Archive: 2011


An Entrepreneur’s Resolution

December 28th, 2011

As we reflect on the year, it seems that many entrepreneurs focus on what we did NOT accomplish. We have visions of perfect days and weeks where we cross everything off the list of to-do’s and it seems that unless we reach perfection, it’s all about what went undone. It isn’t natural for us to stop and celebrate, to recognize our achievement. This is wrong. Without celebration and joy it is so hard to build momentum, to gain confidence in your team. And worse, when a leader does this, you become the “what’s next” boss. I find it harder to produce fun and happiness without celebration. I have heard employees complain about too much celebration, however, they usually have fun anyway. Everyone wants to be a part of something when progress is made and acknowledged.
 
So, for an entrepreneur’s resolution: stop your team and ask them to review their successes (and if you must, their disappointments too) but stop to enjoy the reward of what you did achieve. I promise it makes a difference.
 
You can do this for yourself as well. Every January first, I sneak down to my home office while everyone but the dog sleeps in — and I do a full review of my year. I think in terms of business, family and my many roles as father, husband, brother, sister, etc. I think about my physical pursuits and well being. I dream of hobbies pursued and those I wish to pursue. I think about places I want to go and things I really want to do. I even think about my mental health and spirituality and how I am doing. I think about all of these things from a place of progress to celebrate my wins.
 
This my favorite day of the year and the most luxurious thing I think I can give myself. It’s time to think about me and those that are in my sphere of influence. Great and magical things have come from this. In one year, I lost 40 pounds. Two years ago, I hiked 747 miles and finished a 36 mile competitive hike, finishing 10th. Another year, I spent time with a special loved one that I had lost touch with. I am still impatient. Years of reflection and goal setting haven’t helped that but I have hopes for that goal this year.
 
Not to be too preachy, but there are so many self help gurus and experts in this area. My approach is not new. It is a little bit of Covey, a pinch of the Dream Manager book and the Rockefeller Habits too. And wow, this is my 20th year of doing it? Wondering how I kept track of that? In 1991 I decided that I would start my own business and it took me 10 years to launch CBI Group in 2001!
 
Happy New Year and Happy Thinking!
 

Shiny New (Marketing) Toys

December 21st, 2011

Who doesn’t like something new to wear, a new car to drive or something fun to show off to friends, family and neighbors alike? As most of us start to unwind for a long winters break, CBI Group will get something new under the tree this year. Like most things worth waiting for; our marketing team finally gets to unveil our new website next week! Twelve months and thousands of people hours later, we hope you like what you see. We do!
 
It all started with a simple comment. “Chris, your site does not come close to you and your company’s level of professionalism and expertise. Your brand is better than your company’s.” The truth hurts sometimes. But now we have a sense of style and a sense of humor. What we do is solve problems and with our new website, that is clear. We are not a formal bunch and our words and pictures finally illustrate that. Looking for staffing expertise? Our site is designed from our customer’s perspective, just like the recruitment solutions we build.
 
Frankly, we have not liked our website for years. Like most sites for small companies, our site was barely more than a brochure for the business. If I said one time, I said a hundred times that we do not create new customers through our site. It’s just a money pit, a shiny new toy that gets set aside all too quickly for the next one. And who has time for marketing anyway? I discovered that we do. Our business has great and unique ideas and expertise. This content now has a home. And we will soon be proud to share much more of it and to drive new viewers to the site.
 
Over the last year we have come to realize that marketing is different today and is constantly changing. Without sounding trite, the Internet has changed marketing forever. Marketing is now Outside-In. Marketing can be personal and customized for the masses. Marketing is dynamic and flexible. The web makes it so. Gone are those days of wasted brochures and printed materials. Marketing can be quick and experimental. A campaign doesn’t work? Change it up. Find a typo? No problem, fix it. With blogs and social media, all of us can speak directly to our prospects and customers. Marketing can be honest and direct. Just look us up, not everyone adores us. No kidding.
 
So if you don’t have a Chief Marketing Officer, I’d think about hiring one or taking on the role yourself. When is the last time you went to the Yellow Page book to find something? Not recently. Search engines rule the world. Now we can be proud to come up in that Google search! And you can too. You just need time, resources, the energy, and some money. Put something shiny and new under your company tree in 2012!
 
Check back next week for our shiny new toy!
 

Are you “sharing” this holiday season?

December 14th, 2011

As a leader and entrepreneur, I am often asked for leadership advice. What is the most common leadership topic? Not a hard one to pick, the all encompassing topic of communication. When we lead, we need access to information to run our business. In fact, the best leaders have access to a lot of information and know what to do with it. Some leaders spend all of their time gathering and analyzing — analysis paralysis. Others “shoot from the hip” without enough information when they make decisions.
 
But you know information comes from more sources than your weekly financial and customer reports? You do get those, right? Getting that reporting right is for another blog. But for many, we lead by numbers. I propose that there are other ways too.
 
Lead in an open and honest way. Share it all. Trust that people ultimately want and can handle the truth. The truth begets more truth. And this, let’s say is the holiday magic. The more you share about the good, the bad and the ugly of business, the more you will hear the same from your employees. Customer issues will not be swept under the rug and creativity will not be squelched. You will hear people share what they think. Sure, it’s hard to build this sort of open environment. And yes, you must constantly challenge and carefully cultivate it. But the rewards of “sharing” are many.
 
The opposite environment? Well you are leading in the dark. Departments don’t talk, little fifdoms are built and turf is defended. Customer data is often ignored. Most importantly, a lack of openness creates an environment without trust. And this is when communication stops.
 
Try it on today. Tell them everything. They will learn to expect it and you will get the truth in return. Are you sharing this holiday season?
 

It’s Budget Time — Is Your People Plan Ready?

December 7th, 2011

Wait, maybe it is not that easy! Whether you are in a big company or a small entrepreneurial business, the fourth quarter is a time of planning and forecasting for the year ahead. 2012 is coming, and I am not sure we are all ready. But guess what? 2012 will come whether you plan or not. Why not be as ready as you can? Budget time, yahoo! The largest line item in all of our budgets? People!
 
You would think that with all of our advancements in IT and software that people planning would be easier. Workforce analytics and executive dashboards have come along way, however there is still a lot of managing to be done for most of us. Let’s look to history for our explanation. Traditions in budgets come into play. Long-range planning used to be much longer, 5 years or more. Business did not change as fast. We did not have as much information. The world moved a little slower. Today, one year can be a long time. Business moves up and down much, much quicker too. When it comes to the workforce, everything was more stable. Most of us stayed with one company a little longer. Companies could afford to be “parental” and careers began in the mail room and ended years later with the gold watch.
 
Wow, that sure is not true today. Budgeting for headcount did not change much year to year. Just add a few percentage points to last year for cost increases and move on. NOT ANY MORE. I have a good friend and customer who is in manufacturing. Every year they run an extensive process to plan for people within the business. And every year it is completely wrong. Planning how a business will do is one thing, but planning a business and its people needs? We are talking a completely different level of complexity.
 
The workforce/worker issue today is so complex. Each of us will have 7-10 different careers and many will change paths completely. There are multiple generations in the workforce. Some that remember and miss parental companies and many that know they will never exist again. Why? They grew up in households where their mom/dad/uncle/aunt were caught in down sizing and the realities of today’s world of work. Now there are options for free agency, contingent workers, contractors, temporaries. There is so much for managers to absorb and for the workforce to deal with. And yes, it makes planning for people and budgets harder.
 
Our managers psyche is forever changed. The economy is still so uncertain in its recovery and slowwww to rebound. We see high employment numbers and assume that people planning can and should be an afterthought. “There is so much available talent, just keep them coming.” My company hears this everyday. So many business plans are finished and then HR is asked to fill the openings. The War for Talent still exists. The War is just taking longer. The War is just different than we thought. Many critical skill sets remain difficult to staff with “A” players. Ask any head of engineering or VP of sales. The right talent is still rare.
 
Work is different today too. Most work we need done can be project oriented. Jobs and people are rarely perfectly matched. Change happens. People and jobs outgrow one another. This phenomenon has always happened, it is just speeding up! Technology has made most jobs portable — jobs can be done anywhere one has good Internet and telecom. Staff can be and is global.
 
So what does all this mean for you?

  • The world of work and workers has never been more complex for your business. And our mindsets and tools to manage have not kept pace. We all need to change and evolve.
  • Learn to embrace that the way work is viewed is forever changed. We must become workforce experts as managers of our businesses.
  • Get a rolling forecast going. Yes, build a budget that allows for changes and inevitable surprises. Roll with it.

Talent acquisition strategy and delivery provided for CPA firm’s national expansion.

December 1st, 2011

Customer Challenge

Our client secured a relationship with a worldwide financial services organization headquartered in Manhattan and as a result was looking to engage more than 350+ professional resources across major markets in the United States. While excited by the opportunity to service customers through a national expansion, the company needed to increase staff quickly to support this growth, while maintaining their integrity and hiring values. Having already demonstrated the ability to understand and advise this organization on many issues on the people-side of the organization, CBI Group earned the opportunity to create a solution for this challenge.

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Ten year partnership with CBI Group allows key staff to focus on core business strategies.

December 1st, 2011

Customer Challenge

A leading global provider among wealth and investment management firms was faced with a large number of open requisitions and pressure to increase compliance. A recruiter in the Workforce Development group was promoted and this created a backlog of integral positions that required immediate fulfillment.

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Association leans on CBI Group’s cultural expertise to reduce turnover.

December 1st, 2011

Customer Challenge

An industry leading global trade association that represents nearly 3,000 companies had an urgent need to fill key positions. After spending considerable time, money and effort on a Director of Public Relations position placement, the association reached out to CBI Group for help.

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CBI Group Recruiter On-Demand helps major healthcare provider close their recruiting gap.

December 1st, 2011

Customer Challenge

A Philadelphia based health insurance provider to over 3 million members experienced 90% sales growth and 37% employee growth in one year. Unhappy with their current outside staffing resource and facing internal turmoil, the company needed a partnership to supplement their in-house recruiting effort prior to a pending merger. Our customer sought seamless integration of resources that could be deployed quickly.

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Faced with the task of doubling a sales force, CBI Group delivers on-time and on-budget.

December 1st, 2011

Customer Challenge

A pediatric specialty and generic pharmaceutical company with a sales force of 100 representatives nationwide acquired a new product and faced the daunting task of more than doubling their sales force, in less than four months, while also hiring district sales managers to lead the new primary care sales force and back-filling vacancies on the pediatric sales force.

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CBI Group strengthens business foundation for growing biopharmaceutical.

December 1st, 2011

Customer Challenge

The existing Human Resources department was ill-equipped to meet the needs of a diverse and continuously growing staff. Because the company was a preparing for an initial public offering (IPO), the CEO sought to simultaneously collect industry data and support the internal structure of the company through the transitional phase.

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