Jay Dettling needs newly hired employees at Acquity Group to hit the ground running and quickly become productive members of his team. The digital marketing company focuses on helping customers engage their clients and has grown between 30 and 40 percent annually for more than a decade.
The bar has been set high and Dettling will continue to push it higher as the company grows beyond 700 employees. But that doesn’t mean he is naive to the fact that hiring is an inexact science or that other companies out there are pursuing the same top talent that he wants to bring to Acquity Group, which is part of Accenture Interactive.
“One of our biggest challenges, and inherently my biggest challenge, is building the organization and recruiting the people we’re adding to the organization,” Dettling says. “We’re competing with our competitors to offer our employees a value proposition that is compelling. But we’re also competing with our partners, who in many cases are our technology partners who are trying to grow their staff to provide their services to clients.”
Dettling looked at the process Acquity Group used to make hires and felt it needed a makeover.
“What I decided to do was reorganize the recruiting group and more closely align it with our hiring managers, the people that are running the delivery groups,” Dettling says. “The solutions were focused on bringing the recruiting team and the hiring managers more closely together so they shared their goals. What are we trying to do and how are we going about doing that?”
It wouldn’t make the process perfect, but that wasn’t his goal. Dettling was confident that with more alignment and communication between the people with needs and the people trying to fill those needs, it would lead to better hiring results.
“That is a choice we need to make to be successful and it has helped propel our growth,” Dettling says. “Other companies have other priorities and they aren’t as focused on recognizing their employees as such a large asset.”
Open the dialogue
Dettling wanted to establish metrics that would enable the company to better track the hires that were made and whether or not they worked out. But he also wanted to spur regular dialogue to talk about the process and what was working and what wasn’t.
“There is no shortage of questions that come up along the recruiting process in terms of fit and experience level and all that sort of stuff,” Dettling says. “What we wanted to do was create an environment where we could address those questions quickly and foster better communication between the teams.”
He wants to avoid a situation where a manager needs a person and basically tells the recruiting team, “Hey, go get us someone who can do this job.” He wants everyone to work together to find the best person for that job.
“We restructured some of our weekly meetings so that we had people with an eye on shared goals, on the metrics and on communicating more openly and more quickly with each other,” Dettling says. “We wanted to improve our responsiveness as it relates to understanding, ‘Should we offer this? Is that experience good enough for what we’re looking for?’”
Dettling’s goal is to remove the guesswork so the people doing the interviewing know the answers to these questions. He also wants to build stronger brand awareness so that candidates not only understand the job description, but what it is that Acquity Group represents.
“We had spent a lot of time building the brand with prospective customers, but had not as heavily built it with prospective candidates,” Dettling says. “That’s really important in recruiting.”
Dettling turned to his employees to share their personal insights as to what it’s like to work at Acquity Group. When you get your employees engaged in selling the high points of your company, you’ll create a new energy and make your organization more inviting to potential new hires.
“Have some existing employees provide some testimonials online so people can read the job description, as well as a whole wealth of information they can consume to form an impression,” Dettling says.
Get the answers you need
One mistake that is easy to make when interviewing job candidates is failing to probe for more detail when you ask about past experience.
“You have to be keenly focused on understanding what the candidates have done themselves versus what they and their team have accomplished,” Dettling says. “Many times, it’s easy to fall into a natural conversation flow with a candidate and you’ve asked for experience, and they start to talk about what their team accomplished.
“You have to be focused on understanding what they did. What did they bring to that team? What approach did they bring to the table? What key decisions did they make? Try to isolate what that person contributed versus what their organization, project team or department actually accomplished.”
It’s a crucial point for Dettling because his company is all about coming up with unique and innovative marketing solutions for its clients. He needs people who can think on their feet and satisfy those clients.
With that in mind, Dettling likes to provide interviewees with a case or challenge that they need to solve.
“In a case meeting, we present them with a challenge that is like a client challenge that we face,” Dettling says. “See how they react to shreds of information to fill out a complete story and reach a conclusion. That’s another way we can measure if they can act on their feet or if they struggle when they don’t have every data point from A to Z.”
Dettling steps back for a moment and shares that a person who isn’t as quick on his or her feet can still be a great contributor to your organization.
“Evaluate the candidates who can work in ambiguous situations and extend from that ambiguity and create structure so you can accomplish a goal,” Dettling says. “Separate them or differentiate them against those who work better in a structured environment. Frankly, we need both and we need to put them in two buckets.”
Never stop learning
If you’re hired at Acquity Group, your relationship with the recruiting team does not end after your first day, first week or even your first year on the job.
“The team is comprised basically of our recruiting team and our professional staff management, basically our practice leaders,” Dettling says. “They oversee the on-boarding of our employees and their overall career path. It’s a full life cycle for our employees. The team that brings them on board is the team that also manages their career. If we know this person’s strengths and weaknesses, we know how to effectively put them in the best position to be successful and to deliver value for our clients.”
You need to make time to keep an eye on the future. Think about what your people are doing now and what you might need them to do going forward.
“We have a lot of folks that are mapping our project opportunities to the expertise we have amongst our staff,” Dettling says. “There’s a daily, if not hourly focus on what are the skills and experience that our clients are looking for. We are always looking for ways we can help our employees grow and expand and be challenged.”
Expectations need to be on the table during the interview phase and they need to be adhered to so your people understand their role in your organization. That doesn’t mean they can’t be changed, but you at least need a baseline from which to work.
“Everyone is much better informed as to what the path to success is with that candidate as opposed to a situation where someone creates a job requisition and then someone just hires them and the employee shows up and never shall the three coordinate and collaborate,” Dettling says.
Take the time to think about who you are as a company and whether you’re meeting the expectations that you have set for yourself and your business.
“What are your value propositions?” Dettling says. “Make sure you actually believe what you’re saying relative to what you tell your job candidates.”
And here’s one final piece of advice for how to know when you’ve got a good candidate across from the table at an interview.
“The best candidates we bring on board are the ones that convert,” Dettling says. “They might be listening, listening, listening and then they turn to engage and then they turn to actively asking a lot of questions and demonstrating a lot of interest. Initially, it’s ‘Tell me what you have to offer’ and then it flips. They are the aggressor selling themselves. That’s the ideal path. If it doesn’t follow that pattern, it’s probably not set up for a good outcome.” •
- Get your recruiting and delivery groups on the same page.
- Know how your people think.
- Show the way to growth.
The Dettling File:
Name: Jay Dettling
Company: Acquity Group
Born: South Bend, Ind.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in economics, University of Notre Dame; master’s in business administration in marketing and finance, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University.
What is special to you about your Notre Dame experience? It was a positive environment to be part of and a very spirit-filled and energized group of people.
What was your first job and what did you learn from it? Mowing lawns and then I was a newspaper delivery boy. I think I got my entrepreneurial lawn business to three lawns and then I said, ‘I think I can scale this faster being a newspaper delivery boy.’ It was the South Bend Tribune. It taught me the importance of customer service, punctuality and how weather can affect your job.
Who has been your biggest influence? What I’ve tried to do is really glean a lot of attributes from a variety of people who have been leaders in my life or people who I’ve looked up to. I think you’re always in a state of learning. I try to approach every conversation with the idea that I can learn something and be self-reflective if I have the opportunity to be after that interaction.
Dettling on making changes: Be open-minded to refine what’s not working. Ask questions to all people involved in that process about what’s not working or what you could be doing better. There may be things you assume are really working well that aren’t working really well or they were last month, but conditions change and maybe that approach doesn’t work as well now. It’s an important part of your business. Manage it as a dynamic process.
How to reach: Acquity Group, (312) 427-2470 or www.acquitygroup.com
What happens when all your hopes, your dreams and all your excitement about the future are smashed to pieces in an instant? One moment you’re on the road to being the best in the world and the next — well, you feel empty.
As we begin 2014, many fans of the Chicago Bulls are still processing feelings of despair and heartbreak over the loss of Derrick Rose to a second major knee injury in less than two years. The devastating injury on Nov. 22 leaves the Bulls on a similar path to the one the team followed last season. Rose’s teammates will likely step it up again and grind out wins under the leadership of Coach Tom Thibodeau.
Chance of a miracle fades
They won’t give up on their dreams of a title, but realistically, the Bulls are out of the running as far as this season is concerned. And unlike last season, when many held out hope Rose would come back and save the day, there is no expectation of a miracle this time.
So what do you do when there is seemingly no hope to achieve the goals you had set for yourself or your organization?
There are a number of business leaders who look at the current state of the U.S. economy and see no hope. They see companies laying off employees, and others shuttering branch offices or cutting back on what they do.
Things just aren’t going to get better, they mutter to themselves. We’ll keep going out there every day to crank out the widgets and sell to the customers we’ve got, but we’re never going to be the business we thought we were going to be.
If that’s the attitude you take toward your company, you’re right. You never will be that business of your dreams. Going back to the Bulls, some people wouldn’t blame Rose’s teammates if they didn’t work quite as hard at practice or didn’t take that charge under the basket. The odds that they’ll win an NBA title this year are slim.
But they haven’t given up and they haven’t stopped fighting for every loose ball. Part of it is no doubt the leadership of Thibodeau who won’t let them simply go through the motions before trying again next season.
Optimism must step in
You can’t dwell on the things that are holding you back and then use those obstacles as an excuse for your failures. Change your strategy. Find another way to reach new customers or develop new products and services. Look for other ways you can meet the needs of the customers you already have.
Most importantly, come into work with a sense of optimism about the future and about what your business can be.
One cautionary note: This doesn’t mean you lie to your employees or pretend that the challenges your business faces don’t exist. All that does is make you seem out of touch and deflate the confidence of your people. Be realistic about those challenges, but engage your team to find solutions. Allow them to show the talent that led you to hire them in the first place.
If you have to reset your goals, then do it.
Just don’t give up. When you do that, there really is no hope.
Mark Scott is senior associate editor of Smart Business Chicago. If you have an interesting story to share about a person or business making a difference in Chicago, please send an email to email@example.com
Leaders who execute well are more likely to add to the bottom line, be on the fast track to success and earn additional growth opportunities.
One particular cohort of leaders I worked with recently identified experts across their company, interviewed them and summarized the critical skills of execution that emerged from the discussions. These critical skills of execution include:
Know the vision and strategy
Successful execution begins with knowing the end goal and establishing a clear strategy to achieve it. Planning and preparation are key factors, but take care to not overcommit, which may lead to discouragement and burnout among employees.
Break a large goal into smaller deliverables and establish SMART criteria: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. Be clear on the path to the goal and include timelines and intermediate targets to measure progress. Yet, when necessary, modify tactics to suit the situation. Know the priorities of all people on the team and encourage effective oversight with a team focused intently on execution.
Drive for results
Ensure things are done as planned and that people responsible for executing the strategy are taking ownership and committed to due dates and deliverables. Document with metrics and goals, and be specific. Ensure everyone on the team is engaged and aligned with the desired outcomes. Make the metrics transparent for everyone to see progress, yet keep it simple to avoid any risk of confusion among team members.
Provide regular feedback along the way and recognize individual needs and differences as you incorporate this understanding into your discussions. It is very important to keep individuals motivated in a way that is personalized. Engage in routine dialogue to track issues, follow up and identify barriers. Don’t overlook the importance of face-to-face interactions. Where possible, keep things positive to keep positive energy in the team. Empower people; put decisions in their hands to “make it happen,” always in a positive way.
Everyone needs to feel he or she is getting something out of the negotiation. Have a realistic idea of a final compromise. Package negotiating points together so that the people you are negotiating with feel they are getting more. Finally, consider the best alternative to no agreement.
Leaders who execute effectively are excellent models for their employees to emulate. They have a clear vision of what is important and a strategy to achieve it. They align key stakeholders and ensure timely decisions and oversight. While they hold employees to a high standard with clear goals and deliverables, they know boundaries and are willing to set limits — and go to bat for their teams when enough is enough. They drive for results by continually tracking processes, giving timely feedback, building and sustaining critical relationships, and keeping energy high and the tone positive.
One final point seems important to emphasize. In my experience, leaders who execute effectively are also humble about their own roles in the process. It is about the tasks at hand and how to create the right culture to have everyone feel responsible and valued in the process. Leaders have an obligation to help the team be recognized, and help team members gain visibility for their contributions. Employees will go to great lengths to support a leader who puts team members first.
Jay Colker, D.M., MBA, M.A., is core faculty for the master of arts in counseling and organizational psychology program at the Adler School of Professional Psychology. Colker also maintains a human capital consulting practice, is founder of Crowdsourced Coaching, and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (312) 213-3421. To learn more about Colker, visit crowdsourcedcoaching.com/about-us/
Andrew Berlin used straight-up leadership to turn around a struggling packaging company and baseball teamWritten by Mark G Scott
Alco Packaging was a troubled company when Melvin Berlin purchased it in 1988. At the time, he offered his son, Andrew, the chance to be part of the negotiating process and then serve as general counsel and director of marketing at the newly acquired company. Within a year, Andrew became the company’s president.
A second-year associate at a Chicago law firm, Andrew had grown up soaking in every bit of knowledge he could from his father about how to succeed in the working world.
“I didn’t know he was my mentor at the time, I just knew he was my dad, and I looked up to him and respected him greatly,” Berlin says.
“The thought at that time was we would be in this company together and would turn it around, make it a nice company and flip it in a few years,” he says. “But here we sit 25 ½ years later, and I never got around to flipping it.”
When the Berlins bought Alco, sales were at $69 million. Today, the company — now known as Berlin Packaging LLC — is pushing $800 million in sales and has 535 employees.
“I give my father a lot of credit,” says Berlin, who now serves as chairman and CEO. “He had a lot of faith in me, gave me the opportunity and trusted me enough to do what I felt needed to be done to turn the company around and not only make it profitable, but turn it into a juggernaut.”
For many leaders, the success Berlin achieved rebuilding the packaging business would be enough to leave behind an impressive legacy. But it wasn’t enough for Berlin.
In 2011, he bought the South Bend Silver Hawks, the Class A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Based a little more than an hour away in South Bend, Ind., the team was another troubled organization that needed an infusion of strong leadership and passion to get things turned around.
Berlin, who is also a limited partner with the Chicago White Sox, was confident he was just the man for the job.
“What I provide is a lot of money and a lot of tyranny,” says Berlin, the minor league baseball team’s chairman and owner. “And tyranny is with a small ‘t.’ It’s not really tyranny. I just have a lot of great ideas.”
Put your cards on the table
When Berlin got his first taste of leadership at the company that would soon become Berlin Packaging, he had two things working against him.
“I was young and I was a lawyer,” Berlin says. “It was very difficult, but the company was sinking, and we had to make dramatic changes. But I learned how to be a good recruiter. I focused on creating a sense of Camelot where you could finally do and be and behave and accomplish the things and engage in your dreams in a way you never could before.”
The key component of Berlin’s turnaround plan was the psychological contract he made between the company and its employees. It would later become the subject of a case study in the book, “The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First” by Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
It lays out a series of promises that the company will make to its employees. In return, there is a list of expectations to which the company will hold employees accountable.
“It’s a deal we make on day one,” Berlin says. “I promise to give you these things and you promise to give me all these things. This is how we’re going to govern and measure our relationship.
“At the end of the day, we didn’t hold any patents where nobody else could sell the product we were selling. It was a very competitive industry. So we had to create a competitive advantage through our people.”
Here are the five things Berlin promised his employees:
- Outstanding compensation — “We’re going to pay you superior compensation, not competitive compensation. I’m talking about significantly more pay for the same job than anyone else.”
- Growth — “We will give you a chance to grow in your position, your compensation, your title and intellectually, we will help you grow as a businessperson.”
- Strong leadership — “This company is going to invest dollars, time and energy in making sure not just that good leaders are in the executive suite, but at every level of the organization.”
- A helping hand — “We’ve had instances where family members passed or someone needed help with money or their home burned down, and we wrote them a check to help them replace their wardrobe overnight without expectation of being paid back.”
- Skill development — “We’re going to invest in training. That won’t get cut because it’s important you be better the next day than you were the day before.”
In return for these promises, Berlin laid out his own expectations for his team.
“I expect you to help us increase our profit,” Berlin says. “You either have to help this company sell more, reduce our operating expenses or improve our productivity. Those are the only three ways to be more profitable.”
As an employee, you are also expected to be productive, be a contributing member of the team-oriented culture, embrace innovation and be 100 percent loyal to the organization.
“Only when there is trust can you criticize each other,” Berlin says. “You can fight with your friends and your family, and it’s alright, as long as you trust each other. If you don’t trust each other, that conflict can get pretty ugly.”
The numbers would support the notion that Berlin’s contract with his employees has been a smashing success, but like anything in life, it hasn’t been perfect, and it has required significant effort.
“In order to pull this off, you need good leaders to believe it, teach it, intellectualize it, communicate it and hold people accountable to it,” Berlin says. “The process and the policies and the leadership around this T-chart took a lot of work to create. What a lot of companies get focused on is the short term.”
Berlin has never forgotten a saying from his father about the fleeting nature of great ideas such as the one he had for a contract between his company and its employees.
“My father once told me that anyone who has ever had a shower has had a good idea,” Berlin says. “Every company has a bucket full of good ideas. The difference isn’t the good ideas; it’s whether or not you’ve found the right person to execute them. Did you train them well? Do you have a retention strategy to keep them there?”
And are you willing to accept that all great ideas don’t need to originate with you?
“Don’t let anybody believe you think you’re the smartest guy in the room,” Berlin says. “You’re not. You just have a unique perspective. The best ideas in our company don’t come from the executive suite. They come from the people who are really doing the job and making things happen.”
Berlin found strong leaders at the packaging company, and he took a similar approach when he bought the Silver Hawks. He hired a strong team president named Joe Hart and let him do his job while keeping the focus on being the best. He figured out who had the best ballpark hot dogs, who played the best music and who had the most lovable mascot, and quickly adopted each item or concept for his own team.
And to gather names and contact information for a customer database, Berlin launched Flat Screen Fridays. At each Friday night home game, the team would giveaway a flat-screen TV every inning. Fans would fill out their contact information on each entry form and in less than two years, Berlin had more than 200,000 names that he could call on to see how he was doing in satisfying his customers.
“It’s doing everything first-class,” Berlin says. “It’s really focusing on that customer thrill, that surprise and delight and being able to measure it, quantify it and change the way you do business to get people to want to do business with you and to promote you, which helps you grow.”
Berlin looks deeply at each touch point in his business. At Berlin Packaging, it’s the conversation with a sales person, the delivery and the response when there is a problem. For the baseball team, it’s what you see when you drive up to the ballpark, what you smell on the concourse and what you hear when you’re sitting in your seat.
It all begins with a healthy relationship between you and your employees.
- Set clear expectations.
- Build trusting relationships.
- Be the best.
The Berlin File:
Name: Andrew T. Berlin
Title: Chairman and CEO, Berlin Packaging LLC; chairman and owner, South Bend Silver Hawks
Born: Highland Park, Ill.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in political science, Syracuse University; law degree, Loyola University Chicago.
Who has had the biggest influence on you? My father. He taught me the measure of a person is not based on a W-2. It’s based on a warm heart and a kind soul. To that end, I begin every relationship with the expectation that until someone gives me a reason not to, I believe in it.
Berlin on working hard without results: If you have an employee who is putting in the effort, usually you can find a way to turn that effort into profit and help them work smarter. Someone can work 10, 12 or 14 hours, but I’m not sure all of that work is smart. What are you doing during your day? Let’s do timesheets together to break into categories over the next couple of weeks what you’re doing, and how you’re doing it. Together, we might discover some activities that aren’t yielding results.
Berlin on creating value: If you’re going to do something, do it first class. I hate value engineering. I like going in and doing everything just so because I think my customer or my fan is going to appreciate that they get a first-class experience at a very fair price. That’s what leads people to say, ‘I’m spending this money on this, but I feel like I’m getting something really great in return.’
Joseph James Slawek - Six areas you need to be cognizant of when planning the future of your businessWritten by Joseph Slawek
Strategic succession is essential in every work group within an organization, not just CEOs. It touches all aspects of the business: family ownership responsibilities, boards, executive teams, management teams, work groups and even new employee on-boarding.
Here are six key areas that make up a complete and successful succession at any level.
The transfer of knowledge, skills and abilities
The first step in succession is to systematically move competency to the next generation of owners, leaders, managers and workers. This is done through targeted education, new work experiences, exposure to positive and negative results, individual coaching and thoughtful mentoring.
Keep in mind that real succession means that we will have to accept occasional — hopefully brief — periods of reduced performance in order to have a greater future gain.
The transfer of income and wealth
A well-planned upfront compensation program lubricates the wheels of succession. Clarity is important not as a carrot on a stick, but as a marker on the succession track.
The question, “What is in it for me?” is a legitimate and honest one. Planning the compensation transfer in advance keeps engagement high and avoids the distraction of ambiguous promises. With respect to ownership, it includes the well-planned generational transfer of wealth.
The transfer of authority, control and accountability
In the case of a newly appointed department manager, the transfer of the departmental budgeting and expense process must be complete. In the case of the newly appointed CEO, the transfer of the strategic planning process including authority, control and accountability must be complete.
The transfer of these three dimensions truly ensures that the ownership for the work is also fully transferred.
The transfer of roles and responsibilities
Oftentimes, roles and responsibilities are cultural. For example, who opens the meeting? Who sets the agenda? Who speaks first or last? These cultural markers are very important tools that stabilize the culture.
You want the company to improve, change, grow and prosper. At the same time, you want a very strong and steady culture that remains healthy and integrated. Roles, especially cultural roles, become traditions and offer people stability despite the changes that succession brings.
The transfer of people, things and money
We are entrusted with the duty to care for three important “others.” Author Dennis Peacocke says, “We grow by caring for other people, things and money.” I have found that this caring for other people, other people’s things and other people’s money is what best builds our character and is an important action to transfer to the next generation of owners, leaders, managers and workers.
The transfer of risk management and risk elimination
Succession isn’t complete until the risk management and elimination — of both seen and unseen risks — has been transferred to the next generation. Either the successor becomes the risk manager and eliminator, or the succession has not been completed.
Joseph James Slawek is the founder, chairman and CEO of FONA International, a full-service flavor company serving some of the largest food, beverage, nutraceutical and pharmaceutical companies in the world. For more information, visit www.fona.com or call (630) 578-8600.
Ohio is now viewed as one of the leading states in the asset protection arena, thanks to the passage of the Ohio Legacy Trust Act, says Marcia Kendle, Senior Vice President and Chief Fiduciary Officer at FirstMerit Bank.
The law, which went into effect March 27, 2013, as part of Ohio House Bill 479, allows for the creation of self-settled irrevocable trusts – also known as domestic asset protection trusts (DAPTs). These trusts permit the transferor of assets to also be the beneficiary of the trust. An Ohio DAPT provides a high level of protection from creditors dependent upon certain factors, says Kendle.
“A qualified Ohio DAPT is different from a standard irrevocable trust in that it serves as a means to protect assets -- with a few statutory exceptions -- from creditors,” she says. “The Ohio Legacy Trust Act puts Ohio at the forefront.”
Trusts of this kind, which provide an alternative to potentially riskier offshore trusts, are gaining in popularity. With trillions of dollars ready to pass from one generation to the next in the coming years, DAPTs are becoming an increasingly attractive option. As legislatures nationwide consider similar asset protection measures, Ohio joined 13 other states -- most notably Alaska, Delaware and Nevada -- that permit domestic asset protection trusts.
If you’re thinking about creating an Ohio DAPT, here are some things to consider"
Who can benefit from an Ohio DAPT?
Due to the complexities of the act, you should discuss your individual circumstances and goals with an experienced trust attorney, financial planner and/or wealth management professional to determine if an Ohio DAPT, or perhaps another asset protection planning strategy, is in your best interest. The act generally presents considerable benefits to those wanting to protect their wealth, as well as individuals in professions with high exposure to litigation (e.g., business owners, accountants, attorneys, medical professionals, executives, etc.). For individuals considering a prenuptial agreement, an Ohio DAPT is viewed as a viable option for an individual yet to be married.
What are the requirements and restrictions associated with creating an Ohio DAPT?
An Ohio DAPT must, amongst other items, be written and irrevocable, have spendthrift provisions, state that Ohio law applies and appoint at least one qualified trustee, who is either an Ohio resident, a bank, or a trust company, such as FirstMerit Bank, authorized to operate in Ohio. The statute also mandates that the transferor of an Ohio DAPT cannot serve as trustee of the trust.
Residents of any state may create an Ohio DAPT, providing that some of the trust assets are held in Ohio and that other regulations of the Ohio Legacy Trust Act are fulfilled.
What rights and powers can the creator of an Ohio DAPT retain?
The transferor retains the right to receive income from the trust, receive and use assets (within the trustee’s discretion) in the trust, remove a trustee and appoint a new trustee, appoint a protector of the trust, be the investment advisor to the trust, retain the power to change the beneficiaries of the trust (per restrictions detailed in the statute), provide for the use of trust income or assets to pay income taxes generated by the trust, pay debts after death and veto distributions from the trust.
How does the creator of the trust obtain full protection that might be available under the Ohio Legacy Trust Act?
When transferring assets to an Ohio DAPT, the transferor is required to execute an affidavit, consistent with the timing of the transfer of assets stating, among other things, that he or she is not insolvent and is not considering filing for bankruptcy. There are additional steps that should be taken as detailed in the Act and as unique circumstances of a creator may dictate.
Are all debts and payments protected under the Ohio Legacy Trust Act?
No. Exemptions include child support, spousal support or alimony (unless an Ohio DAPT was validly set up prior to marriage), as well as IRS obligations. These exceptions are consistent with DAPTs in most other states, although other states may include additional and more far-reaching exemptions in their DAPT statutes.
What about claims from creditors?
The current untested consensus is that the provisions of the Ohio Legacy Trust Act make it difficult for creditors to challenge an Ohio DAPT and prevail. For example, according to the Act, a creditor has the burden of proving, through “clear and convincing evidence,” that a transfer to a DAPT was made with “specific intent to defraud the specific creditor bringing the action.” Additionally, a creditor must file an action to void a transfer within the later of 18 months after a transfer, or six months after a creditor should have reasonably known a transfer occurred.
Marcia Kendle is the senior vice president and chief fiduciary officer at FirstMerit Bank
The information contained herein is being provided as general information of an educational nature and is intended for current and prospective clients of the Trust Department of FirstMerit Bank, N.A. Also, this information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate and reliable and FirstMerit Bank, N.A. makes no representation as to its’ completeness and acknowledges that due to the complexity of the subject matter relevant information is not complete. This information is not intended to be legal, financial or tax advice and is not a covered opinion as defined by the IRS Circular 230. For advice that is specific to your circumstances, you should consult a qualified financial, tax and/or legal adviser.
If you were to assemble some of the world’s outstanding business leaders in one place and ask them their secret to sleeping well at night amid the pressures of running a successful business, you might think you’d collect the best tips to handling anxiety in the business world.
The truth is that top business leaders often don’t have a secret to reveal — they rely on the strength and confidence they’ve developed over the years.
At the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year conference, held earlier this year in Monaco, EY Entrepreneur Of The Year country winners assembled to compete for the World Entrepreneur Of The Year title.
We took the opportunity to collect the thoughts of the world’s most accomplished entrepreneurs — innovators, futurists, turnaround specialists and problem solvers — about dealing with worries. ●
“There’s nothing that keeps me up at night. I sleep very well. The challenge we have as a company is to keep delivering the culture we have created and expand it, keep evolving at the speed our customers expect us to evolve and keep creating value for them as we have for the past 10 years.”
Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012 Argentina
“The main thing is to make sure that we are always looking for new, creative ideas that keep our business updated with new technology and creativity. The other thing is making sure we are working faster than before.”
Lorenzo Barrera Segovia
founder and CEO
Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012 Mexico
“Business has its highs and lows, because let’s face it, it’s not easy. It has its challenges. They asked Steve Jobs what was the most important thing in business and he said, ‘Passion.’ If you don’t have passion you would give up when things get difficult. We have so much passion and love for what we do that it becomes a part of our life.”
founder, president and CEO
Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012 United States
2013 World Entrepreneur Of The Year
“What if the stock market crashes? What if there is some unknown thing that happens? What if there’s another 9/11 type of situation? Companies need to carry on, but maybe they don’t need to do events. Maybe they cut back on entertainment and speakers. The worry is what happens if something happens that I can’t control.”
President and founder
SME Entertainment Group
“We are in recovering times. I feel very positive about the economy in general, but I’m still very worried about Europe. And while we are recovering, it’s still choppy and choppy times are times when there are more needs out there.”
Retired global chairman and CEO
"I guess there is a point in my life where I thought it is all about me, and I am going to be the guy that guides everything and controls everything. What I have learned is that the best thing that I have done for our business is learn to let go and learn to get people who are better equipped to manage specific areas, do their thing and not get in the way."
Dr. Alan Ulsifer
CEO, president and chair
Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012 Canada
“Nothing keeps me awake at night becase my work is solid.
My father married at 60 and my mother was 23. They had four children. Then he died, and we quickly had to start thinking about what to do. There was no money — nothing. We had to leave the little town we lived in because of violence there. Thanks to that, I am where I am right now because I still could be on the streets of my village selling tobacco. There is no wrong that can do good. That's what I have to teach people.”
founder and president
Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012 Colombia
The idea of driving aimlessly seems glamorous in movies and songs. In reality, few of us get in a car without knowing how to reach our destination. We’ve created smartphone apps, GPS devices and satellite mapping to make our trips as efficient as possible and to avoid what we know to be an inconvenient, expensive outcome — getting lost.
I bring up this idea because many companies using social media have inadvertently become lost drivers. They start using social platforms with the goal of reaching some number of likes, retweets or shares, but as they embark on their social media strategies, many experience a disconnect between the content they post, blog and tweet and their progress on measurable business goals. These companies are driving without a roadmap; they just don’t know it.
Sound familiar? If social media isn’t working for you, your social media approaches may be missing a fundamental component: an effective content strategy. Here are three ways a solid content strategy will enhance your company’s social media success.
A like is just a like
All social media engagement is not created equally. To be successful, the social media activity that you generate needs to support your marketing goals — whether you want to improve employee engagement, boost customer conversions or build interest in a new product.
Creating a content strategy before you engage in social media will help your business clarify the specific marketing goals you want to achieve through content, as well as what messages you need to communicate to reach those goals. This process will ensure you get the right likes, shares and retweets from social interactions.
Social is a vehicle
Social media is a vehicle for sharing compelling content with your audience, and it doesn’t work if you don’t know what issues, topics and trends your audience finds compelling. Part of developing a content strategy involves learning how those you are trying to reach want to be talked to. Where do they go for information? How much time do they spend online? What kind of content are they looking for from your industry?
By getting to know the interests and pain points of your audience (customers, employees, shareholders, etc.), you can develop tactics to reach your online audience more effectively, saving you time and enhancing your company’s social influence.
Relevant content is meaningful
Kings of social content don’t become that way by luck. They use strategic tactics to connect with their audience through the right channels at the right times. More importantly, they make these connections meaningful and memorable by posting and sharing strategic, relevant content that their audiences desire.
When you deliver social content that your audience members find valuable or interesting, they’ll reward you by sharing your content, engaging with your business and, ideally, helping to promote your reputation as a thought leader in your business or industry. A content strategy allows you to do that by providing a roadmap for what kinds of informative, helpful, educational or creative content you need to make meaningful interactions.
As a recent Huffington Post article put it, the golden rule of the web is clear: “To know us better is to sell us better.” Ultimately, being successful in the social media space means taking the time to map out what success looks like. In this sense, a solid content strategy is not only an important component of any social media strategy, it’s the key to driving the results your business wants.
Michael Marzec is chief strategy officer of Smart Business and SBN Interactive. Reach him at email@example.com or (440) 250-7078.
When Albert “Chainsaw Al” Dunlap was the CEO at Sunbeam in the late ’90s, he had a reputation for ruthlessness. Besides massively downsizing the company, he was also known to intimidate everyone around him and resort to yelling and fist pounding.
While extreme, Dunlap’s behavior is an example of the type of “dictator” leadership that used to be fairly common in the C-suite. Rules were rules, there were no exceptions for anything and people were just a line item on a budget. Need to cut thousands of jobs? Don’t think twice about it.
On the other end of the spectrum is the Christ-like leader. This leader focuses more on building people up rather than tearing them down. This type of leader understands that there are rules, but sometimes to do the right thing, the rules need to be broken. For example, during the economic downturn, some Christ-like leaders went well beyond what was called for to make sure laid-off employees were taken care of.
They made sure they had the use of office resources to look for a new job and did everything they could to lessen the hardships. They weren’t required to do this; it was just the right thing to do. They saw employees as human, not just numbers on a spreadsheet.
Does it cost money to take the more humane route with your leadership? Yes and no. From a short-term, bottom-line perspective, it probably does cost a few more dollars to help people through a hardship. But long term, it can pay dividends. By treating people with respect and doing the right thing, it helps eliminate animosity toward you and your company from both the ex-employees and current ones. Maybe there are some good employees who you wanted to keep, but couldn’t afford. By showing compassion, when the economy turned around, they were far more likely to consider coming back than if they had just been shown the door with little regard to their well-being.
And what happens when these ex-employees end up in key positions in companies that could be customers? Do you think an ex-employee who you mistreated is going to buy anything from you or recommend your company to someone? It’s a small world, and what goes around often comes around, so it’s always best to treat people as best you can.
You can lead like a dictator and still get results. But do the ends justify the means? Will you conquer all, only to find yourself alone with no friends, the equivalent of Ebenezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol?” Or will you have an epiphany and realize there’s a better way to do things?
During this holiday season, think about your leadership style and the long-term effect it has on people’s lives. If this exercise makes you uncomfortable, then maybe it’s time to change how you lead. ●
What would it take for a company to succeed if its leader could effectively do only one of the following: innovate, instigate or administrate? We all know that an innovator is the one who sees things that aren’t and asks why not? The instigator sees things that are and asks why? The administrator doesn’t necessarily ask profound questions but, instead, is dogged about crossing the “t’s,” dotting the “i’s” and making sure that whatever is supposed to happen happens.
Ideally, a top leader combines all three traits while being charismatic, intellectual, pragmatic and able to make decisions faster than a speeding bullet. Although some of us might fantasize that we are Superman or Superwoman, with a sense of exaggerated omnipotence, the bubble usually bursts when we’re confronted simultaneously with multiple situations that require the versatility of a Swiss army knife.
Business leaders come in all shapes and sizes with various skill sets and styles that are invaluable, depending on the priorities of a company at any given point in time.
Every business needs an innovator to differentiate the company. Without a unique something or other, there isn’t a compelling reason to exist. Once those special products or services that distinguish the business from others are discovered and in place, it takes an instigator to continuously re-examine and challenge every aspect of the business that leads to continued improvements, both functionally and economically. It also takes an administrator — someone who can keep all the balls in the air, ensuring that everyone in the organization is in sync and delivering the finished products as promised to keep customers coming back.
As politicians and pundits of all types have pounded into our heads in recent years, “It takes a village to raise a child.” All who practice the art and science of business have learned that, instead of a village, it takes a diverse team working together to make one plus one equal three.
On the ideal team, each member possesses different strengths, contributing to the greater good. The exceptional leader is best when he or she is an effective chef who knows how to mix the different skills together to create a winning recipe.
In many companies, however, leaders tend to surround themselves with clones who share similar abilities, interests and backgrounds. As an example, a manufacturer may have a management team comprised solely of engineers, or a marketing organization could have salespeople who came up through the ranks calling all the shots.
If everyone in an organization comes from the same mold, what tends to happen is, figuratively, one lies and the others swear to it. This builds to a crescendo of complacency and perpetual mediocrity.
There is a better way. Good leaders surround themselves with others who complement their capabilities, and savvy leaders select those with dramatically different backgrounds who will challenge their thinking because they’re not carbon copies of the boss. This opens new horizons, forges breakthroughs and leads to optimal daily performance.
Strange bedfellows can stimulate, nudge and keep each other moving toward the previously unexplored.
To have a sustainable and effective organization, you can’t have one type without all the others. While everyone on the team may not always agree, each player must always be committed to making the whole greater than the sum of the parts.
The single most important skill of the leader who has to pull all the pieces and parts together is to have the versatility of that Swiss army knife — selecting the precise tool to accomplish the objective at hand. ●
Michael Feuer co-founded OfficeMax in 1988, starting with one store and $20,000 of his own money. During a 16-year span, Feuer, as CEO, grew the company to almost 1,000 stores worldwide with annual sales of approximately $5 billion before selling this retail giant for almost $1.5 billion in December 2003. In 2010, Feuer launched another retail concept, Max-Wellness, a first of its kind chain featuring more than 7,000 products for head-to-toe care. Feuer serves on a number of corporate and philanthropic boards and is a frequent speaker on business, marketing and building entrepreneurial enterprises. “The Benevolent Dictator,” a book by Feuer that chronicles his step-by-step strategy to build business and create wealth, published by John Wiley & Sons, is now available. Reach him with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.