Archive

Posts Tagged ‘networking’

Questions From Colleagues & Preserving Sanity…

April 24th, 2017 Comments off

It’s always interesting to me how cycling manages to work its way into professional conversations, even with a population of folks that don’t participate in the sport with any frequency, if at all. However, there’s a certain curiosity to people when they learn that you are actually spending 350-400 miles a week “on that little seat”. Most often they say nothing, might make a passing comment, or sometimes ask how the training is going with an obvious sincerity.

I’ve always talked about how strong a correlation there is between the disciplines I practice in my personal life and those I practice in my professional life. Very seldom are the two very far apart from one another. However, I was asked a very interesting question by one of my prior colleagues at Cylance. Knowing how much I ride, and that my training rides usually started at 5.30a, I was asked “if the effort required for those hours and rides were worth it and did it provide some balance to the turmoil of life at a start-up?” It was a great question and one that I had discussed with folks on my direct team, as well as friends and vendors.

Simply answered…YES. It really is too easy to get caught up…or I should say buried in the weeds and lose your perspectives when the pressure is high, there is change coming at you from every direction, and there is usually a loosely defined direction that is dependent on tracking against a business that is difficult to predict. You can really get caught in an escalating pace of analysis paralysis. Analysis that has you running every possible scenario, discussing every possible outcome with trusted folks on your team, balancing the hourly or daily interruptions that occur “because you need to be in this meeting…” while never really reaching conclusion or final decision. I learned very early on during my time working in equity research to quickly synthesize information, inquire with a few trusted colleagues, and make the necessary decision…and move on. Not all decisions can be made in that manner, but the vast majority can. Exceptions occur when they are going to have a material and lasting impact on the P&L….hiring, capital expenditures, etc.

When those decisions tend to be more prolonged I always found that my time on the bike, in the early morning hours, would give me the opportunity to weigh the alternatives and think about my decision without the inevitable interruptions that come in the office. When you have hours on the bike you sometimes you pass a certain business, recall a pertinent conversation, or simply realize a new idea that would have never materialized in the office. When you are on the bike, and in the dark, the only thing out there is your commitment to achieve specific performance objectives on the bike…and the thoughts of what you need to accomplish in the office. As I mentioned above, those two are seldom far apart. One moment your making sure you are tracking against the wattage number your supposed to maintain for the 40-minute block you’re in the middle of…and the next minute your thinking about the utilization rate that was just reported by Services, what effect that is going to have on their margins for the Quarter, and recalling the last Quarters activities and the contributions to the performance of that group. Was there a specific project where billing was delayed…was it not properly quoted at the beginning? How are the two large Product opportunities progressing with only two weeks left in the Quarter…and there hasn’t been an update in the most recent few days. These are the things going through your mind in the predawn hours of that ride…

Sometimes those hours in the saddle can be with a key member of the team that might be struggling with a certain decision. Very early on our CEO was faced with making a decision to fully replace the first generation Sales team and basically start from scratch. He and I had know each other for years before he made the commitment to start Cylance so bikes were nothing foreign to the two of us. If we got out on the bikes it was never predicated on having a meeting or certain discussion…but only to get out for a training ride. Inevitably it usually went in the direction of business, as it had that day. There was a long discussion about the challenges and potential risk of making the change, but in the end he knew the decision that had to be made…it was only the process of rolling along at 20mph discussing the subject that made it a bit of a therapy session.

That’s exactly what cycling is for me relative to my chosen profession…it’s part therapy, part challenges, part perspectives, part bonding with friends…and one more way for me to quantify & measure my efforts. The conversation I’ve had with colleagues is not about the specific activity of cycling, but to choose any activity that can give you a similar parallel with your activities at work, provide those perspectives, and allow you to avoid getting so embedded in the weeds that you are unable to make effective decisions that are in the best interest of the company, your team, and the objectives that everyone is working towards. Whether it’s running, rock climbing, cross country skiing, or swimming….what’s that activity that is going to keep you healthy, your brain engaged, and sharp for the next stretch of hurdles that you face at the office?

Thanks for reading…

Jeffrey Ishmael

Is Your Network Just Another Statistic?

May 28th, 2012 Comments off

     During the course of my career I’ve been fortunate enough to assemble what I believe is a pretty fantastic network. I’m also thankful that I can call a significant number of these folks good friends and have the fortune to see them outside of the office. Recently, it seems I’ve been receiving more frequent introductions to recent college graduates who are looking to establish their own networks and kick start their career paths. Some have been working on this effort during their college stint while others are just beginning. You have to start somewhere…

     As I looked at my own network it begged the question of how I can leverage it in some way to help them, as well as provide some of my colleagues with a bit of recognition for what they have accomplished in their own career. With this thought in mind I’ve decided to start a new series I’m tagging as “CorpFin 10Q’s”. Essentially a brief 10-question format for those in my network. With a network that spans the areas of Finance, Investor Relations, R&D, Manufacturing, Sales, Consulting, and other areas, I’m hoping it provides an interesting perspective. 

     Hopefully your own network isn’t just a statistic, but more an asset that can help in broadening your knowledge base and assist others in the building of their own career.

Thanks for reading…

Jeffrey Ishmael

Ken Tudhope: Return On Investment….

January 29th, 2010 Comments off

     Recently a client told me at lunch that there was no real return on investment for networking.  Can you imagine saying that to a fellow like me?!  I am the guy with 5 Rolodexes and I write the Networking Notes articles.  So of course I begin to launch into my value of connections, and the importance of rich relationships speeches, but then I stopped myself because I figured that maybe this thing which I’m so passionate about isn’t for everyone. 

     Then on a morning not long after, I had coffee with someone in a really tough situation, someone I had met awhile back at the Harvard Business School Networking breakfast.  He called me and asked for a meeting.  When we met he told me he wanted to make a career change and he asked me to help.  I reviewed his resume and told him it would be tough considering he’d been in management consulting for many years.  My clients hire me to find people with specific, recent experience in finance & accounting.  I encouraged him to reach out to his network and reminded him that most jobs are found through referrals, not recruiters.  He mumbled that he didn’t really have a network for referrals.  I smiled as I thought, “He does have a network but he just doesn’t know it.”  Professional consultants with years of experience know many people because they go from engagement to engagement, meeting clients along the way.  What’s even better is that consultants are viewed as experts in their field and their former clients already know their work.  When I recommended that he contact this network, he said he could not because his colleagues knew all the same client contacts. 

This made me think about what kind of return on investment networking really has.

    If you don’t get out and meet people outside your company and even your industry, it’s pretty tough to conduct a confidential job search.  Given that jobs are getting shorter and turnover is more common, we are all going to have to be in a search at some point.  If everyone you know knows your manager and coworkers, then you will have to wait to get let go before you can start the job search.  That will delay your search, cost you money, and decrease your options. 

I think there is a high ROI on networking, and I encourage you to invest in yourself!

Blog Break for the Holidays..& then some.

December 24th, 2009 Comments off

            The last month has shown how hard it can be to keep the discipline in place to update a blog. For myself, I had always set a goal of trying to do updates 2-3 times a week, so it was never intended as a daily commentary. However, the last 4-5 weeks have been a whirlwind and I’ve missed my regular postings.  As many of you know, I accepted an offer from Quiksilver for the role of CFO at DC Shoes. DC Shoes is one of their larger entities, and comprises approximately 22% of Quiksilver’s annual revenues. Between the interview process, my transition out of one company, and into DC, the last 4-5 weeks have tested how much bandwidth I really have for everything. Needless to say, the blog fell off the radar.

 

            However, I’m headed into a nice 11-day holiday break and I look forward to regrouping a bit, defining some new strategies for the blog, and brainstorming a list of topics to write about in the new year. While I have never been too specific about the results or figures in my postings as they relate to the current company, my approach will have to be modified so that I don’t run afoul of any public company reporting issues. No blog update is worth jeapordizing your career over. I look forward to keeping tabs on the developing IFRS issues, the recovery of the Retail & Apparel sectors, as well as studying how these industry groups will be reconfiguring/restructuring their business as they emerge from the last 2-years.

 

            This 11-day break that I have in front of me will also allow me to thank many of the folks who have supported me over the last few years, and particularly those, that have helped me with my most recent transition. I’ve put a tremendous amount of effort into my networking, which has clearly played a key role in my recent move. However, regardless of your networking, you still need to produce quantifiable results as a finance leader in order to even be considered for the opportunity. I was given a great opportunity to display my skills at my last company and we achieved some fantastic results. I’m grateful to them for that opportunity and look forward to seeing them more in this small industry we work in, as well as bringing that same level of success to the Quiksilver/DC organization.

 

            I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunities I’ve been provided during a very difficult 2-year economy, but also continue to see many of my peers struggling in their search. I’m hoping the new year will bring opportunities to help them in their networking and search efforts, as I have been helped. I was able to directly help 4 people in my network secure employment over the last 2-years and hope I can continue to offer the same level of assistance.  This is my favorite time of year and there certainly seems to be a much broader sense of optimism and opportunity going into the new year versus last year.

 

Let’s make it a great 2010 !

 

Merry Christmas to all my friends and colleagues….

 

Jeff

Ken Tudhope notes: Techno-Networking….

October 15th, 2009 Comments off

     If you have kids, you know what MySpace.com is all about.  It’s the cyber-place where the teenagers go to flirt, be creative, gossip, and even be a little (or a lot) rebellious.  As parents, we often look to see what our kids have on their MySpace.com page and after we assure ourselves that our child hasn’t posted anything too embarrassing or inappropriate, we breathe easy again.  We tend to forget, however, what kind of crazy pre-cyber things we did when we were teenagers! 

 

     The technical name for MySpace.com, Facebook.com, and other similar sites is “social networking”.  Networking!  Now you know why I’m writing about MySpace.com.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you to create a MySpace page, but I am going to encourage you to embrace emerging technology tools as you build your network of connections. 


     For me personally, I really like LinkedIn.com.  First, you can find people when they move, even people with whom you haven’t been in contact for several years.  For example, I searched on LinkedIn for the company “SMC Networks”, and to my pleasant surprise I found many of the people I worked with at SMC in the late 90’s.  With most of us having gone in different directions over the years, it was remarkable to me that I could connect with them with just a few clicks!  Second, and even more remarkable, you can be introduced to people you’ve never met through your LinkedIn contacts.  Type in the name of someone you’d like to meet and you’ll find out who you know that knows that person you want to meet.  A very powerful tool when used properly.  To connect with me on LinkedIn go to http://www.linkedin.com/in/kentudhope


     In addition to LinkedIn there is Plaxo, a service which will send an e-mail periodically asking people in your database (e.g., Outlook, Act!) to update their contact information:  a recent job change, a company change, a move, new address and the like.  Another very powerful tool is ConstantContact.com which helps with letters, announcements, etc.   A very simple way to stay in touch with your contacts is to utilize an online directory provided by various networking organizations – FEI has one for its members.


     If I can help you learn about these powerful networking tools, or if you need a quick tutoring session, please give me a call.  Maybe someday you’ll introduce a new networking idea to me!

 

Ken Tudhope

Project Pro Search

ktudhope@projectprosearch.com

 

 

If I Hear the Word “Twitter” One More Time…..

October 2nd, 2009 Comments off

            It’s pretty interesting the varied responses I get when a conversation turns to the topic of Twitter and my reference to someone I’m connected with.  Either there’s an affirmation of the value, or a complete disdain for the platform and the perception that it’s a complete waste of one’s time. I suppose, that just like any other online portal, or finance consideration for that matter, it’s all about how you utilize the resource. I know that for myself, while I might use Twitter on a moderate basis, I also know that I have virtually eliminated other sources of news and information. Whether that might be MSNBC.com, CFO.com, Cycling News, or VeloNews, I can get all the same updates through the folks I follow on Twitter. Now instead of multiple sources, I have a single source news feed.

            While it has taken some time to refine the group that I follow, I find a tremendous value in the information that I’ve plugged into.  There is also more consideration than just the standard news feeds I’m getting. There’s also the numerous blogs, primarily financial for me, that provide great additional insights over and above the news feeds. Specifically, some of the folks that I follow, include: @startupcfo , @CFOWise , @BenParamore , @CFOCoach , and @CFOServices . There’s also a great real-time networking element on the site that I believe is an extension to what you can accomplish via LinkedIn.

            Although additional effort might be needed to establish a quality network via Twitter, it’s a very real possibility. As examples, I’ve established a great group that includes:

Ø  Private Equity / VC players in Boston

Ø  CEO’s (multiple…) in Colorado

Ø  Numerous folks nationally who specialize in Interim CFO services.

Ø  CPA’s located nationally

Ø  Retail & Apparel industry news feeds

Ø  Experts on IFRS and other emerging accounting issues

Ø  Recruiters in multiple sectors

            These are also folks that I enjoy helping out as much as the value that they provide to me.  Although some of these same folks have also become connections on LinkedIn, I would not have established the regular dialogue or relationships were it not for the original contact through Twitter.

            It is a very interesting little beast, but Twitter is a fantastic resource for networking and I’ll continue to get a chuckle out of the folks that so quickly disregard it and the potential value it brings. Like everything, it takes time and effort to develop a new element to your networking strategy, but this is a very worthwhile tool to invest in.

Thanks for reading. . . .

Jeffrey Ishmael

Ken Tudhope Networking Notes: Linked In

September 29th, 2009 Comments off

            On nearly a daily basis, most of us receive requests to connect on LinkedIn.  For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the concept, the LinkedIn website explains it as “an interconnected network of experienced professionals from around the world, representing 170 industries and 200 countries. You can find, be introduced to, and collaborate with qualified professionals that you need to work with to accomplish your goals.”  They claim to have over 36 million members and if that number is even close, that’s pretty mind-boggling.

            Being an avid networker I am often asked by people, “Ken, should I accept the LinkedIn requests?”  Before I answer that question I must first tell you that I LOVE LinkedIn!  There are so many reasons, but mostly it’s because LinkedIn brings technology to networking.  I know how much time and effort it takes to stay in touch with my network, but now some brilliant software developers have figured out how to do it “better, faster, stronger.”  With no effort at all you can find old friends and colleagues.  Business development people can find people within targeted companies.  To make introductions even easier there are groups within LinkedIn so you can find people with common interests and experiences.  With six degrees of separation, someday I may be able to meet Treasury Secretary Henry Paulsen, a key player in Finance and Accounting and according to all accounts my look-alike separated-at-birth twin! 


            Now we get to the question of accepting invitations to connect.  First let me explain what “accepting” means.  When you accept an invitation, you do two things:  first, you allow that person to see your connections and who you know; second, you are viewed as being closely associated with them, which assumes you know them well enough to provide an introduction.  My own policy, and my recommendation to you, is to only accept invitations to connect with people you know well.  If I meet someone at a networking event and get a business card, that would not usually mean I’d accept a LinkedIn invitation. 
           

            I recommend you register on LinkedIn and explore around on it.  It is a very useful and efficient technology when used responsibly and it’s one of the more powerful networking tools.  Just remember though, bigger is not necessarily better on LinkedIn, which just might answer the question.

 

Ken Tudhope

Project Pro Search

ktudhope@projectprosearch.com