For some people, riding a bike is merely about transportation. Not for me. Aside from the exercise that cycling provides, I often have my most compelling insights while in the saddle. At times, riding becomes a metaphor for life.
One path that I ride frequently travels east from downtown Denver toward the Cherry Creek Reservoir. A few miles into the ride, I pass under a roadway, execute a full 360-degree turn, and confront my nemesis: a 3-foot pole in the middle of the path; it’s there to prevent cars and other motorized vehicles from driving onto the trail.
Now more than ever, donors expect nonprofits to be transparent, impactful, and relatable on a human level. Changes in our society’s day-to-day habits have prepared supporters to make quick, visual, and emotional connections with your organization. The question is – Do you have a clearly defined social media strategy and are you posting relevant content, consistently? For nonprofits that rely heavily on donors to give for emotional reasons, this is even more critical. For those of you saying “we just don’t have the resources”, we want to suggest a new approach.
I began my career in journalism, writing about technology trends for a healthcare magazine long before the dawn of cell phones–much less social media. As a young reporter, there were times when I easily fell prey to the savvy PR person. I once attended a large industry conference, and was invited to briefing after briefing which I dutifully accepted upon the urgings of my boss. One of those briefings was followed by a fancy dinner. I was one of three reporters present, and we were giddy with all the attention. After three courses and some expensive wine, I went back to my hotel room and realized what I had just done. I had sold my soul to a vendor. I felt obligated to cover the company in my conference coverage; I never made the same mistake again.
What was the most impactful marketing strategy implemented during your corporate career?
At General Mills, I was working on a business that had been steadily declining (along with the rest of the category). I led a six-month project to explore multiple hypotheses on what was driving the decline, including doing some fascinating consumer immersion work. The result of the project was a new messaging strategy that increased advertising ROI by 41% and stemmed the declines we’d been seeing in the business.
Once upon a time, every worker in an organization had a specialty. The person in charge of personnel didn’t do marketing; the accounting team didn’t do project management; and the CEO didn’t lead team-building initiatives at employee off-site meetings.
Then the pendulum swung, and suddenly, everyone was expected to perform ‘other duties as assigned’ without batting an eye. Copywriters were expected to become social media gurus and recruiters felt more like psychologists, vetting personality traits and administering a variety of mental acuity assessments. Video producers and editors are now expected to perform both roles, earning them the combined title of ‘preditors.’ In fact, earlier this week I staffed a television news interview for a client with a local TV station and the reporter (who is also the anchor) acted as his own cameraman, expertly positioning lights, cameras, and interview subjects.
What work did you complete for the American Cancer Society?
I was a community liaison and fundraiser at the American Cancer Society (ACS). As Senior Manager, I led a team to raise $1 million annually through 25 grassroots fundraising events called Relay For Life. Funds went to ACS research, education, advocacy, and patient services.
How do you use your uniques interests in science and technology to differentiate yourself from others working in your field?
I approach everything I do with a scientific mind. This makes me curious, consider information objectively, and to strive to always improve. I differentiate myself as I’m trained in both science and communications, being able to serve as a translator between the two fields. I can take complex, technical information and translate it to easy-to-understand formats for various audiences.
How has your past professional experiences enabled you to better satisfy your current client’s needs?
My experience as a fundraiser and as the executive leader of a high-level development teams has been valuable to clients interested in improving their fundraising results. My advice has helped my clients identify the strengths of their organization’s mission, staff and board to make their fundraising more effective. I can help my clients more effectively engage important supporters inside their organizations, identify new supporters and increase support from current donors with the goal of furthering the mission of the organization.
How were you able to turn your passion into a career?
Some leaders of small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) may think that they don’t need advanced analytics: they are doing just fine, thank you, with reports and basic dashboards. Besides, they don’t have the resources to leverage data, or don’t need analytics.
From my experience, they should reconsider: reports only look in the rearview mirror. Modern, forward-looking tools and techniques are more accessible, powerful and affordable than ever. Businesses are to the point that they can’t afford NOT to do data analytics – especially because their competitors probably are.
If you’re not sure how to get more out of your data, and then how to reap the benefits, this series of blogs may be helpful to you.
“With the help Canopy and its talented consultants, we were able to bring rigor to our financial processes, allowing us to make better decisions for our investors.” —Daren Schmidt, managing partner, Allante Properties, LLC.
Founded on the heels of the Great Recession, Denver’s Allante Properties has burnished its reputation as a multifaceted real estate firm that aggregates private investors to fund acquisitions and developments of apartment communities.
In 2016, the firm determined it needed a more streamlined approach to its finance system to ensure that there would be no gaps in how staff at the corporate office managed cash flow and accounting processes with its subsidiaries and project entities.
“We’re a small company with big projects, and our finance and accounting system was not where we wanted it to be,” says Daren Schmidt, managing partner, Allante Properties, LLC.
The firm engaged Canopy Advisory consultant Jennifer Almquist — whose expertise lies in solving complex issues concerning corporate finance, accounting and finance reporting — to take a deep dive into Allante’s existing finance and accounting processes, and make several high-level recommendations for a more efficient operation to support the company’s strategic objectives.
What motivated you to become a Founding executive of Get Smart Schools and Co-founder of Denver School of Science & Technology?
I got involved with the charter school movement after learning more about the low graduation rates for students in Denver Public Schools. I was appalled to realize that, at the time we started DSST, the odds of a low-income DPS student attending college were about 10%. I believed that my previous experience as an entrepreneur had prepared me to tackle the challenge of starting new, more effective schools. After the launch of DSST, I saw an opportunity to support others who wanted to create innovative new schools. Between my work with DSST and Get Smart Schools, I’ve played a role in the development of more than 20 schools, and those schools are changing the future for thousands of students.
Canopy Advisory is pleased to introduce you to our featured advisor, Jenn. Jenn has over 15 years of experience in advertising and design working to bring her clients thoughts to life through varying physical representations. Jenn has worked for major ad agencies covering TV and print campaigns for brands like Gatorade, TJ Maxx, Hillshire Farm and Wachovia Bank.
Businesses often hire when their needs are no longer quiet whispers but rather have grown to screaming gaps in their talent pool. Time is frequently condensed compromising the recruiting, vetting, and onboarding processes. Whether part of a startup or a globally established company, hiring managers frequently settle for less than ideal hires leading to material costs to the organization.
Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh, estimates that bad hires have cost his company more than $100 million. The Department of Labor says the price of a bad hire is at least 30 percent of the employee’s first year earnings. Finally, a well-known recruiter estimates the cost of onboarding an employee at $240,000.
Innovation is vital for business growth, and companies are exploring internal and external sources of innovation to stay competitive in their industry.
Open innovation encourages staff to search for new ideas relevant to their market through relationships made among consultants, external partners, universities, research institutes, competitors and customers. A new study featured in Harvard Business Review examines how employees at IBM are generating innovative ideas by evaluating how they interact with their external and internal relationships.
The study found that employees who seek inspiration internally are just as innovative as those who seek innovation externally. However, overall, those who devoted time and resources to external partners were more innovative when they knew how to apply the ideas they incurred.
When a key employee takes parental leave, it can be challenging to temporarily fill the void their time away creates. Some companies opt to put the burden on the surrounding team, while others strategically plan in advance and fill the void with an external consultant. Here are three benefits to bringing in a highlancer (a highly skilled, big firm trained freelancer) to fulfill the key employee’s responsibilities while they are out.
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.
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:
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.
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.