There May Be Dinosaurs Among Us: CIOs Face ‘A Darwinian Moment’

by Bob Dvorak


Two recent studies reveal a troubling rift between the CIO and other C-suite executives.

In this article, the first in a two-part series, we’ll explore some of the challenges facing CIOs today. Then, we’ll make some recommendations to CIOs to help them align and unify their organization’s IT strategy with their company’s business strategy.

CIOs may be facing an extinction-level event.

McKinsey & Co. reported last month that just over half of respondents in a recent survey of business executives, don’t see the CIO as a strategic business partner.

This is an incredibly troubling observation given the percentage of revenues companies spend today on IT – 5.1 percent on average (and growing), according to The Society for Information Management’s 2015 IT Trends Study (SIM), a leading professional association of IT leaders.

That means the largest companies in the world have IT budgets larger some large enterprises in their entirety. For example, if you apply the SIM formula to mega-retailer Wal-Mart – it likely spends more than $24 billion on IT alone – meaning Karenan Terrell, Wal-Mart’s executive vice president and CIO, runs an IT organization comparable to the size of well-known brands like Nike, Staples or Alcoa.

But it’s not just the giants spending huge dollars on IT. The average IT budget is just under $300 million, according to SIM survey participants, essentially making every business a digital business.

Further, SIM reports the amount of time the average CIO spent in 2014 with other C-suite executives increased sharply compared to 2013. In fact, now CIOs say they spend 241 percent more time with board directors and 29 percent more time with their CEO, compared to 2013, according to SIM.

With such massive amounts of spending at stake and more and more companies acknowledging their digital business transformation by way of increasing IT investments, and executive teams spending more time with the CIO – why is the rift between IT leadership and the rest of the C-suite so large?

According to McKinsey, it may be that the CIO has not aligned IT strategy with business strategy.

For example, reducing IT costs is one of the top three priorities for IT executives McKinsey surveyed. However it’s one of the bottom three priorities for business executives.

“We are in a time of profound change for business, technology, and IT leadership,” said Leon Kappelman, Ph.D., lead SIM researcher and professor of information systems at the University of North Texas. “The way companies are spending their IT dollars is changing; the way IT leadership is spending its time is changing; the entire focus of organizations – the way companies view the IT function and even IT leadership, itself, is changing.”

It’s not like CIOs don’t realize their role is changing. According to BT Global Services, a UK based communications and IT services provider, 85 percent of CIOs acknowledge their role is changing. And, as IBM’s Chief of Innovation Bernie Meyerson once said, “Those who stop innovating – disappear.”

It’s clear that CIOs are faced with “a Darwinian moment,” according to BT.

When CBS Interactive sought to fill its CTO/CIO position in 2011, it didn’t hire an IT leader from within or recruit a CIO from a competitor – it hired serial entrepreneur Peter Yared, (now Founder and CTO of application infrastructure company Saphos).

CBS Interactive took a chief executive from a technology company and made him its CIO rather than find someone who moved up the ranks with established IT leadership credentials.

According to McKinsey, 18 percent of executives believe a personnel change in the CIO/ top-IT executive’s offices is one of the most significant initiatives that could fix their organization’s IT shortcomings.

Jurassic World may not open until June, but there may be dinosaurs among us already. Even the strongest and most intelligent of the CIO breed may quickly become extinct if they don’t adapt to change.

1079784979Bob Dvorak is Founder and President of KillerIT.  He is responsible for KillerIT’s strategic direction and execution. Under his leadership, KillerIT continues to grow and succeed. During Bob’s 25 years at Forsythe, he has held a number of national management positions and earned numerous distinctions. Most recently, he was senior vice president, general manager, responsible for serving clients in the company’s Central Area. Prior, he was responsible for the establishment and development of the company’s Western Area, which experienced double-digit growth in product sales and professional consulting services under his leadership.

Emotional Self Defense in Business and in Life

by Steve Rizzo


One Saturday night in 1992 I was performing at The Comedy Store in Los Angeles. The place was sold out — standing room only. I was backstage talking to a fellow comedian, also named Steve. We were discussing what a trip it was to make people laugh and, better yet, get paid for it.

We agreed that the power of laughter has many medicinal purposes. I suggested that since we were responsible for making people laugh, perhaps we shouldn’t be called comedians. Maybe we should be known as “Humor Healing Technicians.”

The conversation took on a more serious tone when Steve told me that he was HIV positive. Now, you need to understand that this was 1992, and the HIV virus was a much bigger threat than it is today. I asked how he was dealing with it. His response was, “Watch me.”

“What?” I asked.

“I’m going on before you,” he said. “Watch my set.”

I went to the back of the room and stood next to some of the other comedians. Steve was introduced and launched into his routine: “Hi, I’m Steve, and I’m HIV Positive. Don’t be concerned. A friend of mine was diagnosed with chronic Hepatitis C. The good news is that we’re going to form a duo and call ourselves ‘Sick and Tired!'”
He spent the next 20 minutes on the HIV virus, but from that opening moment he had the entire audience in the palm of his hand.

Steve’s Humor Being was glowing that night. His comic timing was spot on, equaled only by the powerful message that was interwoven in and around the laughter. He even found humor in the many side effects that occurred from all the different medication he was taking. There were more than 500 people in that room, and Steve had them laughing their butts off. More importantly, he made them realize how healing laughter can be and how precious life truly is.
I remember saying to one of the comedians, “This guy is making people laugh about one of the biggest challenges to face this planet!”

Later that evening, our conversation continued. I told Steve that I admired his courage and found his routine absolutely mind blowing. He smiled and said, “Thank you, but do you want to hear the best news of all?”

“Yeah,” I said.

“My white blood cell count has gone up phenomenally ever since I chose to deal with this challenge with humor,” he said.
I stood there with my mouth open, searching for the proper words. Finally, all I could think to say way, “That’s incredible.”

Later on in his career, Steve starred in his own HBO special entitled “HIV” and developed quite a following. His humor and the message behind it inspired people who were HIV positive to embrace their challenge, rather than run from it.

I want to reiterate an important point: We all know that there is nothing funny about the HIV virus. Steve was not laughing at his challenge, nor was he hiding behind the laughter. Steve very simply used his sense of humor as a tool to laugh off the fear of the challenge.

This, in turn, created a shift in his awareness. This higher state of awareness enabled Steve to confront his challenge directly. When confronting his fear, he gradually began to understand where it was coming from and why it was controlling his life. Understanding then led to compassion, and compassion led to the ultimate unconditional love for himself and for life.

Humor is a choice we all have on how to view and deal with the life’s challenges.

Even a little levity can help change your perception of a particular problem. Humor is your natural defense mechanism.
It’s a prescription from your Humor Being to cure the emotional chaos that attacks you from day to day. To deny yourself the right to find the humor in the midst of all the chaos is like denying yourself treatment that can cure an illness. So, for crying out loud, do yourself a favor and laugh.

If you have any comments, or if you have a story you would like to share, please feel free to share with me.

Steve RizzoSteve Rizzo is more than a Funny Motivational Speaker. Don’t let the laughter fool you! What Steve brings to the table is his captivating ability to engage the attendees with laughter as he challenges them to SHIFT their focus and way of thinking to discover greater enthusiasm, increased productivity and new levels of success. Recognizing difficult situations don’t cause us to fail or be unhappy, but rather our negative thoughts and beliefs about the situations, Steve has been Adjusting Attitudes in organizations throughout the world such as AT&T, Prudential, State Farm, LaQuinta, and even the CIA (yes, he even had them laughing!) since 1994.
Find him on Twitter @RealSteveRizzo, Facebook at Riz’s Biz Steve Rizzo, LinkedIn and Google+.

Northstar Announces Partnership With C-Suite Network

Northstar Announces Partnership With C-Suite Network as C-Suite’s Exclusive Research Partner for Conferences, Events and Content

Northstar, a global multi-award winning customer insights and strategy agency, today announced their partnership with C-Suite Network, the world’s most powerful network of C-Suite leaders.

The CEO of Northstar, Craig Binkley, says of the partnership, “Northstar’s relationship with C-Suite Network embodies the importance of alignment between leadership and insights within an organization. Insights and supporting data across all functions of an organization are the foundational elements that allow C-Suite executive leadership to move strategically forward from an aligned truth about the business to a clear destination for growth.”

“We are thrilled to be C-Suite Network’s official research partner,” said Tricia Benn, Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer and Managing Director, US of Northstar. “C-Suite Network’s dedication to providing an arena for the exchange of thought-leadership across the C- Suite aligns perfectly with Northstar’s own approach of helping clients ‘Navigate from Insights to Impact’.”

C-Suite Network aims to provide growth, development and networking opportunities for business executives. As the exclusive research partner, Northstar will engage and bring its unique expertise to all C-Suite events, starting with the C-Suite Conference in Boston March 29-31, where Northstar will participate in an On-Stage Spotlight.

“This partnership with Northstar provides our network an unparalleled access to the information needed to stay ahead in a constantly changing business world,” said Thomas White, CEO and co-founder of C-Suite Network. “Together we will be able to provide C-Level executives with valuable insights that will help grow and transform their business.”

To learn more about Northstar, visit

About Northstar

Northstar, a member of the MDC Partners Network, is a leading global strategic marketing insights and consulting firm. With locations in New York, London, Jakarta, Toronto and Atlanta, they craft and execute strategic consulting and research projects around the world.

Northstar fuses custom research techniques, human, cultural and behavioral context, and proven strategic marketing discipline and approaches. With Northstar, you get the resources of a large global firm with the sensibilities and attention of a boutique firm.

Northstar has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2014 MRS/AURA Awards for International Research and Newcomer of the Year. In 2013, Northstar also won the Business to Business category. Finally, Northstar is proud to be a two-time winner of the prestigious Grand Ogilvy and Gold Prize at the Advertising Research Foundation Ogilvy Awards.

About C-Suite Network

C-Suite Network is the world’s most powerful network of C-Suite leaders, with a focus on providing growth, development and networking opportunities for business executives with titles of vice president and above.

C-Suite Network brings leaders together through C-Suite Collective, a private online community for executives. C-Suite Network also offers invitation-only conferences held three times per year, custom-tailored content on the C-Suite Network blog, C-Suite TV, C-Suite Radio, C-Suite Book Club, and educational programs from C-Suite Academy. Learn more, or connect on LinkedInTwitter and Facebook.

7 Triggers to Motivate Your Team

by Sally Hogshead


Ever wanted your team to get motivated… pronto?

Let’s say you’ve got a big deadline coming up. The pressure is on… you HAVE TO deliver the goods. But the amount of work is scary. And your project is only one item on everyone’s looooong to-do list.

How to get your team pumped and moving?

Here’s how: Use your Fascination Advantage, so your team will listen and take action!

How does your personality add value?

Power: Use authority to emphasize the importance of the goal.

Passion: Give emotional support and praise for everyone’s efforts.

Mystique: Offer a secret reward when the project is delivered on time.

Prestige: Emphasize how this project’s success will enhance the team’s reputation.

Alarm: Keep everyone on track with specific details and deadlines.

Rebellion: Present the project as a challenging experiment or adventure.

Trust: Remind them how you’ve consistently reached difficult goals together.

You already have distinct communication advantages. Not certain what yours are? No problem: Take the Fascination Advantage assessment here. It only takes 3 minutes.

Your action for today: Before your next team meeting, print the guide above. Use it to think through how you can present a more persuasive message for your team. Together, we’ll fascinate your team – and make your next project a success.

*This post originally appeared on

sallySally Hogshead is a Speakers Hall of Fame member, international author and the world’s leading expert on fascination. Over the past decade, her team has uncovered surprising trends about why certain people and companies succeed. Today, she teaches how to communicate and captivate in a world with a 9-second attention span.  Follow Sally on Twitter @SallyHogshead.

5 Lessons Learned In Marketing From The Financial Industry

by Steve Olenski


Whatever your business or service is, a successful marketing campaign involves driving traffic to your website, and then on-site conversion. Without those two actions, your company is dead in the water.

The financial industry is among the most dedicated service industries in managing their marketing. Here are five valuable lessons to learn from their successful strategies:

  1. Use recognized influencers to drive traffic to your brand.
    It can be a celebrity, like Mike Ditka, who is associated with equity index products. Or anyone else who is a recognized talent or authority. Don Orban is the Executive Director of Retire Iowa, and he recommends tailoring the influencer to the product or service as closely as possible:
    “When you’re dealing with people’s money and especially with their retirement accounts, you want them to know they’re dealing with someone who shares their goals and orientation. Hollywood glamor or a Super Bowl ring may not be what reassures your clients; instead you may want a spokesperson who is trusted and shares senior’s values.”
  2. Use compelling content (images, videos) to drive consumers from Pinterest and Instagram to your direct website.
    Both of these platforms are fantastic in getting customers who are browsing the web to land on your website. Pinterest is full of headlines meant to tantalize those interested in financial planning, such as “The 30 Day Money Cleanse” or takeaways like “Free Printable Financial Planner.”
  3. Incentivize your customers.
    Customers who have purchased an item from your website need an incentive to spread the word, e.g. a discount on their next purchase when they spread the good word on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media. How about a free e-book for repeat customers? This kind of customer retention strategy pays hefty dividends.
  4. Simplify every step of the sales funnel.
    Remove steps, minimize forms, add confidence builders and ensure progress is clearly signposted for the prospective customer to minimize drop-out. And, if your website has a remarketing pixel placed on all of its product pages throughout the site, when someone drops off without making a purchase you can serve an advertisement to them for that specific product over a 30-day timespan.
    Joey Muller, an expert in online direct marketing at Sum Digital, says “Don’t only ‘prospect’ for customers; with the right platform you can re-engage users who have already shown an interest in your products or services. Use remarketing techniques to close more customers.”
  5. Find a strategic position in the industry.
    The CEO of BenefitGuard, Matt Bradley, is an advocate of this principle: “When we examined the competitive landscape, we found several large areas of opportunity. We then designed our services in such a way to solve the problems that we saw in the industry. Then we started to broadcast our message in ways that the rest of the industry had not yet considered.” Financial institutions, both great and small, use a host of tracking sites to follow their rivals. Can you afford to do anything less?

*This article originally appeared on

Steve OlenskiSteve Olenski was named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review and a Top 50 Social Media Blogger by Kred. Steve is a senior creative content strategist at Responsys, a leading marketing cloud software and services company. He is a also a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Digital & Social Media Marketing and co-author of the book “StumbleUpon For Dummies.” He can be reached via LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter @steveolenski or at the nearest coffee shop.

C-Suite Conference Announces Stellar Speaker Lineup

C-Suite Conference to Feature Primetime TV and Radio Host, Jeffrey Hayzlett, President and CEO of Jive Software, Elisa Steele, and Former Bloomberg Television Host, Adam Johnson

The level of talent and extent of business topics continues to heighten as C-Suite Network, the world’s most powerful network of C-Suite leaders, today announced the hosts of its upcoming C-Suite Conference to be held in Boston on March 29-31. Co-founder Jeffrey Hayzlett, a former Fortune 100 Chief Marketing Officer and Primetime TV and Radio host on C-Suite TV and C-Suite Radio, will lead the two day event with co-hosts Elisa Steele, CEO and President of Jive Software, and Adam Johnson, former Bloomberg Television host and founder of Insight and Action Advisors.

The invitation-only Conference provides an arena for exclusive c-suite executives and the world’s most elite thought leaders to candidly talk about the challenges of success in the current business realm. Topics focus on new ideas, emerging technologies, techniques for navigating government policies, new forms of corporate capital, and other key information leaders need to know in the competitive landscape.

Hayzlett will conduct on-stage interviews for first-hand stories of overcoming obstacles, personal setbacks and other business challenges. Interviews include: Kevin Jonas, entrepreneur and global celebrity; Rich Gotham, President of the Boston Celtics; Matt Preschern, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of HCL Technologies; Chris Lindner, President of Keds; Andy Frawley, author and Chief Executive Officer of Epsilon; and additional leadership teams.

The agenda lends an expansive list of renowned panelists who will lend their expertise to those in attendance. The lineup of speakers includes:

  • Kevin Joyce, Chief Commercial Officer of Piksel
  • David Meinz, Director of The Executive Heart Program
  • Gavin Finn, President and Chief Executive Officer of Kaon Interactive
  • Jessie Kernan, Chief Strategy Officer of RAPP
  • Deidre Siegel, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of PEAR Core Solutions, Inc.
  • Ted Krantz, Chief Revenue Officer of Kenshoo

“Accomplished executives and thought leaders are leading the way each and every day with their teams, companies and industries. It’s an honor to have these leaders share their stories and experiences,” said Hayzlett. “I look forward having the best seat in the house to see c-level executives impart their expertise unto their peers and use that knowledge to help them succeed at a high level.”

For more information about the upcoming C-Suite Conference visit

Read more at MarketWired

Get to the Point

by Lewis Denbaum


I am going to practice what I preach and get right to the point. If you are short on time, just read the bold print below.

  1. People have short attention spans — make your point succinctly.
    Use three or four sentences to make your point. Hit ‘em over the head with your point.
  2. People forget what you said — tell a story or use an example that reinforces your point.
    An interesting or humorous story that makes a point is more likely to be remembered than a bland group of sentences. You can have fun making a serious point.
  3. People make their own interpretations, therefore, ask for what you want unambiguously.
    If you say to someone, “I want you to …” they will clearly know what you want. You may not get it, but you’ll have a better chance if people clearly understanding what you’ve requested.

Pete Burdon wrote a helpful article on key messages in business communications. He states:

Whether you are presenting to a prospective client, a large crowd or through a media interview, it’s vital you know what key points you want to get across. It’s even more important to know how to get them across so they are remembered and acted on. The mere act of talking to someone is not communication. It only becomes communication when it is understood and remembered.

People only remember a few points from presentations. Think about the last one you went to. What can you remember? That’s why you need to nail down the two or three points you really want that audience to take in. You then use stories and examples to back up your points and make them interesting and memorable.

In media interviews, a reporter will only use two or three points in his or her story. So by focusing on your three-point message, you increase the likelihood that your points make it into the subsequent story. You use sound bites to do that.

*This post originally appeared on

Lewis DenbaumLewis Denbaum is the CEO, Chief Communication Consultant, Executive and Life Coach at Lewis Denbaum and Associates. He knows from firsthand experience that top-notch communicationskills are key to productivity, team building, employee satisfaction and company growth. He has developed and honed a range of effective communication techniques during his diverse career, spanning law and accounting, senior-level management, teaching and relationship coaching, that are applicable in any business environment. Connect with Lewis on LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter @LewisDenbaum.