Posts Tagged ‘expertise’

Uncommon Summer Work Experience

Monday, July 30th, 2018

If you have a son or daughter undertaking work experience or an internship this Summer , “doing good” might be your child’s droll response but that isn’t going to make them an object of interest to anyone in a future business setting. Ask them

  1. Which of these “how to’s” below they have acquired and successfully applied.
  2. How that has demonstrably helped their immediate boss, the business they have worked for or their clients (results and value).
  3. Ask them to pick 5 examples, and in a few powerful sentences, string that together in a brief conversation starter.

“I spent the Summer working for XX at YYY company, where I dramatically improved my understanding of [list the “how to” knowledge]. In return, my boss/my employer/their clients was able to accomplish the following [list the problems solved, the improvements made or the better client experience] with my help.

We’ve agreed to stay in touch and I am proposing to update them [in person, by phone or in writing] on DD/MM/YY about my progress and ideas to help their business growth.”

Don’t forget to encourage them to add “volume” with the use of powerful adjectives before each benefit for the employer. It is never too early to make a strong first impression.

Yet far too many Parents and kids, lean on family friends and colleagues for favours in securing employment but they overlook the actual learning and development success, the importance of disciplined follow up, and reciprocity, in eliciting repeat work and referral opportunities.  Perhaps that says more about the Parents sloth than that of their children.

How To’s Checklist

  • Networking
  • Decision-Making
  • Time Management
  • Team Building
  • Customer Service
  • Speaking Skills
  • Motivation
  • Humour
  • Ethics
  • Negotiating
  • Problem Solving
  • Planning
  • Writing Skills
  • Technology
  • Sales Skills
  • Use of Media
  • Futurism
  • Health + Wellness
  • Building self-esteem
  • Priority Setting
  • Image Building
  • Managing Change
  • Listening Skills
  • Creativity
  • Productivity
  • Leadership
  • Diverse experiences
  • Career Management
  • Innovation
  • Empowerment
  • Relationship Building
  • Rewarding Behaviour
  • Add others to your list

© James Berkeley 2018. All Rights Reserved.

3 Deadly Sins First-Time Venture Capital Fund Managers Rarely Avoid

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

Why do so many first-time venture capital fund managers, who have been a success in their past, cease to act like a success when raising their first fund? Undoubtedly, the fundraising journey is long, on average somewhere between 15 to 24 months for funds under $150 million from firing the gun until the final close. Nowhere is that harder for General Partners, who are new to the investment game and of limited interest to institutional money. Over the past 10 months, I have had first-hand experiences with 6 fund managers in US and Europe and talked to a multitude of placement agents, who have shared their experiences from over 120 such fundraises. Three deadly sins:

  1. General Partners underestimate the three pools of personal capital (cash, credit and investment) that they need to successfully arrive at their desired destination and thrive. They over invest in non-essentials (expensive office space, hiring employees), at the outset, and under invest in external expertise (fundraising, skills development) when they most need it, typically, in the tough grind that follows some immediate success  securing a cornerstone investor.
  2. General Partners underestimate the importance of maintaining a high level of self-worth. They allow a “poverty mindset” to quickly become their default position. They jump on the first offer of committed capital driven by a fear of failure, they beg for favours (introductions, expertise) on terms they’d never accept and they fail to act like a peer in front of investors (constantly “pitching” rather than investing appropriate time building a peer-level trusting relationship).
  3. General Partners underestimate the return on their time invested in accomplishing various activities along the “journey”. They spend excessive amounts of time “fine-tuning” their methodology at the expense of articulating the results and value the potential limited partner walks away with. They allow their intellectual curiosity and ego, to lead them into targeting investors, who are highly unlikely to commit, in their desired timeframe. Why? They consciously ignore who they are today (an ambitious first-time manager with an investment thesis yet to be proven, and zero successful exits) and they are overly pre-occupied with who they imagine themselves to be in future for ego reasons (the next Fred Wilson, Bill Gurley, Josh Kopelman).

The final thought: You might be a great investor but first, can you actually create and build a successful business (skills, behaviours, expertise)? I am not talking about a division of a large VC firm, a global bank, a management consulting firm or something you did on the side in university. I am talking about a boutique asset management business.  That is the first question your highest potential limited partners are trying to convince themselves about.

© James Berkeley 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Snow Joke

Monday, February 5th, 2018

Climbing out of a snow drift back onto a piste for a first-time skier is hard if you have never done it before, “raising money” from investors is equally hard for a first-time entrepreneur or private equity manager if you have never done it before. I have helped tens of people with both challenges. Yet I run into smart people weekly, who have been a success in the past but refuse to act today like a success when it comes to investing in their own development.

The common factors for success are do you possess the requisite combination of skills, behaviours and expertise to accomplish your goal (climbing a mountain or raising a fund)? If not, can you find someone, who has successfully accomplished what you are seeking to do, and possesses the skills and volition in the real world to help translate and transfer their success to you (qualified expert)? If you can, hire them. If you cannot or even refuse, you are seeing the problem. The pathway is either excessively risky or ambiguous for even experienced individuals or your own behaviour is contributing to your difficulties. Which is it?

© James Berkeley 2018. All Rights Reserved.

New Balls, Please

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Today’s Wimbledon: strawberries and cream. White tennis gear. Polite ticket queues. Live streaming. Rafa, Roger, Andy, Novak, Serena and co. The sliding roof.

Days of old: more strawberries and cream. Wooden rackets. Bjorn, Jimmy, BigMac, Pete, Andre, Rod, BillyJean, Monika, Martina, Steffi. Intermittent rain delays. Images that are indelibly linked in our minds to a time and place. Yet a (sporting) institution and participants that has successfully embraced reinvention.

When you look at your own personal and business reinvention, what are the strongest images in the minds of your key constituents (clients, investors, employees, business partners and so forth)? Does it say more about your “past” value, your “present” value or your “future” value? Perception is reality. What are you doing regularly to adjust others perception of you? (new interests, new relationships, new ideas, new surroundings, new images etc.) Is it bold enough for your current and future circumstances? (changes in technology, competition, market needs, client experience, and so forth)

Why wait for the umpire’s cry of “new balls, please”, when you can better control your own destiny?

© James Berkeley 2017.

 

The Insurance Corporate Venturing Pulse

Monday, July 18th, 2016

When you introduce two good friends that you know from two completely different walks of life, there is that pregnant pause in which both seek to find a common connection and language to build a relationship. To the introducer, it seems perverse that there would be a delay, you know both people intimately and you have thought long and hard before introducing them. So I liken the insurtech corporate venturing world today.

Inherently it makes sense that entrepreneurial tech businesses have the capability to transform venerable insurance businesses. In most cases there are shared values and a receptiveness to make a relationship work. Yet there is an uncertainty born of speaking different “languages” and the reality that operates in their respective sectors (resisting and embracing change, regulation, corporate bureaucracy and inertia).

Having assisted a number of businesses on both sides of the table, here is my current take:

  1. The quantum of insurance tech money will double in the next 24 months. There will be a greater concentration of capital in the hands of a smaller number of powerful brands (VCs, CVCs and UHNWs), who are able to raise capital faster.
  2. You will rarely hear about the failed insurtech investments but be certain 80% of the so-called strategic investments will never be strategic, in that those technologies are successfully adopted into the insurance corporate venturing unit’s mothership.
  3. Only 50% of an insurance corporate venturing unit’s invested companies today will be their best corporate investments next year in view of internal and external changes.
  4.  A more formal insurtech investment ecosystem will arise with greater concentration in a smaller number of hubs (Silicon Valley, New York, London, Singapore) that foster innovative environments. If you are not “present” locally, as a service provider, you will not be in the game.
  5.  Speed will be as, if not more important a factor than the quality of the capital, for entrepreneurs in the best insurtech opportunities. Bad news, for insurance corporate venturing unitss with long decision-chains or timelines.
  6. Insurance corporate venturing units that create a powerful gravity to their brand will triumph over those who are largely reliant on opportunistic investment ideas landing in their “inbox”. Heightened importance of peer referrals, networking, publishing, speaking, writing and so forth.
  7. With increasing numbers of people in the insurtech ecosystem, there will be a filtering out of people (entrepreneurs, investors and others) who are truly centres of expertise and objects of interest. Having your CEO make blow-hard statements about his visit to Google, facilitating an insurance disruption event or thinking that merely pushing out generic position papers on your own or a third party’s platform will get you there, is a fool’s paradise.
  8. Tech entrepreneurs that live at 35,000 feet and are beholden to the future without regards to the health of today’s insurance industry, today’s realities of marketing an early stage business and today’s decision-making are living in cloud cuckoo land.

Copyright James Berkeley 2016. All Rights Reserved.

 

“Free” Article: Where Angels Fear To Tread

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

Here is a “free” article titled, “Where Angels Fear To Tread” for members of my professional communities, published today in the Global Trader 2015 eBook.

Global Trader is the pre-eminent UK publication for executives with the fiduciary responsibility and a passion for global expansion and investment in their firms.

In the eBook, James explains how to establish a local business in a frontier market, where there is no local consulting or advisory market expertise of note to draw upon. Also known as “how to fly by the seat of your own pants and succeed.”

Drawing on his own experiences in some of the world’s most remote markets working for local and global management teams in major multinationals (Allianz, Hilton, Ericsson) and smaller entrepreneurial organisations, he discusses six conditions and criteria for successful assignments.  How to make critical and informed decisions? How to balance qualitative information in the absence of hard data and analytics? How to live with ambiguity? How to mitigate risk while maximising rewards?

Click here for further details Global Trader 2015 eBook

For those wanting more specific help, applying these and your own ideas write to james@elliceconsulting.com

© James Berkeley 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Flourishing Business Networks

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

Would you say that your personal and professional network is sufficiently diverse for the level of growth your firm anticipates in the next 12, 24, 36 months?

If YES, how can you best leverage your network to be even more valuable to your firm’s growth plans and your personal success?

If NO, where must you start to transform your network(s) to be more relevant and valuable to your colleagues, clients, shareholders and business partners?

My observation is that in the first third of our careers, we are largely growing and refining our networks. In the second third of our career, our networks atrophy into three groups.

(1) Some people we know well who remain highly relevant to our future.

(2) Some people we know well who could remain highly relevant but first, we must consciously and willingly adapt our relationship and how we interact.

(3) Some people we know well who are no longer relevant to our future (retired, past offerings, past expertise, past function).

A great many people will change their frequency of contact with people they know well by accident or circumstance. A minority actually make it a priority to do so. So that in the final third of their career, many people struggle to reinvent themselves and their value to others because their network is largely made up of people, who are no longer highly relevant to their firm’s future.

Rather like roses in the garden, if our future is to be appealing, the seeds of valuable present and future relationships need to planted and watered well (reciprocal help and value offered). Some relationships will bloom every year and others just once or twice before they die. Each Winter, the dead rose plants need to be removed, the flowerbeds weeded and the soil nurtured for the existing roses to bloom again next Summer. Further, there needs to be a commitment to reinvest in new roses each Spring such that every year we add greater variety, colour and freshness.

Is your garden (network) sufficiently seductive for those you wish to attract (ideal buyers, peers, shareholders, business partners) to convince them to spend time in your company (meet) and immerse themselves in your attractive offerings (buy your products, services and relationships)?

© James Berkeley 2015. All Rights Reserved.