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Fri 31 May 2024
Over the past month, I have been obsessing and diving deeper into research from Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky – specifically Daniel Kahneman’s Prospect Theory (of which Kahneman won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2002) and their research on loss aversion.

Despite this research being out for 20+ years, I believe that most sales and business development professionals are practicing outdated methodologies. Up until now, these professionals were able to achieve some semblance of results with brute force tactics. They still race to the bottom to see who can provide a product or service cheapest, or cycle through business development representatives instead of building relationships with prospects and then pass that prospect to someone else and potentially other people on the team to try and get a deal signed. Or they are spending money on Google Ads or other ads with the hope of booking conversations. 

With the tightening of spending by companies and increased private equity scrutiny around how budgets are spent, I believe that a gap is widening between business development professionals who understand this information and those who don’t.

And business development isn’t just isolated to professionals in sales. It includes anyone looking for a job, or trying to convince dotted line team members to get their work done in the manner they want it, or any behavior change that one may want to see in another person.

Loss aversion is the concept that people will do more to avoid pain than gain pleasure. 

From a business perspective, this means that professionals would rather do more to avoid getting fired than to do something that could make them a hero and swiftly work up their company’s organizational hierarchy.

Here are some examples:

Getting a company to purchase your consulting services

A company has decided that they need consulting services to improve their performance and operational abilities. They have a $100,000 budget for this service and have appointed a leader in the organization to decide which consulting company to go with. 

Outdated perspectives would assume “If I can deliver more than what they are asking for in my proposal and come in way under their budget, they would have no choice but to choose me and my consulting firm.”

That perspective would be wrong.

Why?

Because the decision-maker in this scenario didn’t choose to pursue this consulting. In fact, if it were up to them, they likely wouldn’t change anything about the way the business operates. Why? Because change represents time and energy and as long as that decision-maker continues to get paid by their company, they aren’t exactly incentivized to change the way the company operates. 

However, because the company appointed them to make a decision, they are essentially forcing this decision-maker’s hand. They are essentially saying “if you don’t make a change in this area, we will make a change for you.”

This decision-maker also doesn’t see a dime of savings from the budget allocated for this service. Therefore, if you are a consultant and you come in $1,000 under budget or $50,000 under budget, this doesn’t really affect the decision-maker because as long as the project is under budget, that is all that matters to them.

The number one factor that the decision-maker is contemplating in terms of who to hire for this consulting work is “who represents the least likelihood of getting me fired.”

That is it! And if they can get away with stalling the decision and ultimately get to no decision without putting their job at risk, that is their number one option. 

When people share the adage “nobody ever got fired by hiring Deloitte (or KPMG or Ernst & Young or whoever the largest, most dominant competitor is in your market)”, they are referring to the simple fact that they represent the status quo. If Deloitte does a bad job and the executive team is dissatisfied, can you really fire the person who hired Deloitte knowing their reputation? Not as likely. Or, if you go with a smaller, lesser-known consultant and they do a bad job, when going with a Deloitte was an option for them (and within budget), is it easier to justify firing the person that decided to make that hire? Much more likely. 

Landing a job

This can also be applied to people seeking a job. If you are a candidate with a lot of experience AND you fall within budget*, you are much more likely to land the position compared to someone who doesn’t. Taking a risk on a candidate you like but who doesn’t have the qualifications creates risk for the business. If that candidate fails or leaves, in a post-mortem, we can observe “were there flaws in our hiring process?” 

*Caveat on falling within budget. From a hiring perspective, this is oftentimes subjective based on assumptions as to how much a person will cost to bring in. Some candidates have heard the feedback “you are just too experienced for this role” or “this role would be beneath your capabilities”. This is oftentimes HR speak for “we assume we know how much you are going ask for in terms of salary and we don’t have the budget to afford it so as opposed to going through fruitless negotiations in which we think we know we can’t meet your salary demands, we might as well end the interview process short.”

Getting a dotted line team member (a team member who doesn’t directly report to you, but you need their work to get your work done) to change their behavior

The same holds true for getting a dotted-line team member to change the way in which they behave so then you can get your work done more effectively. If you are waiting on another team member or entire department to get work done in a specific way and they consistently come up short, elongating the time and energy it takes for you and your team to complete the work, your respective mid-level managers might jump in and try imploring their respective teams to be more amenable to the change, but this oftentimes doesn’t work. 

Why?

Because a mid-level manager isn’t going to fire one of their teammates for not adjusting their work output to make it easier for a team in a different department to get their work done. As long as the incentives and metrics they are being measured against are consistently achieved, it is really hard to achieve a behavior change.

However, if the person who wants to see the behavior change from the other team can quantify the financial impact this extra time and energy has on the bottom line (perhaps they can say that they wouldn't need to fulfill an additional headcount because they are that much more efficient) and then take that information to the CFO and the CFO determines that this minor behavior change from the other team is a much less painful adjustment than the financial costs of hiring an extra team member to account for this, you can bet that the behavior change is about to be permanent.

Therefore, if we are business development professionals, we need to think differently about how we make ourselves more attractive to our prospects. This starts with understanding who feels the pain that you can relieve the most. It is then followed up with having high proximity to those decision-makers in an environment that shows off our knowledge and capabilities but not in a way that seems braggadocios but rather a humble way. I will be writing a second part to this article to elaborate on solutions, but if you are interested in this topic in the meantime, send me a message on LinkedIn.



Thu 30 May 2024
When building trust and engaging with potential new clients, executive mastermind groups are one of the most powerful tools small business consultants can implore. These mastermind groups bring together various small business owners to facilitate high-level discussions of the real-life problems they face. Together, small business owners can share insights, discuss problems,  and develop innovative solutions based on their experiences. By facilitating a mastermind group, small business consultants can have a seat at the table. 

Small business owners may be more hesitant to receive consulting services because outsiders do not know the intricacies of their business and how it operates. Building trust with small business owners through mastermind group sessions can break the barrier of unfamiliarity preventing these small business owners from seeking consulting services. Furthermore, these small business owners may be wary about using such services simply due to unfamiliarity with the process. Allowing them to become familiar with the collaborative problem-solving processes used in mastermind groups can work to create an open mind about reaching out for consulting. 

Other concerns small business owners may have with consulting services include a lack of understanding and the perceived value of implementing consulting services. Small business owners may be unfamiliar with the available consulting resources specializing in tackling challenges that small businesses face. Even small business owners who are aware of these services, may not recognize the value of consulting services and think they can solve all problems on their own. Introduction to a mastermind group can help to break down these preconceived notions that all problems must be solved within the company and help them recognize how collaborative consulting can truly revolutionize their business. 

How do mastermind groups function? 

In determining whether facilitating a mastermind group will be a positive addition to one's current small business consulting initiatives, it’s crucial to understand what exactly mastermind groups are. Mastermind groups comprise a group of peers collaborating to provide support to one another through shared experiences. For the purpose of building a mastermind group comprised of potential clients, a mastermind group can include strictly small business owners. During regular meetings, each group member can discuss recent challenges or problems they are struggling with and receive guidance from other group members who have faced or are facing similar challenges. 

As a facilitator, advice can also be provided, however, this also presents an opportunity for offering more in-depth consulting services. Group members who are struggling, for example, with how to improve their company’s credit rating, may need more individualized recommendations to properly resolve this issue. Being a facilitator of these mastermind groups allows knowledge about which small business owner is struggling with this problem and may need more specialized help from a small business consultant. Facilitating these mastermind groups gives direct access to potential clients and current challenges they are struggling with. 

How does the creation of mastermind groups work? 

Acquiring small business owners to join a mastermind group without experience facilitating such groups can be a daunting task. This is where utilizing the help from companies with existing mastermind groups is beneficial. Some companies currently specialize in leading mastermind groups and have processes developed to acquire members of mastermind groups and resources on how to structure these meetings. Ambition in Motion (AIM) currently leads many mastermind groups and has recently launched services catered specifically to small business consultants interested in facilitating their own mastermind group. 

Investing in a license to utilize AIM’s executive mastermind groups, not only provides access to a network of potential new clients, it builds trust and meaningful relationships with small business owners. After licensing AIM’s mastermind group, the business development team will conduct client outreach through LinkedIn and other channels to build a mastermind group consisting of small business owners who are excited about this new opportunity. After the initial outreach, communication with potential mastermind group members will be handled directly and connections with these small business owners will begin to develop. 

Why is licensing AIM Mastermind Groups unique?

Licensing AIM’s Mastermind Group provides many benefits, primarily through the initial establishment of the groups. As mentioned previously, AIM will work directly on the mastermind group member reach out. It can be overwhelming to determine where to start with outreach efforts, so assistance from AIM’s business development team helps to guide these initial steps and set the mastermind group up for success. Additionally, AIM’s small business roots can provide a connection with these small business owners who may trust other small businesses but shy away from the word ‘consultants’. 

In addition to mastermind group member acquisition and the small business connection that AIM provides, overall more affordable licensing packages are a significant benefit of utilizing these services. Oftentimes, small businesses don’t have large budgets that can be used for mastermind groups or consulting services. A more affordable option will attract small business owners who were turned off in the past from such services due to their higher costs. Not only is the pricing attractive to small business owners, but the licensing fee for anyone interested in starting their own mastermind group is cost-effective. 

As a consultant, it can be difficult to obtain small business clients due to their resistance to change and outside help. Through licensing mastermind groups, consultants will gain access to various small business owners seeking to solve business problems while also building relationships with these owners. With this unique mastermind group connection, small business consultants can gain insights about current problems small business owners are facing and transition group members who need additional consulting expertise into clients. 


Thu 30 May 2024
Initiated by the COVID-19 pandemic workplace changes, there has been a major influx of professionals leaving their workplace industry to begin their careers as executive coaches. The number of executive coaches have multiplied consistently over the past five years, but the demand has not changed. Now, the introduction of these executive coaches has overpopulated the supply, with minimal change in the demand for their work. 

With these recent industry changes, executive coaches heavily compete for business and therefore must find creative methods to set themselves apart from competitors. Coaches have clients across industries and commonly offer one-day training on focuses that provide great value to teams in building culture, productive workplace habits, and creating a comforting environment for professionals along with a variety of other focuses. 

However, industry leader, McKinsey and Company has published an article sharing their findings that leaders prefer a group of peers to relate to and discuss with than a lecture style training. Once professionals reach executive levels in their organizations, coaching and training for growth is challenging. The ability to openly learn from other executive leaders is an amazing opportunity that encourages training, learning, and development in a non-conventional manner. 

Rather than focusing on day-to-day trainings executive coaches could consider leading an executive mastermind group to build a more impactful connection with the participating professionals. These groups meet for discussion on a regular basis for peer collaboration and advising. Coaches can lead and organize these groups and purchase materials and content to assist in leading mastermind groups to provide the most benefit to all participants. Inviting individuals to join an executive mastermind group can be a great way to spark business connections, encourage networking, and learn from industry peers and leaders. Additionally, professionals may find benefit in the cost-effectiveness of executive mastermind groups rather than a more costly executive coaching or consulting agreement. 

The value of peer collaboration and feedback add great benefit to executive mastermind groups for both coaches and participants. Executive mastermind groups provide a pivotal opportunity for coaches to refine their leadership skills and provide a platform that promotes learning from diverse perspectives and gaining peer insights. Furthermore, mastermind groups create a comforting environment for growth and support in making mistakes. Through mastermind collaboration efforts, leaders are enabled to achieve team goals, stay attuned to industry changes, and cultivate a community of support and psychological safety for learning and growth.  

In leading an executive mastermind group, executive coaches are given the opportunity to build relationships and a trust-based culture with leaders across varying industries. Providing a welcoming platform to facilitate networking and building relationships is a crucial aspect of developing a quality, focused mastermind group. In building this platform, individuals create a space of psychological safety and embrace mistakes that promote collective growth. 

Through executive mastermind sessions, executive coaches enhance their skills and contribute to the continuous evolution of professional education as a whole. Here are the top 6 reasons that executive coaches should consider starting an executive mastermind group:

  1. Business Development
By having an executive mastermind group, coaches are able to create a safe place for prospects to begin discussing their challenges. Executive coaching and training are intimate relationships built on high trust. An executive mastermind group creates an environment for coaches to build trust with their prospects who, when the time is right, will come to them seeking higher value engagements.

2. Networking and Relationship Building
Executive mastermind groups create a valuable environment to build long-lasting relationships and network with other executives across different industries. Through mastermind groups, coaches can learn more about specific industry measures that impact individuals, and, coaches are able to build their network and demonstrate their knowledge and ability. 

3. Expanding Impact
Through executive mastermind groups, coaches are able to further impact the professionals they advise. However, in a mastermind group, the executive coach is not the only individual leading towards team growth. Participant engagement and collaboration provide incredible benefits to professionals that cannot necessarily be gained through basic trainings. Executives face unique challenges and the solutions to these challenges cannot always be found in a textbook. Executives guide each other through continuous discussion and collaboration using their past experiences. Through executive mastermind groups, coaches are able to reach a larger audience with impactful guidance to leave a lasting impact on participants. 

4. Risk Aversion 
Through executive mastermind groups, coaches can benefit from a risk-averse strategy to expand their business. Rather than enacting a change across a team, department, or company, these individuals work with just a few leaders. By working with fewer individuals, coaches reduce the risk to their brand image and reputation. Additionally, for coaches still developing their businesses, mastermind groups provide an opportunity to network with leaders across industries which is crucial for expanding brand image and recognition. 

5. Scalability
An incredible perk of leading executive mastermind groups is the ability to easily scale groups. With flexibility benefits, coaches leading mastermind groups can guide a larger audience without sacrificing the quality of the session. Rather than a one-day training course on a specified topic, leaders can meet for 2 hours every other week and achieve similar results for personal growth because many executives are contributing to a group effort of guiding each other rather than the coach alone guiding the group. 

6. Brand Enhancement
By leading an executive mastermind group, coaches are able to enhance their leadership skills, industry knowledge, and brand image simultaneously. Partnering or using a specific company's mastermind group content is a great tool for coaches to start with, followed by adapting the materials for their specific client group. Through a reliable and well-designed mastermind course, coaches brand image and credibility will continuously increase.

Building an executive mastermind group cohort can be an incredibly strategic step for coaches to grow their businesses. Investing in mastermind group content offers a variety of benefits to both the leader and participants who collectively learn from each other. Through utilizing curated materials, mastermind group leaders can provide executives with a psychologically safe, supportive environment to share diverse experiences and learn from peers. 

If you are an executive coach and are interested in setting up your own executive mastermind group, schedule a conversation with Ambition In Motion to learn more.


Thu 30 May 2024
IT Consultants often spend countless hours networking, attending events, and following up with leads to secure contracts. This process, while necessary, can significantly detract from their core work and limit their capacity to take on new projects.

The landscape of IT consulting is full of challenges, especially when dealing with high-stakes projects for CIOs, CTOs, or VPs. These executives often face the daunting task of delivering critical software solutions with significantly reduced teams due to layoffs or budget cuts. In such scenarios, the pressure mounts to meet deadlines without compromising quality. 

The emotional toll of this process cannot be understated. IT consultants frequently find themselves juggling multiple tasks, striving to meet tight deadlines while simultaneously trying to expand their professional network. This relentless cycle can lead to burnout, frustration, and a sense of isolation. However, the path to success isn’t merely about securing the contract; it’s about forging strong, strategic relationships with key executives.

For IT Consultants, the task of developing and maintaining professional relationships can be a daunting and time-consuming endeavor. While there are other methods to find contractors and consultants for IT projects, they often come with significant drawbacks. Traditional hiring through agencies can be prohibitively expensive, with high fees and lengthy processes that delay project timelines. Additionally, these methods lack the personal touch and trust that come from direct relationships cultivated within a mastermind group.

Executive mastermind groups offer a streamlined and effective solution to these challenges. By deploying an executive mastermind group, IT Consultants can simplify the process of building and nurturing valuable relationships. These groups bring together like-minded executives and consultants in a structured environment, fostering collaboration and mutual support.

What is an Executive Mastermind Group?
An executive mastermind group from Ambition in Motion (AIM) is a facilitated gathering of top-level professionals who meet regularly to discuss challenges, share insights, and support each other's growth. AIM provides a proven process for these groups, ensuring that each meeting is productive and focused on achieving tangible results. By licensing AIM’s executive mastermind group processes, IT Consultants can leverage a well-established framework that has been refined for maximum effectiveness.

AIM's executive mastermind groups are designed to create a safe, supportive environment where executives can openly discuss their challenges and collaborate on solutions. The groups are carefully curated to include individuals with complementary skills and experiences, enhancing the value of each interaction. This structured approach ensures that every participant benefits from the collective wisdom and support of the group.

The emotional and professional benefits of participating in an executive mastermind group are profound. These groups provide a sanctuary where consultants can share their challenges, gain strategic insights, and build meaningful connections with peers and potential clients.

8 Benefits of Licensing and Running an Executive Mastermind Group
Licensing the AIM executive mastermind group process allows IT Consultants to create their own groups with ease, saving them time and opening up numerous opportunities. Here are some compelling benefits:

  1. Time Efficiency: With a structured and facilitated approach, consultants can quickly build strong relationships with key executives, bypassing the lengthy traditional networking methods.
  2. Business Development: AIM does the work for licensees of building the relationships and filling their schedules with prospect conversations. 
  3. Access to High-Level Executives: Mastermind groups attract top-tier professionals, providing consultants with direct access to decision-makers who are likely to need their services.
  4. Enhanced Credibility: Leading a mastermind group positions consultants as thought leaders and trusted advisors, enhancing their reputation and credibility within the industry.
  5. Strategic Insights and Support: Participants in mastermind groups share valuable insights and strategies, helping consultants stay ahead of industry trends and challenges. Mastermind groups provide a safe space for executives to share challenges and solutions, fostering an environment of mutual support and innovative problem-solving.
  6. Cost-Effective Networking: Compared to traditional networking events and strategies, mastermind groups are a more cost-effective way to connect with potential clients.
  7. Access to Skilled Talent: Mastermind groups often include members who are adept at sourcing and placing consultants to fill critical gaps, making it easier to find the right talent quickly and efficiently.
  8. Improved Cost Efficiency: By leveraging the collective knowledge and resources of a mastermind group, consultants can find cost-effective solutions that might otherwise be prohibitively expensive through traditional hiring channels.

Beyond the tangible benefits, it’s essential to recognize the human element that mastermind groups bring to the table. Executives at the top of their game often experience isolation and the pressure to always have the right answers. An executive mastermind group provides an environment where leaders can connect with peers who understand their unique challenges. This camaraderie not only enhances their professional lives but also contributes to their personal well-being.

By deploying an executive mastermind group, IT Consultants can significantly streamline this process, saving time and unlocking a wealth of opportunities. These groups offer a blend of professional growth, strategic insights, and invaluable networking that can transform the consultant’s role from a service provider to a trusted advisor. Licensing AIM’s executive mastermind groups not only enhances networking efficiency but also establishes consultants as leaders in their field, paving the way for sustained success and growth in the IT consulting industry.


Fri 17 May 2024
Relocating for career growth is a decision that dramatically impacts both professional and personal life. The prospect of moving to a new country with the promise of career advancement, exposure to different cultures, and personal growth may present numerous benefits. In some cases, upper level management may even present relocation as a fast track to advancing towards more long term goals due to the increased knowledge gained from working at different company branches. Despite these exciting opportunities, there are certainly challenges that must be taken into account before taking this huge step. 

Pros of Career Relocation 

  1. Accelerated Career Advancement 
When propositioned with a job relocation, management may indicate that this new opportunity may accelerate career advancement within the company. Regardless of whether it is explicitly stated by management, relocating often leads to more rapid advancement due to the breadth of knowledge acquired when working at a different branch. Being exposed to business operations at different branches allows for increased perspective of how the company operates internationally. Relocating also demonstrates immense flexibility and adaptability which are important traits for management positions. 

Willingness to relocate can allow for accelerated career progression due to the expanded professional network obtained by working for other branches. When moving to a new location, there is a new set of management and team members to work with. The opportunity to meet new people can allow for both professional and personal growth as they can share their perspectives and experiences. 

2. Personal Growth 

Living and working in a foreign country provides many opportunities for personal growth. Entering this new environment can lead to a lot of self reflection and opportunities for self fulfillment. Being immersed in an entirely new culture also helps to develop greater empathy and enhanced communication skills. Learning how to adapt to different customs and ways of life within this new culture can provide new perspectives and understanding of personal preferences. Not only do these new experiences provide personal growth, but they can also allow for personal development that is transferable to managing and working in team settings.

3. Competitive Edge 

Exposure to working internationally is an incredibly valuable experience that can be leveraged within the job market. Employers often seek individuals who have international experience and have an understanding of diverse cultures. International experience indicates to employers that an employee is adaptable and resilient which is advantageous over other candidates. In particular, globalized companies will often favor candidates with international experience as these individuals will have increased understanding of the different facets that come with international branches. 

Cons of Career Relocation 

  1. Culture Adaptation 
While the introduction to a new culture may be an enriching experience, there are many struggles that come along with adapting to a new culture. Language barriers present many challenges when it comes to living and working in a new country. Regardless of whether the country has the same language, different vocabulary or common phrases can be difficult to adjust to. Considerable time may need to be spent learning the local language, which is important to consider when determining whether to relocate. 

Adapting to the local culture also includes fostering new relationships with coworkers and making new friends. Since there are cultural differences, it can be difficult to build these relationships. Getting involved in the community and with groups at work are to ways to develop strong relationships within a new home. It isn’t always easy to build meaningful relationships, so it can take more time and effort during already busy times. 

2. Family considerations 
For many people considering job relocation, family is a large consideration. While moving to a new country may be the best step for ones personal career, spouses or partners may struggle to find a job in the new location. Making the decision together and discussing potential drawbacks for their career is incredibly important. Similarly, uprooting children can be a difficult feat as they can have strong connections with friends and family that make them reluctant to leave. Since they may not fully understand the motivations for moving to another country, including them in the conversation can help them feel recognized and more onboard with the big decision. 

Another consideration that may be applicable is the timeline of the relocation and how that may effect the family dynamic. If the relocation is short term, an option may be that the family stays at home for the short duration of the relocation. This option presents emotional difficulties that can come from extended periods of time without seeing loved ones, but it is important to exhuast all potential options. 

3. Financial Considerations 
Financial aspects such as cost of living and relocation compensation packages are important when determining whether relocating is a feasible option. The cost of living varies in each country, so determining how far the new salary will go to cover personal expenses can help the decision making process. Additionally, negotiating with management to determine resonable compensation for the move should take into consideration a potentially higher cost of living as well as expenses associated with the move such as shipping costs. 

Another important financial consideration is determining to rent or sell current accommodations. If moving abroad is a short term venture, then it may be resonable to rent out current property. However, it may not be feasible to maintain one property in the home country while also paying for accommodations in another country. Considering different options and looking into personal finances will help to navigate this decision. 


While there are many benefits and challenges that go along with relocating abroad, there are many other factors to consider when making this decision such as the timeline for this relocation, company support, documentation and personal preferences. 

The timeline is important to consider as a short term or long term time abroad may be more appealing. If the company doesn’t present potential repatriation in the near future, it may be important to reflect on whether permanent relocation is an option that satisfies personal long term goals. 

When discussing the time period of the relocation, companies should also include appropriate support and relocation assistance. Some companies offer assistance finding temporary housing, shipping belongings, and even help enrolling children in schools. Especially in countries with drastically different cultures, training to become more acclimated to the new culture and language can be incredibly useful resources provided by the company. 

Another logistical challenge when moving abroad that the company may provide assistance for is receiving correct documentation. Depending on the duration of this relocation, a work visa or more extensive documentation will be required to live and work abroad. Having proper resources within the company to help obtain these documents can tremendously ease the relocation process and are important aspects to discuss with management when making a decision. 

Regardless of all the different factors to consider surrounding relocation, reflecting on personal preferences is a pivotal component. Some people are content staying in their home environment while others thrive when exposed to change. Reflecting on what will personally provide a more satisfying living and working environment can truly make or break the decision to relocate. 


Fri 17 May 2024
Proactive succession planning is a critical strategy for any organization aiming to ensure stability and growth. This approach involves identifying and developing potential future leaders within the company well before a vacancy arises. The primary benefit of this strategy is crisis prevention. By always having a ready replacement for key positions, organizations can minimize disruptions and maintain the continuity of strategic initiatives and projects. This foresight significantly reduces the stress and chaos that often accompany last-minute talent searches, allowing the business to operate smoothly even during transitions. In a rapidly changing business environment, the ability to seamlessly transition leadership roles without losing momentum is invaluable. It ensures that ongoing projects and strategic goals remain on track, maintaining client and stakeholder confidence.

Furthermore, proactive succession planning plays a pivotal role in leadership development. It provides a clear path for career advancement, which serves as a powerful motivator for employees. By enhancing the overall skill set of the workforce, companies prepare their teams for greater responsibilities, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and readiness. This development not only benefits the individuals but also strengthens the organization as a whole. Employees who see a clear trajectory for their career within the company are more likely to engage fully with their roles, taking initiative and striving for excellence. This proactive approach to talent development creates a dynamic and adaptive workforce capable of meeting the challenges of the future.

Employee retention is another significant advantage of proactive succession planning. Employees are more likely to stay with a company that invests in their future. When clear career progression opportunities are available, morale and commitment are naturally boosted. This clarity in career paths reduces turnover and the associated costs of hiring and training new employees, ultimately leading to a more stable and engaged workforce. High employee turnover can be detrimental to any organization, causing disruptions and loss of institutional knowledge. By contrast, a stable workforce fosters stronger team cohesion, better collaboration, and a deeper understanding of the company's culture and objectives.

Key Strategies for Continuous Employee Development

Career Path Transparency
  • Articulate potential career paths within the organization from the onboarding process and at regular review intervals.
  • Align employees’ career goals with the organization's needs, setting realistic expectations and fostering motivation.

Regular Feedback and Recognition
  • Implement a robust system for providing regular, constructive feedback and recognition.
  • Celebrate milestones and achievements to boost morale and reinforce a positive workplace culture.

Development and Training Opportunities
  • Offer ongoing training and development programs tailored to prepare employees for upward mobility within the company.
  • Encourage cross-departmental training to broaden employees' skills and understanding of the business.

Mentorship Programs
  • Pair experienced leaders with high-potential employees to facilitate knowledge transfer and personal development.
  • Strengthen the organizational network through mentorship relationships.

Engagement and Inclusion Initiatives
  • Create forums for employees to share their ideas and feedback, making them feel valued and included in the company’s direction.
  • Encourage active participation in decision-making processes to cultivate a sense of ownership and responsibility

Moreover, proactive succession planning encourages a learning-oriented environment where continuous skill development is valued. This not only prepares employees for potential promotions but also equips them with the skills needed to excel in their current roles. Offering regular training and development opportunities keeps the workforce adaptable and innovative, ready to leverage new technologies and methodologies to drive the company forward. This environment of continuous learning and growth makes the organization more attractive to top talent, further enhancing its competitive edge.

This management strategy not only ensures that organizations are prepared for inevitable changes but also gives managers more time to find quality replacements instead of rushing to fill positions when someone quits. Here’s how:

  1. Extended Search Period
  • Managers have the luxury of time to conduct thorough searches for the best candidates.
  • Allows for multiple rounds of interviews to ensure a good fit with the company culture and team dynamics.

2. Higher Quality Hires
  • With more time, managers can attract and evaluate a broader pool of candidates.
  • Ensures that the new hire possesses the necessary skills and experiences to excel in the role.

3. Better Onboarding and Integration
  • Managers can plan a comprehensive onboarding process that helps the new hire integrate smoothly into the team.
  • Provides time to arrange for mentorship and training programs that support the new employee’s transition.

4. Reduced Pressure and Stress
  • Managers can approach the hiring process methodically, reducing the pressure and stress associated with last-minute recruitments
  • Allows for better decision-making, as choices are made based on quality rather than urgency.

5. Continuity and Stability
  • Ensures that there is no gap in leadership or key roles, maintaining continuity and stability in ongoing projects and initiatives.
  • Keeps team morale high by demonstrating that the company is well-prepared and values its employees' career paths.

6. Cost Efficiency
  • Reduces the financial impact of turnover by minimizing the need for expensive, last-minute recruitment efforts.
  • Saves costs associated with hiring the wrong candidate due to rushed decisions.

7. Strategic Alignment
  • Allows managers to align new hires with the company’s long-term strategic goals.
  • Ensures that new employees are not only qualified but also share the company’s vision and values.

In essence, proactive succession planning is not just about preparing for inevitable changes; it’s about building a resilient organization that thrives on continuous development and strategic foresight. By fostering a proactive culture, companies can mitigate risks, enhance employee satisfaction, and ensure sustained growth. The benefits extend beyond merely having a contingency plan in place; they include creating a vibrant, motivated, and forward-thinking workforce that is capable of leading the company to new heights. This holistic approach to talent management underscores the importance of investing in people as the key to long-term organizational success.

Proactive succession planning and continuous employee development are essential for building a resilient and forward-looking organization. By preparing for leadership transitions in advance and investing in the growth of their employees, companies can minimize disruptions, retain top talent, and foster a motivated and committed workforce. This approach not only safeguards the company’s future but also turns potential crises into opportunities for leadership and development, ensuring long-term success.


Fri 17 May 2024
The state of California has proposed new legislation that will discourage managers and supervisors from contacting their employees outside of contract work hours. If enacted, this legislation could significantly impact modern work expectations in California and potentially across the country. 

Setting work boundaries is crucial for individuals to avoid burn-out and keep a healthy work-life balance. However, it is challenging for professionals to set these boundaries with their supervisors and bosses when each party has a different understanding of the expectations. A legal obligation to honor contract hours as the only available hours for an individual will set a clear boundary, beneficial to promoting balance for both direct reports and executives. 

When managers stay past normal work hours and email, chat, or contact others on their team they send implicit communication that those receiving the communication should be working as well. Even if a superior says they do not expect overtime, their sending of emails or messages implies to others that they should be working as well. Getting a late-night email from a boss can be stressful and lead to overworking and burnout of professionals across all levels. Limiting these communications will enable individuals to truly log off at the end of the day and step away from work. 

The California law is based on a concept called “right to disconnect.” Right to disconnect means that once an employee is outside of explicitly stated contract hours, they have no obligation to respond to any communication unless related to an emergency or schedule change within the next 24 hours. Several countries around the world have adopted this mentality working to promote work-life balance and mental health, France, Canada, Portugal and others work to support their citizens (CNBC).

Nevertheless, monitoring employee contact outside of contract hours is a challenging task and will likely take weeks or months for the turnaround in the government to report a complaint to eventually charge a fine to the individual in violation. To better promote work-life balance in this sphere, managers and leaders should consider new ways to limit work to work hours. For example, managers should set clear, explicit team expectations for work and communication habits. Additionally, managers and leaders should be considerate in utilizing their team's preferences and experiences to create a team norm. 

To further promote work-life balance, managers should consider “transition time” to and from work that will optimize efficiency and energy within a team. Transition time is a short amount of time in between different parts of a person's day that allows a small break to reflect and prepare to move forward while leaving the stress from the previous focus behind. Transition time helps mitigate stress and burnout and aids in creating feelings of control and preparedness. Many individuals may have transition time on a train or in a car during a commute. Through the COVID-19 pandemic transition to online work, many individuals lost their transition time between work and home life changing professionals' ability to recharge and prepare for the next phase of their day. 

Although it is sometimes challenging for managers to limit work contact, managers should be deliberate in promoting transition time. When a team member has adequate time to mentally prepare for their day, they will have higher energy and show increased efficiency while at work. On the other hand, without transition time, individuals may come into work feeling disorganized or unprepared, leading to a disheveled and inefficient work day. Once managers have set clear expectations with their team, they may focus on promoting autonomy for their team's growth and learning. 

Moving forward, promoting transition time for remote or hybrid employees is a great tool for improving focus and preparedness in the workplace along with prioritizing mental health and work-life balance. Transition time is a critical component of a person's day that encourages well-being and productivity. Here are 3 tips for individuals trying to find transition time to cultivate healthy habits and optimize performance. 

  1. Make Lists
Transition time can appear in all different mediums. For example, some individuals may like to sit and listen to music or meditate. To be effective in using transition time, individuals should consider making lists to prioritize what items need to be handled in a day in which order. For example, an individual may get to work and create their work to-do list for the day and after work, they could do the same thing for their home life. Or, an individual could use transition time every day after work to create their to-do list for the next day. Either way, lists are a great tool for transition time to focus on activities and priorities. Knowing the order of tasks, time constraints and priorities allows for increased productivity and efficiencies throughout the day. 

2. Recap Activities
Transition time could be a moment of reflection or a recap of big events. For example, if an individual is nervous about a meeting, they may take time before to prepare their resources and a moment after to reflect and recap the meeting. Using transition time in between different focuses enables individuals to leave the stress from the first task behind and move into the next task energized and prepared. 

3. Set Boundaries
As discussed above, after-hours communication and messages from bosses can be a significant stressor in an individual's personal life. Using communication boundaries and set expectations can add to the impact of transition time. If an individual logs off for the work day at the end of contract hours and takes a moment to reflect and prepare for the next day but is later contacted by their boss, the value of their transition time is lost. Transition time works best when individuals are shifting from one focus to another, but if after-hours communication is occurring, this deteriorates the benefit of transition time for the direct report who is now asked to shift back to work mode. 

In working to prioritize mental health, work-life balance, and boundaries in the workplace, it is crucial for direct reports and their superiors to fully understand the mental impact of burnout and its causes. Managers who promote balance and well-being for their employees will see increased productivity and focus within their teams. 


Mon 6 May 2024
The mood shifted abruptly at a leading software development company as Sarah, a seasoned project manager, entered her manager Tom's office to deliver unexpected news. She was resigning, with only two weeks’ notice. Her decision was driven by an exciting new opportunity elsewhere, a leap forward in her career that she felt she couldn't pass up. For Tom, Sarah’s departure was not just about losing a valuable team member; it was a wake-up call to the vulnerabilities in his management approach.

Up until that moment, Tom had been operating in a reactive management model, dealing with issues as they arose, without a clear plan for unforeseen changes such as this. Sarah had been in several critical projects, and her sudden exit left a significant gap. The scramble to find a replacement or even a temporary fill became a top priority, causing stress and disruption across her team. This reactive cycle was familiar: a last-minute rush to replace departing talent without any strategy.

This situation exemplifies the pitfalls of a reactive management culture, where planning for future needs is often overshadowed by immediate concerns. However, imagine a different scenario, one where proactive management principles are ingrained in the company’s culture.

Fast forward two years, and the landscape at this company looks different under the leadership of Laura, the new Director of Operations. Using performance management tools such as AIM Insights, she was able to learn from past disruptions like Sarah's departure, Laura has shifted the company’s approach from reactive to proactive, particularly in terms of succession planning and career development.

Laura’s tenure began with a clear mandate: transform the organizational culture to focus on foresight and preparedness. She introduced a series of strategic initiatives designed to cultivate a robust pipeline of talent within the company. Here’s how she implemented these changes:

  1. Strategic Talent Assessment:
  • Regularly review and assess the skill sets and career aspirations of all team members to identify potential leadership candidates early.
  • Use these insights to create a dynamic talent pool that is ready to step up when opportunities arise or when unexpected departures occur.

2. Developmental Opportunities:
  • Implement targeted development programs that prepare employees for advancement, ensuring that they have the skills and experience required to succeed in higher roles.
  • Encourage cross-functional training to broaden employee skill sets and provide a deeper understanding of the company.

3.Career Path Clarity:
  • Clearly communicate potential career trajectories within the company, setting expectations and motivating employees by showing them a clear path to advancement.
  • Regularly update these paths to reflect changes in the company’s structure and market dynamics.

4. Mentorship and Support Networks:
  • Establish mentorship programs that connect experienced leaders with emerging talent, fostering relationships that build confidence and leadership skills.
  • Create networks that support both personal and professional growth, making the workplace a community of continuous learning and mutual support.

5. Feedback and Adjustment:
  • Solicit and act on feedback regarding the effectiveness of development and succession programs.
  • Adapt strategies in response to new challenges and opportunities, ensuring the organization remains agile and responsive.

Understanding the Need for Proactive Succession Planning

To foster a management culture that excels in proactive succession planning and motivating employees, several critical strategies need to be seamlessly integrated into the organizational fabric.

Crisis Prevention and Leadership Development: Proactive planning is essential for avoiding the chaos that often ensues following unexpected departures. Such foresight ensures that there is a steady pipeline of capable leaders ready to step up at any given moment, preserving both the continuity and the strategic vision of the organization. This approach not only minimizes disruptions but also supports sustained growth and stability.

Employee Retention: A clear, articulated path for career progression significantly enhances employee retention. When individuals see tangible opportunities for growth within the company, they are more likely to remain motivated and committed to the organization’s success. This sense of potential for personal advancement is crucial in maintaining a motivated workforce.

Motivating Employees Through Continuous Growth Opportunities:
Businesses that thrive adopt several key strategies to not only motivate their employees but also prepare them for future roles, which include:

  • Career Path Transparency: It is vital to clearly articulate the potential career paths within the organization during the onboarding process and at regular review intervals. Providing a roadmap that aligns an employee’s career goals with the organization's needs helps in setting realistic expectations and fosters a motivated workforce.
  • Regular Feedback and Recognition: Implementing a robust system that provides regular, constructive feedback and recognition is crucial. Celebrating milestones and achievements boosts morale and motivation, reinforcing a positive workplace culture.
  • Development and Training Opportunities: Offering ongoing training and development programs tailored to prepare employees for upward mobility within the company is essential. Additionally, encouraging cross-departmental training broadens employees' skills and understanding of the business, fostering a more versatile workforce.
  • Mentorship Programs: Establishing mentorship programs that pair experienced leaders with high-potential employees facilitates knowledge transfer and personal development. This not only enhances skills but also strengthens the organizational network.
  • Engagement and Inclusion Initiatives: Creating forums for employees to share their ideas and feedback makes them feel valued and included in the company’s direction. Encouraging active participation in decision-making processes reinforces their role in the company’s success and cultivates a sense of ownership and responsibility.
  • Implementing Proactive Succession Planning: This involves a strategic and thoughtful approach where potential future leaders are identified early and given the tools and training needed to succeed. This planning should be an ongoing process, adapted to changing circumstances and aligned with the long-term goals of the company.

The story of Sarah's abrupt departure and Tom's reactive management highlighted the vulnerabilities and chaos that occur without a proactive succession planning strategy. However, under Laura's leadership, the company experienced a significant transformation. By adopting proactive management principles, Laura not only prepared her team for unexpected changes but also cultivated a culture where future leaders were ready to step up.

This strategic shift not only minimized disruptions during transitions but also promoted a stable, motivated, and forward-looking workforce. By preparing for the inevitable in advance, Laura's approach ensured that the company was not just surviving, but thriving. Employees, now clear on their career trajectories and assured of their growth opportunities, were more engaged and committed. 

Succession planning is not just about preparing for the inevitable but also about creating an environment where employees are continually motivated through clear, achievable career paths and growth opportunities. In the end, the proactive measures not only safeguarded the company's future but also turned potential crises into opportunities for leadership and development, demonstrating the benefits of leaving reactive management behind and embracing a proactive future, ensuring long-term success. 


Mon 29 April 2024
Although sometimes intimidating, it is crucial that individuals are able to advocate for themselves in the workplace. Facing the undue challenge of sexism in the workplace is a delicate and daunting subject. 

Making sure each member's voice is heard and valued should be at the forefront of each manager's priorities. However, many individuals are subject to unconscious or subconscious bias against others, meaning that they do not realize the inappropriate nature of their behavior, tone, actions, or attitude so, bringing it to their attention is a sensitive subject. The subconscious or unconscious intent of sexist behavior does not make it permissible but, it does create a learning opportunity.  How can individuals address these concerns with their superiors without jeopardizing their relationship and impression or creating a workplace adversary? 

Consider Tom, who is the Chief Marketing Officer of a small consulting firm. Tom is in his early 40s and has three young children at home. Tom's colleague, Jennifer is the Chief Technology Officer of this firm, also in her early 40’s with young children. In a recent meeting, executive leaders of the firm were discussing how to streamline some processes within the office using new technology. Jennifer suggests implementing Microsoft Teams within the office rather than strictly using email. Tom responds by sharing that most people would rather “stick to what they know” and use email. The conversation continues, and several other executive members agree with Tom. Eventually, Christopher, the company's Chief Information Officer chimes in sharing that Teams is a good idea because “it will make communication faster.” Other members begin to agree with Christopher and the meeting concludes with all members in favor of implementing Microsoft Teams, crediting Christopher for the great idea. Jennifer is left feeling unvalued by the team for her contributions because when she suggested implementing Teams, her idea was shot down, despite her industry knowledge, years of experience, and background data. 

How can Jennifer approach Tom and other executives regarding the sexism she is facing in the workplace? How can leaders curb unconscious or subconscious biases that may affect them?

Jennifer is now tasked with approaching board leaders to express the discrimination she has been facing and find a remedy. However, Jennifer is concerned that approaching Tom or other executives may affect her reputation and relationships around the office. Jennifer needs to find a method of advocating for herself without negatively impacting her office status or alienating herself from her colleagues. Jennifer has a couple of approaches she could consider:

Point Out Sexist Behaviors In Meetings
Jennifer could stop the meeting at the point of inappropriate behavior and call out the group as a whole. In this situation, Jennifer does not assign blame to any one individual but to the group as a whole for undesirable practices. This is a good strategy because Jennifer does not single out one person but points out poor group norms for the whole team. 

Confront Tom in the Meeting
Alternatively, Jennifer could first call out Tom for his poor behavior, accusing him of shooting down her idea without proper consideration. This strategy is a risky approach because Jennifer would be singling out Tom in front of others, likely making him upset and defensive. This strategy could be detrimental to Jennifers' reputation and professionalism in the office. 

Speak Privately to Tom 
Jennifer could speak directly to the instigator of this conversation, Tom, and point out his inappropriate behavior. In this meeting, Jennifer has to be direct and confront Tom in order to advocate for herself. Jennifer must carefully prepare for Tom’s reaction and be ready to continue a conversation if Tom is dismissive, defensive, or rude. 

Speak Directly to Company HR
Jennifer could avoid confrontation with any specific individual and instead bring the topic to the company's Human Resources department. A representative from HR will be a great listener and could help guide Jennifer moving forward to navigate these challenges. HR may be able to speak to the other executives on Jennifers' behalf but, there is little follow-up or enforcement when a reprimanding comes from an “anonymous” source. 

While these are some options for Jennifer, there is not always a “right answer” to approaching situations like this. Role dynamics, personality types, and workplace norms heavily impact the best route for dealing with discriminatory or offensive colleagues. In any situation relating to these concerns, it is crucial to remember these 4 tips:

  1. Plan Ahead
In entering a “crucial conversation,” it is important to be prepared to be clear and collected during a meeting. When discussing a threatening or upsetting scenario, many individuals may be taken aback by emotions or feelings clouding their communication methods. If individuals prepare in advance with written points, feelings, and experiences, they are better able to stay on track and remember the points they were considering when the scenario took place. Additionally, in planning ahead individuals should prepare for the different outcomes possible in a confrontation. For example, individuals may become defensive or disagreeable and derail the important conversation. 

2. Choose the Right Time and Place
In protecting an individual's own professional impressions and relationships, it is crucial to select the correct time and place. In private, many individuals will be more calm and willing to discuss because their reputation is not at risk in front of others. Individuals are more willing to apologize and accept their faults without public embarrassment or accusations. 

3. Be Specific
Clearly explain the comment, attitude, or actions and why they were inappropriate. Individuals suffering from subconscious or unconscious bias are generally unaware that their actions may be negatively impacting others. Explaining why behaviors are offensive clears miscommunication and misunderstanding on the topic and provides individuals with a learning experience of why what they said or did was wrong. 

4. Know Available Resources
In working for self-advocacy, it is most crucial for individuals to know all available resources. These resources are great tools for planning and learning to navigate while balancing different factors in a new situation. 

Overall, it is important for individuals to practice self-advocacy in calculated measures. Weighing impacts of group impressions, professionalism and relationship building heavily impacts the approach individuals should take. Although a delicate subject, there are no improvements in individuals' behavior if they are not corrected. Self-advocacy is a crucial tool to promote self-independence, growth, empowerment, and fair-treatment. 


Mon 29 April 2024
Cross-cultural teams provide immense benefits to organizations such as enhanced problem-solving skills and diversity of perspectives from the culmination of various backgrounds. Although these benefits can contribute to an organization's success, difficulties can arise for managers tasked with leading these cross-cultural teams. Scheduling conflicts and communication barriers can create points of conflict for managers. Additionally, less apparent issues such as cultural norms and creating a unified team environment can be detrimental to the success of a cross-cultural team. Increased awareness about cultures can work to prevent potential tensions from arising within the workplace. 

Cross-cultural teams may be comprised of individuals working remotely from different countries or expatriates. Regardless of the composition of the physical locations of group members, cultural differences can present tensions in the team environment and communication methods because individuals from different cultures may have drastically different approaches to tasks in the workplace. Various strategies can be implemented by managers to develop cultural understanding, enhance communication, and develop team norms ultimately improving the team's performance. 

Understanding Cultural Differences 
Learning about differences between cultures present on the team can develop increased awareness about why team members may do or interpret things differently. A helpful resource to understand more about different cultures is Geert Hofstede’s Cultural Dimension Theory. Hofstede’s theory explores six key aspects of cultures: power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism-collectivism, masculinity-femininity, and short vs. long-term orientation. Comparison between cultures using these cultural dimensions can work to explain variances in workplace behavior. For example, team members from cultures with higher power distance increasingly value hierarchy and are more likely to rely heavily on those with positions of power for explicit direction. This may present an issue for teams that depend on quick decision-making processes and independent work. Being conscious of these potentially ingrained cultural differences can guide managers to communicate more about proper procedures and create a more inclusive workplace environment. 

For team members recently relocated to a new country, there may be some distinct cultural differences they are not accustomed to within their new home. Developing proper mechanisms for expatriate training is incredibly important for easing this transition for newly relocated team members. While many companies have established systems for assisting relocated employees to adapt to the new location, as a manager, it is important to develop an inclusive and comprehensive introduction to the new space they are working in. Aiding a seamless transition to the new working environment can include more one-on-one conversations to learn more about the recently relocated team member and discuss any potential concerns they have adjusting to the new environment.

Effective communication 
Communication barriers are another important consideration when working with a cross-cultural team. For team members who aren’t working in their native language, aspects such as tone and sentence structure may vary considerably. These differences in communication and understanding present many points of misunderstanding between workers. Strategies to prevent misinterpretation consist of utilizing clear and concise messages. This way there are fewer opportunities for potential misunderstandings. Another strategy to emphasize amongst team members is to encourage clarification. If a team member does not entirely understand something, asking further questions can prevent issues later. Working to develop an environment that promotes questions and clear communication will benefit the entire team. 

Another important facet of communication that can vary across cultures is “taught behaviors”. Within different cultures, there are different cultural norms of communication. For instance, American team members may be abrupt over chat function and directly start conversations with a question or request, while Indian team members tend to practice more indirect communication and may include a greeting and more pleasantries before requesting something. Although a seemingly insignificant difference in communication, this can cause frustration for American team members who prefer more immediate communication and conversely cause frustration for Indian team members who interpret the abrupt communication as rude. Working to discuss appropriate communication practices can help to relieve unnecessary issues arising from these “taught behaviors”. 

Establish Team Norms 
With team members coming from various places, establishing team norms increases progress timeliness. Technology developments help to mitigate time-zone-related issues as there is increased communication and immediacy. 24/7 accessible applications such as SharePoint and live documentation features help to allow for consistent communication among all team members. While some team members are off the clock, team members from different time zones can update the live documents and have a record for team members who aren’t currently working. This allows for greater communication and consistency between team members working during different times.  

Another potential issue solved through team norms is establishing a sense of team unity. When managing a team from various cultures, team members may develop an “us vs. them” mentality between different regions when mistakes are made. For teams that have little periods of overlap due to time differences, it can be difficult to foster collaboration and create a sense of division. When an error occurs, for instance during the Australian Central Standard shift, British team members may get frustrated with Australian team members causing increased tensions. Although there is a considerable time difference between these two teams' standard working hours, utilizing some of the overlapping time for weekly or monthly team meetings can unify the team and create a greater sense of appreciation for team members working during the other shifts. Overall, managers need to work to break cultural divides and help build a strong team environment.  

Implementing strategies directly focused on creating seamless interactions between team members of various cultures can be achieved through conscious efforts from all team members. As a manager, introducing measures to develop cultural understanding, effective communication methods, and team norms are important steps for preventing tensions arising from cultural differences is incredibly important. 


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