Introduction to “Keepers” Sponsored by Northwest Arkansas Business Journal

A valued member of our CEO Forum I, Darin Gray, came up with the idea that at almost every CEO Forum, one of the members makes a statement that has great wisdom or makes a statement that is worthy of “capturing” and holding so that others can be exposed to it, learn it or apply it. We have accepted his wise counsel and have begun a program we refer to as the “Keepers.” Keepers are posted to our website under the tab Keepers.

Thank you, Darin Gray!

Forecasting in Today’s Economic Climate

During times marked by turbulent economic events such as the past eighteen months, it is more difficult to forecast where our level of volume and revenues may be heading.

So how does one forecast in such a turbulent time?

Revenues and Items that Follow Revenues

Consider shortening the planning period first then extending it incrementally.   As an example, consider working diligently to understand and forecast next month’s sales, then the next two months, then the next quarter as a whole, then the next six months as a whole until you complete your planning period.  We can manage these activities in ways that are much more granular than times past not only in forecasting but also by working back from the monthly sales forecast and identifying  what  specific actions must occur by each key party to achieve these forecasts.  One can consider what this will require for the next month, the next week and even the next day, then remain engaged relative to these required activities to see that the organization get’s back “on plan” albeit likely from a lower base of revenues.  From this revenue forecast, one can begin to make decisions as to expense control and managing cash flow as we all strive to re-balance ourselves financially.  Working diligently to understand and manage from the short term detail of each of these areas will give your organization an opportunity to get re-balanced sooner than later.

Balance Sheet Considerations and Strategic Direction

While longer term in nature, equally important are the strategic considerations to develop a more intense understanding of how each customer is weathering this storm and targeting for possible increase in sales those that represent stable capacity to pay your accounts receivable timely and reducing exposure to those that could become slower pay and even a loss due to inability to pay their accounts payable.  This is not something that we had to concern ourselves with too much in the past decade.  It is a skill and a methodology that must be redeveloped or developed so that we can better understand our risk and make decisions accordingly.

Keep in mind that there has been and will continue to be surprises of corporate downfalls and by working diligently every day to access these risks, you may be able to act to minimize risks where surprises could otherwise occur at a time that is least affordable. The risk of every customer is going up or it is going down and it is helpful longterm if we try to ascertain which direction each customer is heading and respond accordingly seeking to reduce exposure to one group and expand sales with the other group.  This is easy to say and hard to do but by establishing these strategic directions, one can over time make a positive  impact on the quality and risk of your overall customer base.

Some organizations may be able to afford taking the increased risks that some of these customers pose and be willing to work with them with loosened payment terms during this difficult time.  If so, that is outstanding and admirable.  Hopefully your customers will appreciate your willingness to both expand the working capital levels required to finance the same business and accept the credit risk.  This also could be deemed a   necessary risk compared to loosing sales volume such that operating losses begin to impair capital.

Finding the optimal risk / reward strategy for your organization in these areas will not only serve you well this year but for years to come and can make your organization, through this adversity, stronger than before the downturn.

Best of luck in your future forecasting, improved risk assessment, re-targeting of your customer base and managing your cash flow for the challenging yet macro-economically improving period of the next five quarters ending 2010.

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How Members Benefit from The CEO Forums

It can be lonely at the top.  A CEO doesn’t always have upstream resources like others in an organization to call upon for answers to his or her largest challenge, issue or opportunity.  Yet, what ever the most pressing challenge, issue or opportunity that comes your way, one can be assured that other CEO’s have experience and knowledge in how best to respond to the same.  And in our group format with valued peers among your membership, the collective wisdom of the group never ceases to amaze us relative to how robust and valuable the input can  be for an amazingly broad array of topics.
We strive to pursue answers and content helpful to elevate a leader’s performance and do so with the understanding that we must be diligent and thoughtful so as to to find the reality of any given circumstance, situation, challenge or opportunity.  We strive to pursue answers without ego and challenge our members to do so as well.  We know we can be wrong and constantly strive to stress test what we have learned and continue to learn as we know that we must be life long learners and know that both people and reality often change.
Our objective is to take people from where they are, understanding our own weaknesses and shortcomings, and while helping others, focus on how we can improve.  Within our groups, we encourage debate and disagreement in a constructive manner via this open and trusting format so as to help one another define reality and the optimal approach to a challenge, issue or opportunity.
Below is a list of how members of a CEO Forums can benefit.
  • Participate in a trusting and mutually supportive environment
  • Benefit from learning from one another and collective wisdom of the group
  • Distinguish between fads and sustainable best practices
  • Learn from real-life experiences of others
  • Gain timely insights regarding economic conditions across various sectors
  • Address common issues via outside expertise and dialogue among peers
  • Enhance servant leadership and organizational management skills
  • Discover new and better ways to achieve exceptional results
  • Network for knowledge, wisdom and personal growth
  • Share content and resources via websites, social media and Emerging Apps
We are in the process of developing five Toolboxes for clients of Elevate and members of Elevate  or members of a forum.   These toolboxes include:
- Leadership and People Development
- Strategic Thinking and Planning
- Financial Strategies / Corporate Finance
- Business Model Evolution
- Remaining Current, a competitive imparitive
- Learning from one another
Thank you for taking the time to consider this information.
For more information about our advisory services or CEO Forums, please contact Tim at Tim@ceoforums.us.
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For Results That Always Get Better “ Jim Myers

Jim Myers, Founder of the CEO Forum in Phoenix, AZ is an incredible mentor and has had a positive impact mentoring and advising well over 100 CEO’s in Arizona and across America.

The business community of Phoenix was quite fortunate when Jim, experienced as a CEO of two publicly held companies, one of which represented 10,000 co-workers, elected to move to Phoenix with his lovely wife Gindy to be closer to family and enjoy the Arizona sunshine. Tim McFarland, who leads the CEO Forums in Arkansas, licensed from Jim’s organization, was fortunate to be a member of the original CEO Forum in 1989.  Tim will be putting forth “nuggets” of counsel that Jim has taught to others and will on occasion invite other members of the CEO Forum in Phoenix to share their good fortune to have learned from Jim.  Jim’s counsel is not only of strong value but it is practical and executable.

As we consistently strive to find information of high value helpful to CEO’s, we also find that much of it sounds excellent but is not so practical and executable. And this makes us even more hungry to bring to members of the CEO Forum and on a selected basis to the public at large, a program we refer to as “For Results That Always Get Better – Jim Myers.”

In this post, we offer two guidances taught to us by Jim Myers that we know can help every organizational leader when applied more diligently.

1.  Consider Jim’s definition of a leader and how you and your leadership team conduct your roles as leaders so as to “bring out the best in others.”

2.  Every day, every hour, every conversation, strive to act in a way and encourage others to do so that will build an environment that is “open, trusting, non-defensive and non-political.”

And consider for just a moment any previous challenge you or your organization has had recently and if these guidances had been emphaisized and present, if the results not have been better.

“For results that always get better,”  thank you, Jim Myers!

John Lewis: Lessons Learned

AcrobatScreenSnapz027Don’t take yourself too seriously.

Happiness = Reality – Expectations

Gratitude is the foundation of contentment.

There are always those who are smarter, stronger and faster than you, generally younger. Choose them for your team.

Things that get rewarded…get done.

Mistakes are opportunities.

All humans face the same issues, just in varying magnitudes and in different sequencing.

Hubris is the first sign of an impending train wreck.

Reality is not moral.

John M. Lewis
1939-2007