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Investing in Employee Wellbeing

Hedley Lawson
Hedley Lawson

During the early 1980s, while I headed the North American Human Resources team for SOLA International (presently Carl Zeiss Vision), we implemented an employee Health and Wellness program called Healthways.
Our goals in creating the program were simple, yet profound:
  • To focus our initiatives on all employees and all of their family members.
  • To reduce the prevalent use of hospital emergency rooms in favor of using one’s personal physician.
  • To provide on-site inoculations for employees and their families, reducing the risk of contracting a medical issue or quite simply, the seasonal flu.
  • To encourage physical fitness programs from daily walks or jogging to sponsorship of recreational activities.
  • To provide frequent information on healthy eating and healthy living.
  • To support the formation of teams that competed against one another in programs, one of which was called “Waist Reduction,” similarly named to our manufacturing best practice “Waste Reduction” program.
  • To improve employee attendance and to reduce our health insurance premiums.
We were in time and in commitment light years ahead of other companies in the establishment of this type of program. A few of the following results were profoundly significant:
• Our attendance patterns were significantly improved.
• Our employee’s families were healthier, improving employee’s work attendance and their children’s school attendance.
• Our employees had even more fun at work.
• And we reduced our annual medical insurance premium to a rate 25 percent below all other employers in the U.S.

After a few years, we introduced semi-annual, at work physical screenings and blood testing. From this, several employees found they were diabetic or may have other medical issues that required immediate attention. Other initiatives followed, all met with gratitude by employees and the greatly improved recruitment of new employees who saw our initiatives as leading edge and personally valuable. Our annual turnover was unmatched by other companies in our region, and our employees became our recruiting ambassadors.

Decades later, other employers have been exposed to the growing evidence that the benefits of employee mental and physical health and wellness programs can dramatically increase employee wellbeing. Yet few companies today have reported broad and meaningful investment in employee health and wellness programs other than larger corporations.

Implementing an employee health and wellness, or employee wellbeing programs, requires close collaboration between company leadership, human resources, finance, benefit providers, insurance brokers and local health providers. Equally important, it requires a commitment from company leadership and ownership.

The evidence then and now is overwhelmingly in favor of taking the leap and implementing such a new program. If your company or your client companies do not have such a program today, take the time to contact your insurance carrier or broker, and work directly with employees to gain their insights in terms of personal and family needs, for assistance to develop and launch your program. Whoever you choose to assist you, get started now: the benefits to your company, your employees, and your client companies will be greatly valued.

Hedley Lawson
Global Managing Partner and IERG Global Business Leader
Aligned Growth Partners, LLC
(707) 217-0979

The Real Estate Market Post Covid-19

Cristiano M. Teixeira 

The real estate market, like any other, has its ups and downs.  When the whole economy is doing well, companies are growing and people are earning extra bonuses.  As a result, companies rent more office space, and people buy bigger homes. 
That is the normal cycle of things in life.  It is not every day that there is a pandemic.  History shows us that one pandemic happens, more or less, every 100 years or so. 

For the past 13/14 months the world has experienced one of these pandemics.  This time caused by this virus called Covid-19.  Little we knew in March of 2020 what we were about to face.  Everywhere in the world people were forced to stay inside their homes.  Companies were not allowed to open their offices.  Their employees were to work from home, anticipating a movement that a lot of us always wanted: to stay home and work from there.
However, not everyone was ready for that.  Actually, most people, I would say, were not ready.  A lot of people live in condos.  Other people do not have space in their home where they could call it “office” or the now famous “home office”.  Some of us have newborns at home, and some others have large families living with them.  So working from home, especially when it is the only option you have, became a major challenge for everyone. 
Because of this, a lot of people considered buying a bigger home, and some others decided to move somewhere warmer.  And Florida seemed to have it all.  Cheaper real estate, especially if compared to San Francisco and NYC, and warmer climate all year round.  As a result, the Florida real estate market, especially residential, is in high demand.  After a few years of slow sales, due to the oversupply of condos, as well as an economic crisis in Latin America, South Florida residential real estate market reinvented itself.  Demand for single-family homes, especially the ones close to the water or with a sizable lot, simply skyrocketed.  And as the demand increased, the prices went up.  All of a sudden, all these houses that were stuck on the market for a few years, were sold within a few days, for top dollars.  Now that there are not many single-family homes available anymore, that demand is shifting to the condo market.  The prices are still somewhat attractive, but the pressure to raise them is on. 
A lot of people are worried about where this whole demand will leave us.  Some say that it will be impossible for the regular person to buy a home (that is already a problem in major cities everywhere in the world).  Some others think that it will be impossible to live in places like Miami due to the increase of cars and the lack of a good public transportation system.  All of this is true but the real estate market is not stopping any time soon. 
Historically Americans, especially from colder places, choose South Florida for two reasons: weather and a tax break.  But this kind of demand is very specific and does not affect the market that much, as most of these buyers buy their second homes in Florida, spending some time down here, but not living.  However, what we have seen is something completely different.  People are actually moving, buying their primary homes in South Florida.  How many of you who live in Miami have seen cars with New York or Massachusetts license plates lately?  Also, not only people but now companies are moving their headquarters or regional offices to Florida.  Not only because their employees are moving down, but also because they realized that it is much more cost-effective to work from sunny Miami, all year round, than it is to work from their Wall Street offices.
We still do not know where all this will take us.  We have not reached the end of the pandemic yet.  There are signs of it, but it is still uncertain what will life be like after all this.  But one thing is certain: real estate will never be the same again.
So if you are in the market, either to buy, sell or rent, take advantage of the moment.  Research, study, talk to your local real estate agent.  After all, our home is and will always be the safest place for our families.”  

Cristiano M. Teixeira is a real estate adviser with Elite International Realty, in Miami.
After working as a senior executive in two real estate development companies in Brazil for over 15 years, Cristiano has been acting as an adviser and sales associate at Elite International Realty in Miami.  His focus is mainly residential, in the high-end segment of the market, but he also works with commercial real estate, more specifically triple net properties as well as empty lots for future residential developments.
You can find more information on Cristiano and his properties at, or by visiting his LinkedIn profile at or by writing him at [email protected]

Do you have Artificial Intelligence (AI) discussions at Board Level?

Jesper Skou

By deploying the right AI technology, your business may gain the ability to save time and money by automating and optimizing routine processes and tasks, increase productivity and operational efficiencies, make faster business decisions based on outputs from cognitive technologies.  


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Interim CEO- Could Be The Board’s Blessing

Maybe in a huff, the Board “Had enough” and decided to take the CEO’s head off.  Or maybe, the CEO had enough, and leaped at another opportunity. And, then there are unforeseen health situations, life being what it is. In some situations, there may be an unsettled company issue, which needs to be worked through, and it is not the ideal time to recruit your A Player. And the Board wants to take the appropriate time to pause, and get the house in order. Lastly, there are circumstances where there is an immediate need for a particular skill set, but not a permanent need.

So let’s assume we “got here” by whatever reason, and now the Board has to be the rudder and calm the waters. Few times, where the Board has worked on this in advance, there may be an Independent Director who can step forward, and keep the ship afloat. But not typically. An increasingly familiar alternative is to bring in an Interim CEO. It has its advantages, and disadvantages. The good news, is that there is a robust inventory of executives who take on these Interim CEO lives.

The good news: the right Interim CEO has a unique biology, and can fly in Sunday night, and show up at 7:30 AM Monday. The Board sends out the appropriate email message to the organization. The right Interim CEO will demonstrate work ethic by being the first person in the office (everyday). And she/he holds a Staff meeting at 8:00 AM on Day 1 and sets the agenda for the day/ week/ month. And holds a Town Hall meeting at Noon, and hopefully communicates that she/he is there to help, and needs no honeymoon period. Let’s all get to work.

So, for the Board, there is no permanent commitment. But what about the view from the Interim CEO?  The Interim, can tackle some tough issues that have been the gorilla in the room. In one Interim CEO engagement, I found that I had a Chef-of-Staff, at a cost of over $200K. This was not the White House. When I queried the VP’s confidentially, the general response was “We all were wondering how long this would take you.” Your Interim CEO can be a disrupter, in the positive sense of the term, and clean up these messes. Don’t be spooked in the reference process if you hear “there was some collateral damage.” That may be exactly what the doctor ordered. Certainly do reference checks, but don’t expect God to be available.

Be prepared to pay top dollar. When you go for Lasik surgery, I don’t think you’ll rush to the surgeon who advertised $499 per eyeball. Same for Interim CEO’s. Keep the compensation package simple and consider a flat monthly, all-in, retainer. Rather than the typical salary + bonus + equity. Your Cap Table is probably already tapped out. So think in terms of 1.5X-to 2.0X (base only) what your CEO is making. The right Interim CEO is living a grueling life 24X7. You get what you pay for. I had one Board wince at my fee, remarking that it was a lot more than the present CEO was making. My polite and respectful response, was “I guess you got what you paid for.”

So go for experience, and an Interim CEO with a stomach for the challenge. Someone who has all the right skills, and yet has the sensitivity to respect the sacred cows.

Mike Lorelli was a PepsiCo president, twice, followed by five private-equity CEO engagements. He serves on several boards. Reach him at [email protected]

Transformation in the Changing Global Business Landscape

Hedley Lawson
Hedley Lawson 
Most executives feel a need for a sense of urgency to transform their organizations.
Based on numerous conversations we have had with executives and boards of directors, it seems many of these initiatives are not progressing with the speed or planned outcome or are simply failing.

There are many reasons why transformation initiatives fail, and the challenge to succeed is often more difficult and complex in larger and, interestingly, in family-owned organizations. With that in mind, what follows in the attached article is an elaboration of five ways to drive successful transformation initiatives in large organizations.
  1. Start by shifting your mindset
  2. Create a strategy for progressive versus incremental growth
  3. Develop and support leaders who can navigate uncertainty and lead change.
  4. Create an aligned innovative strategy with appropriate resources.
  5. Make the leap from modest growth to progressive and sustainable growth

What is a Dysfunctional Sales Force? - Symptoms & Causes

John Peters

John Peters has extensive Global and Domestic Sales, Sales Management, Business Development and General Management experience with sophisticated medical products, systems and services in the Hospital, Operating Room, Blood Bank, Proprietary Clinic, Private Physician and OEM Contract Manufacturing settings. See his full bio here.
  1. Chronic Poor Performance-consistently not meeting goals or quotas/Work Ethic-Are they working?
  2. High Turnover Rate-20% or more annually.
  3. Poor Hiring Process-Background for success/All salespeople are not equal.
  4. Poor Training-Does the company have a specific program or is it hit or miss?
  5. Accountability-Are the Sales people and Field managers held accountable by management?
  6. Is the Company Sales Oriented?-Has to be driven from top to bottom/Need commitment.
  7. Realistic Goals/Quotas-How are they developed? Need sales input and methodology, not guesstimates/pie in the sky.
  8. Are the same Sales People - always at the top and the same always at the bottom of the rankings?
  9. Territories-How are territories apportioned?
  10. Same Page-Are Field management and Senior management on the same page?
  11. Backgrounds-What are the backgrounds and training of the Field Managers-Are they qualified?
  12. Are you promoting the Right People?-Pete repeat syndrome.
  13. Mentoring-Do the Field Managers mentor their direct reports or is it sink or swim?
  14. Metrics-Is the company using the right metrics

Covid and Flu

Simon Turner
Simon Turner

I thought I would share some discussions that we have been having internally regarding Covid and flu. With so much media focus on Covid, it has slipped under the radar how flu has almost completely disappeared in the 2020/21 season.
Reported cases for the US are usually around the 5 million mark but for this season to date the total is 1,387. And no, that number isn’t missing zeros on the end. Flu numbers have completely collapsed.

There is now concern that the 2021/22 flu season could be especially bad due to lower resistance from an absence of exposure this year and difficulty in projecting dominant strains for vaccines. So the question we have started asking ourselves is this – We have been thinking that, in time, we will think of Covid like flu – but what if we should be thinking that flu will be like Covid?

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