Tag Archives: reducing personal risk

Customers First, Investors Last: What were they thinking?

For years now, my colleagues and I here at BoardBench, have been saying that Wall Street has it backwards.  In the boardroom, directors have been fed, with a very large spoon, the mantra that they are beholden to the shareholder, that their purpose is to “maximize shareholder value.”  If you asked a large group of directors if this is true, you’d see a lot of bobbleheads in the room.  Many believe this is a legal requirement and in line with good business sense and good corporate governance.  Unfortunately, the concept of “shareholder primacy” is a relatively recent phenomenon.  It is also simplistic (shareholders’ wants are not homogeneous), has no legal basis anywhere (go ahead, try to prove me wrong), and, as many are now pointing out, usually damaging to companies, and the economy as a whole.

What we believe is real, and will eventually be proven again as real to the Street, is that customers, and employees are the two key drivers of corporate success.  When I say “again” I’m referring to Peter Drucker’s famous quote from decades ago: “the purpose of a business is to create and keep customers.”  So many seem to have forgotten this, or have never even heard of it.

But the basic premise is this: if you take care of your customers, and have great employees who are well supported and appreciated for being curious and excited about what they do such that they will ensure that customers love the products and services that the company offers, the company and shareholders will reap the rewards, too.  Of course other things come into play, like managing R&D investments (with the customer in mind), operations, and supporting a corporate culture that has strong values and morals.  The basic premise may be slightly oversimplified, but it applies, and should resonate with the board.

It appears that I’m finally not standing alone on this either.  In a recent interview, Jack Ma, the world’s newest CEO darling, made two bold public statements.  He basically shunned the current thinking of the Street by stating, on national TV, that “our customers come first, our employees second, and our shareholders third.”   He continued: “We aim to be larger than Wal-Mart by 2016, or sooner.”  If – no, when – Jack succeeds, and executes flawlessly on his statement, that customers and employees take a front seat over shareholders/investors, then he’s got an excellent chance of passing Wal-Mart as the world’s largest retailer.  Note, Wal-Mart just slapped some of its employees, who have the most direct relationship with their customers, by cutting their insurance benefits. This was probably done to cut costs, but it will probably also have a long-term impact on their customer relationships, too. But, I digress.

It seems that too many directors, CEOs, and business leaders, have become obsessed with what Wall Street, its analysts, and shareholders think.  Many have learned to play these groups exceptionally well, too. Countless analysts and shareholders have been taken in by companies’ projections, quarterly earnings estimates, and highly creative financial management and reporting.  Don’t get me wrong, the importance of the exchanges and the markets cannot be downplayed, but a balance is needed.  Focusing on Main Street is just as important, if not more so.

If you follow Main Street, you know about big box discount stores. Costco Wholesale Club, founded by Jim Sinegal and Jeffrey Brotman, believe in serving the customer first, and that if employees are treated properly, they will work with, and treat the customer well too.  Jim, the public face, is a “hands on guy” who is known for visiting each individual Costco store.  Jim is also outspoken about his views on Wall Street.  He’s been known to say that he puts his customers and employee needs above “pleasing shareholders.”  This philosophy must be working: Costco’s five year return is +116.73%.  If you bought the stock earlier, your return would be closer to 354%.

American Express is another company known for taking good care of its customer/members.  Personally I’ve been a fan of the company’s customer service representatives over the years, and tell them that every time I’ve called for help.  Don’t get me wrong, working at this company must be tough: when I was younger, AmEx employees were nicknamed The Dragons.  Perhaps because they were seehat2.jpgn as willing to fight for the company and their customers nearly to the end.  By the way, if you invested in American Express five years ago, your return on investment would be up 149.46%.

If you’ve worked with the general retail public, as I did during my college years, then you know just how tough this can be.  Sadly, not everyone who enters a store, calls a helpline, or dines in a restaurant is a kind and thoughtful customer.  Amazon deals with all sorts of customers from nearly every continent in the world, and I’m sure they have some interesting stories to share.  However, the company is noted for being one of the best customer service organizations in the world.  Amazon has more than one customer base, as many do: retail members, and consumers.  Jeff Bezos clearly divided the customer’s connection to Amazon into two categories: the experience and the service.  At this level, he notes that customer service is part of the full customer experience.  If it’s unpleasant, it’s a negative customer experience.  He supports the idea that a positive customer experience creates greater loyalty with Amazon.  If you’ve ever dealt with an Amazon Customer Service rep, you know that they work quickly to resolve your issue, they get the job done for you, and you are nearly always satisfied and left feeling good about your relationship with Amazon.  And, if you invested in Amazon five year ago, your return on investment is now up 236.64%.

While it’s much more pleasant to focus on the “good guys,” there are dark clouds.  Some companies are noted for their poor customer service.  Some survive because there are few alternatives: think of phone companies and cable providers, and some you can name on your own (take a look at their five-year ROIs).  However, when it comes to poor customer experience these days, I think sadly of that American icon Sears.  Whenever I bring them up these days, all I hear is: “Oh my gosh, I could tell you about the time when…”  Sears is a sad story101.jpg about the decline of a once great and loved retail giant.  Many years ago, the Sears catalog used to be called a “wish book.”  Families would anxiously wait for it to arrive in the mail.  It was nearly 5 inches thick. Moms, dads, sisters, and brothers would argue over whose turn it was to browse through and select from among the items they wanted for birthdays, holidays, special occasions and more.  Some people even bought their homes out of the Sears catalog.  But, it has lost its way, and it’s touch with its customers and has already begun its drop down that magical slide once pictured in its own catalog.  The entire company and its hopes for the future look pretty dismal: sell off of units and real estate, store closings, etc.  Sadly, if you invested in Sear’s five years ago, your return on investment would be -58.50% and it’s still falling today.

To sum up and put things into even sharper perspective, I recently spoke with the General Counsel of one of the largest, most recognized corporations in the world.  He told me, succinctly, that the biggest problem with their board is that not one director had any understanding of who their customers were and are or what they want.  I can also assume that they don’t understand their employees either.  So I will watch how this company slides in the next few years (Note: their record has been negative for some time), and report back with an update, unless, that is, they somehow figure it out and turn it around.

Do you need to focus on board improvement: composition, strategy, direction, execution, oversight?  Boards are our specialty. Give us a call.

Nancy May

Is this why we’re spending money on higher education for our children?

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?
A: Employed!

How are you going to explain that this isn’t your grandfather’s economy?

If deciding what university or community college or trade school your child is going to attend is starting to keep you up nights, you’ve probably visited more than a few of their websites. You’ve looked at the pictures of smiling faces, viewed the videos and read the inspirational language intended to convince you to spend your money, and, possibly, your child’s future, with the people on whose behalf those websites were created.

By now you’ve noticed that (a) you’ll have to do some digging to find any mention of tuition, fees and expenses because it would be in poor taste to publicize them on the home page; and (b) every one of those institutions is looking for a donation.

There are some who consider it gauche to have the words “money” and “university” in the same sentence. They would argue that higher education isn’t about money: it’s about introducing young minds to new ideas and new ways of looking at the world and themselves. It builds networks that include students who sit next to one another in lecture halls but live half a world away. Then there’s the benefit that comes from learning to fend for oneself away from home. This is the point where laundry and groceries enter into the discussion.

Those people would be right—to a point. But when the last glittering speck of that pixie dust that university websites magically create settles gently to the floor and the cool breeze of reality wafts through the room, the fact of the matter will be that nothing about attending an institution of higher learning is free. Once a child reaches the end of the taxpayer-funded, kindergarten/primary school/high school conveyor belt, decisions have to be made about the need for post-secondary education altogether. (P.S.: Taxpayer dollars pay for that, too.)

Even if his or her degree were paid for in full before the first day of lectures, the newly minted undergraduate or postgraduate is going to have to earn a living, especially if he or she is among the 40 million students south of the border who have US$1.2 trillion in student loans to repay, or the Canadians who owe between C$25 billion and C$50 billion. That money is going to have to come from somewhere. What about the cost of living? Will there be a new home or car to finance? Will there be enough money to pay the rent or buy food?

Finding work to pay for those things is the elephant in the room. Regardless of how many organizations the new graduate may have joined or voyages of self-discovery he or she may have gone on, if the résumé intended to support his or her application for that first full-time job is rejected by applicant tracking software for lack of key words and phrases, we have a problem. If the problem can be traced to a poorly executed résumé, the oversights can be corrected. But if the academic qualifications are wrong and creativity falls short of compensating for it, the only cure may be to spend 4 more years earning an education that will sell, but only after an in-depth reassessment of personal goals and what the economy needs.

As a country, we can’t afford scenarios like that because a mind is a terrible thing to waste (©UNCF). If you read or listen to nothing else today, please click on and ponder Robots Vs. The Middle Class (Bloomberg Businessweek, May 25 – May 31, 2015) and listen to Terry O’Reilly’s The Internet of (Marketing) Things (Under the Influence, CBC Radio One, Saturday, May 30, 2015). You’ll want to pay particular attention to O’Reilly’s thoughts about the Apple Watch.

How different is today’s economy from your grandfather’s economy? Well, did you ever doubt for a moment that your first job would be full-time with benefits? Are you doing now what you were planning to do then? Are you employed full-time? Have you been unemployed as a result of downsizing or outsourcing? Knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?

Would your grandfather recognize a world in which China is the world’s manufacturer, where 50% of working Canadians of all ages are not employed full-time, and where the price of post-secondary education is higher now than at any other time in history? What about a Canada where manufacturing has been decimated while employers continue to complain that they’re hard-pressed to find certain kinds of workers yet most of them refuse to train? What would he say about a Canada where $500 billion is sitting idle while vote getting corporate tax breaks underwritten by your tax dollars and mine go unused?

The North American work force is resolving itself into two camps: the one that recognizes that this isn’t your grandfather’s economy and is adjusting its expectations accordingly, and the one that doesn’t. One refuses to take career and labour market information at face value until they’ve confirmed it independently with multiple sources with their own eyes, not once but several times. The other doesn’t. One studies industries, market trends, the impact of technology and the performance of employers because they recognize that large numbers of dollars are at stake, not only the ones they’ll spend acquiring the necessary education, but the also the ones they risk not earning by failing to do their personal due diligence. The other doesn’t.

The economy is the financial air we breathe. We ignore it at our peril. Since 2001, I’ve met face-to-face with 2130 working people who, five minutes before I walked into the room, lost a job they thought wasn’t at risk. Most of them believed that where the world is going didn’t apply to them. They were mistaken.

F. Neil Morris
President & Founder
Personal Due Diligence
+1 (905) 273 9880

Unemployment is not working

Enough said.

The University Transition

Most people, reading a headline like “The University Transition” would pass it by thinking it’s yet another article about how the baby-sitting service known as high school ends, and that you’ve got to take responsibility for yourself once you go on to tertiary education.

But this one isn’t about that. Instead, it’s about the transition the universities themselves are going through — and what it means to you as a potential user of the university system.

Make no mistake, universities are troubled placed these days — and their time of woe is just beginning.

As usual, what underlies the pain is money. In particular, it’s where their money comes from, and how much of it has strings attached.

Few universities these days, for instance, get a major gift — the ten million and up range — that doesn’t come with serious expectations attached to it. The conversion of the old Medical Arts building into the Jackman Humanities Institute, without strings saying how the Philosophy, Religious Studies, English Literature, etc. departments benefitting from it would evolve is a rare case. Far more common is “here’s the money for the new institute or building, but I want it to focus on this”.

Even when the benefactor is more hands off than you’d think (for example, Munk doesn’t really interfere in the evolution of the Munk School of Global Affairs) the worry is always there within the university’s management. They start editing themselves to “conform”.

Management, itself, is part of the problem in the modern university. It’s within one lifetime that universities have gone from essentially being managed by their faculty as a “corner of the desk” responsibility to having a management cadre that grows deeper annually. (In Ontario, where anyone in the broader public sector who makes more than $100,000 per annum goes on a publicly-disclosed “sunshine list”, it’s amazing how many middle managers — much less senior ones — come from the province’s university and college system.)

Put all these non-teaching, non-researching resources on the payroll, and something has to give. Is it any wonder two thirds of your instructors are on year-at-a-time contracts?

Undergraduate studies, of course, have been littered with teaching assistants (also known as graduate students) taking the classes while the nominal professor never appears for years. Given that research grants are another major revenue source, it should be no wonder that professors are expected to research (and publish!) first, and teach third (doing all the paperwork to get, administer, and report on progress for grants comes second). Some unemployed Ph.D. can be paid like a graduate student teaching assistant to actually teach the students…

But think about this: an institution like the University of Toronto has over eighty Master’s degree programs. Most of these are “professional” two-year efforts aimed at the job market — Master of Public Policy (MPP) for people wanting into the civil service, Master of Museum Studies (MMSt) for future curators and museum directors, MBAs for future “masters of the universe”, and so on. That two thirds temporary help profile increasingly reflects these graduate school degrees as well.

Given that dissertations need to be supervised by someone who will be there on a continuing basis, there will still be permanent, tenured (or tenure track) faculty involved. The division of the university into narrow Schools, Institutes, Centres, etc. means that many of these now have quasi-managerial roles as well, as school directors. What that means is that the whole baroque structure of little independent agencies, each out trying to raise money to keep itself going (from benefactors and grants) is now invested in keeping these units going whether there’s demand for them or not.

What that means is that undergraduates will be “slotted” into programs they may not want simply because when they go to choose classes these are the ones that still have seats open in their courses. Even if the Geology Department had 1,000 new students wanting to take its courses, its seats are limited. Some of those budding geologists will have to find a home in the open chairs offered in, say, the Department of Gender Studies, or the Journalism program (even though everyone knows the media is cutting back, not adding on new help).

Admission, in other words, is to the institution of the university. Getting your tuition dollars applied to something you want is one of those caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) moments. (My daughter chose between offers from Cambridge, University College London, and Durham for her Master’s in Archaeology, and selected Cambridge because of their specialty program in mediaeval archaeology. After accepting, and rejecting the others, and paying Cambridge, she was told that the mediaeval program wouldn’t be offered this year. While she’s happy enough in the Egyptology option, her professional career as an archaeologist has just been wrenched away from England and off to the sands of the desert — and should she choose to do the Ph.D. it will have to be in Egyptology (since she now won’t have the master’s level courses in mediaeval England on her transcript) or spend an extra year “catching up”.)

Meanwhile, governments are cutting back on the number of student positions they fund (increasing the competition between units), and on the funding for research, and support for publication venues. So all the pressures on the university are boiling over.

Now add the question of “do you need a university” raised by online courses, and the “what are you doing with your degree” caused by a job market in deep and fundamental transition and turmoil.

By all means go to university if it is the right thing for you to do (as a person, not because “of the job”). But understand you’re entering an institution undergoing a period of great stress and you will be buffeted by it, with little recourse. Much like an airline — which does not guarantee that you will fly anywhere with your purchased ticket, or fly at any particular time — a university does not guarantee that your admission and tuition will lead you to any particular program, any required course, any reasonable conditions for learning — or any destination.

The disconnect between what you experience and receive, and the reputation of the institution and quality of its faculty, has never been more profound. Choose carefully!

Designing Your Work for Dummies

If you peruse the online booksellers, or wander into a bookstore, you’ll quickly find volumes from one of two series, labelled either “(whatever) for Dummies” or “The Idiot’s Guide to (whatever)”. These two lines — which started as a way to produce manuals you could learn from rather than the incomprehensible ones delivered with computer products — now cover everything from cat care to knitting, fixing outboard motors to baking.

So, with chapeau doffed in admiration to the concept of making complicated things simple, let’s talk about designing your work.

Notice I didn’t say “find a job”. It may be that the design you come up with leads you down that road (it’s hard to be in certain roles without fitting into an existing societal structure). But if you start by thinking about your future in terms of designing around the work you’ll do, you will have a lot of the thinking necessary to consider creating your own job.

The person who is employed by someone else can find themselves out of work because of external events that cause the enterprise they’re a part of to cut back or fold — or they can be on the street (or never hired) because of the pique and incompetence of a manager (as sketched daily in Dilbert by Scott Adams). The person who creates their own situation is still at risk of the first — but is unlikely to fire themselves in a malicious way.

The tool I’d like to point out to you is called a business model canvas. The million-copy seller for designing a business is Alex Osterwalder’s Business Model Generation. Its counterpart for designing an individual’s life-work plan is Tim Clark’s Business Model You. The latest improvement to the concept is Antony Upward’s “Strongly Sustainable Business Model Canvas”, built around triple bottom line concepts (Antony has a number of interactive presentations, YouTube videos, and a LinkedIn group available on the web; the process of turning his dissertation into a friendly book is underway).

All you need is a hunk of wall. Some people draw the canvas outline on a white board, others tape up butcher paper. Get some post-it notes.

What the process of working with a canvas asks of you is to identify the answers to questions. When using it to design your life’s work, you can start with what you’re good at, or needs you’ve seen that could be fulfilled, or connections you have. When you use a canvas to design an enterprise (creating your own job), you do the same questions but with more business-like terms such as customer segments, value propositions, key partners, and the like.

It’s decidedly simple stuff, but powerful. Four people gathered toward the end of February to think through the creation of a new not-for-profit organization to promote local business webs in a major city. None worked in the field (although all were running their own enterprises). None had training in the use of the canvas. Two hours later, the wall was absolutely covered in post-it notes, real reasons why people would pay to join such an organization had been identified, its staffing needs had been uncovered, and so on.

If you take away the right conclusion from that — hey, I don’t have to be an expert on business to do this — good for you. You don’t. Which means you could work on your canvas with friends, with family, with anybody. You move the post-it notes around, you throw some out, you add some new ones. Collectively, they tell a story about what would work for you — or how this new business would feed you.

Although Tiffinday wasn’t built using one of these canvases, it was thought through the same way. Tiffinday is a company that delivers hot, fresh lunches in Toronto’s financial district. The containers are reusable. The food is prepared by mothers with children in school. It’s put together in the mornings using a parter — an evenings-only restaurant whose kitchen was free (there are laws about food preparation). A bicycle courier company delivers the containers, then picks up the empties after lunch for cleaning. Everyone’s home again in time for the kids to come from school.

Would you have thought to provide an ever-varying menu to workers in cubicle land, employ people who would likely not work because they’re only available between 9 and 3, partner to use underutilized resources and avoid having to capitalize your own using all the traditional “follow your passions” business development advice? Canvases can see all sorts of opportunities that traditional methods don’t.

This is just one of the way Personal Due Diligence advisors work with clients to expand their opportunities. Are you ready to expand yours?

An idea for personal independence needn’t be complicated

We all know the start up stories. Apple, starting in a garage. From diddly-squat to billions almost overnight, thanks to technology.

Maybe you’d like to look at Nimblebit LLC, the creators of the fascinating game Tiny Tower. The game is free. It does not go out of its way to get you to spend anything. The two creators still have earned more than $4 million in the first year from this little gem for iPhones and iPads.

Well, if you think that the only kind of start up that pays off is in technology of some kind (there’s just as many biotech, cleantech, etc. stories out there), then you’re artificially limiting your horizons.

There’s a start up opportunity waiting wherever you can open up a strategic gap.

Let me tell you about my neighbourhood, to illustrate the point.

Like most neighbourhood shopping streets these days, mine is littered with coffee shops. But the ones that make up the neighbourhood are old-style espresso joints from when this area had a wave of Sicilian immigrants. Most are labelled as “social clubs”.

You can get a very decent espresso, cappuccino or latté here for $2-3. That’s right, half the price of the green mermaid (who seems to be everywhere). Admittedly, none of these places are particularly exciting, they don’t do fancy pastries, leather chairs are nowhere to be seen. Older men, smoking by lighting their next cigarette off the last one, gesticulating about football (soccer) while the television shows you European matches: that’s the scene here.

There isn’t a Starbucks in the neighbourhood — period. For the rest of the neighbourhood’s coffee needs are met by the brew companies. Tim Horton’s and McDonald’s capture most of the rest of the business.

Yet, in the past two years, two proper upscale places opened and are doing well: CakeTown, and Red Rocket.

Both sell at Starbuckian prices — a medium vanilla latté at $5.55 (taxes included) and a cheese danish at $2.80 (with tax) — but with the ambiance and vibe of a place where the owner is behind the espresso machine. Both make sandwiches on premises, do their own baking, have their own unique offerings. Both are constantly full. Yet they’re also different from each other (and everyone else): there’s a reason to choose one of these today for this, and the other tomorrow for that.

In other words, both recognized the opportunity by answering with different business strategies. Their success isn’t just “location, location, location” or built on minimum wage rotating staff complements. Both answered the question: “what difference would make us successful”.

Most people use the term strategy when they really mean planning. Planning, in turn, is often not much more than budgeting: and, in many start ups, most of that starts by thinking about expenditures, then a revenue “projection” is put in to justify writing all those cheques in the early going.

Strategy, on the other hands, knows what outcomes are desired, what measures let you know how you’re doing, how to tell if you’re racing ahead too quickly, etc. It is a tool for constant adjustments and course changes.

Remember that both of these are succeeding in the hardest of all spaces to succeed in: food services. Neither is surrounded by lots of working people (my neighbourhood has no industries, very few offices, and most people leave to go to their jobs during the day as opposed to work from home). Despite that — and without a sidewalk filled with strollers (although both cater to children) — both places are packed morning, noon and (in Red Rocket’s case; CakeTown closes) night.

Both of these have made innumerable small adjustments during the time they’ve been open. Their owners are constantly trying new things — “if we add soup, will it sell?” — and are unashamed about staying away from things they either don’t do well, or can’t make a living from. (Red Rocket, for instance, does not do well enough from its tea business to make stocking tea varieties and specialized tea paraphenalia worthwhile, so it eschews that piece of the market. It does, on the other hand, sell enough beer and wine in the evening, and enough coffees with liquor in them, to make having a liquor licence and stocking a few varieties of what’s needed worth the effort.)

These are businesses where the average start up fails within five years. (As Nicholas Nassim Taleb pointed out in his book Anti-Fragile: Things that Gain from Disorder, the total number of seats at eating/drinking places in a neighbourhood remains relatively constant, although the players keep changing.) Yet both are earning their owners (and in Red Rocket’s case, there are four families in ownership, plus another ten or so staff being paid at this one shop) a living, a life, and a return.

The bottom line: sound advice, good mentoring, and working through an apparently “been done before too many times” idea can provide a level of security no job can in this era of endless management buy-outs, downsizings, offshorings, mergers and vicious internal politics.

At PDD, we are equipped to help you explore this route to reducing your personal risk. Call or write to know more.

Later life transitions to being your own boss

You’ve had what felt and looked like a good career.

Then, one morning, you’re asked to step into a small room. There’s your superior, someone from human resources, and, if you’re lucky, someone hired in for the separation to help with the transition.

It’s over. Now what?

For most of us, when this particular moment comes, our first thought is “get another job”. But should it always be the first response?

After all, you’ll never be better placed than you are right when you’re let go from corporate life to start your own venture, at least financially, but, surprisingly, emotionally as well.

Yes, it’s traumatic losing the security a business card with a title on it gives you. But going through a search for a year and then starting a venture out of desperation isn’t better.

By then, you’re an emotional wreck.

As every entrepreneur knows — successful or failed — the ups and downs of getting a venture off the ground, running, and dealing with its issues takes its own toll on your psyche and emotional state.

Nothing can swing you higher or lower faster than your own business.

Nothing can swing you higher or lower harder than your own business.

You also have to master hundreds of new skills overnight, become a generalist instantly, take full responsibility for every decision to be made — oh, and have an idea to run with, too.

You have to be able to strategically plan, tactically manoeuvre, and handle operational details all at once. Worse (especially if you’re coming from a senior position) you have to do it all — there’s no one around to delegate to. No HR department to screen résumés when you need to hire. No finance department around to pay the bills, or handle purchasing, or bring the books up to date. No IT group to keep your computer and printer running, or keep you connected to the Internet. There’s no team of salespeople ready to run with your latest marketing piece — you have to start dialling for dollars and going out on cold calls.

It’s not for everyone, certainly. But it’s for far more than are willing to try it, too.

Which sounds better, three years from now, if you’re interviewing? “I had this idea and gave it my best shot”, or “I was downsized/capsized/outsourced out”.

One thing that holds many people back on starting something is that they don’t have a good idea.

People coming from a technological background, for instance, tend to limit their thinking to just ideas in their space. IT people think of applications or hardware they could build, for instance.

Nothing says your idea has to come from your work experience. What you’ll be taking from your corporate past are skills. But your idea could be as simple as “this neighbourhood needs a better coffee shop than the Starbucks on the corner”.

Really good neighbourhood places, in fact, are hard to come by. Sure, coffee shops, fish & chip shops, etc. are a dime a dozen. Still, when the good one comes along, even in a crowded few blocks, it finds its feet and sets itself apart. Your idea, focused on what “better” or “really good” would entail, allows you to compete against all the existing players.

Even if you really do crave just another job, spending some time — whether you’re employed now or not — thinking about ideas, and what’s possible, is good for you.

It sharpens up your mind, by thinking outside of its normal channels. It hones your ability to judge ventures (good if you’re planning to invest in any of them). It gets you thinking about reducing your risk by having more than one iron in the fire.

A PDD advisory relationship can be the key to helping you think about all of these things, and more. Whether you’re comfortably parked in a high corner office, slaving away in cubicle land, one of the many who’ve just been dumped to fend for themselves, or working to make your small business succeed, we’re able to help you deal with risk, personal and family security issues, and be a sounding board for your ideas and ventures.

Talk to us. You’ll be glad you did.