your Business into a Sales Machine with the $100 Million Best Practices of An amazon #1 best-seller, the book, which Inc. magazine called "The Silicon Valley sales bible" has become the default guide for growing startups and companies interested in optimizing sales.

predictable Revenue
Ross argues that the traditional sales model puts teams on a feast-or-famine rollercoaster. He recommends creating three distinct roles to counter this: outbound prospectors, inbound lead qualifiers, and quota-carrying salespeople. The prospector's sole purpose is to create qualified new opportunities (not set appointments) for the salespeople. The qualifiers do nothing but qualify inbound leads and pass them on to the sales team. The sales people only deal with qualified leads and manage them through the close.

Core Sales Chart
Ross doesn't demonstrate how to cold call or close deals, rather he illustrates:
  • How an outbound sales process, without cold calls or a marketing budget, can generate a 9% response rate and millions of dollars from cold prospects.
  • "The Seven Fatal Sales Mistakes" CEOs and Sales VPs (even experienced ones) make time and time again.
  • How outbound sales and selling can be friendly, helpful and enjoyable.
  • How to develop self-managing sales teams, turning your employees into mini-CEOs.
  • And more...
Aaron Ross shows companies ready to eliminate lead generation as a bottleneck to business growth, how to build a system that produces a reliable flow of qualified leads month after month, year after year, and routinely sees them triple their pipeline of qualified leads and new sales.