Canopy Advisory is pleased to introduce you to our featured advisor of the month, Joanne. Joanne has 15+ years of experience in aiding organizations in strategic goal development, fundraising diversification, corporate social responsibility initiatives, coalition building, and collaboration around environmental, economic and social impact challenges. In addition, Joanne is soon to be a published author, with her new book ChangeSeekers coming out Sept. 12.
What spurred you to start your sustainability consulting business?
I had hit a turning point in my career where no suitable position seemed to fulfill me. I started to think about the importance of connection building as a key element to social, environmental and economic impact work, and realized there may be a niche for someone to help companies and nonprofits partner more effectively. When I realized my current organization was just not a good fit for me anymore, I gave 60 days’ notice, began writing my business plan, and the rest is history!
What advice can you offer companies or consultants to build a successful consultant-client relationship?
I recently had an epiphany around the concept of active listening. I realized that what made my best relationships work was mutual learning, respect and the ability to hear each other. Some of my closest clients have become good friends, in large part because I spend a lot of time asking questions, listening and learning about what makes the client feel successful and fulfilled. I then incorporate much of that into the work we are doing together.
Share one of the most exciting ways you’ve helped a client experience positive change.
One of the most exciting ways I work with clients is to develop innovative and new ways of partnering to affect change. One of my clients was receptive to a new way of partnering to achieve their nonprofit mission. We tested this method with a partner I recommended, and it has developed into a global partnership with much opportunity to change the space of economic development. To see our idea to fruition was incredibly exciting.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
As an entrepreneur, wife and mother of two boys, free time is a bit hard to find. That said, I love to read, travel, watch my kids play sports and am an avid football fan (go Cleveland Browns!).
Due to the high frequency that growth-oriented businesses need expert or niche talent, more and more businesses are turning to freelancers to help them achieve success. According to NetSuite, the majority of businesses hire on-demand workers because of the improved work quality, additional revenue they generate, work flexibility and decreased labor costs.
To benefit most from the on-demand labor model, consider how to best integrate a freelancer into your company and culture. Here are five tips for growing, expanding and developing your on-demand workforce:
1) Clearly Define Project Scope and Goals:
The first step to a successful consultant relationship is clearly scoping out a project up front – this includes:
• Defining the specific issues at hand
• Setting goals so that your team will know if the project has been successful
• Preparing a feasible budget to accomplish the work
Having a common vision of what a successful project looks like will help consultants hit the ground running, be efficient with their time and clearly understand their role within the organization.
2) Consistent Communication:
Regular, clear communication is also a key ingredient for a successful consultant-business relationship. We find that at least a Friday email summarizing what the consultant accomplished during the week and what remains outstanding for the following week keeps everyone on the same page. Even better are weekly calls or meetings where both parties seek real-time feedback on issues and questions and build a strong relationship.
3) Include Consultant in Company Culture:
On-demand workers likely don’t experience the same on-boarding as their full-time counterparts, but company culture is just as important for consultants. How can a consultant tailor his or her recommendations to your organization if they don’t know the spoken and unspoken values that drive decision making for their team and the business as whole? Also, integrating consultants into the organization’s day-to-day culture as much as possible allows them to have a better perspective of what is expected of each member of the organization.
4) Have Patience:
For every two steps a consultant climbs, they may need to take one step back, making their progress arduous. Most projects assigned to consultants take time to grow until they have blossomed into their final form. Often, stepping back truly allows a consultant to think outside the box, create a new paradigm for the business or come up with a cost cutting tactic that will transform the bottom line. But for these benefits to take place, patience is required in the growth period, where the data gathered and adjustments made will ultimately lead to the maximized efficiency of the final product.
5) Build A Long-Term Relationship:
Finally, building a strong relationship with your consultant is key. Find a consultant you love to work with and use him or her regularly to augment your team. Working with the same consultant year after year allows you to begin a new project at full speed. With a great relationship, your consultant will feel like a full-time member of your long-term team.
Last week, Denver’s digital marketing professionals convened at the largest Digital Summit Denver yet. The summit included big names including keynote speakers Seth Godin and Morgan Spurlock, along with digital marketing leaders from Facebook, Cisco, National Geographic, Fidelity Investments, SalesForce, The Economist, and more.
Here is an overview of the insights shared at the conference and how you can incorporate them into your marketing strategy.
Email: Email continues to deliver high return on investment for B2B and B2C marketers, but to maintain an engaged audience, brands must be committed to relevancy in their email campaigns. In addition, focus on optimizing your email for deliverability. Here are some tips to lower the chances your email ends up in the junk folder:
● Use images and text in your campaigns (do not use an all image design)
● Use 500+ characters
● Keep your email size below 100 kb
● Don’t use bitly or other shortened links
Search & Social Media: One of the biggest conference takeaways for your SEO strategy for the rest of 2017 and 2018 is ensuring your website is mobile friendly. If it isn’t, when Google launches its expected update that will penalize non-mobile friendly websites, your traffic will decrease quickly.
Another trend the speakers emphasized was the success they are seeing with integrating search marketing and social media. This is because while search is great at capturing demand, social media is great at creating that demand. Ensure you are placing ads where your audience is likely to see them. For example, if your audience includes women in their 40s to 50s who like crafts, Snapchat probably doesn’t make sense, but Pinterest does.
Analytics: Data and analytics are crucial to generating higher returns at a lower cost, and your first-party data is your competitive advantage. In your content, use analytics to assess topics, headlines and images for to better understand what your audience finds interesting and to enhance user engagement. In assessing which channels and campaigns are most successful for lead generation and customer conversion, expand your tracking from first- or last-touch attribution to multi-touch attribution, which will give you a more comprehensive picture of which combined marketing and sales activities are generating customers. For user experience, assess your user flow, time on site, pages per visit and bounce rate to learn where users are engaging with your brand and where they are dropping off.
Amidst the many obstacles of successfully launching a company, talent management consistently ranks as the single greatest challenge for founders. In fact, attrition in startups in their first year exceeds 25%, according to the Kauffman Foundation 2016 Index of Startup Activity. Founders wear so many hats that they don’t have adequate time or resources to seek out, recruit, vet, train, and onboard talent effectively.
Time for a Pop-Quiz.
If you asked a handful your company’s employees to explain the story of your company’s brand and its vision for the future- would the answers be consistent? Does your culture embody the values that your marketing and sales efforts communicate to your customers? When employees talk about their jobs, do they feel they are part of a common purpose?
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is no longer optional for companies both large and small. Giving back to our communities, our environment and our worldwide workforce is critical to success. SanMar, a 45-year old family business based in Issaquah, WA, has taken CSR to a higher level of engagement across its international operations.
More than 54 million people participated in the gig economy in 2016. This new nimble approach to employment presents opportunities for both workers and employers in our rapidly changing economy. For companies focused on agility, innovation, and efficiency, tapping this workforce is key to success. For workers who want a flexible schedule, the ability to work on multiple projects, and more independence, joining the freelance workforce is becoming more attractive.
For small business owners, having a robust online presence is critical for success. However, developing a website, managing email campaigns, and reporting on success may seem overwhelming. In addition to your standard options, such as MailChimp, WordPress and Square Space, here are a few less well known, free or inexpensive tools to help you with your website, social media, email, and reporting that don’t require a technical expert to use.
Last month, I attended Denver Start-up week’s the “Age of the Freelancer”; I arrived to a standing room only packed house at Craftsy’s downtown conference space to hear Aspenware’s Rob Clark speak about the following:
People are turning to freelancing in droves. Fast Company reports that the number of 1099s received by the IRS grew from 82 million in 2010 to 91 million in 2015, and according to ColoradoBiz Magazine, half the workforce could be location-agnostic by 2020. Why are companies using more blended teams and freelance talent, and how can tech freelancers take advantage of this ripe market?
There is a lot of chatter about the gig economy — independent contractors, self-employed consultants, on-demand workers, e-lancers, high-lancers — and whatever new terms come out tomorrow that describe this shift in the way people are earning a living. It is usually described in the context of highly capable people choosing a different path, intentionally blazing their own trail, and embracing the American entrepreneurial spirit.
I have a confession. I’ve been an independent consultant for seven years now, and I feel like one day I tripped, tumbled down the proverbial rabbit hole, and ended up in freelance wonderland. Here is the ironic part. Most of the work I do involves advising clients on being intentional and structured in the way they drive their business forward. I help them create strategic business and marketing plans to grow in a deliberate and measurable way. But when it comes to my own consulting practice, it began a little less…deliberately.
Older, more experienced independent professionals between the ages of 35-55 are the ones most sought-after by today’s businesses for on-demand assignments. This makes sense, given businesses’ emphasis on proven skills and experience (See previous post). Mid-career professionals satisfy this need.
Not only does this arrangement work well for employers, it works well for on-demand consultants as well. A professional woman in this age group is often stressed out by balancing career goals with the challenges of caring for a growing family. On-demand work provides her, too, with a good solution.
I just completed the Intellectual Property LLM degree program at University of Washington School of Law…and the first question I get asked is always: Why aren’t you practicing law? It’s natural to think that after spending 3 or more years in law school, one would then go on to practice law, which I did for several years after receiving my JD from Northwestern University School of Law. But as most law graduates know (whether they practice or not), law school and practicing can lead to so many more opportunities. I’m excited that my next opportunity is Canopy Advisory Group Seattle!
In 2015, an impressive 88 percent of U.S. businesses of all sizes relied on on-demand workers as part of their workforce. More than 40 percent of these companies used on-demand professional as more than 30 percent of their overall workforce.
Not only are businesses planning to increase their use of independents in 2016, it appears many of them are already taking advantage of this new class of “free-agent” talent. This may suggest that these independents are proving their worth and are able to integrate well with their full-time counterparts.
The most common reason the surveyed companies gave for using on-demand professionals was increased flexibility. Using on-demand professional talent allows businesses to respond to opportunities with more agility, scaling their workforces as conditions require.
The 2016 Corporate On-Demand Talent Report is a comprehensive study of corporate use of on-demand talent in a new economy. For this report, Work Market surveyed decision-makers at more than 1,000 U.S. companies. Over the next few posts, we will examine various aspects of this report with a close eye on the interests of our consultants and our business clients. The report states:
Businesses are securing world-class free-agent talent and transforming their operating models. Workers, in turn, are increasingly using specialized skills to pursue the flexibility of an independent career.
Businesses around the country – from tiny garage startups to Fortune 500 titans – have been ramping up their use of “on-demand” professionals to stay competitive in today’s new economy.
One major finding of the report is that on-demand professionals are becoming a critical and strategic part of the modern workforce – not just a short-term solution.
While there is a common misperception that independent professionals are used only sporadically and for small tactical projects, this report suggests otherwise. Nearly half (46 percent) of the companies surveyed use independent professionals for projects lasting more than one year.
Another 13 percent of companies rely on independent professionals for projects lasting six months or longer. Fifteen percent use them for projects lasting three months, 10 percent for projects lasting one month and 16 percent for projects lasting one week.
And these companies seem to be satisfied with the results that they see – with 42 percent of them asking the same talent for assistance with subsequent projects.
Based on this finding, the report concludes that this trend will only continue as more businesses indicate that they will increase their use of an on-demand workforce to “fuel innovation and improve the bottom line.” Next week, we will discuss the finding that “On-demand Is the new normal.”
If you suspect that the traditional workforce is more stressful than ever before — especially for women — you are right.
In January, The Huffington Post discussed constantly increasing workplace stress in an article titled The American Workplace Is Broken. Here’s How We Can Start Fixing It. Here are a few excerpts we thought you might find relevant:
Americans are working longer and harder hours than ever before. Eighty-three percent of workers say they’re stressed about their jobs, nearly 50 percent say work-related stress is interfering with their sleep, and 60 percent use their smartphones to check in with work outside of normal working hours. It’s no wonder that only 13 percent of employees worldwide feel engaged in their occupations.
There is a clear shift shaking up today’s labor force. Technological advances and a growing comfort-level with alternative work arrangements are fundamentally changing how people work.
This trend is not just entrepreneurs leaving the “comforts” of corporate America to build a better mousetrap. It also includes service professionals going out on their own – pursuing intellectual, economic, and personal independence and balance.
Companies are using this on-demand talent at higher levels than ever before. In addition, amenities that serve this freelance national are growing rapidly.
Our Canopy consultants have held management positions in big companies. They have opted out of the C-suite track but continue to do project-based work at that level for our clients. We love helping our consultants thrive and find balance professionally and personally, so noteworthy stories like this one about women in business pique our interest.
We often hear lopsided statistics about the lack of women at the CEO level, but a new global study of 22,000 public companies in 91 countries looked at something else – what about when women hold a significant percentage of management positions just shy of the corner office?
It was 2007 and Prologis, a darling on Wall Street for the previous decade, experienced a rapid decline in stock price from $70 to $2 a share in a matter of months. In the blink of an eye, the one time investor favorite became the 3rd worst performing stock on the S&P.
Top Ten (11, actually) Reasons Why It Can Be a Godsend
- It provides the needed expertise to run a nonprofit business, ESPECIALLY when there’s a likelihood of existing confusion, transitional and other change, possible demoralization.
- It puts an “outsider” with no organizational baggage in the position of guiding, stabilizing, running the organization.
With over 230 events scheduled around the Denver business community this week, it is no doubt that Denver Startup Week has become a force for connection and innovation among entrepreneurs, investors, developers, marketers and sales teams across the country.
Last year’s five-day event drew over 7,800 startup community members and 700 companies to more than 180 events. This week’s event promises to be bigger and better and is, in fact, the largest such event in the nation.
It was hard not to do a double take scanning headlines this week. WeWork, a provider of shared office space, announced a $10 billion valuation. The jaw-dropping figure was revealed after Fidelity Management & Research agreed to invest $400 million in the company.
Just over a year ago, the company was valued at only $1.5 billion. WeWork’s success and explosive growth has been the subject of debate around the water cooler. How does a company that simply sublets office space become so successful in such a short period of time? There are a variety of reasons, of course. But, one thing is for sure … WeWork’s success has a lot to do with WHO is subletting their space and WHY.
Denver’s Quarterly Forum provides a place for emerging executives to “dream more, learn more, do more and become more.” We couldn’t agree more.
QF is a non-partisan leadership organization with members representing diverse industries but bound by professional ambition and commitment to the community. Canopy’s participation with QF has opened doors and provided experiences that are educational and inspiring. The topic at a recent QF Breakfast Program was B Corps – what they are and are not, their value and increasing appeal to businesses worldwide.
The writing on the cake reads Congratulations! Or, Best Wishes! It is all smiles at the office going-away party. Or, maybe it is a baby shower hosted by co-workers. But, what happens when the party is over?
Work must carry on despite the void left by an executive moving on or an employee taking maternity leave. This time of transition can bring uncertainty and added stress to co-workers who feel the burden of additional responsibility or unclear leadership. Bringing on the right interim leader to your team can ensure a smooth transition for the return of an employee on-leave or the hiring of a new executive.
As the second best place in the U.S. to launch a startup (according to Forbes), Denver has a thriving, entrepreneurial spirit that is contagious. We recently attended two events that captured this innovative energy: Galvanize’s Denver-Platte Campus Grand Opening Party and MergeLane’s 2015 DemoDay in Boulder.
Galvanize is a network of technology campuses designed to bring together startups, students, mentors and investors into a shared workspace or community. With over 1,000 members, this company emanates that passionate drive and encouraging, entrepreneurial culture that is shaping our city. The grand opening celebrated the launch of the Platte campus, the company’s 5th campus nationwide.
These three words of wisdom, “know your community,” offered by Zayo Group Founder and CEO Dan Caruso recently sparked a conversation within Canopy Advisory Group about the importance of staying abreast of what is happening in our bustling city. Caruso attested that by attending business and community events, employees gain insight and inspiration valuable to personal, professional and organizational growth.
By Kecia Carroll, Canopy Advisor
It goes by many names: corporate social responsibility (CSR), corporate citizenship, community relations to name a few. The intent is the same. It’s about a company’s responsibility to invest in the communities in which it serves; about addressing social and environmental challenges while driving economic growth. Put another way, it means not just caring about the bottom line, but what you can do with the bottom line.
It’s about having an impact.
By Alyce Blum, Professional Networking Coach
When was the last time you shared your elevator pitch and walked away feeling empowered and perhaps even inspired by what you said? If the answer is, “I’m not sure I’ve ever felt that way,” don’t worry, you’re not alone. Most people haven’t spent much, if any, time preparing an elevator pitch that wows their audience or themselves. And that’s because most of us haven’t taken the time to incorporate one simple, yet highly powerful question that will take your generic pitch and turn it into something unique, meaningful and lasting. WHY do you do what you do?
By Abby Hagstrom, Canopy Advisor
In today’s digital, content-driven world content marketing is not only a valuable tool, but a critical tool. It can help generate market awareness, support SEO and marketing campaigns and if executed properly contribute to bottom line success. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 80% of business decision-makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement. In fact, 37% of marketers say blogs are the most valuable content type for marketing. Here is one idea for reaching target audiences through this relevant and powerful third party.
By Hillary Schubach, Canopy Advisor
As any good marketer knows, the key to marketing success is a solid brand foundation. It’s impossible to sell a brand effectively if you don’t know what it stands for. Similarly, as a professional out there trying to win business in a competitive marketplace, it’s important that you understand your own personal brand and have the same sense of awareness about yourself.
By Jennifer Kelly, Canopy Advisor
You may share an idea at the coffee shop, where less than a dozen people will hear your expertise, and where only one or two understand or care. Social media magnifies the number of people who hear you but focuses the conversation on a mutual interest, increasing the impact of any intelligent statement you make. Isn’t that the conversation you should be joining?
By Victoria Hostin, Canopy Advisor
Anyone reading this can find some aspect of life that rings true to Einstein’s wisdom. Whether you are parenting a child, hitting a tennis ball into the net over and over, or figuring out how to generate greater impact for your non-profit organization, the key to getting different results is to stop, reflect, and then make a change. That is much easier said than done, as change is known to be pretty hard. But, if you are feeling insane and looking for different results, stop and reflect on the concept of a partnership for your organization.
Canopy marketing advisor Hillary Schubach created a comprehensive marketing plan to propel the newest Glacier Home Made Ice Cream & Gelato store into the Englewood community. Hillary prepared an effective and cost-efficient neighborhood-based marketing plan to introduce the delicacy that is Glacier ice cream to area homes, businesses and schools.