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Unleashed - How to Thrive as an Independent Professional

Business & Economics Podcasts

Unleashed explores how to thrive as an independent professional.


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Unleashed explores how to thrive as an independent professional.




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562. Karen Friedenberg: AI Project Case Study

Show Notes: Karen Friedenberg discusses a project she worked on to design an Intelligent Automation Center of Excellence for a Fortune 500 medical supply company. The challenge was that the organization was initially looking to leverage robotics process automation (RPA) technology to automate repetitive and manual processes. This led to the development of Intelligent Automation, also known as hyper automation. Defining the Meaning of Intelligent Automation The first step in this project was defining Intelligent Automation and defining its meaning. The client wanted to develop a center of excellence to coordinate efforts across the company to take advantage of new technology and benefits quickly and in a coordinated way. The center of excellence would serve various needs and be a resource for the organization. Karen explains that the first step was to identify the pockets within the organization where people were learning about robotics, process automation, AI, and chatbots. She then interviewed stakeholders to understand their strategic imperatives and goals, and a key understanding was to let business lead the way, not the technology. The second step focused on developing the structure of the Intelligent Automation Center of Excellence (COE), its interaction with other teams, and the roles and competencies of the COE team. The COE team would be responsible for staying on top of the evolving technologies and coordinating efforts to leverage project management and program management capabilities in a coordinated way. One of the great things about new technology is putting it in the hands of the business and users, allowing them to solve problems themselves. However, there were challenges, opportunities, and fear to address, such as change management and fear of the business starting to do this. For example, IT was beginning to fear redundancy in many of their roles. As a solution to these challenges, it was necessary for the COE team to identify their mission, roles, and responsibilities. The Center of Excellence Explained The Center of Excellence (COE) is a team that works to identify and prioritize automation candidates in business units. Karen talks about the knockout criteria they use to assess if a process is an automation candidate and if it can be done within existing systems. The COE then uses a box prioritization matrix to assess the impact and effort of each candidate. If it is easier and less risky, it may be a candidate for a citizen developer role. Governance is also a key aspect of the COE's role. The COE's role involves oversight and sharing best practices. They train and certify citizen developers to use new technology and processes, ensuring proper controls are in place. The SDLC (Software Development Lifecycle) is a model that aims to maintain flexibility and speed while ensuring proper controls. People submit requests through various methods, such as email, phone, or using shared systems like Leisha shared through SharePoint and Microsoft tools. The COE's role is to ensure that the process is secure and efficient, while also ensuring that the right controls are in place to prevent unauthorized changes to code. Discussion on the Design Phase of a Project Karen explains that they are still in the design phase and it has not been fully executed yet. The vision was to analyze incoming requests and determine who gets help. The team is divided into a business lead and an IT lead who would work with business analysts to assess the project's feasibility. The group provide different levels of support, such as a half-hour conversation or a three-month project with a business analyst and consultants.The first step is to train the business unit citizen developer and to provide regular reviews to the client. The team would also provide additional technical, business process, and change management assistance. The goal is to help the client team navigate their blockers and be a centralized source for sharing...


561. Why and How to Become an Adjunct Professor

Show Notes: In this episode of Unleashed, the panel discussion focuses on the pros and cons of becoming an adjunct professor. The panelists discuss the motivations behind teaching courses as an adjunct professor, how to get hired, whether to teach in traditional MBA programs or other certificate or degree programs, the amount of work involved, typical pay, relationship building opportunities, project opportunities, and ancillary benefits such as access to datasets or research services. The discussion kicks off with Adam Braff, a data analytics executive/advisor, shares his reasons for teaching, stating that the best reasons to teach are not practical instrumental reasons but more passion and love for teaching and believes it is a creative act. Mary Kate Scott follows Adam. She teaches at the University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business in the MBA program, and Keck School of Medicine, focusing on healthcare. She has taught the business of healthcare, innovation and health care, new business models in health care, entrepreneurship and health care, and medical device business models. Mary Kate also shares her background with Procter and Gamble and later joined McKinsey for two years to become a better professor. She found she loved the position and stayed there for seven years, but she states that she found the joy of teaching to be both inspirational and fun. She enjoys the level of engagement and interaction in her classes. Sven Beiker teaches Strategy Making in an MBA program at Stanford Business School, and also at a university in Sweden about AI and product development. He discusses his experience teaching at Stanford and their passion for teaching. He began his teaching career at Stanford which led from a position as an automotive program manager. He also enjoys working with younger people, finding it intellectually stimulating. He has also found the position to be an asset in branding, and has found that it helps in terms of being considered as a keynote speaker from Stanford Business School. Mohannad Gomaa shares his experience teaching at US Navy PostGraduate School, which was motivated by a contract with a colleague and his subject matter expertise. He designed and delivered the curriculum. He has also taught in consulting colleges, and recently, he was authorized by the Association of Supply Chain Management to teach supply chain certifications, including the CSCP certified supply chain professional certification. This allows him to associate with a reputable knowledge body and meet with stakeholders interested in his work. He has also signed an agreement to be a consulting partner for the ACM, which will allow him to explore more opportunities across industries. He believes teaching is a passion that can generate revenue beyond the passion. An adjunct professor at the University of Copenhagen shares her passion for teaching consulting and adds to her reputation for expertise in her field, but she finds teaching fun and energizing. How to Secure a Position as an Adjunct Professor The conversation also touches on how to get started as an adjunct professor. To do this, one should be flexible about the institution they want to teach in and focus on the dimensions that are necessary to their field. Many schools have executive MBA programs and masters of leadership programs and other programs that are growing and need teachers who can teach their specific subject matter area and create and pitch syllabuses. To reach out to the right people in these institutions, one should reach out to the Academic Director of different degree programs. This person will be responsible for the substantive side of these programs and can help with informational interviews. For example, if one wants to teach in New York City, one could reach out to HR or the dean of the school. Mary Kate discusses the benefits of adjunct teaching, including the joy of publications, networking, and credibility. She suggests...


560. Russell S. Reynolds, Jr. Building a World-class Professional Services Firm

Show Notes: Russell Reynolds, founder of Russell Reynolds Associates and RSR Partners, shares his story of starting his own executive search firm in the 1960s. He served in the Air Force and later joined JP Morgan. After working there for six or seven years, he joined William Clark Associates. However, shortly after, he decided to start his own firm with his friend OB Clifford and a few other friends. They collected $50,000 and started Russell Reynolds Associates. He also decided to invite his friend Lee to join the firm as partner. The firm was established in 1969, and the partnership worked well. Today, Russell Reynolds Associates is one of the largest search firms in the world. As a big producer, Russell believes that success in a service business is about doing a good job and connecting with clients. He was introduced to the senior partner of Oppenheimer and company; they became great friends which eventually led to many more clients. Key Factors in Hiring Talent Russell states that it is important to look for people who are well adjusted, positive, and excited about the future. He believes that integrity is the single most important ingredient for success, and if people are honest and try to do the best they can, they will prevail. He shares the key points he looks for in people, including whether they are givers or takers and the questions he asks candidates. When hiring for Russell Reynolds Associates, one of the key questions is whether the person has integrity or adapts to their style of client service. Russell asks for samples of their writing, because communication skills are so important, and he also asks about family relationships and what they do on weekends. He also emphasizes the importance of taking them off base to see how they really behave, and allows him to see how well they are prepared and how they can be receptive to new ideas. Russell believes that bright young people are the key to success in a business because they are motivated, hungry, and want to please you. Building the Board and Expanding the Firm Russell discusses the role of an external board of advisors, which included prominent business leaders from JP Morgan and Shell. He shares the firm's approach to governance, and how it was run like a public corporation. He also discusses the institutions and practices set up to develop people. The firm grew through branch offices, and rules established by each branch, but there were certain rules that were set up across all branches, and he explains what they were and certain aspects which were encouraged such as involvement in charitable and political activities. Russell shares stories of when he was involved in fundraising for both charitable and political campaigns, including meeting then Prince Charles, and time spent raising funds for George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. Success Factors of the Firm He talks about maintaining and building relationships and shares a few tips on maintaining positive client relationships and how his firm offered new ways of providing value to clients. The firm's search businesses are broken down into practice areas such as healthcare, financial services, wealth management, consumer, industry, board, and recruiting. He also talks about building a service firm and practice management. In 1993, Russell sold his shares in RSR Associates and decided to start RSI Partners. The firm expanded into executive search, which is still going well today. He explains why he made this decision. He is now chairman emeritus, and although he is not directly involved, he is on the board. He shares why he sold RSR Associates and why he decided to come out of retirement to start a new company. The conversation turns to career mistakes and Russell recounts a story of being charmed and betrayed, why he believes physical fitness is important in the assessment of a candidate, why he’s leary of academic achievers, and what he considers valuable assets. Professional Career...


559. Paul Gaspar: AI Project Case Study

Show Notes: In this episode of Unleashed, Paul Gaspar discusses his experience working with artificial intelligence at a major global insurance conglomerate in Japan. The company faced pressure to streamline operations and reduce costs within its auto business. Paul, who was in a role leading the data science function, suspected that the claims area in insurance was a target-rich environment for delivering value with advanced analytics and technology. He found that similar processes were being utilized on claims regardless of the size, leading to the opportunity to put analytical rigor behind the claims estimation process. AI Use for Processing Insurance Claims Paul and his team looked at information flows at various points in the process, specifically evaluating how information collected at the time of the accident could be used to provide insight on losses. Using this information, they built predictive models using AI techniques that would allow them to predict the ultimate value of these claims from a $1 perspective, using a subset of the initial information collected at the time of loss. By building models that could do this quickly and accurately, they were able to set thresholds that would allow for automated processing and payment of claims amounts on about a quarter of the total claims volume. This reduced the workload for the team handling claims and sped responsiveness to customers with smaller claim amounts. The Process of Assessing Information Paul explains the process of assessing the quality, consistency, and reliability of information for a client. This involves assessing the types of information, blending them with data analysts experienced with using different modeling techniques and programming languages. Paul and his team used Python to investigate particular approaches, and testing results to identify useful data elements for creating meaningful insights. This process is not necessarily feasible for a data analyst with minimal data science knowledge. Instead, a step-by-step approach involves evaluating the data, considering viable modeling techniques, and experimenting with them to ensure accuracy, speed, and processing power. A team of experienced data scientists can help guide the technical approach and modeling techniques used in the case. This approach is essential for evaluating claims and determining the appropriateness of claims based on the available data. To ensure precision across various claim types, it is crucial to segment claims by value and look at the ones with the lowest value. This helps identify potential risks and minimizes leakage, which is the risk of overpaying for claims relative to processing costs. Predictive analytics is a complex art and science, and it is essential to be careful about how and where to use it, ensuring that risks are well understood and balanced against the benefits of the process.To turn a scalable business process into a working scalable business process, Paul states that change management work must be done across various functional areas. This includes ensuring that information is passed into payment systems, how automation impacts existing processes, and how to contact customers and inform them of potential benefits. Building AI Algorithms to Prevent Human Errors In the claims process, Paul states that human errors can be a significant issue, as they can lead to false positives and false negatives. To prevent human errors, AI algorithms should be trained to match human judgments and set error tolerance thresholds. This is a time-consuming part of the process, and it is essential to work with claim handling professionals to assess the performance of the models and identify errors. He also mentions that risk management is crucial in ensuring that systems make accurate decisions and avoid making mistakes. Machine learning operations (ML ops) have emerged as a concept that accounts for model performance over time, and it is crucial to continually monitor...


558. Astrid Malval-Beharry: AI Project Case Study

Show Notes: In this episode of Unleashed, Astrid Malval-Beharry discusses an AI case study with a top 50 homeowners insurance carrier in the US. Astrid was approached by their underwriting and innovation teams to digitally transform their underwriting workflow. Astrid shares an overview of the industry at present. The industry is facing challenges due to an increase in natural catastrophes, inflation, disruptions in the supply chains, and policyholders who prefer to have an Amazon or Uber experience with their insurance carrier. The client had three goals for the digital transformation project: increasing the level of straight-through processes, improving risk assessment, and realizing greater investment in inspection. Astrid explains what straight-through processing is and how it works using data analytics and AI-based and technology solutions. The second goal was to improve risk assessment by analyzing the location of the property, the condition of the property, and the policyholders themselves. The client wanted to know how AI solutions could help enhance risk assessment, reduce premium leakage, and charge the right price for coverage. The third goal was to improve the inspection process, which currently costs carriers a lot of money but only yields a few actionable insights. To achieve this, Astrid’s team shadowed underwriters across both regions and senior IDI to understand how consistently underwriting guidelines are being applied. The team also interviewed and benchmarked against competing carriers, InsurTech carriers, and carriers that look at the underwriting workflow with a different lens. This allowed them to see the art of the possible and make informed decisions about their underwriting practices without disrupting the workflow. Employing AI Solutions for Insurance Companies Astrid talks about what follows the research and benchmarking exercise and how they mapped the workflow and the ideal future state. Premium leakage occurs when insurance companies charge less for a policy than the actual premium should be to reduce losses and charge the right price for the coverage. The inspection process is often done by agents or license inspectors, leading to a lack of actionable insights. To address this issue, a preferred digital transformation engagement was conducted by shadowing underwriters across both regions and senior IDI. This allowed the team to understand the consistency of underwriting guidelines and the impact of different levels of underwriters on the process. Competitive intelligence benchmarking was conducted against carriers with similar profiles and InsurTech carriers. This allowed the team to map the workflow as the ideal future state from an underwriting workflow perspective. However, the change should not be too abrupt, as the procurement process in the insurance industry is notoriously long. A middle ground was identified by analyzing claims activities on the book of business NIS to identify the biggest losses and how implementing AI solutions would give the highest return on investment. Change management is also important, as it involves both technology and people and processes. The organization's readiness to implement new digital tech-driven solutions is also crucial. Astrid also touches on the convergence of people and processes when implementing technological solutions in change management. Questions to Ask an AI Vendor Astrid shares a list of questions to ask an AI vendor, including accuracy, model explainability, model bias and fairness, and scalability. She has experience working with insurance carriers, analytics, technology vendors, and private equity firms, giving her a deep understanding of what solutions work and don't work. When selecting an AI vendor, it is important to understand a series of fundamentals about the solution. The first question is about the accuracy and performance of the AI model. It's crucial to understand how the vendor measures accuracy and how they...


557. Julie Noonan: AI Project Case Study

Show Notes: Julie Noonan shares a case study on using AI while working with a top 15 global pharma company to get the most insight from the data and reduce time to market or time to development of their particular molecules and drugs. In early 2022, the pharma company was using artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze clinical and research data. The organization Julie worked with was a digital and data concentration alongside data scientists and computer scientists. Julie shares where this organization placed focus and what their goal was with regards to using AI and machine learning(ML), and the role she played in developing this center of excellence. Company Use Cases of AI and ML Most of the early use cases involved clinical data and research data. Clinical groups were conducting the first clinical trials with animal populations, and recording their data in various tools. They were studying a specific model molecule to understand its implications across projects. For example, they were studying a molecule for one disease indication and wanted to predict its relevance for another project that another team was working on. AI and machine learning prompts were used against the data, allowing them to organize and prompt data to return potential other indications that could be tested with the collected data. Julie talks about how companies are grappling with the rapidly evolving AI technologies, and a center of excellence can be a solution. However, concerns may arise about adding bureaucracy and slowing down innovation. She explains how she helped her client deal with these concerns. The company culture of this global organization highly values entrepreneurialism, and allows data ownership within its group, allowing for experimentation unless it directly impacts patients. She mentions that they were able to educate interested groups about the importance of patient safety and ethics. The organization rewards innovation by publicly recognizing those who come forward with project ideas. Even if the project is not great or a failure, it is a lesson learned. The company's top priority is the patient, and they reward those who come forward with ideas without imposing penalties or shutting down projects. The organization also stresses the need to comply with correct procedures to avoid ethics violations. Inspiring a Company Culture of AI and ML Innovation Julie talks about how her role in change management helped inspire innovation within the company. They used polls to encourage innovation and encourage change. They run exciting advertising, competitions, and partnerships with universities, allowing for the introduction and excitement of new AI technologies. This approach helps companies navigate the challenges of AI adoption and ensures that their innovation is not stifled by bureaucracy. Julie explains that for change to be successful, leader support plays a key role. The center of excellence (COA) is a key change management initiative within an organization. It involves making people aware of AI and machine learning, which can be achieved through various marketing strategies. The organization chose a name that aligns with its culture and annual message from the CEO, highlighting the future and benefits of AI and machine learning in drug delivery. The COA also held pop-up events where individuals could access learning materials, certifications, and practice using fake data. Office hours were provided for those who had no idea about IT architecture or how the organization operated. Newsletter articles, posted posts, and video monitors were used to promote the COA's existence. A community of practice was formed, which met monthly for educational sessions and discussions on AI usage. Julie also explains how they monitored ethics and DEI to represent the target patient population. Measuring the Efficacy of the COA Measuring the effectiveness of the COA is challenging due to the lack of metrics. Julie talks...


556. Markus Starke: AI Project Case Study

Show Notes: Markus Starke, an advisor for cybersecurity and digital process transformation, has recently been working in cybersecurity for the AI applications that corporations are using. Marcus explains that, AI plays a significant role in work, particularly in intelligent process automation. This concept involves combining technologies like robotic process automation, process mining solutions, chatbots, Optical Character Recognition, and more advanced forms of machine learning and generative AI to build end-to-end processes. However, cybersecurity issues can affect these automation systems, especially as more users use them individually. Safety Measures with AI Automation Markus talks about several dimensions of cybersecurity with AI automation. To ensure the safety of AI-related automation situations, clients are asked to review their setup from a Target Operating Model perspective. A framework is created to guide this process, including governance, secure development processes, and creating awareness about potential risks. Governance involves governing roles and responsibilities, access, user rights, and other aspects of the system. Secure development processes ensure that solutions only access the data they should access, store data securely, and use encryption. Securing the platform is another dimension, involving standard frameworks for cloud-based solutions. Awareness about the human factors in reducing risk levels is crucial for achieving good cybersecurity. And lastly, monitoring and reporting ensure that the environment is controlled to a degree. Examples of Cybersecurity Threats Using AI Tools Markus discusses cybersecurity threats with AI tools, such as generative AI (GPT) for working on company data. One example is a human user extracting data from their corporate data pool and sending out an email with this data, and sending it to their private email account, which could be used in a public chat GPT instance. This can be controlled by creating awareness and setting up standardized IT security control mechanisms to limit data extraction from corporate networks. Another example is using proprietary corporate data for advanced data analytics on GPT, which could expose it to a potential attacker. Private computers are typically less secure than corporate ones, making them more prone to being attacked or losing data to an attacker. Corporations generally want to limit the type of data that is made publicly available in generative AI applications. He states that it is not always clear what happens to the data that is input to AI applications. Markus also discusses the risks associated with using consumer versions of chat GPT, as any data uploaded could potentially be put into its training data. However, there are options for setting up AI applications in a limited way for specific corporate use cases, but it is important to evaluate these solutions on a case-by-case basis to ensure they fulfill specific needs and governance. With Gen AI, it is crucial to balance between limiting too much while maintaining control. AI Tools Retaining Data The discussion revolves around the use of AI tools, such as Zoom, which may be retaining data on calls or transcribing them without letting users know. This raises concerns about the accessibility of information to organizations. It is essential to ensure that these tools align with cybersecurity standards and are compliant with protection requirements. However, this may be a case-by-case consideration, and Markus emphasizes that it is always necessary to question security processes. In addition, he mentions that it is crucial for independent consultants to raise awareness about cybersecurity and AI. Basic rules apply to the use of AI, such as ensuring data is stored in controlled instances and using strong protection mechanisms like passwords, access rights, and encryption. When working with clients, it is important not to make their lives too simple by creating AI...


555. Cheryl Lim Tan: AI Project Case Study

Show Notes: Cheryl Lim Tan discusses her experience working with a financial wellness product powered by AI. The client was early in their journey and needed to raise awareness of their product. They needed to refine their product further and gain more users to gain feedback and make adjustments to its features. Cheryl was brought in to take care of the entire marketing function. Cheryl's approach involved figuring out the company's brand, target audience, and value proposition. She also focused on articulating the unique value proposition of the product compared to free tools like Chat GPT. By addressing these aspects, the consultant was able to create a clear framework for the client's marketing function and reach investors. Prompting AI Tools Cheryl highlights the importance of education in the AI world, as AI tools are prompt-driven and consumers may not know how to interact with the interface and how to prompt it. To address this, they developed a suite of YouTube videos on how to prompt the tool for different situations or information. Another key aspect of targeting the client was developing personas. These personas were identified and distilled into a framework that included the top three messages, pain points, and expectations for each persona's customer journey. Consumer Education and AI Tools Cheryl emphasizes the importance of consumer education in the AI world, as it helps to draw the right audience in and ensures the success of the product.She also shares consumer insights about the types of users who are open to using AI tools, such as Gen Z, who are digital natives and more likely to adopt AI in their everyday lives. The proliferation of AI in 2023 has helped AI companies get in front of their target audience and engage with them. Gen Z is likely to be one of the highest adopters of AI, while millennials and Gen X are more cautious and hesitant. To ensure AI adoption applies to their market, companies must be clear about their personas and target audience, and consider using colors and layouts that appeal to the everyday consumer rather than catering to programmers. SEO and AI In terms of SEO, search engine optimization, and paid search, Cheryl highlights the importance of being conscious about who they are trying to reach and how to present their brand accordingly. She also discusses the challenges faced by early AI startups in figuring out who they are targeting and how to signal their preferences. She shares their marketing mix, which includes SEO, content marketing, working with influencers, an affiliate program, email marketing, and discord communities. They found that email marketing still works and was a great way for them to pick up new users. They also mention brokers for finding AI email lists that are a good fit for their brand and audience. The Benefits of a Discord Community Cheryl talks about the importance of having a dedicated Discord community related to your product to gather information, which is valuable for marketing and product refinement. She explains how Discord can be used, and how she has used it in marketing. She emphasizes the need for authenticity in inserting oneself into conversations and promoting the product. Reddit, she believes, is taking over Google in terms of cost for acquisition, with a cost per click down to $1 compared to Google's $4-6. Reddit also allows for targeted placement in relevant conversations, making it more cost-effective than Google. Timestamps: 00:03 AI-powered financial wellness product and marketing strategy 04:00 AI marketing strategies for consumer education 07:45 Targeting audiences for AI technology 11:13 Digital marketing strategies for a startup 14:14 Marketing an AI product using Reddit and Discord Links: Website: https://www.cheryltanconsulting.com/ LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cherylltan Unleashed is produced by Umbrex, which has a mission of connecting independent management consultants with one another, creating...


554. Barry Saunders: AI Project Case Study

Show Notes: Barry Saunders, a digital expert at McKinsey, discusses his background in the firm and his experience in AI-related projects. He worked in the LEAP practice, which built platforms for video streaming, preventative maintenance, and optimization tools. He left McKinsey to become Chief Product Officer at an Australian fashion company and recently joined MXA, a strategic digital technology company in Australia. Barry suggests a two-by-two typology classification scheme for AI-related projects. The first quadrant focuses on understanding patterns of behavior, while the second quadrant focuses on predictive behavioral modeling, third is more about text orientated and understanding meaning. The fourth quadrant focuses on regenerative AI and content creation. Barry believes that combining these quadrants can lead to personalized content for different customers and valuable insights and can unlock interesting value. AI Use Case Study Barry and his partner have been working on an AI toolkit to automate time-consuming work for management consultants. They developed a startup called First Things, which uses Gen AI to create classic McKinsey storylines from unstructured data. This tool has helped executives work through their strategies and report outcomes. They have also worked with clients on the AI journey, especially regulated industries. They have found that some tasks can be done more effectively with AI. One project they did was analyzing insurance policies for large-scale agricultural businesses, which are often complex and drift in meaning as language is updated. They created a tool that would analyze these policies, extract semantic meaning, and identify where drift took place, allowing them to align documents and simplify policies. One of the projects they are currently working on is simplifying lending policies for banks. In Australia, many lenders do home lending as their primary base, but the technical platforms used by banks and non-bank lenders are ancient and difficult to navigate. They are working on simplifying policies and offering home loans more simply. Building AI Tools The level of effort required to build a tool like this is not limited to building it. Many of the tools available are free, and there are many software as a service tools available that can perform similar tasks. To build a tool like this, one should be clear on what they are trying to do, such as simplifying a policy or comparing two different policies. The AI toolkit has proven to be effective in automating time-consuming work for management consultants and other clients. It is essential to be familiar with the tools and their capabilities to effectively utilize AI in various aspects of business operations. The legal space offers a vast array of tools for generating and analyzing contracts, including software as a service tools. To use these tools effectively, it is essential to be familiar with the large language model and the tool being used. Tuning these tools to get the desired response requires understanding the chain of logic and the outputs. To build a production-oriented tool, consider using large language model operations (LLM ops) or large language model operations (LLM ops) in a broader software architecture or workflow. Google, AWS, and Microsoft offer guides on how to integrate these tools into their software stack. It is crucial to be clear about the tasks and outputs of these tools, and to work with teams who are familiar with these systems. Using AI Applications Barry discusses his work on AI applications, specifically RF cues and analyzing large documents. He built a proof of concept using a tool called mem.ai. He talks about a template he built to analyze questions in RFQs, which are often templated and consistent across government agencies. The system is particularly useful for handling open-ended questions and generating text about your company's services, processes, etc. This speeds the process of...


553. Phil Bellaria: AI Project Case Study

Show Notes: In this episode of Unleashed, Phil Bellaria shares a case example of building a Chat GPT using open-source large language models. The client was a large telecommunications company with an immense amount of unstructured data, including customer feedback, feedback from employees through surveys, and transcript transcripts from millions of phone conversations and text chats. The problem statement was to derive insights and understand the state of the business, identify trends and topics as quickly as possible. The process took place through 2018-2020. Working with a data scientist, and using Google's BERT methodology for natural language processing, the team coded an algorithm that identified topics and classifiers from the unstructured data, scored each topic and phrase on sentiment (positive or negative comments) and created a short summary of customer or employee comments related to each topic. The process of building and running the model was processing intensive, and the first step was testing and iterating the model on smaller samples of data. The company held employee surveys, which was processed through the test model, the data was reviewed by HR business partners and business leaders to check for accuracy. The model was trained on all the information in Wikipedia, but other specific information and words were added to refine it. Over six to eight months, the model was able to accurately represent what employees were saying. Using AI to Improve Sales Pitches Phil discusses the use of AI in business applications and how it can be used to improve sales pitches. He explains that the problem was to understand why sales agents were not pitching a strategic product effectively. By feeding data from conversations with customers about the product, the algorithm was able to identify words and phrases associated with successful sales and non-successful sales. This information was then used to train sales agents on the right expressions and words to use when pitching the product. Phil shares some phrases that work well and those that don't, such as promoting a streaming product by associating it with popular shows. He also discusses the challenges of building AI models and securing and protecting data. He also addresses the cost of building an AI model. Using AI for Next Best Customer Actions Phil shares one example of AI-related projects which used AI algorithms to predetermine the next best action for a customer that can be used in real time to learn the best approach in customer interaction. The AI engine uses reinforcement learning to improve the power of the recommendations. The process involved building the right APIs into existing systems and ensuring SLAs in terms of responsiveness. The algorithm itself uses sophisticated statistical modeling techniques, but the main challenge was integration and timeliness. Challenges Implementing AI Phil talks about the challenges of implementing this process. He emphasizes the importance of defining the business problem and getting the technical team involved early in the process. He talks about time spent translating the problem into technical applications, allowing technical personnel to use their skills to solve the problem. He also shares a timeline for starting a recommendation algorithm. The process includes writing, pulling in data, creating a data environment, scoring, and algorithms. Another consideration is change management which involves limited pilots and controlled AB tests across the population, and time allotted to roll out and testing. Phil discusses the power of AI in data analysis, stating that it can provide insights and interactions that are not always available before. The real power lies in bringing new agents to speed up the process and elevating the performance of middle-tier agents. The lower performing agents often wouldn't use the tool, so they don't see as much impact. Timestamps: 00:02 Using AI to analyze unstructured data for...


552. Diane Flynn, Coaching a Growth Mindset

Diane Flynn, a multi-talented professional and author of two books and two popular courses on Udemy, Growth Mindset and Communicating with Confidence, has been working with her company, Reboot Excel, for the last decade. The company aims to help women feel current with technology, connected with a professional network, and confident in their return to work. She has had thousands of people go through their programs and continues to offer resources on their website and coaching workshops. Diane talks about her experience of returning to the workplace after taking a long hiatus, and how she became aware that many women wanted to return to careers but found it difficult to do so for a variety of reasons. She observed that many women returning to work are immensely talented and capable, but they often face a confidence crisis when trying to get back into the workplace. Consequently, she was inspired to start Reboot Excel with four friends. The company was successful, and through her work, she found that many people in the workplace also needed the same leadership skills. She launched her own company and started working in the B2B space. Today, she coaches executives to build more inclusive workplaces and empower people to do their best work. Helping Women Return to the Workplace As a stay-at-home mom, Diane met many intelligent, skilled, and immensely talented women who had been successful in their prior careers but had lost confidence. To help women regain confidence, she encourages them to reframe their achievements and skill sets based on what they have done, whether they received a paycheck or not. Many of these women have since landed amazing careers, and some have even held significant roles at Stanford University. Diane also worked closely with Carol Cohen, founder of I Relaunch, who works with companies like McKinsey, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs. They offer a return-ship program, similar to an internship for someone returning to their career, which is usually three months long and provides extra mentorship. Diane uses this program daily to help women navigate the latest workplace technologies and navigate the culture they'll be working in. Typically, 80% or higher of the women who go through these returnships are hired into full-time roles. Diane recommends checking out I Relaunched.com for more information on their work in this area. Working As an Instructor at Modern Elder Academy She mentions that Chip Conley, an instructor at Modern Elder Academy, founded the program to help people stay relevant, purposeful, motivated, and energized in midlife. She shares what motivated Chip to start the program or, as it is also known, the first modern wisdom school. The course is designed for women aged 45 to 70, but can accommodate older and younger individuals. The focus is on helping participants identify their strengths, sparks of joy, drains, impact they want to have, and who they want to work with. The most important aspect of the program is focusing on core non-negotiable values, as they are crucial for finding fulfillment in one's job. The program includes various exercises, one-on-one coaching, and meals together. The alumni program has thousands of people who come back for reunions and support each other. Chip is also launching his newest book, Learning to Love Midlife, which shares his story. Women Helped by the Program Diane talks about some participants who have found their purpose and passion and decided to pursue new career paths, such as a corporate executive who wants to become a coach. Another participant, a young woman in her mid-30s, decided to start a new type of university and seek funding and advisors. This is an exciting example of how people can take time to reflect on their goals and motivations and explore opportunities outside their current career. Many people are going through transitions, such as divorce, widowhood, or moving geographically, and it is essential for them to take...


551. Making Aid Count: Terry Roopnaraine on Development Consulting

Show Notes: Terry Roopnaraine, a technical consultant for international development projects, has been working in the field for about 25 years. He provides technical services to support projects funded by bilateral donors, UN agencies, and multilateral agencies like the World Bank. Over the last decade, an increasingly important area of the practice has been working with foundations. Terry's work involves providing services that are required to make these projects work and deliver the best impacts on the ground for the beneficiary populations they serve. There is a huge accountability chain because these projects are often funded through the public purse of one country or another, so there must be some kind of proper accountability and evaluation. The Role of a Technical Consultant Terry talks about the roles a technical consultant might play. He divides his work into two broad areas: project implementation and management, and learning evidence and evaluation. The implementation side of technical consulting focuses on getting a project up and running, recruiting staff, putting in inputs, designing activities, and ensuring that things are run according to time and budget. The learning evidence and building the knowledge base aspect of technical consulting is also crucial, as it ensures that a program is delivering on time, not leaking funds, and has robust monitoring systems in place to capture change systematically. Evaluation of effectiveness is another dimension of technical consulting, as it is about delivering the best impact for the beneficiary population. Research and Evaluation in Technical Consulting Over his career, Terry has worked more in the research evidence and evaluation side of technical consulting, which is partly an artifact of being a refugee from academia. His intellectual and academic orientation was research-directed, and when he moved to development work, he focused more on research evaluation and evidence building. One of his early projects was Conditional Cash Transfer Evaluations in Latin America, which were an aid instrument that aimed to incentivize uptake of health and education services. These programs were popular throughout Latin America and were easy to evaluate quantitatively. However, there was a growing awareness that the program's effects were not as expected. To understand why the program didn't have the expected effects, Terry began conducting ethnographic and qualitative research. He worked with other qualitative researchers to push the idea that understanding the voices of people who were benefiting from these programs was important. Terry talks about the projects he worked on during the early 2000s in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Peru and how his background in anthropology influenced his approach, and how they conducted research differently from previous projects. Challenges of Conducting Ethnographic Research Terry explains the challenges of conducting semi-structured interviews for management consultants and how they approach this process. The interviews were conducted in a way that was more accessible to anthropologists than for management consultants. Terry talks about the process of conducting ethnographic research in a short training workshop format. He highlights the complementarity between quantitative research findings and qualitative research findings. Survey work is broad and generalizable, while qualitative research is done over a smaller sample and is more in-depth. For example, in Nicaragua, an iron supplement for children was given out for three years, but blood tests showed no effect. In the next round of community field research, the researchers asked questions about the iron sprinkles and found that it was commonly believed that the sprinkles had a terrible reputation due to alleged health risks, and no-one wanted to pass them out. The Importance of Household and Nutrition Research Terry also discusses the importance of household research in nutrition...


550. Jared Simmons, Design to Value

Show Notes: In this episode of Unleashed, Will Bachman talks to Jared Simmons, business consultant, coach, and speaker, on design to value. Jared defines the term ‘design to value’, offers examples of how it can be used, and talks about the various steps involved. Using the example of a design to value playbook, Jared talks through each essential step that should be included. Step one is defining value and creating a shared understanding of it. This involves getting everyone on the same page about the intended purpose. Understanding value involves both the company running the project and the end consumer of the product. The project's goals should be determined, such as cutting costs, making it more of a premium, or growing volume. Step two is mapping out the value chain end to end, from materials to end use, and understanding the basic cost structures associated with each step. This ensures that the project is designed to value both the organization and the end consumer. Jared discusses the importance of mapping the value chain for a product or project. Step three is understanding consumer priorities and preferences which is crucial in determining what they care about and are willing to pay for. Step four involves mapping these preferences to each other, such as the cost of delivery or raw material(s). Step five is creating projects and programs to capture defined value. He emphasizes the need for a shared understanding of who is responsible for which steps in the value chain, including incoming raw materials, converting them into products, and the decision rights and responsibilities within those steps. He also highlights the importance of understanding how each person in a large company works with different materials and services, and what they are trying to accomplish within their roles, such as procurement, shipping costs, currency, and supplier selection. Jared advises senior associates to understand high-leverage starting materials and manage them effectively to achieve cost savings. He emphasizes respecting the intelligence and effort of those involved in the value chain and not just looking at the price but also considering what makes the cost palatable for the procurement person and the rest of the organization. Mapping the value chain is a crucial step in achieving cost optimization in a product or project. It requires a deep understanding of the decision rights and responsibilities within the organization, as well as respecting the intelligence and effort of those involved. Internal and External Benchmarking Jared discusses the importance of internal benchmarking in converting products across the entire value chain. He believes that external benchmarking can be problematic due to the lack of context on how other organizations reached their goals and the capital and labor involved. Jared suggests that internal benchmarks are more valuable than external benchmarks because they provide a full picture of what is driving each number. In terms of understanding consumer preferences, he breaks down this into functional and psychographic segmentations. Psychographic segmentation involves the product's benefit and the belief about the product, while functional segmentation focuses on the features. To determine consumer preferences, he uses a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods, such as one-on-one interviews, focus groups, dyads, and triads. Quantitative research can involve concept-driven non-concept-driven questionnaires to gather quantitative data on consumer preferences. One-on-one interviews allow for depth and richness in understanding consumer preferences, while dyads allow for more nuanced responses from multiple people. Triads involve three or four participants, while focus groups typically involve 468 participants. Conjoint analysis is another method used to set up quantitative research that gets results. This method helps to understand the trade-offs between different...


549. Chad Oakley, The Current State of the Consulting Job Market - January 2024

Show Notes: Chad Oakley, CEO at the executive search firm at Charles Aris, discusses the current state of the consulting job market. He kicks off the conversation by explaining who Charles Aris is and what they do. Chad shares his perspective on three key areas: the market for strategic services, training Chief Strategy officers, and advice for Chief Strategy officers to make themselves more valuable in a down market. The Market for Strategic Services He states that the market for consulting services is currently down significantly due to the down macro environment. Major consulting firms like Bain, BCG, McKinsey, Deloitte, and Accenture have experienced a decline in revenues and project counts. However, they are hopeful that the current low watermark will lead to increased demand, but they are not seeing significant improvements just yet. The good news is that the need for strategy never goes away, and the market for consulting services is often a bellwether for how companies think about strategy these days. As the market continues to down, it is crucial for companies to focus on new and exciting strategic initiatives during downturns and outperform competitors when the market rebounds. He explains that the consulting industry is experiencing a tight market, with more people on the beach than in the last five to five years. Consulting firms are implementing recessionary strategies, such as lowering bonuses, reducing annual raises, and slowing promotions. He talks about delayed start dates, takes a look back at 2023, and how the current situation compares to 2009 and how 2024 is shaping up. He explains that Chief Strategy officers from incorporations are hearing more about companies slowing down strategic projects, special projects, and extraneous growth initiatives. They are also concerned about layoffs and job security, so they want to be on the radar screen for potential opportunities. Advice for Chief Strategy Officers When there are fewer opportunities, Chief Strategy Officers still have the same tasks. He talks about a bright spot for independent consultants and that connecting with these individuals and offering contract solutions can help consultants navigate the market downturn. Private equity-backed companies tend to have more flexibility and are willing to spend money when it will help them make money. He recommends a variety of different companies to consider during this time. He also explains that during a downturn, Chief Strategy Officers (CSO) focus on short-term versus long-term initiatives. In a market downturn, companies tend to retrench to their core products and services, making it more risky for CSOs and consultants working on long-term projects. Instead, they should focus on projects that make a quantifiable impact in the short term, such as increasing revenue or decreasing costs, and focusing on core products or services. Chad mentions a few areas that are profitable in the short term. He recommends that CSOs should also create more stability in their roles by taking on more than just strategy. This can include adding other functions to their responsibilities, such as corporate development and transformation initiatives or strategy and communication, AI. Chad also mentions how having a well-managed team helps promote a consultant's value to the company. CSO’s often become known as a feeder for future stars in the business, as they bring Rockstar talent to the company. Functional Areas in the Current Market The US is seeing more opportunity in industrials due to a significant onshoring movement and a slowdown in consumer packaged goods and retail sectors. This shift has created more opportunities for companies that are doing more manufacturing internally, with more growth in the industrial space, and they require more support. However, private equity remains a hot and heavy market, with deal flow decreasing. In 2022, the largest year of merger and acquisition deals in private equity history, and...


548. Adam Braff, Business Analytics Diagnostic

Show Notes: The Umbrex Business Analytics Diagnostic Guide that is discussed in this episode can be downloaded at no cost here: https://umbrex.com/resources/business-analytics-diagnostic/ In this episode of Unleashed, Will Bachman and Adam Braff discuss the creation of a data analytics diagnostic guide. Adam, a former partner at McKinsey and a consultant on data analytics, discusses the importance of data analytics in solving business problems in any company or investment firm. He explains that a business analytics diagnostic is designed for organizations with multiple people, computers, and analytics processes. The goal of this diagnostic is to determine the performance and alignment of the data science or analytics function with the overall mission of the company. He explains the size and type of company that uses this and who would monitor and manage the data analytics of a company The Diagnostic Guide Format Explained The diagnostic guides follow a format with scorecards for individual pieces of an area, typically 15 to 25 different scorecards, and within each one, objective criteria ranging from nascent to optimized. These guides are divided into categories and subcategories, such as analytics strategy, data management, advanced analytics, AI, talent, decision-making process, tools, and infrastructure. Adam explains the format of the diagnostic guide, beginning with top level categories including analytics strategy, strategic alignment, performance measurement, and future roadmap. Analytic strategy involves understanding the business objectives and problems to be solved, such as growth, customer retention, risk management, and problem-solving. Strategic alignment also involves determining the location of analytics people, whether centrally located in a Center of Excellence or distributed across different functions. Performance measurement involves tracking key performance indicators for the analytics function, such as cross-sell, revenue, pricing, and marketing ROI teams. Benchmarking this number against competitors can help determine if the company is on track and if it is underinvesting in analytics. Performance measurement also includes ROI, which is the understanding of specific goals and projects that the analytics team is working on. By tracking these metrics and reporting the total impact analytics has on the business each year, the analytics strategy part can be evaluated. A Roadmap for the Analytics Strategy Adam emphasizes the importance of having analytical people distributed throughout the business and dedicated resources for analytics initiatives. To round out the analytic strategy, it is crucial to have a roadmap of the next eight quarters, such as tackling Net Promoter Score analysis, customer satisfaction drivers, or adopting a new data management tool. This roadmap should include hiring and development strategies, cutting-edge innovation, and research, which can be revisited and changed strategies as needed. This helps ensure the analytics team is effectively working towards achieving their goals. Data Management: Warehousing, Sourcing and Integration Adam goes on to talk about the importance of warehousing, data sourcing and integration involving sourcing data from internal systems or external sources, such as customer satisfaction surveys or third-party surveys. This is crucial for asset managers who need to acquire data for investment analysis and decision-making. Automating data loading processes is also important, as it allows for efficient data flow. Business intelligence is another important aspect of data management, which involves creating interactive dashboards and alerts for all stakeholders. Data quality is a critical aspect of data management, involving conscious decisions on the quality of data. More mature businesses have higher standards for accuracy, timeliness, and completeness of data, with constant profiling and monitoring to ensure data meets these standards. Data...


547. Tyler Cowen, Author of Talent

Tyler Cowen, author, economist and philanthropist, talks about the inspiration for his new book and the importance of talent identification in business. He believes that talent assessment is an art rather than a science and that institutions like the Florentine Renaissance, which had a competitive process for identifying talent, have been particularly good at this. Tyler also mentions the success of identifying American business talent in the Midwest during the 20th century. China has also done a remarkable job in identifying CEO talent in a world where almost no one had an MBA, and India is currently the single hottest blossoming talent spot. He discusses the trend of companies investing in spotting talent overseas, particularly for smaller companies. With the pandemic and work from a distance, the chance of hiring talent in Indonesia or the Philippines is much higher than it was just a few years ago. However, it is harder to evaluate talent in other countries due to cultural differences and difficulty in interpreting references. And while talent is evenly distributed around the world, opportunity is not. Companies need to adapt their strategies to better identify and mobilize talent, as well as invest in international talent identification. Screening Applicants and Recruiting Talent Tips The increasing trend of independent professionals entering the international market and the importance of investing in pre-existing networks of soft contacts, Tyler suggests that companies should focus on building talent scouts or people who can help navigate different geographies around the world. He shares an example of hiring an Indian person who is well connected in India through his blog and podcast, which serves as a filter for potential applicants, reaching the people who are already aware of the company and will take the first step of contact. He also discusses the importance of screening applicants before the interview process, focusing on established track records, but with emphasis placed on behavior and actions taken and not merely words, and entrepreneurs who demonstrated curiosity and initiative, and those who can work independently but understand how they fit into a team. He emphasizes the importance of using soft connections to winnow down the field as much as possible. For the initial screening phase, Tyler suggests using pre-existing soft networks, such as those within the company or those who know them and can speak credibly about them. This approach is the highest yield way of approaching a problem where there are a large number of potential applicants and ensures that the candidate knows enough about the company and fits in. Skills Assessment and Onboarding Talent Tyler also emphasizes the importance of clear writing skills and how companies like Amazon and Stripe prioritize this aspect. He also shares a few tips to use during the interview process, and the use of practical exercises after the interview round, such as diagnostics or walk-throughs, to assess the candidate's performance. In terms of evaluating the talent within the company, Tyler suggests investing in high levels of trust and focusing on what can be done now to build trust with employees. He shares onboarding advice, and states that focusing on mid-year or annual evaluations is not always the best approach to assessing talent. Advice on Conducting Business Internationally Tyler shares tips on how to travel and learn about a place. He suggests walking a lot, even in places not in guidebooks, and speaking to a broad range of people. He also advises buying a physical guide book in advance and reading it, as people rely too much on the internet when traveling. Tyler also uses soft networks to connect with people who may be readers or people living in that area to help him. He shares a few stories of philanthropic adventures, including one example of a successful small venture is Timothy, a Ukrainian American economist. He discusses the idea that...


546. Tiago Forte Author of Building a Second Brain

In this session, Will Bachman and Tiago Forte discuss Tiago’s new book Building a Second Brain. They discuss how the concept provides value and work through each key learning aspect, the importance of using note-taking apps, including CODE and Para. Tiago talks about the background that led to the creation of the book and how it was strongly shaped by his experience in consulting. Tiago shares his background as a junior project analyst at a boutique consulting firm called FaberNovel, where he learned the business model of consulting. Consultants are rapid learners, learning new things about the market, landscape, competitive arena, and internal aspects of clients. They must learn the client's culture, power structure, priorities, and communication preferences quickly and use as few billable hours as possible. Tiago emphasizes that consultants must bring their best thinking to the table every day, as they are being paid to think. The results of their efforts are based on the quality of their thinking. He explains that once they learn a subject, they must apply it to as many projects and clients as possible to be profitable as a consulting firm. Absorbing, analyzing, and applying creative thinking to the client’s problem is the overall triangle, but within the bigger picture are many time consuming and expensive research branches, each of which must be understood and analyzed at speed. Gathering, keeping track of and accessing the information needed – quickly – is essential, and this essentially begins with note-taking. The Development of the Knowledge Repository Tiago started taking notes professionally, realizing that his effectiveness as a professional and results for clients, in addition to quality of life depended on his ability to be efficient. He talks about the development of the principles in building a second brain, and how they can be applied to management consulting assignments, such as market landscape studies, focusing on the client's culture, power structure, priorities, and communication preferences. By doing so, consultants can improve their effectiveness, results, save time, and ensure quality thinking again and again. He discusses the core principles of creativity and how they can be repurposed for various purposes. He shares his model, CODE, which is a simple framework designed to be universal across any profession. He outlines each stage of CODE. The first step involves capturing ideas and knowledge in various formats, such as photographs, sketches, drawings, text, and web bookmarks. Once captured, it is organized into groups based on the project, client, or aspect of the business. The next step is distilling the information into its essence, refinement, and synthesizing it into main takeaways or highlights. This process is essential for finding the signal in the noise of information, which is crucial for effective note-taking. The final stage is express, where the knowledge is shared in various forms such as writing, speaking, presenting, designing, building, launching, publishing, sharing, and selling. Tiago suggests that people should start by capturing their thoughts and ideas, and recommends tools like Evernote, and other note-taking apps. He also mentions the Second Brain Resource Guide, which provides resources and a comprehensive list of links, tools, and apps for capturing information, including saving quotes from podcasts, transcription tools, and includes a few tips on using Kindle and YouTube. In conclusion, the core principles of creativity and note-taking are essential for effective note-taking and knowledge management. By following these principles, individuals can create valuable content and share their knowledge effectively. Communication Skills at Work Tiago emphasizes the importance of distilling notes to retain their essence. He explains that humans are sensitive to the presentation of information and explains how even small changes to a website can have significant impacts on...


545. Melanie Espeland Shares Tips from a Voice Coach

In this episode of Unleashed, Melanie Espeland talks about the importance of using one's voice to make a powerful first impression. Melanie, an executive coach and life coach, shares her structure for building an executive presence. The structure includes two pillars: the literal (physical world) and the figurative (mental and emotional world). Voice Is The First Impression The literal pillar focuses on the speaker's voice, which includes nonverbal communication, posture, and body language. The figurative pillar includes authenticity, confidence, and vision. Authenticity is crucial as it involves being connected to oneself and having clarity about who they are and how they want to show up. Confidence is separate from executive presence as it involves believing in the effectiveness of their actions and their ability to connect with their audience. Vision is influenced by watching great leaders speak and media training work, and it involves articulating one's thoughts, needs, and future focus or thesis in a clear, consistent, and well-understood manner. In summary, Melanie emphasizes the importance of using one's voice to make a powerful first impression in various aspects of life. She provides a series of voice exercises that can be done at home and offers tips on how to use one's voice to make a powerful first impression. By understanding and practicing these techniques, individuals can build their own executive presence and improve their overall professional image. Voice Exercises - Training the Tool Melanie jumps into the exercises to demonstrate how they work. One important exercise is warming up the voice, starting with humming the sound as an H. This will help with projection and open up the mouth for the arm. The speaker also suggests doing a simple vocal warmup, such as a e Oh, ah, to start articulating around the mouth, tongue, and facial articulators. She compares the voice to an instrument, and the body is an instrument, and the voice is the sound it creates. To tune up the voice appropriately, the speaker suggests stretching beforehand to avoid injury or muscle hamstrings. Melanie also emphasizes the importance of giving the jaw and tongue muscles a little bit of love and attention. She suggests using a lion and mouse exercise to warm up the face and facial muscles, making them small and tight, and then expanding them. This helps the face constrict and expand, working those muscles and wake them up. The jaw needs a little bit of love, as the jaw and tongue are the most overworked muscles when it comes to speaking. To relax the jaw, the speaker suggests yawning or letting it relax naturally. Melanie explains the importance of a vocal warmup, which can range from two minutes to an hour, depending on the individual's needs and skill level. She suggests building this routine into your daily or every other day routine, making it whatever length works for you. She also shares specific exercises that can elevate your voice, such as tongue placement. One of the most surprising exercises is the tongue placement exercise, specifically for American English. This exercise is specific to American English speaking and is not necessarily accurate for other languages. Melanie demonstrates different placements of their tongue, such as the back of the mouth, middle of the mouth, and front of the mouth. She demonstrates how different they sound with their tongue in different general placements and encourages practicing these techniques over time to improve their voice and feel more confident and comfortable speaking. In conclusion, building in a vocal warmup is essential for both personal and professional success. By practicing these exercises, individuals can enhance their voice and become more confident and effective in their communication. Developing The Mind-Body Connection Melanie explains how to create a mind-body connection, using your fingers to direct your body and physically move your tongue where it needs to be....


544. Ron Lumbra, How to Join a Corporate Board

In this live event hosted by Umbrex in November 2023, Ron Lumbra, a member of the CEO & Board of Directors Practice and Partner at Heidrick and Struggles, discusses how to get on a corporate board. He shares insider knowledge about the process. The event was recorded as a streaming event, with approximately 300 people signing up for the session. The discussion was facilitated and included questions from attendees. Exploring the Landscape of Board Roles The discussion focuses on the different types of board roles, such as Fortune 500 companies, other public companies, PE-owned portfolio companies, and family-owned companies. The top of the pyramid is the public company corporate board, which is the most sought-after and difficult to join. People often serve on various types of boards, such as large-cap corporations, smaller publicly traded companies, private companies, family businesses, and nonprofits. These boards have similar structures, committee structures, and skills matrix, making them valuable ground training experiences for those looking to join corporate boards. A board is a group of experienced business people who are responsible for running and governing a company. It is not just a group of smart people, but specific roles that a board seeks to fill. He identifies the difference of a philanthropic board. When searching for a board member, companies often seek specific skills, such as financial experts with experience in China, supply chain, or being female. Ron talks about a typical board structure and defines the importance of what a candidate can bring to the board. The board consists of about 10 people, with four or five members fit into the CEO club or those who have run a big business club. The number one in demand skill set is financial experts, with three seats focused on audit and finance committees. The number one skill set is CFOs, while the other three are controllers, treasurers, VPs, SVPs, or audit partners from one of the big four. Companies are also looking for leaders in certain fields at specific times. Generally at present, their expertise in cyber and AI, supply chain, and ESG areas are in demand. Supply chain has seen a surge in demand, especially during the pandemic. Boards are looking for people who can lead, guide, and help with challenges they may face. They create a skills matrix to identify the various skills needed, which is more than the number of seats. People who can check more boxes credibly tend to be more attractive board candidates. The Benefits of Being on a Board Ron explores the reasons people want to be on a board and the benefits they receive. Operating executives with a day job often go on boards to expand their skill set, gain an outside perspective, and learn from others in different industries. As they age, they may consider a different career path and seek ways to contribute, give back, stay engaged, and stay relevant. Age plays a significant role in the decision-making process, as board directors are not employees and are not discussed in the proxy board. Boards typically have a mandatory retirement age of 72-75 years, which varies by company. People usually go on boards in their late 50s or early 60s and have a decade or more of tenure before they age off. Ron also discusses the reality of being on a board in terms of time and commitment. Being on a board is different from being an operating executive, as it is intense and socially intensive. Board culture and how the board functions come together and go apart are important factors, both experience, personality and cultural fit are all factors considered. Board meetings are usually held five times a year, with committee meetings often occurring around them. Ron shares information on payment for board members and how to position oneself to get on a board, particularly at the non-finance 500 level. Securing a Invitation to The Board He explains that the supply side of the board opportunities is what attracts...


Episode 543. Jill Stoddard, Author of Imposter No More

In this interview, author Jill Stoddard and Will Bachman discuss the concept of impostor syndrome. Jill defines the experience as a state where individuals question their competence and legitimacy, even when there is objective evidence to support their accomplishments. The fear is that they will of be outed as a fraud. The phenomenon was officially identified in 1978 by Pauline Clance and Suzanne IMEs, who believed it only existed in high-achieving women. However, culture rebranded it as a syndrome which Jill addresses. The Background on Imposter Syndrome Jill believes that the imposter phenomenon has been around for a long time, with prevalence rates averaging between 40 and 70 percent. She suggests that it has been present in early humans, who, when part of a tribe, had a survival advantage due to social comparison and fear of being ousted from their tribe. Early humans engaged in social comparison to ensure they didn't get kicked out of their tribe, which was often a life-or-death situation. The modern world, with technology and social media, has created a context where this issue has been amplified. Jill calls for a cultural rebranding and a redefining of the impostor phenomenon or impostor experience. This phenomenon has not been extensively researched, and it is important to know that most discussions focus on hypotheses rather than empirical questions. However, research suggests that these impostor thoughts and feelings are positively correlated with success, making the more successful an individual, the more likely they are to have these feelings. Jill discusses the complex reasons behind this phenomenon, including the assumption that others are more competent than they are, the Dunning Kruger cognitive bias, and social and cultural influences. She mentions that in the 70s, when this phenomenon was thought to only impact high-achieving women, it was rebranded as sexism. Her hypothesis and others have suggested that people who have experienced marginalization, such as being told they don't belong in male spaces, or being told they don't belong in white spaces, are more prone to experience imposter syndrome. Understanding Imposter Syndrome Jill asserts that it is important to recognize that the more we know and the more we believe others are competent, the more likely we are to feel impostor syndrome. Additionally, it is essential to acknowledge that the stigma surrounding this experience is often perpetuated by those who have experienced marginalization, such as women, people of color, and gay individuals. Jill mentions that impostor syndrome can negatively impact career success, and that it is important to recognize that this is a systemic and organizational issue rather than an individual problem. She believes that individuals should be given tools to manage their feelings and self-doubt, such as psychological flexibility, to overcome this state of mind. Psychological flexibility involves being present in one's life, aware of and open to all internal experiences, emotions, physiological sensations, urges, and thoughts. This allows individuals to make choices based on their deeply held personal values and who they want to be. The goal is to cycle and build psychological flexibility by identifying your values, recognizing the way thoughts and feelings get in the way of you heading in that direction, and changing your relationship to these thoughts. Additional approaches to dealing with impostor syndrome include seeking advice from others, such as talking to other speakers or CEOs, and understanding why they feel that way. Jill shares a strategy for book authors. Approaches to Dealing with Discomfort Jill discusses various approaches to dealing with anxiety and self-doubt, including comparing oneself to others, enjoying one's position, treating failure as an opportunity to test something out, and accepting that we are built to avoid uncertainty. She emphasizes the importance of learning to be okay with...