Posts Tagged ‘priorities’

Peak Performance

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

We are 10 years into a bull market run and a UBS Investment analyst at a London event with a global bank’s resources this morning suggests investors in a late cycle phase continue to be “pro risk assets (equities, credit, real estate) with a defensive stance.” Short-hand for “I have no conviction”?! As prudent entrepreneurs, executives and investors, we don’t have the luxury with our own money and endeavours. We must commit to a strategic direction and have convinced ourselves.

The Entrepreneur’s Uncommon Legacy

Friday, June 30th, 2017

90% of entrepreneurs want to leave a powerful and lasting legacy upon the successful transition of their business, yet most fail. I define “legacy”, in a business context, as a framework within which decisions are made today about sustaining the beliefs that will enable the business to thrive in the future.

Failure is not in my experience down to the most obvious reason (renouncing control) rather it is the absence of people, long before the sale of the business is concluded, with the skills and volition to implement the entrepreneur’s desired legacy in the real world, and constant procrastination. Here is a simple checklist for the Entrepreneur:

  1. What would a successful legacy look, feel, touch, smell, taste like to those who are important to you and in what realistic timeframe?
  2. Whose support must you command upfront (exemplars, key influencers) to sustain it?
  3. What specific goals are you trying to accomplish internally and externally (e.g. improve succession planning, more impressive innovation, heighten customer awareness of societal issues etc.)?
  4. What elements need tackling first (e.g. strengthen career development, prioritise resource to performance improvements not fixing problems, identify exemplars etc.)?
  5. What must be done tomorrow and the day after?
  6. By whom and by what deadline?
  7. Do it.

If you need additional expertise, hire it. One of the biggest mistakes is the assumption that the content knowledge your coterie of existing advisers and top managers have about the inner workings of the business is sufficient to succeed. Here is the litmus test for the Entrepreneur:

  1. Do my key people possess a high, moderate or low level of familiarity with my legacy?
  2. Do my key people possess a high, moderate or low level of clarity about my legacy?
  3. Do my key people possess a high, moderate or low level of skills to implement my legacy?

Better to have started early, tried and failed than for the entrepreneur to look back with regrets about the mistakes that were made by not being bold enough or making it your priority, before the business was sold.

© James Berkeley 2017.

Hot Airbnb

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

howairbnbworks

 

A rocket-propelled growth trajectory creates a “siren call” to investors and garners predictable and less predictable media comment. Executives ride the bandwagon of super valuations (fame, inflated bonuses, celebrity) but all too often the focus on dramatic market expansion and top line growth outpaces risk mitigation initiatives (the boring stuff). Heat melts the shell of the rocket on re-entry and the business becomes highly vulnerable.

This past week, Airbnb came in to sharp focus with me. (1) A European CEO of a “bricks and mortar” global serviced apartment business pointing out that Airbnb is flagrantly allowing its’ hosts in many key European gateway cities to run full-time hospitality businesses (83,000 room listings in Paris) and (2) Personally experiencing their underwhelming response to a cyber hack on my own Airbnb account.

My observation is Airbnb are playing too fast and too loose. They are tripping up on common sense responses to foreseen risks (cyber hacks, hosts flouting local trading rules), not just unforeseen risks. I don’t believe they are alone, there are hundreds of “celebrity” high growth businesses, whose risk mitigation strategies are being lapped by their growth plans.

I am all for disruptive businesses helping raise the levels of customer service. That is capitalism. No business or industry has a “right” to survive. What isn’t acceptable is when a business is acquiescent or adopts approaches (cyber hack) that are so inadequate that trust and integrity is destroyed. Are management asleep while cyber thieves roam freely in their booking system, setting up fake bookings, lifting credit card information, conversing brazenly with hosts and potentially putting “hosts” in physical harm’s way with bogus guests? Are their customers solely responsible for alerting Airbnb to breaches and mitigating the immediate risks (financial theft, loss of personal data, potential physical harm to hosts)? Should  this matter to investors?

Yes, if you are an investor for whom reputational risk is equally as important as financial risk.

There are plenty of disruptive businesses (Ryanair), where executives have assailed their competitors, regulators and their customers for years while the growth trajectory dramatically outpaces the risk mitigation strategies.

The difficulty arises when growth slows, investors ask “why”?

Businesses aren’t in existence to be liked, they are in business to be respected. If you don’t believe that look at Apple, GE, Singapore Airlines and Virgin. When respect is destroyed by leaders failing to prioritise managing risk effectively, customers, shareholders, employees and business partners walk. No one individual or brand is insulated from that certainty.

© James Berkeley 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Referral Momentum

Thursday, March 10th, 2016

A trusted source sends you a referral. How you handle the solicited or unsolicited help says more about your own professionalism and value than the results that often arise from the introduction? Your “responsiveness” to the referral source (speed of sending a “thank you”, time taken to set up a follow up call or meeting). Your “respect” for the referral source (time, care and attention given to the referral). Your future “reciprocal value” to the referral source (the increased chances of more valuable help being sent your way).

Collectively, there is a momentum which can positively build and strengthen trusting peer-level relationships, have a “blip” effect on your relationship or indeed have a negative impact. That ball is largely in your court.

Most people don’t do this well because they lack a focused and disciplined process and structure. Ask yourself, “Are we suitably set up to impress our referral sources?” If not, “what must change immediately?” A week’s unanswered call or return email,  an inability to leave a voicemail message or a failure to update the referral source on the progress, is not unfortunate, it is amateur.

Ironically, friends, colleagues and business partners who know you well are in my observation some of the worst culprits.

© James Berkeley 2016. All Rights Reserved.

 

An Interview With Me From The Street

Monday, May 18th, 2015

TheStreet’s reporter, Ralph Jennings, interviews James about the dramatic growth in Chinese overseas direct investment in the insurance, real estate, infrastructure and other related asset classes. The logic is obvious to most but it is the emotional reasoning that is largely misunderstood or unknown. Why would Fosun want to replicate Berkshire Hathaway? Read on

More U.S. Properties Are Being Snapped Up by Chinese Companies

http://www.thestreet.com/story/13152828/1/more-us-properties-are-being-snapped-up-by-chinese-companies.html