Deep Empathetic engagement; human complexity, merciless rigor with deep empathy and intuition. Partnership not . Coaching not umpiring. Leadership not oversight. Teams not groups.
As an investor, board member, occasional leader, adviser, and coach, my core focus is working in partnership with founders, CEOs, senior management teams and boards on the difficult process of brainstorming that establishes the core direction and culture of the organization. I've helped establish, fix, and evolve visions, discover and evaluate opportunities, identify value traps, confront and triage unsuccessful ideas and operations, evolve and/or fix financial and operating structure, and build strong boards, creating decision-making cultures that are better at supporting leaders and at helping them drive and guard value.
My approach and perspective originated in my early days when I studied and advised large public companies in the midst of governance and performance controversies and shareholder challenges. In that work I came to be fascinated by the complexity, nuance, and weaknesses in how boards work with leaders and make decisions.
It's mythologized to be a rigorous, dispassionate, and evaluative process. But the reality is deeply personal, ituitive, and emotional - turning on intuition, conviction, instinct - and, not just those of leaders, but also of board members and shareholders who need to coalesce around and embrace the vision.
That realty leads to inefficiencies and breakdowns. The most notionally expert board particpants aren't trained or expert in the difficult process of engagement. People shy away from it. Sometimes, the issues and personalities leaqd to situations that are truly intractable. In those situations, the system tended to generate smoke, opacity, and conflict.
Mediating - much to the disappoitment of advisers, who earn their fees from conflict, and, activist ivestors, whose reputations result more from bullying and headlibnes than returns, I found that one could actually simply, and clairfy. Go back to the most basic decisions and procss.
After ten years in academia, I shifted to full-time engagement with companies as an investor, board member, and adviser, through Integrity Brands, which I established as a platform for investments and involvements in consumer-facing ventures. My core goal since then has been to create value through helping leaders and boards tackle the complexity of decision-making - and, to help build governance cultures that are better at doing so.
Based on what is now over 30 years of involvements, I try to bring a viewpoint that's both analytical - respectful of the data - and empathetic: attuned to the importance of convictions, belief systems, personal dynamics and agendas, and the ephemeral qualities that differentiate the culture. A process that focuses explicitly on those underlying realities can add a different kind of value - more fully reflecting and honoring the core determinants of success. Boards so attuned can better support conviction-driven leaders, even while critiquing them more closely and effectively and thus amplifying their visions.
One colleague - a former management team member at a company where I was an investor and board member, and with whom I've served on boards - was kind enough to say: "He has a tremendous ability to identify shortcomings within a management team and take action to enhance the team. His strategic thinking, ability to evaluate the needs of both small and large companies, and his capacity to understand the nuance of how management teams interact has proven invaluable."