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10 Things CEOs need to know to survive in 2020

The innumerable challenges and crises that arise more quickly each day are forcing CEOs to adopt a new skill set and a new mindset.

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“CEOs are facing a daunting new level of challenges around social media, technology, political standoffs, and stakeholder pressures, says Stephen Miles, CEO of The Miles Group/TMG. “How a CEO acts and reacts around these challenges and crisis events today – and gets the company on board around the changes necessary – will be the moment of reckoning for a company’s survival.”

The person in the CEO role today is very different as a whole from 10-15 years ago, says Miles. “The innumerable challenges and crises that arise more quickly each day are forcing CEOs to adopt a new skill set and a new mindset.”

Below are 10 factors Miles and his colleagues at TMG have identified as essential focus areas for CEOs entering 2020.

1. Handling “social emotional events.” 

As we move into a ‘social economy’ with leadership actions being scrutinized and judged by millions over social media, CEOs are learning the hard way the consequences of not addressing this reality – and it often translates into their leaving the company. Responding to or taking a stand on today’s ‘social emotional events’ or issues – from plastic waste to the NRA to LGBTQ issues – as well as to a company’s own crisis events requires a new CEO skill set of being able to connect with the public at a completely different level.

2. Shifting from a “know-it-all” to a “learn-it-all” company with a growth mindset. 

The story of Microsoft under the leadership of Satya Nadella is a powerful example of embracing what Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck has identified as a ‘growth mindset’ – and how this approach can save a company. Nadella took the same assets that the previous CEO had and has added more than $850 billion in market capitalization. He has focused on a cultural transformation, moving from the fixed mindset Microsoft had held onto for too long. Under his watch, Microsoft has shifted from a ‘know-it-all’ to a ‘learn-it-all’ company that is open to learning and new ideas. More companies can learn from Nadella’s model as nothing can be taken for granted any longer in today’s rapid business climate.

3. Prioritizing investment in a business’s digital future. 

Digitization of every business has been talked about for the past 20+ years, but we have finally reached the point where this is real. For companies not in the tech space, investing in digital development means focusing on the ‘business of tomorrow.’ Many of them are so focused on winning in the business of today that they risk being late or outright missing the transformation to digital. But getting a company to prioritize digitization is not like Star Trek where a CEO can just ‘Make it so.’ The CEO must make this imperative part of their drumbeat from the top so that it gets the attention and investment required. Digitization requires a real focus and investment in building the organizational capabilities needed for a company’s future success.

4. Training the company, and the CEO, as an Olympic athlete.

The pattern of a company’s adding some excess during a good run and then shedding the excess when the run was over is coming to an end. Today, many CEOs see their companies as Olympic athletes – where it’s essential to maintain a top level of ‘fitness’ at all times and it’s everyone’s role to stay focused and not allow excess to creep in. CEOs themselves are also prioritizing their own fitness to stay sharp and withstand the physical toll of working in today’s very demanding global business climate with extensive travel, 24/7 communications, and more – a far cry from the wining-and-dining CEO of before.

5. Getting ahead of ESG “fails”.

The ESG – environmental, social, and governance – agenda for many CEOs has gone from altruism to ‘license to operate.’ ESG is the new normal. With plastic, for example, the companies affected have largely lost the narrative. The story has moved from ‘waste is bad’ to ‘plastic is bad,’ with plastic becoming the symbol for single-use excess. Corporations today need to stay out in front of the narrative before it gets hijacked and then turns their entire business model on its head. It is now sport to shame corporations and build a critical public mass to drive an agenda, so CEOs must stay hyper-attuned to the emerging issues that could pushed by stakeholders anytime.

6. Adapting to “shop local” as a possible new reality for supply chains.

Most multinational corporations have set up their supply chains to be truly global, but the 25-year business model developed around free trade and the frictionless movement of goods is now under real threat through trade disputes and protectionist policies. Companies are trying to assess whether this is merely a Trump administration blip or a new era of global protectionism threatening their existing business models and supply chains. If this is the new reality, many companies will have to shift their business models to a more local approach, which will cost more and take time to fully adjust. Many arbitrage opportunities around labor and other costs will be lost if companies are limited to more local markets for production.

7. Bracing for stronger regulatory action.

From heightened privacy concerns around technology companies to the newly appointed CEO of Boeing Corporation saying that the company now welcomes oversight, regulators around the world are finding a new sense of power – supported by a growing populist movement and an increased disdain for the corporation. Taking on monopolies is another area of focus, as the technology space has shifted dramatically in the two decades since the DOJ took on Microsoft, a company far less of a monopolist than what exists in many areas of technology today. We’re likely to see more actions taking on monopolists to either break them up or regulate them with a much heavier hand of the law.

8. Building competitive muscle as growth gets harder.

Every CEO we have advised over the past decade would tell you that each year has been harder than the previous year to find growth. In a ‘hard growth’ economy, the only way for companies to grow is to take market share from others, but the relentless focus inward on cost-cutting and disciplines such as zero-based budgeting have made it difficult to find executives who have built enough of a competitive muscle. CEOs will need their teams to get out of their more internally focused thinking and embrace a market-based approach that is driven by calculated risk-taking and creativity.

9. Preparing now for the next synchronized global recession.

Many industrial companies have been feeling recessionary pressures for the past six to eight months, and this is a worry for many CEOs. While the consumer remains strong, there are signs of the next recession being closer rather than further away. The swing card is the 2020 election and the potential for the Trump administration to complete further rounds of a workable trade deal with China. A deal would take a considerable amount of uncertainty off the table and likely extend the expansion for a period of time.

10. Shifting from linear leadership to managing to an outcome.

Companies are increasingly moving away from the vertical corporation, with its silos and asymmetries of information and linear paths to achieving goals. In today’s highly matrixed organization, executives must also lead horizontally, working with others and collaborating in a way that requires a lot more range to their leadership toolkits. They must consider the direct and indirect constituencies that will influence their strategic objectives. We have moved away from linear ‘Point A to Point B’ leadership – it is now about managing to an outcome.

“What all these actions have in common is a hypervigilance to external factors,” says Miles. “The always-on, 360-degree CEO who takes in input from everywhere and adapts quickly is the one who will outperform.”

Strategies

Save money and score energy savings

Small changes around the workplace now can deliver big energy savings particularly during colder months ahead.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected the profits of businesses; and yet expenses may remain the same – e.g. energy consumption – so that companies need to reconsider their approaches until things normalize.

Here, Georgia Power is reminding customers that small changes around the workplace now can deliver big energy savings particularly during colder months ahead.

  • Let the Sun Shine In – Keeping the blinds and shades open during the day is a no-cost way to naturally heat your workplace. Close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
  • Let it Flow – Heating and cooling accounts for as much as 50% of a venue’s typical energy usage during colder seasons. Maximize the efficiency of your units ahead of cold weather by changing the filters once a month, or every three months for pleated filters.
  • Thinking Thermostats – Install a smart programmable thermostat that automatically adjusts the workplace’s temperature settings when you are away from the venue and save in energy costs.
  • Caulk & Strip – Replace cracked or peeling caulk or weather stripping around doors and windows to save up to 10% on energy use
  • It’s Great to Insulate – Keep heat where it belongs with proper insulation in attics and walls to help save energy 24/7.

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Strategies

Financial tips to help prepare for the unexpected

Over the past year, most people have noticed how truly unpredictable life can be. While it’s impossible to predict what the next few months have in store, practicing a few fundamental financial skills can help you prepare for whatever comes next.

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Over the past year, most people have noticed how truly unpredictable life can be. While it’s impossible to predict what the next few months have in store, practicing a few fundamental financial skills can help you prepare for whatever comes next.

“According to a survey by Bank of America, 42% of (people) say their top financial goal over the next three months is to increase their savings,” said April Schneider, head of consumer and small business products at Bank of America. “The pandemic has highlighted the importance of building a safety net. Whether you’re looking to improve your current financial habits or starting from scratch, the most important thing is to make a plan that fits your needs and to stick with it.”

Consider these tips from Schneider:

Track your expenses. Review your expenses, big and small, and separate them into categories like groceries, transportation, utilities and entertainment. Then total the amounts in each category to get a better picture of your monthly expenses. Knowing how much you spend each month is the first step toward finding money to save.

Make a plan and set a budget. Categorize your expenses into wants versus needs. Groceries, rent and mortgage payments are examples of needs while streaming services are a want. Compare your expenses against your total household income to figure out if you have money left over to save or if you can find money to save by reducing your spending on nonessentials. For example, keep an eye out for phantom charges – or reoccurring payments – you may no longer need and redirect that money into savings.

“If you’re already saving, that’s great,” Schneider said. “Review your behaviors and see if there’s room for improvement. It’s also not too late if you haven’t begun saving – everyone has to start somewhere.”

Also keep in mind your budget is meant to adapt with your circumstances, so make sure you’re updating your budget as your life changes.

Make savings automatic. Saving can fit seamlessly into your everyday life when you set up automatic transfers from a checking to a savings account. Saving automatically helps prepare you for the future without adding to your to-do list. You can start small by automatically transferring a few dollars each week.

Build an emergency fund. Take a look at your current expenses versus total income to identify any extra wiggle room where you can save. Next put your emergency savings in a separate, but accessible, account to avoid temptation and accidental overspending.

“When building an emergency fund, I recommend saving enough money to cover 3-6 months of expenses,” Schneider said. “Contributing to an emergency fund keeps saving a priority and ensures you have financial flexibility should the unexpected occur.”

Use spending tools for savvy savings. Being a better saver means becoming a smarter spender. While looking for deals and price shopping can be helpful, there are times when it’s better to spend a little more for quality. For example, buying a more costly refrigerator may pay off in the long run compared to buying a cheaper option that could break down after a few months.

Another way to be a smarter spender is by earning rewards on your everyday purchases. Whether you’ve seen your costs shift from in-person to delivery services, using a card that adapts and rewards your spending can be a valuable asset.

While you may not know what the future holds, planning and actively taking steps can help you feel more secure and prepared for whatever it brings.

Find more tips at bettermoneyhabits.com.

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Strategies

5 Ways to save big on everyday essentials

People are concerned about the economic impact the pandemic will have on their lives. These economic concerns are leading shoppers to seek out more ways to save. With the convenience and flexibility online shopping provides, many customers are turning to e-retailers to find those must-have items.

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With many people spending more time at home, they are also using more common household items such as cleaning supplies, pantry items and snacks, among other things.

According to a Harris Poll survey, people are concerned about the economic impact the pandemic will have on their lives. These economic concerns are leading shoppers to seek out more ways to save. With the convenience and flexibility online shopping provides, many customers are turning to e-retailers to find those must-have items.

To help busy and budget-conscious shoppers, Woot!, the Amazon-owned daily deals site, launched a grocery and household category to offer deals on everyday essentials.

Consider these five ways shoppers can save time and money when making household purchases.

1. Compare prices.

One benefit of shopping online versus in-store is you can look across different brands to compare prices in real time. By seeing available brands and pricing in one place, you can save more and make the best purchase choices for your household.  

2. Take advantage of deals.

When you shop in a store, you’re confined to the deals and selection the store is offering at the time of your trip. When you shop online, you aren’t limited to the store’s offerings, often allowing you to score better deals and browse a larger selection.

3. Save time exploring virtual aisles.

Shopping at a store can be time consuming. Consider virtual grocery and household shopping, and unlike in-person aisles, virtual aisles hide categories when selection is unavailable so you won’t waste your time and can be confident items you’re looking at are available at a discount.

4. Customize your shopping experience. 

The flexibility and convenience of shopping online can save you time. Since you aren’t shopping in-store, you don’t have to worry about store hours and locations, giving you the flexibility to shop at all hours and from any location, as long as you have Wi-Fi and access to a computer or mobile device. With the ability to shop around your schedule, you can gain precious time to spend with the people you love, doing the things you love.

5. Benefit from membership perks.

Another perk of online shopping is being able to leverage membership benefits to save more. Some retailers offer member-based programs or partner to offer members of certain programs discounts.

Between the vast selection, price options and convenience of shopping from home, there are many ways shoppers can save big on time and money as they shop for everyday essentials and household must-haves. 

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