By CEO Trustee Don Springer, President and CEO of The Colton Group, Inc.
Is ISS, and other governance watchdogs, leading us to mediocrity and sub-par shareholder returns?
Speaking at a recent NACD North Texas event, Marc Hodak, noted compensation advisor, teacher at NYU Stern School of Business, and CEO Trust member, promised we would hear something we had never heard and he completely fulfilled that promise.
Co-sponsored by CEO Trust and UT Dallas’ Institute for Excellence in Board Governance, the well attended event provided board directors an opportunity to hear the latest compensation research set in a context of expert and candid advice.
Marc organized extensive research in the field by asking and answering the following questions:
The research findings for each were startling, especially in the context of most board room compensation discussions today. Boards predominantly “benchmark” their compensation plans asking questions about their peers and ISS guidelines rather than asking key questions about how a plan would truly motivate revenue growth and cost improvements over the shareholders’ investment horizon.
Among the findings, companies with uncapped bonuses significantly outperform their industry peers and no research study has contradicted this. On the other end of the “incentive curve”, thresholds have stimulated extreme behavior to cross the line at best and scandals like Enron and WorldCom at worst. Additional research findings contradicted the standard practices of “non-performance” pay, handling underwater options, budget-based management incentive plans, and others.
Once the empirical data was established, Marc continued by providing a general framework for compensation plans that do, in fact, increase shareholder value and properly incentivize management, as well as the entire workforce. They hinge on single metrics such as net income, earnings, or EVA, and support longevity to reinforce profit building behavior.
Marc has elsewhere written, “In a world where every dollar denied to management is thought to be a dollar more in the shareholders’ pockets, the accumulated public company compensation requirements and standards make perfect sense. But in the real world, where costs must be intelligently traded off with retention risk and alignment, SEC requirements and ISS standards get in the way of well-intentioned boards.”
Focusing on standards at the exclusion of research data and market dynamics can lead to unproductive compensation plans. Marc also candidly added that focusing on proxy approval can create continuing engagements with many compensation consultants as the standards ebb and flow.
As directors in attendance, we recognized a need for incentives that truly promise rewards to drive behavior for the benefit of the shareholders. Now armed with new information, we will be wary of an advisor who merely monitors an ISS checklist for proxy support. Instead, we will prefer a research based compensation advisor to help guide the development of a value based plan.
Bryan Mattimore, co-founder of the innovation agency Growth Engine and a CEO Trust speaker, was a featured expert in this recent Inc. Magazine article. Read on for some excellent productivity tips shared by Bryan and other experts in the field, and check out Bryan's upcoming CT Chapter event “Five (Effective) Ways to Build a Culture of Innovation” on January 20th.
IMAGE: Getty Images
30 Experts Share Their Best Productivity Tips
Which one of these 30 tips will help you get more work done today?
BY JOHN BRANDON Contributing editor, Inc.com
Want a boost for your day?
These productivity experts have each shared their best tip to give you a jumpstart. The time you invest in reading these will pay off in dividends as you apply the ideas to your daily routine. Do they work? Let me know by email if you find success.
1. My tip for office workers to be more productive is to focus on one thing at a time. You can still have more than one activity going on at the same time; but at the moment when you're doing one thing, focus and put all the other things aside. When you see people getting overwhelmed, flustered, and confused, it's because they are thinking about too many things at once. If you have a lot to do, do them all but do them all sequentially. A good analogy is when you go to the gym. You may have a whole routine you do, but when you're on one machine, you're not thinking about the others--you're thinking about the machine you're on, and then you move to the next and think about that machine, and so on. Work can be the same. And you'll do each job and all of them together better. --Jeff Stoller, business executive, entrepreneur, consultant, and author
2. Write down one or two things that you absolutely need to get done. If you're an entrepreneur/business owner, make sure that at least one of them revolves around something that will put more money in your pocket (directly or indirectly). Keep that paper on your person all day. Refer to it. Don't do other things until you can cross those one or two things off your list. --Adam Dailey, CEO of Funly Events
3. My innovation agency, Growth Engine, created The Whiteboard Technique, a kind of interactive suggestion box for employees. Managers simply post an organizational challenge on a whiteboard that is in a public place--such as the hallway, conference room, or cafeteria--and invite their co-workers to add suggestions/ideas to the whiteboard. After a week's time, the manager records (and then pursues) the best ideas/suggestions on the whiteboard. He or she then posts a new weekly challenge. It's easy to do, doesn't really cost anything, and it has created some huge productivity improvements/wins for our clients. --Bryan Mattimore, co-founder and "Chief Idea Guy" of Growth Engine and author of 21 Days to a Big Idea
Read full article online here.
By a CEO Trustee (member)
On Tuesday, October 13, I attended "Working Effectively with Private Equity - What You need to Know" at the Marriott Marquis in NYC.
The event was very well attended by fellow Trustees and guests, refreshments and appetizers were excellent (thank you Ice Miller), and provided an excellent panel, composed of:
The structure and pace of this event was excellent as the panel covered the myriad of subjects. The panel easily engaged all of us in the audience as there was great give and take from the many questions asked of the panel.
Many thanks to CEO Trust for organizing another great event, and a special thanks to the panel for making their time available for us.
By CEO Trustee, Robert Wolfe
It was a perfect evening and setting to join Jeremy Cage at the Wilson Cove Yacht Club on September 24 for the CT Chapter’s most recent event. During “Courage: Unleashing Your True Potential” Jeremy shared his adventures of sailing around the world with his wife and two young children and the life lessons he took from that experience. Approximately 15 CEO Trust members and guests enjoyed delicious appetizers, drinks, and a lovely sunset during a mingling reception on the club’s wraparound deck overlooking the marina. Afterward, all moved inside to the inviting clubhouse lounge for Jeremy's presentation.
Jeremy used his story to challenge all of us to be courageous and to follow our dreams as he had. He said that taking this step changed his life and gave him and his family great fulfillment and confidence to pursue other dreams.
During the interactive discussion, Jeremy shared the insights that allowed him to successfully plan and achieve his dream. One of his insights was to "dream specifically" (which is to say that the clearer you visualize your dream the more likely it will be successful), and to "dread vaguely" (which is to say you need to understand that most things keeping you from pursuing your dreams are not the insurmountable obstacles you first believe they are).
Jeremy noted that the lessons can be used to allow people and companies to become more creative, successful, and satisfied by unleashing their true potential. The session definitely gave us all great pause to think about our dreams and how to think and act differently in order to realize them.
By Bryan Mattimore
I attended my first CEO Roundtable Dinner at the Terrace Club in NYC on Wednesday, September 9th. I was pleased to have a seat at this sold out event with two full roundtables of CEOs.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, and I must say I was pleasantly surprised: it was one of the most enjoyable evenings I’ve spent in a long time. Yes the food was very good, and the venue was welcoming… but what made the meeting special for me was the evening format, the insights of my table mates, and the feeling of camaraderie – dare I say trust – that I know we all experienced.
After introductions, the facilitators asked us each to present a business challenge that our tablemates could help us “ideate” solutions for. The lively discussions included insights, ideas, strategies, and referrals to friends/experts who might help solve the particular challenge, which ranged from how to:
Thank you, CEO Trust, for organizing and facilitating a memorable night that included delicious food, provocative intellectual challenges, great ideas… but above all, camaraderie.
In his recent article for Harvard Business Review, CEO Trust speaker Shawn Achor gives tips for how to avoid “catching” others' negativity, stress, and uncertainty:
Make Yourself Immune to Secondhand Stress
By Shawn Achor and Michelle Gielan.
Over the past decade, we have learned how our brains are hardwired for emotional contagion. Emotions spread via a wireless network of mirror neurons, which are tiny parts of the brain that allow us to empathize with others and understand what they’re feeling. When you see someone yawn, mirror neurons can activate, making you yawn, in turn. Your brain picks up the fatigue response of someone sitting on the other side of the room. But it’s not just smiles and yawns that spread. We can pick up negativity, stress, and uncertainty like secondhand smoke. Researchers Howard Friedman and Ronald Riggio from the University of California, Riverside found that if someone in your visual field is anxious and highly expressive — either verbally or non-verbally — there’s a high likelihood you’ll experience those emotions as well, negatively impacting your brain’s performance.
Observing someone who is stressed — especially a coworker or family member — can have an immediate effect upon our own nervous systems. A separate group of researchers found that 26% of people showed elevated levels of cortisol just by observing someone who was stressed. Secondhand stress is much more contagious from a romantic partner (40%) than a stranger, but when observers watched a stressful event on video with strangers, 24% still showed a stress response. (This makes us question whether we, as happiness researchers, should watch Breaking Bad before going to sleep.)
When your taxi driver honks angrily, you can carry his anxiety all the way to work. When a boss hurriedly stalks into a room, you can pick up her stress as you try to present your ideas. Even bankers on trading floors separated by glass walls can pick up the panic of a person across the room working in a separate market just by seeing their nonverbals.
According to Heidi Hanna, a fellow at the American Institute of Stress and author of Stressaholic, secondhand stress is a result of our hardwired ability to perceive potential threats in our environment. She writes, “Most people have experienced spending time with someone who triggers a stress response just by walking in the door. This can be a conditioned response from previous interactions, but may also be an energetic communication delivered by very gentle shifts in bio-mechanical rhythms such as heart rate or breath rate.” The cues that cause secondhand stress can be very subtle changes in the people around us at work, yet they can have huge impacts.
Read full article here.
The CEO Pay Ratio mandated by Dodd-Frank is finally here. The rule sounds simple enough: Companies must disclose the ratio of their CEO’s pay to that of their median worker. Interesting information, perhaps, but the SEC supposedly exists for a more lofty purpose than mandating nice-to-know data. It must, by law, act in the interests of investors. In fact, the Administrative Procedures Act requires the SEC to “base . . . decisions on the best reasonably obtainable scientific, technical, economic, and other information concerning the need for, and consequences of, the intended regulation.” Read More
By Mark Spool - Friend of CEO Trust and Executive Coach at Management Development Solutions
The PA Chapter's CEO Roundtable Breakfast on June 16th was well attended and had a great discussion among its participants (CEOs and C-Suite executives of different industries). We started the discussion on how corporate culture impacts profitability, then moved into how strategy plays a key role in creating competitive advantage. Real examples helped explain key points made, and the level of openness promoted a robust discussion. The setting was great – a private room at the prestigious Old York Road Country Club in the Philadelphia suburbs.
Hey you out there: Just kidding
Let’s say that you hire a captain for your ship and for, say, tax reasons, decide that instead of running things from the bridge he should run things from the plank. You warn him that if anything goes wrong, he goes into the drink. But rough weather comes along, and you decide you still need him, so you don’t push him over the edge. At this point, you’ve hurt your credibility and pissed off the sharks. Read More
By Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.
Falling oil prices contributed to a 68 percent surge in job cuts last month, as US-based employers announced workforce reductions totaling 61,582 in April, up from 36,594 in March, according to the latest report on monthly layoffs released Thursday by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.
The April total was 53 percent higher than the same month a year ago, when 40,298 planned job cuts were recorded. It represents the highest monthly total since May 2012 (61,887) and the highest April total since 2009 (132,590).
Year to date, employers have announced 201,796 planned job cuts, which marks a 25 percent increase from the 161,639 layoffs tracked in the first four months of 2014. This is the largest four-month total since 2010.
Driving the increased pace of job cutting in April and for the year is the dramatic decline in oil prices, which is forcing producers and suppliers to cut production. Of the 61,582 job cut announced last month, 20,675 or 34 percent were directly attributed to oil prices.
For the year, oil prices were blamed for 68,285 job cuts, or about 34 percent of the 201,796 planned layoffs announced between January 1 and April 30.
“Schlumberger, Baker Hughes and Halliburton have all announced multiple rounds of job cuts in recent months, including April. The largest job cut of the month came from Schlumberger, which announced that it will shed 11,000 workers, in addition to the 9,000 laid off in January,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
“The jobs that are most vulnerable are those in the field – engineers, oil rig operators, drill operators, refinery operators, etc. Managers and executives in the corporate offices are more secure, but the drop in oil prices is leading to increased merger activity, which could put more executives at risk of job loss,” said Challenger.
Read full report here.