How Does a Business Keep a Promise

img_0175On Tuesday, the CEO Club of Marin met in conjunction with the North Bay Leadership Council and Dominican University of California to produce the Business Edge Briefing Breakfast for November 2016. Our featured speaker, Elizabeth Doty, gave a stimulating presentation on “How does a Business keep a Promise.”

Ms. Doty, a graduate of the Harvard Business School and a member of Harvard’s thought leadership community, is an active business consultant in her own practice, entitled Leadership Momentum. The audience was a mix of local business leaders, community leaders, and faculty, staff, and students from Dominican University looking to learn and improve their business acumen.









Elizabeth’s presentation started off with a reminder of the promises that businesses make. Every slogan is a promise! Brands are promises of an experience. Company culture statements are promises. Most companies believe that they keep their promises to customers 80% of the time, while customers would score them at 8% on living out these promises. The type of promises companies make depends on what is going on in the economy, society, product development cycles, etc.

img_0165Ms. Doty went on to reveal six challenges companies face in keeping promises, and had the audience complete her survey of the 6 challenges within their own firms. The results revealed that People and Processes & Systems were the top two of the six factors across all companies represented by the audience today.

People challenges include gaining clarity and commitment to the company mission, having managers who support and challenge front-line staff, and listening and learning from front-line employees.

img_0239Processes & Systems challenges include creating systems that can be consistently and easily followed, that support the company’s promises, and provide for accountability across internal groups.

The other four challenges include Strategic Clarity, Leadership, Culture, and Measures & Feedback Systems. If you want to learn more about these six challenges, Ms. Doty has graciously agreed to share her presentation with our members who could not join us on Tuesday.

img_0217You can review Ms. Doty’s slides below, and follow the links to further your knowledge on the secrets of success in keeping brand promises.

In closing, we’d like to thank Elizabeth Doty, Dominican University’s Business Edge Briefings, and the North Bay Leadership Council for putting together such a great and successful event.

Looking forward to partnering on future events again!

Elizabeth Doty’s Presentation 

Further Reading

How to be a Great Board Member

Walt RoseOur September speaker, Walt Rose, gave an insightful and personal recap of his 30+ years of service on Boards of Directors. His experience ranged from private, public, and non-profit boards to advisory boards and school boards. He served on most major committees, and chaired both committees and boards. Some board terms were great successes, and others were terrible failures!

Here are some of the learnings Walt shared with our Club members in attendance:

Lesson #1 – Board service is more of an Art than a Science

Be of service to the organization, over yourself. Be informed. Be judicious. Exercise good judgment. Know when to speak up, and when to let it rest. Don’t be timid. Use your instinct to decide what is important, and to fill in the data-gaps when making decisions.

Lesson #2 – The most important relations is between the Board and the CEO

Hiring, evaluating, mentoring, and firing, but not micromanaging. Be careful mixing friendship with Board-ship.

Lesson #3 – When on a non-profit board, then be a great fundraiser!

Be prepared to give of both time and treasure. Own the fundraising campaign…don’t delegate. Be an active member of the campaign. Takes money to raise money. Thank your donors.

Lesson #4 – Know the attributes of your desired Board member

Judgment, experience, motivation, interest, values, style, ability to mentor/coach, ask the tough questions, strong network, willingness to make the tough calls.

Mr. Rose shared beautiful examples and explained each lesson in an engaging, witty manner meant to arm and educate each one of us to be successful in our board work today and tomorrow. His passion for boards was palpable, and attendees could tell that he added much value to his organizations and treated each board role as a privilege.

Thank you, Walt Rose, for your contribution to the CEO Club of Marin!

A Lovely Evening with CEO Club of Marin, COO Forum, and friends of Stanton Chase

Our biggest turnout yet at this year’s Annual Summer BBQ -72 people were in attendance! We had a wonderful time meeting interesting folks from different walks of life. The night was filled with interesting stories, engaging discussions, and new connections that will hopefully grow into new friendships and partnerships.

Special thanks to John Stewart of Cast Winery who kept the drinks flowing all evening and shared his extensive knowledge of wine with our guests. Also a big Thank You to Jack Seifrick, owner of Cast Winery, and to Thumbprint Cellars for sponsoring our events, sharing their wines, and helping make the event a great success.

Many thanks to our guests who were able to join us on Tuesday, and for the delicious food, drinks, and thoughtful gifts you all brought!

The mission of the CEO Club of Marin and the COO Forum is to bring together business leaders in spirit of camaraderie, networking, and education – to create an environment in which our peers and colleagues can meet new friends, explore new opportunities, and support one another in confidence and goodwill. The summer social was an exemplary manifestation of this and the credit goes to everyone in attendance and our trusted vendors, partners, and the Stanton Chase team!

Cast Winery LogoThumbprint Cellars Logo




Testimonials from the event:

“That was a wonderful event–I am so pleased that I was on the invite list –and so pleased that I accepted.”

“[We] very much enjoyed the great weather, fine food and excellent company at your home.”

“Thank you for creating such a lovely evening for us all! I met many new and remarkable people.” 

Enjoy the photos from the event and we hope to see you again for our December Holiday Party!

When Every Business Challenge Seems Important AND Urgent


This month’s CEO Club meeting featured Sandra LeDrew, formerly President of Americas for Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) and also former President of beverage giant Diageo Chateau & Estate. She joined us to share her experience in overcoming an “Executive Challenge,” our 2016 theme.  Sandra’s selection as speaker reflected the influence of Stanton Chase’s newly-launched North Bay Office, focusing heavily on Consumer Products/Food/Wine.  Sandra has run top-line growth for arguably two of the world’s top wine companies located in the North Bay, and focused her presentation on the challenges and solutions when facing many priorities at once…her immediate case when she attempted to increase sales volume for Treasury Wine Estates’ portfolio of 80+ brands in North America.

20160614_080407After missing targets for the last 7 periods, TWE asked her to first uncover the variables affecting revenue, and then control those variables to drive significant increases in revenue and meet their goals.  She inherited a company whose Board of Directors resided in Melbourne, Australia, and had a four-year, complicated, and multi-tiered strategic plan for TWE North America. Sandra uncovered an overwhelming number of variables and desired changes, all of which were deemed important AND urgent! Though a turnaround was necessary, where to begin?

LeDrew created a strategy for tackling a multitude of “Top Priorities” at the same time, and also created an internal review committee key department VP’s who would serve as the TWE transformation team going forward.  A new vision was needed and it needed to be communicated to company employees, vendors and disenfranchised wholesale partners to make the plan work. To keep the committee on task, they met monthly to report progress in their “Seven Workstreams” of re-alignment and reported annually to the Board for updates.

20160614_080209As is always the case, a review of whether the company had the best talent in the right roles was critical to the success of this culture change. Significant EBITDA improvements, inventory adjustments, and positive morale resulted from her four-year tenure at the helm of TWE, North America. LeDrew finally helped to arrange the purchase of competitor Diageo’s wine portfolio in December of 2015 for $600MM, making TWE the world’s largest wine company.

For any business leader battling with multiple priorities where everything seems important AND urgent, LeDrew had some key learnings to share:

  • Executive Team Must Be Committed
    • Effective delegation is paramount to the success of a leader.
    • Each member of the executive team must take full responsibility of his/her workstream and reflect a common mindset for growth and success.
  • Best Talent in Key Roles
    • Finding the right people for the right-fitting role is a real difference-maker when it comes to motivating your team and expecting the best results.
  • Culture Changes with Improved Performance
    • Culture and performance create feedback loops that influence one another.
    • It is very difficult to change culture, but improving performance not only creates the opportunity for actionable strategies but in return changes the culture and how your team sees themselves.
  • Expect the Unexpected
    • No matter how thorough you may be, expect that things will come up that you did not anticipate.
    • Stay nimble, adaptive, and ready to re-prioritize tactics at any given time (just don’t change the goals as often!).

20160614_085935Thanks to Sandra LeDrew for an informative and engaging presentation on “Overcoming an Executive Challenge,” our 2016 theme for the CEO Club of Marin!  See everyone July 12th at the CEO Club BBQ!


Executive Challenges: How to Win Back Clients

IMG_8776This month’s breakfast featured speaker was West Coast Industries’ (WCI) CEO Mona Lindquist.  Her message of how to win back clients was based on her own “turn-around” success story at WCI.  Being a family-owned company that specializes in designing and manufacturing furniture for corporate and hospitality public meeting areas, her clients include such names as Google and Apple; helping them re-shape their shared spaces with innovative and original fabrication of unique furniture.

The situation Mona found her company in was a precarious one, with a well-known international client that at the time represented 40% of their total revenues.  There was a breach in trust and WCI was in danger of losing them.  So in order to turn the situation around, Mona relied on the company’s values and guiding philosophy.  She said, “We needed to show that we were honest and sincere, and were wholly accountable – No Excuses!”

IMG_8769In an unprecedented move towards transparency with the client, Mona allowed them limited access to WCI’s financials, to not only attest to their financial strength, but perhaps more importantly, emphasize their willingness to do whatever it took to remain a trusted partner.

WCI continued to reinforce its partnership with the client through on-going value-added services and guarantee commitments that, while costing the company, consistently carried the message of trust to the client.  This “building back” with the client strengthened the long-term viability of the company, and will very likely provide for increased sales as WCI increases capacity at their plant.  Winning the customer back comprised of:

  • Honesty
  • Transparency
  • Authenticity
  • Value-Added Services
  • Commitment to sustained quality

And while there was terrific networking that occurred following Mona’s presentation, many attendees were looking forward to April’s Bay Area Economic Futurecast with Micah Weinberg at Dominican College’s Creekside Room.

Hope to see you for our next meeting!

Gender Bias and the Search for Female Leadership to Propel Growth


Numerous studies show evidence of increased performance and success in companies with a greater presence of female leadership. However, unconscious biases prevent us from realizing these gains.

Did you know…

  • Rwanda is the only country in the world to have a majority-led female congress?
  • In Hollywood movies, females are represented in lead roles only 10-15% of the time?
  • When blind auditions were instituted for orchestra seats, female placements rose by 50%?

DSC_9401It was quite the learning experience at this month’s CEO Club of Marin breakfast thanks to Janet Crawford’s insights into the realm of unconscious biases and their consequent effects on gender diversity in top leadership. Ever wonder why less than 20% of the tech workforce is female? Why less than 3% of venture funding goes to female-led firms?  Janet knows why… and now we do too.

In 1981 females surpassed males in obtaining college degrees for the first time in this country in popular majors, including computer sciences. Fast-forward 30 years and still we see a lack of representation of women in senior executive positions and we are back down to around 15% for female CS graduates. Exploring this disparity uncovers a world of unconscious biases and outdated norms. These biases create a culture that is at times disadvantageous, if not inhibitive, to females and minorities.  The goals and aspirations of future female business leaders will continue to be lost along the way unless we change these unconscious biases.

What can you do to overcome these biases in your organization? Janet has some suggestions:

  1. Male participation is critical in fostering inclusivity and promoting diversity.
    • Be open about these issues with your teammates and take conscious action to offset inequalities within the organization. Communicate your goals and challenges and motivate your female staff.
  2. Pay attention to the stock photos on your website and published work.
    • Comment on biases of others. Avoid male-dominant décor in the workplace, promote offsite activities that build team collaboration.
  3. Seek out speakers and experts to come speak to your employees.
    • Facilitate activities that bring awareness around challenges in diversity. Encourage your peers to talk openly about the issues they are facing and seek ways to support them.
  4. Start fostering notions of equality and empowerment in children from a young age.
    • Girls are treated and encouraged differently than boys. Pay attention to the messages you’re unconsciously creating in your home and your child’s environment.
  5. Finally, remember: Legislation doesn’t change culture; People do.
    • Our worldviews and behaviors need to change at an individual level. Embody the change you want to see and spread the goodwill to those around you.

Many CEO CLUB members stayed afterwards to continue the dialogue for quite a while. Thank you, Janet, for your informative and inspiring presentation!

DSC_9390NOTE:  Per Janet’s recommendation, here’s another great source to explore:

UC DAVIS STUDY OF CALIFORNIA WOMEN BUSINESS LEADERS: A Census of Women Directors and Highest-Paid Executives



Setting Goals that Set Up for Success

Our January meeting was an energizing event!  We introduced some new attendees, did some networking for members, and explored how to coach our teams in goal setting. We reviewed how Google does goal setting, secrets from past masters, and how the subconscious mind works with goals.  Here are some of the comments heard afterwards:

  • “A great kick off day indeed—well done!”
  • “A lot of new faces since my last breakfast.”
  • “What a wonderful group of people…and powerful conversation around goal setting for leaders.”

We are anticipating announcing our lineup of speakers, including our February speaker whose work is in high demand by Tech, FinTECH, Media, and Mobile companies. In April we will be joint venturing with Dominican University at their San Rafael campus for an exciting program on Business Economics.

Be sure to save the 2nd Tuesday of every month on your calendar to network with fellow CEOs and Business Owners in Marin County. Check out our website for updates and RSVPs. Call me if you would like to bring a guest.

In the meantime, review the links below to further explore how you can empower your team through effective goal setting.

Next breakfast meeting will be on February 9th… Come to Expand your Network…stay for the Leadership Development and Comradery!


SETTING GOALS – Helpful Links

OKRs: Learn From Google On How to Set Goals Using OKR

Goal Setting: How to Define Your Organizational Objectives

Organizational Goal Setting – Criteria and Process

Organizational Goal Setting

Smart Goal Setting Worksheet

Goal Setting Plan

Oracle – Goal Setting: A Fresh Perspective

Five TED Talks to inspire your new years resolutions

Five Ways to Hack Your Goals


Meeting Minutes-November 11, 2014


November 11, 2014

Speaker: Joao Correia, CEO of CORSO Sports Management and Founder, inGAMBA Tours.

About Joao:    João Correia began racing as a kid in Portugal, and went on to ride professionally. In 1996 he left cycling for college, which led to a career in the fast paced New York City publishing world. João’s wanderlust spirit took him on assignments with Hearst on titles such as Esquire Magazine that included working in Prague, Milan, San Francisco and New York. But the passion for the bike was always well rooted with João and eventually he became the Associate Publisher of Bicycling Magazine. With that he started to ride seriously again and eventually lost 60 pounds which led him back to the top echelon of professional cycling as a member of the Cervelo Test Team in a transformation that the New York Times called a remarkable athletic achievement.

CEO CLUB OF MARIN Presentation: Continue reading