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Embracing the Power of Blockchain Technology

During the digital transformation, we have witnessed traditional forms of physical media fall out of favor as users abandoned their treasure trove of CDs, DVDs, books, magazines, and even photo albums to partake in an entirely clutter-free life. Digitally optimizing our lives has enabled us to remove shelves, cabinets and dust magnets while we get our entertainment fix from the likes of Netflix, Spotify and the endless list of streaming alternatives.

We often forget just how much technology has changed our lives in the last few years. Therefore, it should be no surprise that our love of cold hard cash could be the next twentieth-century casualty to fall by the wayside.

Over in Europe, Denmark and its Scandinavian neighbors Norway and Sweden are leading a charge toward a cashless society that will see the end of tooth fairy payments for children but will equally wave goodbye to a world of money laundering, fraud, and tax evasion. The bonus of replacing scrambling around for loose change for a purchase, or riding public transportation with contactless payment by swiping a card or smartphone, is incredibly appealing for most users.

The concept of handing over a handful of silver coins in exchange for any product or service can feel quite primitive in our modern world dominated by technology. However, contactless and smartphone payments are not the end-all, be-all payment options, as there is another game changer in the form of cyber currency. But does this technology disruptor have the power to transform our traditional banking system?

Blockchain is the digital ledger software code that powers Bitcoin. As this system has grown in popularity, the CEO of Digital Asset Holdings, Blythe Masters, has her sights set on changing the way banks trade loans and bonds in a way that could dramatically change the way we look at both business and banking. Blythe delivered a massive wake-up call to finance leaders when she compared the influx of changes to the arrival of the internet when she advised, “You should be taking this technology as seriously as you should have been taking the development of the internet in the 1990s. It’s analogous to email for money.” The speed in which technology trends can go viral illustrates how an internet of finance could become a reality sooner rather than later.

The interesting aspect of Bitcoin is the ability to buy and sell without the need for an intermediary. This represents a paradigm shift in the management and structure of the financial services industry. However, adopting innovation and changing entire ecosystems is not something that the notoriously cautious financial industry and affiliated regulation committees are famed for.

Because this technology has the potential to reduce the role banks play in the lives of individuals, it is understandable why financial institutions are skeptical. However, these developments cannot be written off just yet. They could save consumers and the financial industry billions of dollars while also removing their reliance on middlemen to offer a speedier, modern and more efficient banking experience.

The ultimate goal is to move payments globally much faster while simultaneously becoming more transparent and lowering costs. We will likely begin to witness early adopters making waves in the private market before the ever-cautious big players speak of standardization and implementation. However, there are already a few of them dipping their toes into the water.

According to the PwC, there are already over three hundred technology startups developing ideas that will allow blockchain to revolutionize the financial industry. Big players like Visa and Nasdaq are already investing heavily into a blockchain startup, and there are also plans to modernize the London Market. Lloyds is looking to blockchain technology to improve its data access and reduce costs associated with administrative paperwork.

There are daily stories of heavyweights within the financial industry becoming increasingly eager to capture the tamper-proof benefits offered by a future web-based cryptocurrency. Technology leaders such as Microsoft also have thrown their hats into the ring to demonstrate the possibilities that blockchain technology can offer.

There is exciting potential to completely revolutionize the way in which the finance industry works. But in its infancy, many will continue to exercise great caution before rushing into a shiny electronic cash system that is fully peer-to-peer. The future of cash and pockets full of loose change is indeed looking numbered, as many wonder if in just a few years we will be looking back at our quaint primitive payment methods in the same way many do with physical media now.

Cryptocurrencies that thrive in a transparent environment might seem like a foreign concept today, but the rise of blockchain technology is one Hard Trend that will quickly prove to be impossible to ignore.

Finance trends can be anticipated – when you know how to look. The Anticipatory Organization Model has the power to shift an organization’s operating mindset from the default of reacting and responding to changes coming from the outside in, to a place of empowerment by anticipating and shaping the future from the inside out.

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Entrepreneurship Leadership Personal Development

The Secret of Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurs change the world, but not in the way that you think.

Entrepreneurship can be one of the single most impactful ideas in business today. Entrepreneurial thinking, intrapreneurship, and innovation are pervasive ideas throughout the industry today. Many entrepreneurs that call themselves creatives, they know that they’re creating and building something — giving them a singular vision of what they want to bring into the world.

  • For many, it is malleable, able to change and adapt as they grow and learn.
  • For some, it is a straight-forward single-minded idea.
  • For everyone, it is a problem that they are passionate about solving.

Entrepreneurship makes lives better because it brings new ideas into the fold. Some stick, smartphones, social media, others fade, pet rocks, Beta Max, but all leave an impact, even if it is merely an example of something whose time hasn’t yet come, i.e., Apple Newton.

The key to this is, whatever you want to do, it is entirely up to you to figure it out.
Entrepreneurs’ ideas don’t have to be game changing. In fact, among our communities the most impactful entrepreneurs often have some of the most mundane ideas; they merely do it better and bring a little extra to the table.

The one common element that every entrepreneur has is resilience.

Resilience merely is the ability to remove “I can’t” from your vocabulary. Period. This simple lesson is the most important and is what primes entrepreneurs for success. Because every venture with either will either fail, face hardship, or require grit and determination to move forward.

Never giving up is what separates the successful entrepreneurs from those who fall short.

Entrepreneurship doesn’t have to be a world-changing idea. It has to be something that someone is passionate about and willing to see through to the end.
The smallest venture can have the most significant effect. Moreover, for many entrepreneurs, it is not about changing the world. It is merely having an impact on their lives, families, and neighborhoods — the idea of building a career for themselves that bring value into their communities in new ways.

I had a great lunch the other day with The Hero Club, another great organization within the C-Suite Network and had a chance to sit down with some fantastic entrepreneurs that have stared some significant and highly impactful ventures.

I asked them, what was the one thing that kept you going and truly helped you build your business. After some thinking, I received a multitude of answers, all along similar lines; persistence, determination, unwillingness to let go, plain old stubbornness. In short, it was the will to succeed that drove them to create something bigger, better, more profound. It is the will to carry on that creates successful entrepreneurs, not a fancy pitch deck.

It is looking at the world in slightly different ways, finding a problem, proposing a solution, then running with it. However, and more importantly, it is the ability to be able to bounce back from mistakes and missteps. Learn from them, grow, and continue to move forward. Be stubborn about what you’re passionate about. The never give up, never quit, learn, adapt, improvise, and overcome attitude is everything in this area of business.

We don’t have to change the world, but entrepreneurs everywhere are finding ways to improve their lives and their communities. If you look at the aggregate, incremental, impact of all their ventures, it does change the world.


You can find our podcast conversation on entrepreneurship and local impact on The Leadership Update Brief on C-Suite Radio.

Ed Brzychcy is former U.S. Army Infantry Staff-Sergeant with service across three combat deployments to Iraq. After his time in the military, he received his MBA from Babson College and now coaches organizational leadership and growth through his consultancy, Blue Cord Management.

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Best Practices Entrepreneurship Industries Leadership Marketing Sales Skills

7 Failures of Business Growth

If you want to stand out in today’s marketplace, you must work smarter, not harder. This is easier said than done, however, as despite their best intentions, companies get snarled in the glaring failures that derail business growth and stagnate profits.

In order for you to avoid these failures, you have to be aware of the most common ones and the strategies for combating them. The following will help you turn failure into success.

1. FAILURE TO ANTICIPATE
Most companies react to change as it occurs. You must anticipate and plan for future changes. You can anticipate a great deal in your industry. For example, are automobiles of the future mostly going to be electric instead of gas? Many think so. Could automobiles hover like drones instead of drive on four wheels? Of course!

Instead of being a crisis manager and reacting to change, anticipate changes so you can drive growth from the inside out. Spend one hour a week focusing on predictable opportunities to strategize and become more of an opportunity management organization.

2. FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE
There is a difference between informing and communicating. Informing is one-way and static,  and seldom leads to action. Communicating is two-way and dynamic, and usually leads to action. We have these fantastic Communication Age tools but use them in an Information Age way. If you can’t communicate internally with your staff, how can you communicate externally to customers and shareholders? When you focus on maximizing two-way communication, you can create a Communication Age organization and accelerate positive change.

3. FAILURE TO COLLABORATE
The majority of people tend to cooperate, which is a lower-level function different from collaboration. Even though we often use the word “collaborate,” we frequently really just mean “cooperate.” Cooperation means, “I won’t get in your way if you won’t get in mine.” Such an approach produces results but certainly not outstanding results, because it’s based on a scarcity mentality.

Collaboration is instead based on abundance and gets competitors to work with you rather than against you. It occurs when we put our heads together and ask ourselves, “How can we create a bigger pie for everyone?”

4. FAILURE TO INNOVATE
When asked what their last big innovation was, most companies have to go back five or ten years to cite something meaningful, as the majority of companies innovate once, form a company around the innovation, and then let it ride. They stop innovating and instead spend a great deal of effort asking themselves how they can become more efficient by doing more with less, reducing overhead, and using technology better. You must ask yourself how you can use technology and staff to create new products and services to increase sales all around. Innovation fuels profitability and efficiency.

5. FAILURE TO PRE-SOLVE PROBLEMS
Always remember that a problem isn’t an opportunity in disguise; it is a problem! A problem is only an opportunity before it occurs, and most problems we experience are predictable. If you ask customers what they want and then give it to them, you’re missing the real opportunity. Instead, you need to think at a level higher and ask yourself and your customers, “What problems are we about to have?” Develop new solutions based on those answers and base your product development on your customer’s future problems.

6. FAILURE TO DE-COMMODITIZE
Unfortunately, most companies come up with something new and make it their main product. Other companies copy the product, and then market saturation occurs. Try de-commoditizing your offering by taking your product and putting a service wrapper around it. For example, in the electricity industry, the utility provider cannot increase prices without permission from ratepayers. One electric company bypassed this limitation by creating what it calls “digital electricity.” They sold customers a product that, for a higher cost, prevented any fluctuation of voltage from occurring. Many big companies signed up for this more expensive service, and in the near future, homeowners with streaming devices will have a similar interest. This electric utility took a product and wrapped a service around it in order to de-commoditize.

7. FAILURE TO DIFFERENTIATE
Too many companies become just like everyone else. True strategic planning needs to be more than numbers based; it needs to focus on how you can differentiate your company and products from those of the competition. You differentiate by avoiding all the failure modes we’ve discussed that prevent business growth. You anticipate, communicate, collaborate, innovate, pre-problem solve, and de-commoditize. Become what your competition isn’t in order to differentiate.

BUSINESS SUCCESS IS ON YOUR HORIZON

When you know the failures to avoid and the strategies for combating them, you’ll be well on your way to learning from these failures, rethinking the way business is done, and creating an organization that continues to grow despite external factors.

NEXT STEP: Pick up your copy of The Anticipatory Organization to discover proven strategies to accelerate innovation and shape the future–before someone else does it for you!

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Best Practices Entrepreneurship Human Resources Management Personal Development

What CEOs and C-Suite Leaders Really Want

Chris Westfall Leadership Meeting


What do leaders really want?
That’s the question that IBM asked over 1500 CEOs: what’s the number one quality you look for, in a leader?

From Dubai to Dubuque, and everywhere in between, CEOs weighed in on the most desired aspect of leadership.

Surprisingly, the most-desired quality or characteristic was not technical competence.

It wasn’t loyalty, or communication skills, or financial acumen.

The top characteristic wasn’t charisma. Or empathy.

The number-one most important characteristic for business leaders?

Creativity.

That characteristic is quite surprising, when you consider the traditional definition of creativity.  Under careful consideration, “being creative” is not always a positive and encouraging description.

Related: Find out what Entrepreneur has to say, about Identifying Your Blind Spot

For financial professionals, project managers, executives and other task- or numbers-oriented individuals, the call for creativity seems quite contrary to the training and experiences that form the very foundation of the business world.

For example: Where do you find creative accountants?
Answer: Jail.

“Creative” skills are not commonplace in shipping, accounts payable, or operations.  Or are they?

Creativity, in the context of business, means the power of creation.  Creativity is the way that leaders harness imagination to disrupt the status quo, and find new solutions to the same old problems. The global leaders in the IBM survey are seeking creative solutions to business challenges.  The leaders in the survey identify creativity as the antidote for the status quo.

For leaders, creativity is a vital disruption. Creativity is the birthplace of innovation.

Creativity can exist anywhere a process is created or improved. That means in shipping, accounts payable, or operations. And especially in the C-Suite.

Creativity means many things, but at its core, the process of creation begins with an idea.

Based on current information, “what if?” opens the door to imagination. New solutions can only come from within the realm of new ideas.  As the economy continues to expand, the leaders of tomorrow are the ones who are open to new concepts, new perspectives and new solutions.  Seeing things as they are is an important skill.

But, for C-Suite leaders: seeing things as they could be – and then making them that way? Well, that takes some creativity.


  • Do you agree? What does creativity mean to you, and to your organization?
  • How do you develop a workplace where creativity is allowed to thrive?
  • How is creativity linked to innovation for you?

 

About the Author:

Chris Westfall is the publisher of seven books, including the international best-seller, The NEW Elevator Pitch. His latest title is Leadership Language: Communication Skills for Changing Your Results, coming from Wiley in the fall of 2018. Find out more on his website, and follow him on twitter.

 

 

photo credit: Philadelphia Business Meeting image by the author

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