Kaizen and Stoicism: Unlikely Bedfellows in the C-Suite?

I’m going to be too honest here. I’ve grown weary of the modern-day concepts on how companies operate. Meetings that could have been an email. Powerpoints that are walls of text. Way, way, WAY too many backend tools that don’t play well together and are more time killers than time savers. As I’ve evolved my practice as a fractional COO I’ve found myself researching, and often times weaving in, some age old concepts into modern ones that have produced more efficient, profitable, and happy (read: positive culture) clients. Apologies in advance for getting philosophical.   The Twin Stars: Kaizen and Stoicism   Kaizen, the Japanese philosophy of continuous improvement, thrives on the mantra of "change for better." Its close relatives in the modern corporate world would be Lean Management and Agile Methodology, both of which emphasize minimizing waste, continuous improvement, and delivering the most value with the least amount of resources.  Stoicism, on the other hand, is an anci

The 4 Customer Success Puzzle Pieces: A Fractional Executive's Approach

In the intricate world of Customer Success, success is akin to assembling a complex puzzle. Each piece represents a crucial aspect of delivering exceptional customer experiences, and it takes a seasoned eye to connect them effectively. As a Fractional Executive specializing in Customer Success, I've had the privilege of working with companies to identify and implement a comprehensive approach, connecting the four key puzzle pieces: Mechanics, People, Communication, and Development. Piece 1: Mechanics Mechanics form the foundation of any Customer Success strategy. This piece involves the nuts and bolts of your processes, systems, and tools. Here's how it fits into the bigger picture: Aligning Processes: Fractional Executives ensure that your processes align with your customer journey. From onboarding to support, each process should seamlessly contribute to customer satisfaction. Leveraging Technology: The right tech stack can streamline operations. Fractional Executives help id

Hiring a "Force Multiplier": The Affordable Solution to Scaling Your Company Profitably

  In the bustling late '90s, a conversation that would set the stage for 25 years of helping myriad CEOs transform and scale their companies took place. Sitting in a client’s office, we were deep into pitching the execution phase of a strategy development project. Gordon, a serial entrepreneur who had successfully navigated the tech boom of the '90s, paused, sat back in his chair, and said, “I’ve been on this path before. Your team is fantastic, but I don’t just need a consultant; I need business-card-carrying, employee-badge-wearing ally, fully invested in my vision.” That's when my partner, a 30-year C-suite veteran of a multi-billion-dollar high-tech company, leaned in and threw his hat in the ring, promising full dedication. Gordon was skeptical, “You'd be a force multiplier, but we can't afford your expertise on our current budget. The board would not allow it.” We were not talking "fractional" back then, but the essence was the same. The conver

Control Your Destiny

I love the phrase "control your destiny." When I tell a startup to do this, I mean "get to cash flow positive" because, at that point, they could theoretically survive without future external capital. And if they choose to raise more capital to pursue a strategic opportunity or grow more quickly, they can do so on their own terms. In other words, they are free to make the choices they need to make that are the best for their business. So I was intrigued when I saw a fantastic post from Y Combinator that aggregates advice for startups from a bunch of different VCs. One of the one-liners is "most companies don't die because they run out of money," which is likely true, but getting near cash out and getting forced to either raise at ugly terms or getting acquired at a low valuation, while not death, is also not a pleasant situation and no way to live! It's literally the opposite of controlling your destiny. So how do you control your destiny?  Big pi

The Dynamic Duo: Sales & Marketing

Even superheroes sometimes have a business to run! In the epic universe of business, sales and marketing are two superheroes, each with their unique powers. But like any iconic duo in the comic world, their combined strength is where the real magic happens. Marketing: The Signal in the Sky Just as Gotham looks to the Bat-Signal in times of need, the business world relies on marketing to send out its beacon. Marketing is the hero that crafts the narrative, ensuring the world knows of the impending product or service. With tools like captivating campaigns, compelling content, and meticulous market research, this superhero ensures that the citizens (potential customers) are aware and eager. And the stats back up its superpowers: according to ZoomInfo, when sales and marketing team up , businesses can soar with a 20%+ annual growth rate. Sales: The Heroic Rescuer Once the signal is in the sky, it's time for our second superhero to swoop in. Sales, with its charm and persuasive prowess,

Respect Your Limitations

Being a fractional isn't easy. I already blogged about the challenges to consider before going this route so I won't repeat them, but there are others I wanted to address: context switching not being able to coast required experience and expertise personal limitations Context Switching It is challenging having more than one client, whether fractional or otherwise, but if you're a fractional, you need to focus on a regular basis to get results. As a Fractional COO, since I run companies, I have to be available daily and the only way I've been able to do this is with strict time blocking.  This means that I literally have blocks on my calendar per each cilent/type of work I do, and I have synched my SavvyCal scheduling links per time block. So Client A can only schedule a meeting during the Client A time block, Client B during the Client B time block, etc.  I actually discussed this in detail with Shadi Yazdan on her podcast, The Raw Founder, which you can listen to here

Striking a Balance between Scalability and Being Human

In the world of high-growth business, where demand for scale and efficiency reigns supreme, there is a nuanced layer that often goes unnoticed: emotions. Beyond the spreadsheets and workflows, emotions play a profound role, influencing everything from employee engagement to customer loyalty. In fact, this emotional attachment is often what can deter a company from bringing in fractional operators - how could an “outsider” possibly understand their intricacies. Consider the common paths leveraged to scale a company:  Full-time resources are often too deep in the weeds and/or too embedded in interpersonal dynamics to effectively build for scale. External consultants can build countless workflows and process optimization playbooks, but they often don’t have the context or connection to influence how those plans land. In contrast, a great fractional operator strikes the right balance of efficiently diagnosing process gaps while addressing emotional attachment and resistance to change. Frac