Global Advisors | Quantified Strategy Consulting


The Six Structures Of Successful Emotional Intelligence Training

By Dr. Denise Trudeau-Poskas

Photo: GETTY

Emotional intelligence is vital to success both in leadership and the workplace. There is an abundance of research that directs attention to how emotional intelligence directly relates to better interpersonal relationships, performance and work-related effectiveness. Furthermore, according to Mikolajczak and colleagues, emotional intelligence is associated with significantly lowering our reactivity to stress both at the cognitive and biological levels.

Awareness of the importance of emotional intelligence is not new; it’s just growing. Back in 2011, more than 2,600 hiring managers surveyed on behalf of CareerBuilder revealed that emotional intelligence is critical. A full 71% of those hiring managers said they value emotional intelligence over IQ, and 75% said they base their promotions on higher emotional intelligence.

So how do we help leaders and employees develop this? Through my experience designing and coaching emotional intelligence programs, I have found that there are key components of training programs that will help companies develop emotional intelligence capacities at all levels.

Six Key Structures For Building Emotional Intelligence

Developing emotional intelligence is a strategic, deliberate process. These six key structures can create a frame for emotional intelligence development.

1. Balance The TPN And DMN

Emotional intelligence requires leaders and employees to practice using their TPN (task-positive network) and their DMN (default mode network). Neuroscience has informed us that the TPN, which is most commonly associated with goal setting, analyzing and task completion, needs to work with the DMN, which is mind wandering, reflectivity, visioning and long-term memory. The TPN is off when the DMN is on, so in the training program, make sure that participants are practicing using both.

For example, incorporate outcome-based benchmarks. Goal setting happens in the TPN, and sometimes people fail to achieve their goals because they solely focus on tasks. Encourage team members to focus on what will be the positive outcome of achieving their goals. What do they visualize about the ways the project will help, succeed and become innovative? As the team completes a project, also encourage them to reflect on what they’ve learned: What are their biggest takeaways? What ways could they increase innovation? What would be the impact and effectiveness?

2. Create Accountability Groups

Consider having participants work in small groups that meet twice per month to deepen their learning, share their personal leadership goals or focus wheels and hold each other accountable for making behavior changes. A focus wheel is a tool that coaches use to help create energy around seeing benchmarks accomplished. It is a circle on a piece of paper that has eight to 12 sections, similar to how a pizza is cut. Each section has a mantra or benchmark they want to achieve.

3. Practice To Make Perfect

Practice is power, and knowledge is support. So many programs rely on information dissemination. It is beneficial for employees to learn all they can about the categories and definitions of emotional intelligence. However, that is only the beginning; they also need to practice the different subsets of emotional intelligence. Whether it’s decision-making, interpersonal or intrapersonal relationships, optimism or reality testing, behavior change requires concrete ways to practice these.

For example, to practice reality testing — which is an objective evaluation of your perception — have participants ask themselves, “Is this perception empowering or not? If not, who might I check with to see other ways to view this?” Participants can practice optimism by choosing a mantra or belief about what they want to see, and then when faced with a challenge, they can read the optimistic mantra to re-shape possibilities.

4. Create A Common Language

I’ve found that it is so important to help groups, teams and participants find a new common language that incorporates neurolanguage — language patterns that empower higher brain functions. A great resource for this is Rachel Paling’s Neurolanguage Coaching. Such language works with the brain to create synergy, optimism, curiosity and solution finding. One great way to encourage participants to use more effective language is to provide a list of words and phrases that empower and influence. Some examples are “interesting,” “curious,” “looking forward to” and “interested in learning more.”

Creating a common language also means removing the use of trigger language. Trigger language is the use of words or phrases like “always,” “should,” “have to,” “incompetent,” “never” and other words that are common reactionary words.

5. Measure Growth

Consider an instrument and qualitative ways to measure participants’ growth. One example of an instrument that specifically measures emotional intelligence change is the Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i 2.0) assessment tool. I also use pre- and post-training indicators that are based on Bloom’s Taxonomy and can be researched readily. It is important that the participants understand not only the ways they are being evaluated but also the research behind it, so they understand the science behind the change.

6. Use An EQ-Savvy Facilitator

Perhaps most important is ensuring that the facilitator or trainer is well-versed in emotional intelligence. A coach will likely know more about asking powerful questions, but not all companies have an internal coach. Therefore, work with your trainers to get professional development in that area. The success of an emotional intelligence training program can depend on this, as well as having a deliberate curriculum they can follow.

Considering the high technology and knowledge age we’re in and will be in the future, the need for emotional intelligence is probably only going to increase. The gap between striving and thriving organizations will likely be based on the extent to which they are helping employees build their emotional intelligence skills. Decision-making, solution finding and navigating interpersonal relationships and self-awareness are now essential skills and will likely continue to be beyond 2020.

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How to Have Proactive Conversations With Employees (and Calm Their Fears)

How to Have Proactive Conversations With Employees (and Calm Their Fears)


By Melina Palmer

Employees may be scared and their work may be impacted as a result — whether they’re working from home or not.

As coronavirus fear spreads around the world, conferences are canceling, universities are converting to online only, and people are being encouraged to work from home. People are anxious and taking control of life in any way they can, which may include buying a lifetime supply of toilet paper or enough hand sanitizer to fill a swimming pool.

Most everyone knows the choice to hoard supplies is not rational, but they still can’t stop themselves from adding one more case of Kleenex to the cart “just in case.” Why? Because human are wired to react this way in an unknown crisis.

Here are a couple of the brain concepts at play and tips for communicating with staff during troubling times.

Proactively communicate as often as possible.

Things always seem more important when we are thinking about them, due to the focusing effect. Everyone is thinking about coronavirus constantly, and as long as they are forced to keep those thoughts within their own minds productivity will be impaccted. When people have an opportunity to discuss their fears in a safe place (and some of those fears are mitigated) it can help them move on for a while and get work done.

The “what ifs” are running rampant right now, so proactively answer as many of those questions as you can to keep employees calm. Use these to create FAQs and the content for the proactive conversations suggested above:

  • What if my family or I get sick and have to be quarantined? Will my job be safe?
  • Where would I go to get tested if I think I have coronavirus?
  • What if my kid’s school is closed and I need to stay home with them?

Consider all the fears your employees may be having, and proactively talk about them to help calm fears. If you don’t have policies in place yet, communicate now to say it is being worked on and send updates as you have them. It may feel like overcommunication, but with all the focus on this, it will feel like ages between updates.

Balance the messages about coronavirus.

Look for opportunities to help employees’ brains be less likely to have fear and overreaction be their instinctual responses. There is a lot going on with new changes daily, but panic will not help the situation improve.

Actively start looking for positive stories — or at least fact-based content that is neutral — and share that with your team to balance out the messages they are hearing.

Give them something productive to focus on.

With reduced travel (more time and money) consider what your employees could be doing to move your company forward. People will jump at an opportunity to feel in control of something, and that distraction could be a huge value to your business. Put together a challenge or encourage time to be spent on creative projects by asking questions like:

  • How could we best spend the $100,000 from the travel budget?
  • What products/services could we offer to be of service during coronavirus?
  • How could being remote for six months actually help our company thrive?

Communicating during coronavirus is important, and hopefully these tips will help your employees feel safe and supported, while also allowing your company to come out stronger on the other side.

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Term: Stuffing

What Is Stuffing?

Stuffing is the act of selling unwanted securities from a broker-dealer’s account to client accounts. Stuffing allows broker-dealer firms to avoid taking losses on securities that are expected to decline in value. Instead, client accounts take the losses. Stuffing can also be used as a means to raise cash quickly when securities are relatively illiquid and difficult to sell in the market.


  • While stuffing is widely regarded as unethical, it can be difficult to prove whether such transactions constitute fraud. Often, broker-dealers are given the power to buy and sell without client consent for discretionary accounts.
  • Stuffing may also refer to when a broker loses a price or quotes a price incorrectly and is obligated by another party to honor and complete a transaction at the quoted or promised price.

How Stuffing Works

While stuffing is widely regarded as unethical, it can be difficult to prove whether such transactions constitute fraud. Often, broker-dealers are given the power to buy and sell without client consent for discretionary accounts. Furthermore, the legal standard for broker-dealers buying securities for these accounts is “suitability,” which can be broadly interpreted. Since discretionary accounts provide so much power to broker-dealers, many financial advisors suggest that customers insist on providing consent for all transactions in their accounts.

Clearly you can assume that stuffing can cause issues as it relates to brokers and customers. This is why stuffing can be quite troublesome for all parties involved. The push to have discretionary accounts give consent to all transactions is a safety protocol that is in the best interest of the client. As the world of Wall Street moves towards openness – procedures in place to avoid stuffing is widely considered a good thing.

Stuffing vs. Quote Stuffing

The stuffing of customer accounts differs from the better-known form of stock market manipulation “quote stuffing.” Quote stuffing is the practice of quickly entering and then withdrawing large orders in an attempt to flood the market with quotes—causing competitors to lose time in processing them.

Quote stuffing is a tactic by high-frequency traders (HFT) in an attempt to achieve a pricing edge over their competitors. In practice, quote stuffing involves traders fraudulently using algorithmic trading tools that allow them to overwhelm markets by slowing down an exchange’s resources with buy and sell orders.

Other Forms of Stuffing

Stuffing may also refer to when a broker loses a price or quotes a price incorrectly and is obligated by another party to honor and complete a transaction at the quoted or promised price. In general, the price to cover the agreed-to transaction is a disadvantage to the individual who quoted it. However, the cost of fulfilling the order is borne by the broker, or the “stuffed” party.

In channel stuffing, salespeople and companies attempt to inflate their sales figures—and earnings—by deliberately sending buyers (such as retailers) more inventory than they are able to sell. Channel stuffing tends to happen closer to the end of quarters or fiscal years to help influence sales-based incentives. This activity can cause an artificial inflation of accounts receivable. When retailers are unable to sell the excess inventory, the surplus goods are then returned and the distributor is required to readjust its accounts receivable (if it adheres to GAAP procedure). As a result, its bottom line suffers after the fact—and after bonuses are paid. In other words, channel stuffing will eventually catch up with a company that fails to prevent it.

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6 things you must do to ace remote meetings

6 things you must do to ace remote meetings

By Andrea Summer

Collaborating from afar has the potential for distraction and miscommunication, but best practices can help teams work in lockstep.

The enormity of what’s transpired in the past few weeks is taxing the focus of remote workers in myriad ways. Immediate and pressing concerns encompass: The health and well-being of ourselves and others; job stability, personal investments, and the larger economic outlook; childcare and homeschooling obligations; and stocking the most basic, day-to-day supplies. In short, workers have never been so distracted, even as organizational leaders need them to concentrate now more than ever in order to help their companies weather the storm.

On top of all this, those new to remote work are learning on the fly that telecommuting comes with a unique set of challenges, which include far greater opportunities for distraction and miscommunication. It’s all too easy for teams to lose track or simply misunderstand who is responsible for what and when in an environment completely lacking the usual visual cues and impromptu reminders about what needs to be done.

Fortunately, there are best practices leaders can institute to help ensure their teams are marching in lockstep. This requires diligence surrounding remote meetings, which serve as the essential vehicles through which employees come together to successfully communicate, plan and collaborate, or–alternately–to go down the slippery and dangerous slope of working at counter purposes.

Here are some steps leaders and their teams should put in place for getting the most from remote meetings and to stay aligned during these challenging times.


Employees dialing into remote meetings are more likely to stay strictly focused on their specific to-do lists. While this might seem like a productivity booster, it isolates workers from each other–sapping morale and reducing crucial collaboration. To promote the connections individuals need–particularly now–to feel fully human and work productively, begin remote meetings with a meaningful question. You should even create an agenda line item for this check-in that allocates a certain amount of time for each participant to respond. This will give employees a chance to clear the air, let go of some stress and anxiety, get grounded, and then switch their focus to the matters at hand. The reduction in meeting time devoted to work won’t be an issue. Research has shown shorter meetings are actually more focused and have more impact.


With working parents struggling to babysit and homeschool children even as they put in extra hours to help their companies navigate this crisis, it’s crucial to allow for the occasional personal interruption during remote meetings. To illustrate, employees who aren’t comfortable asking team members to repeat themselves if their attention was pulled momentarily by a child might pretend to understand their marching orders when in fact they do not. What’s more, the blending of work and home life can duplicate the experience of coming together around the watercooler. It creates a gracious space for the human connections that encourages team members to help and support each other as they look to achieve collective, big-picture goals amidst stressful circumstances.


Following best practices surrounding agendas can go a long way to maximize remote meeting productivity. For example, agendas should always state the clear purpose of the meeting and what needs to be accomplished how and in what time frame. For example, a challenge might require a decision following a Q&A and brainstorm within 60 minutes. Also, there should be total clarity about who in each circumstance is responsible for creating and sending the agenda (along with related background information) and clear expectations about the need to set aside time to review so participants arrive fully prepared to accomplish objectives.


At the end of remote meetings, it’s imperative to determine the next steps and a roadmap for achieving them. This verbal wrap-up can serve as a framework for a formal, more comprehensive written recap based on in-depth notes, ideally captured by someone other than the meeting lead. It’s crucial that prior to the start of the meetings, everyone knows who is taking notes and who is creating and distributing the formal recap, which should include immediate and longer-term next steps, parties responsible for deliverables and sign-offs, and a clear timeline. Being crystal clear about these responsibilities and the process(es) required to move forward is vital in a remote environment. Teams should be encouraged to overcommunicate as a fail-safe.


Understanding conference call and video systems are a bit overloaded and may not be working as before, remote workers must do everything they can to make sure personal tech doesn’t interfere with meeting schedules. That includes workers having passwords at the ready, making sure they have decent quality headsets, etc. Large and/or especially important meetings, or those that involve components like a remote, collaborative PowerPoint review, benefit from having a pre-identified tech lead to handle such tasks as managing call volume and controlling who is featured in videoconferences.


To maintain a bit of workplace normalcy, look to maintain traditions from the physical workspace. For example, if teams previously had weekly walking meetings, look to keep that going via conference calls conducted via walks in teammates’ respective park or backyard. If a CEO always shared a nonsense memo on April Fool’s Day, make sure that continues. Remember, rituals offer tremendous comfort, helping get people through uncertain times when disruption of routines tend to add to anxieties. If nothing existed previously, think about something new, like remote happy hours, which are becoming increasingly popular.

Learning to ace the remote meeting now will not only help companies get through the next few difficult weeks but also adjust to a very likely new normal, in which both organizations and workers look to continue telecommuting, enjoying the well-established benefits and cost-savings.

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4 Signs That a Boss Has High Emotional Intelligence

By Marcel Schwantes


During the current pandemic, a quick exercise in assessing emotional intelligence is in order.

Forrest Gump is known for the famous line, “Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

The same is true for bosses. Anytime anyone accepts a position, they never really knows what they’re going to get.

To really find out whether you have a good boss or not, a quick exercise in assessing your boss’s current emotional competencies against bosses with high emotional intelligence (EQ) is in order.

During the stress and anxiety that we are feeling amid the coronavirus outbreak, seeing these EQ competencies in action will put more ease into the minds of workers everywhere. Here’s what to look for:

1. They display optimism

Exhibiting this EQ competency means that your manager is consistently hopeful and proactive about creating possibilities and seeking solutions. Displaying these at a high level means you’re working for a boss with a mindset of positivity that’s switched to “on.” This is especially crucial during the crisis.

2. They motivate their people from the inside-out

Managers who display this skill at a high level will trigger intrinsic motivation in their workers by involving them in work that has purpose, meaning, and lasting impact. They allow their employees to see, feel, and experience that the time they’re putting in is making a difference in the lives of their customers. Moreover, they let employees take ownership of their work by allowing them to give and share input into common goals and values.

3. They have vision

Does your manager have a sense of vision and purpose for directing the team or company toward a shared goal? This is important because it gives a leader direction and aligns her decision-making to long-term choices that carry a vision forward. Stated simply, a leader whose vision guides her decisions puts emotional intelligence into action for positive change.

4. They practice empathy

Does your boss recognize and appropriately respond to others’ emotions? This EQ competence allows to understand others and build strong emotional connections. In essence, empathy is the act of perspective-taking. In a recent episode of the Love in Action podcast, Michael Ventura, the founder and CEO of Sub Rosa, and author of Applied Empathy, describes several subsets of empathy:

  • Affective empathy — you treat others how you would want to be treated.
  • Somatic empathy — physically embodying the feelings of others.
  • Cognitive empathy — applied empathy or perspective-taking. It is doing unto others as they would have you do unto them.

Ventura says, “The only way to build resilient and collaborative teams is by practicing empathy.” While you can’t measure empathy, you can measure its effects: high-functioning teams emerge, they work well together and produce better, faster work. Companies are more resilient and responsive in the market. As a result, decision making becomes more collaborative.

If you already work in an environment where leaders display such competencies, I know I’m preaching to the choir. For new employees assessing long-term culture fit, you should begin to see these EQ skills play out during your onboarding. Give it some time, and engage your new boss by showing interest and curiosity in your new role, your team members, and the mission. The rest will take care of itself.

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Term: Liquidation Preference

What Is a Liquidation Preference?

A liquidation preference is a clause in a contract that dictates the payout order in case of a corporate liquidation. Typically, the company’s investors or preferred stockholders get their money back first, ahead of other kinds of stockholders or debtholders, in the event that the company must be liquidated. Liquidation preferences are frequently used in venture capital contracts to clarify what investors get paid and in which order in a liquidation event, such as the sale of the company.


  • The liquidation preference determines who gets paid first and how much they get paid when a company must be liquidated, such as the sale of the company.
  • Investors or preferred shareholders are usually paid back first, ahead of holders of common stock and debt.
  • The liquidation preference is frequently used in venture capital contracts.

Understanding Liquidation Preference

Liquidation preference, in its broadest sense, determines who gets how much when a company is liquidated, sold, or goes bankrupt. To come to this conclusion, the company’s liquidator must analyze the company’s secured and unsecured loan agreements, as well as the definition of the share capital (both preferred and common stock) in the company’s articles of association. As a result of this process, the liquidator is then able to rank all creditors and shareholders and distribute funds accordingly.

The liquidation preference determines who gets their money first when a company is sold, and how much money they are entitled to get.

How Liquidation Preferences Work

The use of specific liquidation preference dispositions is popular when venture capital firms invest in startup companies. The investors often make it a condition for their investment that they receive liquidation preference over other shareholders. This protects venture capitalists from losing money by making sure they get their initial investments back before other parties.

In these cases, there does not need to be an actual liquidation or bankruptcy of a company. In venture capital contracts, a sale of the company is often deemed to be a liquidation event. As such, if the company is sold at a profit, liquidation preference can also help venture capitalists be first in line to claim part of the profits. Venture capitalists are usually repaid before holders of common stock and before the company’s original owners and employees. In many cases, the venture capital firm is also a common shareholder.

Liquidation Preference Examples

For example, assume a venture capital company invests $1 million in a startup in exchange for 50% of the common stock and $500,000 of preferred stock with liquidation preference. Assume also that the founders of the company invest $500,000 for the other 50% of the common stock. If the company is then sold for $3 million, the venture capital investors receive $2 million, being their preferred $1M and 50% of the remainder, while the founders receive $1 million.

Conversely, if the company sells for $1 million, the venture capital firm receives $1 million and the founders receive nothing.

More generally, liquidation preference can also refer to the repayment of creditors (such as bondholders) before shareholders if a company goes bankrupt. In such a case, the liquidator sells its assets, then uses that money to repay senior creditors first, then junior creditors, then shareholders. In the same way, creditors holding liens on specific assets, such as a mortgage on a building, have a liquidation preference over other creditors in terms of the proceeds of sale from the building.

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Leading By Example: How To Motivate And Inspire Your Team During The Pandemic

Leading By Example: How To Motivate And Inspire Your Team During The Pandemic

By Sally Percy

Spanish Royals Deliver Accreditations On The 8th Promotion Of Honorary Ambassadors For 'Spain' Brand
Santander chairman Ana Botín made a powerful gesture when she gave up half her salary to help fight…WIREIMAGE

Santander chairman Ana Botín made headlines this week after it emerged that she had taken a 50% pay cut. Her earnings will be used to back a €25m medical equipment fund that has been created by the bank to help counter the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

Through her powerful gesture, Botín is leading by example. As a business leader, she is getting personally involved with trying to address the huge health challenge facing the world today.

Other leaders will not have Botín’s level of resources. Nevertheless, they can still act as examples – to their teams and colleagues, as well as peers in other organizations. So, how can a leader be a good example in these difficult times? Here five experts share their thoughts.

1.     Be an effective homeworker

“Home working in the virtual world is very different from being in the office every day,” says Dr Alan Watkins, a physician, immunologist, neuroscientist and CEO of coaching and development company Complete. “It requires a significant shift in our energy, how we organize our day and how we communicate with each other.”

Watkins, who is also author of HR (R)Evolution: Change The Workplace, Change The World, adds that leaders can help their teams to respond better to stress. “If we panic, we increase our cortisol levels which makes us more susceptible to infection,” he says. “But if we remain optimistic and positive in the face of the challenge, we will increase our levels of DHEA, which is the body’s antidote to cortisol. DHEA will improve our immunity, increase our resistance and reduce our threat to others.”

2.     Avoid cognitive shortcuts

“Stress is usually a bad platform from which to lead,” says Stephen Frost, founder of global diversity and inclusion consultancy Frost Included and co-author of Building An Inclusive Organisation. “By necessity, it means we take cognitive shortcuts to save time. This often relies on stereotype – what we already know and trust.”

Frost argues that in times of stress, leaders must seek out feedback from people whose opinion they wouldn’t normally solicit. “The cognitive short-cuts in our heads can lead to an empathy deficit, groupthink and other forms of excessive and unhelpful bias,” he said. “It’s in your own interests, as well as those around you, to slow down and be inclusive so that you make better decisions.”

3.     Put social value above profit

U.K. supermarkets are offering priority shopping to elderly and vulnerable customers as a result of the coronavirus pandemic – even though they would probably make more profit from prioritizing big spenders such as families and young professionals. This is the correct approach to take, according to Alex Edmans, professor of finance at London Business School and author of “Grow the Pie: How Great Companies Deliver Both Purpose and Profit”.

He says: “My research shows that putting purpose first is not only the right thing to do in a crisis, it actually delivers more profit in the long term by building stakeholder trust.”

Edmans also suggests that leaders think creatively about what resources their organization has and how these can be used to serve society.  “covering the cost of hotel accommodation for health workers so that they can avoid long and disrupted commutes due to the reduction in public transport.”

4.     Be authentic

“Leaders must maintain a positive mental attitude, but it is not enough just to cheerlead,” says Raj Tulsiani, co-founder of executive search consultancy Diversity and Inclusion for Leaders: Making a Difference with the Diversity Headhunter. “We must demonstrate authenticity and humility in admitting that we, too, are fearful of what lies ahead.”

Tulsiani also emphasizes the importance of acting with integrity. “It may be that we have to make decisions we didn’t expect to make and, if so, we need to do this in an honest and transparent manner.”

5.     Steady the ship

“A leader’s first job is to steady the ship and ensure that people don’t panic,” says Kevin Green, former CEO of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation and previously HR director of Royal Mail. “If fear and panic take hold, poor decisions get made and a difficult position can often be made worse.”

Green, who is also author of Competitive People Strategy: how to attract, develop and retain the staff you need for business success, emphasizes the importance of aligning the top team. “The leadership team should talk every day so they are talking with one voice,” he says. “They should map out what decisions are needed in the days and weeks ahead. At the start of each meeting, it’s good practice to get everyone just to talk about how they are feeling and what’s on their mind. This allows you, as the leader, to calibrate what state the team is in and how you support them during the crisis.”

It is vital to give yourself space and time to think and reflect. “When the pressure rises, human beings have a tendency to become myopic,” notes Green. “As a leader, you need to find time to stand back, reflect and anticipate what comes next. Go for a walk – fresh air and gentle exercise will help the thinking process. Find half an hour each day to just sit with a blank sheet of paper. I use mind maps to help me think though the big decisions.”

Green believes it’s essential to give the top team time to think the issue through before making a decision. “Make sure that both sides of every decision are fully explored. Ensure everyone in the team contributes and reinforce the point that no thought is too small, wild or random to be listened to. If it’s a big strategic call, give yourself and the team a day to reflect.”

Finally, says Green, make sure that you look after yourself. “Eat well, get exercise, try to sleep and try to stay fresh,” he advises. “Energy is an important commodity in a crisis, so you need to be on top form.”

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5 Ways to Get Focused When You’re Working from Home (Even During a Pandemic)

5 Ways to Get Focused When You’re Working from Home (Even During a Pandemic)


By Amanda Pressner Kreuser

Thought it was tough to tune out distractions before? Welcome to the chaos. Here’s how to find sanity (and your flow) from within your four walls.

Seventeen states and nearly 100 million Americans are now under stay at home orders–and as the Coronavirus crisis continues, that number may only continue to grow.

Those of us who are able to work from home are fortunate. We’re able to stay (mostly) out of harm’s way while those with truly essential jobs–medical professionals, grocery clerks, bus drivers, postal workers, etc.–help keep our nation going.

Working from home is a privilege, to be sure, but it’s also never been harder to get your brain focused on your job..and to keep it there.

If you’re not homeschooling your kids, discussing the headlines with roommates, or walking your dog, you’re picking up your phone or refreshing your browser to get the news (don’t even get me started on the insane amount of Whatsapp chats and Zoom calls happening right now).

Finding focus in the wake so much stimulation and anxiety may be tough, but it’s definitely doable. My team at Masthead Media and I frequently work remotely and from home (we’re 100 percent WFH now), and we’ve developed some strategies for staying productive during the most challenging moments.

Stick to a Single Task

There’s a lot going on right now. You may feel like you need to do five things at once to keep up with it all. Resist the urge: it’s not going to help your workload or your sanity.

On a good day (no international crisis to speak of) the average person spends just three minutes on any given task before switching to something else. While we think of this as multitasking, we’re actually moving quickly and repeatedly between tasks. This is known as “task switching” and doing it causes you to lose (or never achieve) true focus. In fact, studies show that you can lose up to 80 percent of productive time due to task switching.

When you sit down to fully focus on work aim to focus on a single project at one time (e.g., don’t attempt to email clients while also teaching your son 2nd-grade math). When it’s time to produce that report, do only that for 45 minutes to an hour. Then switch over to 20 minutes of responding to email. When it’s your turn to watch the kids, aim to be fully present for at least half-hour (and then you can both take a break). You’ll feel a little saner — and get a lot more done.

Trade Time

If you have two adults in the household, and at least one dependent, you try to block out periods when you’re working–and when you’re just not available for work.

Determine what style of time blocking you both prefer (half days, or two hours on/two hours off, etc) and look to see if there are any immediate conflicts on your schedule, before sitting down to map out the time you’ll each need. Check-in with your boss and co-workers as well, to make sure your scheduling doesn’t create any conflicts.

In my house, we start the clock at 8 am and build the schedule until 8pm — and even with that, my husband and I each only get six hours of focused work per weekday. That’s where the weekends come in. I personally try to grab additional hours on Saturday or Sunday, but not both (we all need a break, even if we’re not using it to go anywhere).

If you’re a single parent, you’ll likely need to rely more on screentime, naptime, and bedtime for getting calls and highly focused work done.

Shut Off Alerts

Consider the number of message notifications we’re getting all day long, on every single device (even during the best of times!) it’s incredible any of us get any work done at all.

Because I’m the kind of person who feels compelled to respond to the most urgent new thing that hits my phone or inbox, I try to turn off all notifications while I’m working, on both my phone and my laptop. I find it’s so much easier to respond in batches to texts, IMs and chats…and it reminds me that I’m in control of my time (not the last person who sent me a message).

If you find it tough to avoid picking up your cell to check messages, leave your phone in another room, or at least put it on silent and turn it over. You can use a Chrome extension like Stay Focused to keep you from browsing on certain predetermined sites (Facebook, CNN, etc), for a period of time.

Schedule an Early Morning or Late Night

As a working parent, I’ve always needed more flexibility to cover for sick days, snow days, parent-teacher conference days, and other things that come up. I’ve been fortunate enough to work this out with my co-founder and colleagues, but the work still needs to get done…and it can’t always wait.

To make up for the lost time, once or twice a month I work early from home (at 5 am) or stay late at my office (until 10 or 11 pm). That practice will continue as my family and I self-isolate at our apartment near New York City. Not only is the time completely uninterrupted (see above!) but those few extra hours enable me to dig into and often complete projects that are either very high priority or consistently slip down my to-do list.

Prioritize What’s Important

Considering all of the changes in our world, and our workplaces right now, it’s unlikely any of us are going to get as much done as we had hoped…and that’s okay. It has to be. Give yourself a big break, and lower your expectations, if you can.

If you have a superior, talk candidly with him or her about what’s doable given your current life situation. This isn’t a time to work while pretending you don’t have obligations at home.

One thing you can do to feel more of a sense of control is to reshape your priority list to reflect the time you actually have–and what you need to do in order to keep your department or business moving forward.

A week ago (just after schools were canceled) I archived my old ultra-long to-do list. I started a brand new (much shorter) one that boiled down what was absolutely important for Masthead Media in the coming weeks and months–and I haven’t looked at the rest.

Maybe I’ll get back to it at some point–or maybe I’ll won’t. Time will tell if those tasks were really that important in the first place.

Please take care of yourselves right now, and stay well. 

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Term: Foreclosure Crisis

What Was the Foreclosure Crisis?

The foreclosure crisis was a period of drastically elevated property seizures in the U.S. housing market between 2007 and 2010. The foreclosure crisis was one aspect of the financial crisis and Great Recession that developed during this period. The excessive extension of mortgage credit, complicated schemes of mortgage debt securitization, and rapid increase in the number of foreclosures (in an industry ill prepared to process them all) each contributed to the crisis.


  • The foreclosure crisis was a period of drastically elevated property seizures in the U.S. housing market between 2007 and 2010.
  • Prior to and during the crisis, mortgage servicing companies processed large numbers of loans without adequate review of the information accompanying them.
  • This messy process sometimes led banks to foreclose on the wrong property, miscalculate home values, and, in some cases, give lawyers for homeowners facing foreclosure the chance to throw the case out entirely.
  • Excessive credit expansion during the housing boom, mortgage debt securitization, and a financial system unprepared to cope with a widespread increase in defaults all contributed to the crisis.

Understanding the Foreclosure Crisis

Foreclosure is the legal process that occurs when a homeowner fails to make full principal and interest payments on his or her mortgage. If this issue is not rectified within a specified grace period, the lender has the right to evict the homeowner, take control of the property, and then sell it off.

The foreclosure crisis peaked in Sept. 2010, when approximately 120,000 homes were repossessed in a one-month period. However, its roots lay in a downturn in the housing market that began early in 2007 and blossomed into a crisis when Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy in Sept. 2008.

Excess Mortgage Credit

Excessively low interest rates due to expansionary monetary policy at the U.S. Federal Reserve, coupled with pro-housing policy by the executive branch, in the 2000’s created a boom in home buying and the extension of credit for home mortgages. This led to generally sketchy or nonexistent oversight of underwriting processes as commission-hungry lenders recklessly dished out hordes of riskier subprime mortgages on sometimes predatory terms to people with low income and creditworthiness. This process was facilitated by the innovation of mortgage debt securitization that allowed lenders to pass the risks of these loans on to investors and continue lending.

The volume of mortgage debt relative to the economy’s ability to repay rose rapidly. Total mortgage debt in the U.S. surpassed U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) beginning in the 1st quarter 2008. Previously this ratio (total mortgage debt to GDP) had ranged between about 30–60% for most of the 20th century.

Debt Securitization

Mortgage banks frequently pocketed fees and then promptly sold the loans on to often inattentive financial institutions, which failed to do appropriate due diligence on the loans. The mortgages were securitized into Mortgage Backed Securities and more complex instruments, which were believed at the time to be an adequate tool to manage the default risk of any one mortgage by combining it with other loans to effectively pool the risk and then distribute it across all holders of the issued security. In addition to not ultimately being an adequate risk management tool (particularly when virtually all home prices fell and defaults became widespread) the securitization of the loans in many cases obscured the links between who held the loans and the borrowers.

Increase in Foreclosures

As the Federal Reserve began to hit the monetary brakes and slow down the massive flow of credit expansion in 2006, problems started to become visible in the industry. Tighter credit conditions made it harder for lenders to continue to extend risky mortgages and made existing mortgages with adjustable interest rates less affordable for existing borrowers. Between 2006 and 2008, delinquency rates on home loans more than doubled and would continue to climb through 2010 as the crisis spread.

When defaults rose, banks suddenly found themselves facing so many foreclosure events that they could not process them efficiently. Prior to and during the crisis, mortgage servicing companies processed large numbers of loans without adequate review of the information accompanying them. It was generally believed that defaults on home loans and the subsequent foreclosures would be individual or at most local events, which could easily be processed and liquidated in the course of lenders’ and loan servicers’ normal operations.

Hasty securitization during the housing boom had, in any cases, led to poor record keeping of the actual ownership of any given mortgage loan. In some cases, banks failed to initiate foreclosures on homes for months after homeowners had ceased to make payments. Record-keeping processes had become so sloppy that banks could not always be sure they actually owned mortgages for properties being foreclosed, and even in some cases foreclosed on mortgage loans that they did not legally own.

Many bank employees simply signed everything that came across their desks, assuming all paperwork to be legitimate. Once the volume of foreclosures rose significantly, robo-signers created significant problems when they signed off on improper paperwork, either because they had no idea what they were signing or because they had to process far too many documents to do the proper work to authenticate them.

Employees that signed off foreclosure documents without reviewing them properly became known as robo-signers.

The effects of inaccurate and obscure paperwork combined with a run up in the number of home loans going into default nationwide created widespread problems. Some banks foreclosed on the wrong properties, miscalculated home values, or, in some cases, gave lawyers for homeowners facing foreclosure the chance to throw foreclosure cases out entirely.

Resolution of the Foreclosure Crisis

The government eventually reached a settlement with the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers, Ally, formerly known as GMAC; Bank of America; Citi; JPMorgan Chase; and Wells Fargo, in 2009. The agreement, known as the National Mortgage Settlement, cost the servicers over $50 billion in penalties and consumer relief payments.

Affected borrowers received principal reductions or refinances for underwater loans, allowing them to avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes. In addition, the settlement required an overhaul of the loan servicing systems overseen by the banks.

Borrowers who lost homes due to foreclosure by these banks in states party to the settlement agreement became eligible for payments of approximately $1,480. The total settlement pay-out amounted to roughly $1.5 billion.

Real estate information company RealtyTrac estimated that one out of every 248 households in the U.S. received a foreclosure notice in Sept. 2012.

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A Recipe For High Performance

A Recipe For High Performance

By John Foley

The Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron performing at 2015 San Francisco Fleet Week

What do Fortune 500 companies, world-champion athletes, and pilots with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels have in common? Simple. They all drive for exceptional performance. Unfortunately, not all of them share a culture of preparation and focus, which provides an ability to learn and adapt quickly. As a venture capitalist and former lead pilot with the Blue Angels, I don’t think this needs to be the case. After all, as I note in Fearless Success: Beyond High Performance, there is a unique tool that anyone can use to instill the mindset and culture that exceptional performance demands. It’s called the “Glad to Be Here” debrief.

In the business world, the term “debrief” frequently has had a negative bias associated with it, probably because it is used only when there’s a mistake, a negative outcome, or a fault to find. But such a fear-based approach is the opposite of how Blue Angels pilots structure their training, practice, and subsequent success. On the contrary, their goal is to drive fear out of the organization.

Blue Angels pilots create a safe environment for debriefing, where they open up and share their wisdoms of success and failure, side by side. It’s something elite teams know well. And as a former Blue Angels pilot, I can attest to its results.

When I was a member of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, we used the debrief tool at the end of every single day. It was built into our culture—our DNA. We used these gatherings to cultivate positive interpersonal dynamics within the team. The process went much further than a simple analysis of root causes. It was intended to instill chemistry and camaraderie in the team, and to provide leadership opportunities for every member. It reinforced the positive and raised expectations. It was much more than a team-building process; it was a team-building mindset.

You might wonder why, if you had a great performance, you would need to deconstruct it. However, if an organization can implement a process that’s been proven to work, it can be a game changer. In sports and in business alike, debriefing sessions have led to wins and increased bottom lines. And the benefits can be even greater. In the right setting, debriefs have the power to save lives. The extreme environment within which Blue Angels pilots perform airborne acrobatics demands effective debriefs—both for the safety of the pilots and spectators.

“Suspend any hierarchical thinking in the interest of achieving results. This type of openness requires humility, transparency, and fearlessness, which is only possible in a respectful safe environment.”

Based on the Blue Angels model, a successful debrief consists of two main parts: the general-safe statements and the specific details that each member contributes.

The general-safe statements serve as points of entry for the debrief. Each participant takes a turn making several brief statements, providing a general overview and a safety note that may vary from standard operating procedures. This first part of the debrief sets a collective mood for input and exchange from all team members using five key components.

Feelings statement:

The first component allows each individual to offer a quick overview of the event, focusing on personal feelings. The participant opens up to the team with insight into an open, honest, and transparent frame of mind.

“I’ll fix it” statement:

Every team needs standards to define the team’s performance. In the debrief, you determine where you have strayed from those standards and acknowledge that you stepped outside those parameters. Be the first to recount your mistakes—without fear. You address them with an “I’ll fix it” statement that demonstrates your awareness and commitment to the team. This doesn’t mean you’ll never make a mistake again, but it shows you’re aware and are taking corrective action. It builds trust and inspires personal responsibility.


Next, you talk about what went well. You give credit and praise to deserving individuals in a public setting. A simple thank you can be very powerful.

“Glad to be here” statement:

You complete this first part with four words: “Glad to be here.” The daily repetition of “Glad to be here” reaffirms your commitment to the team and reminds you of a purpose that is larger than each team member. You acknowledge that you are thankful for the opportunities and challenges that life offers you. Emotions vary from one day to the next, but the simple affirmation of these words helps you stay aligned on a positive mindset.

“Oh, by the way” statement:

After every team member has had the opportunity to provide the four general-safe statements, the floor is open to any comments that were triggered as a result of a participant’s comments. A relatively insignificant, but worthwhile, note can be expressed with an “Oh, by the way” statement.

The second part of the debrief presents specific details. The opening general-safe statements, which can be adapted based on the scope of the debrief, provide an appropriate setting for the specific details offered in this second part to grow and elaborate.

Each individual comes to the debrief with prepared notes that the team can debate, respond to, or contribute to as necessary. Specific comments should address what went well, what didn’t go well, and what could be improved. In his critical part of the debrief, the crucial aspect is perspective, regardless of the team’s purpose or the organization’s focus.

Years after I left the Blue Angels, I began to analyze the keys to our success, and I realized that each day’s debrief was defined by ensuring five specific interpersonal dynamics:

Provide a safe environment:

In a safe and respectful environment, individual perspectives are openly communicated and provide a clear picture of what went well and what didn’t. Without this dynamic, individuals withhold essential information out of fear, creating blind spots that inhibit improvement. Each team member should be equally valued, regardless of experience or position. Ideas should flow freely in the discussion so that what might seem merely a simple or insignificant comment can trigger a conversation that solves a major issue.

Check your ego at the door:

Individual talent fuels team performance. However, egos can have a negative effect on the complete debrief process. High performer Blue Angels pilots have high egos, but they also recognize the importance of being together. You must acknowledge the role of each team member and the importance of a level playing field. Check your ego at the door and commit to be a part of the team.

Lay everything on the table:

Suspend any hierarchical thinking in the interest of achieving results. This type of openness requires humility, transparency, and fearlessness, which is only possible in a respectful safe environment. Allow all members to shine, step up, and speak their minds without fear of being bullied or steamrolled.

Own it and fix it:

When you own something, you’re more likely to look after it and fix any problems as soon as you spot them. You don’t wait for someone else to do it because you own it. It’s your responsibility. High-performance teams are made up of individuals who accept and seize ownership of their role. When you have a personal responsibility, accountability is a given.

Be glad to be here:

Always bring a “glad to be here” mindset to the table. It sets the tone for buy-in and ownership of outcomes. Gratitude is the secret sauce for continuous improvement. It’s the energy that allows you to sustain greatness.

Various studies have confirmed a correlation between gratitude and positive results. One particular case, conducted by the University of Kentucky, showed that gratitude increased pro-social behaviors and lowered aggression.

That’s exactly the kind of effect that teams need, especially in an open, honest environment where everything is openly discussed. Gratitude is a social emotion; it binds us together and strengthens our bonds, regardless of the nature of our relationships. With this mindset, teams can more easily process negative feedback and turn it into positive results.

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The Best Way to Beat a Bad Mood, According to Psychology: The 3Ms

The Best Way to Beat a Bad Mood, According to Psychology: The 3Ms


By Jessica Stillman

A timely reminder from psychology: you are in control of your mood, not the other way around.

Happiness makes your brain work better, Harvard researcher Shawn Achor once told Everyone, especially hard-pressed business owners, could definitely use our brains to be at their sharpest in the midst of the current crisis. But let’s be honest, now isn’t the easiest time to stay positive.

For some folks with mental health issues, the challenges go way beyond cabin fever and everyday anxiety. But for those of us lucky enough to be dealing with garden-variety grumpiness, science has good news. Simple interventions that are doable for nearly everyone can have a profound effect on your mood. Psychology writer Nick Wignall brilliantly summed them up on Medium as “the 3Ms.”

Don’t underestimate the power of these simple steps to help you regain control of your mood, so you can weather the current craziness with a little more good cheer and a little clearer mind.

1. Move

It’s not just woo-woo yoga teachers and masochistic marathon runners who insist humans are hard-wired to move. Science agrees. “Exercise does the same kind of thing that many of our medicines do. A bout of exercise is like taking a little bit of Prozac and a little bit of Ritalin,” Harvard researcher John Ratey has explained. Who couldn’t use a little more happiness and concentration at the moment?

Exercise is admittedly harder when you’re stuck at home. But not impossible. Jogging is the perfect social distancing activity, Apple has a whole list of apps that can help you keep active indoors, or just go old school with push-ups and jumping jacks.

2. Make

In uncertain times, it’s good to remind yourself of all the things you can control and accomplish. One of the best ways to do that is to make something with your own two hands. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It doesn’t even have to be good.

“Look for small opportunities to make something, fix something, or simply clean something up. Why not bake some cookies, or declutter your desk, or trim the roses? Working with your hands can be profoundly pleasurable, and there’s satisfaction in seeing the results of your labor in such a tangible way,” Wignall writes.

3. Meet

In a time of social distancing you can’t physically meet your friends, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stay connected. There are virtual book clubs, Netflix and chill nights, and happy hours going on all over the world right now. Join them. Science shows friends are just about the most powerful stress buster we have.

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Term: Unamortized Bond Discount

What Is an Unamortized Bond Discount?

An unamortized bond discount is an accounting methodology for certain bonds. The unamortized bond discount is the difference between the par value of a bond—its value at maturity—and the proceeds from the sale of the bond by the issuing company, less the portion that has already been amortized (written off in gradual increments) on the profit and loss statement.


  • An unamortized bond discount represents a difference between the face value of a bond and the amount actually paid for it by investors—the proceeds reaped by the bond’s issuer.
  • The bond issuer amortizes—that is, writes off gradually—a bond discount over the remaining term of the associated bond as an interest expense. The amount of the bond discount that has not yet been written off is the unamortized bond discount.
  • The flip side or an unamortized bond discount is an unamortized bond premium, which comes into play when the bond is selling for more than its face value.

How Unamortized Bond Discount Works

The discount refers to the difference in the cost to purchase a bond (its market price) and its par, or face, value. The issuing company can choose to expense the entire amount of the discount or can handle the discount as an asset to be amortized. Any amount that has yet to be expensed is referred to as the unamortized bond discount.

A bond discount to par value occurs when the current interest rate associated with a bond is lower than the market interest rate of issues of similar credit risk. If on the date a bond is sold, the listed bond’s coupon or interest rate is below current market rates; investors will only agree to purchase the bond at a “discount” from its face value.

Because bond prices and interest rates are inversely related, as interest rates move after bond issuance, bond’s will be said to be trading at a premium or a discount to their par or maturity values. In the case of bond discounts, they usually reflect an environment in which interest rates have risen since a bond’s issuance. Because the bond’s coupon or interest rate is now below market rates, and investors can get better deals (and better yields) with new issues, those selling the bond have to, in effect, mark it down to make it more appealing to buyers. So the bond will be priced at a discount to its par value.

Accounting for the Unamortized Bon Discount

The bond’s issuer can always elect to write off the entire amount of a bond discount at once, if the amount is immaterial (e.g., has no material impact on the financial statements of the issuer). If so, there is no unamortized bond discount, because the entire amount was amortized, or
written off, in one gulp. Usually, though, the amount is material, and so is amortized over the life of the bond, which may span a number of years. In this latter case, there is nearly always an unamortized bond discount if bonds were sold below their face amounts, and the bonds have not yet been retired.

A bond’s unamortized discount to par will:

  1. turn into a recognized capital loss if the bond is sold before its stated maturity; or,
  2. shrink as the bond’s market price rises with the passage of time as the bond nears its maturity date, which the bond will then be priced at its par value.

Unamoritzed Bond Premium

The flip side or an unamortized bond discount is an unamortized bond premium. A bond premium is a bond that is priced higher than its face value. Unamortized bond premium refers to the amount between the face value and the higher amount the bond was sold at, minus the interest.The unamortized bond premium is the part of the overall bond premium that the issuer will amortize—that is, write off incrementally against expenses in the future. The amortized amount of this bond is credited as an interest expense.

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Quote: Horace Walpole

Quote: Horace Walpole

“The whole secret of life is to be interested in one thing profoundly and in a thousand things well.” – Horace Walpole

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Leading Through COVID-19

Leading Through COVID-19

By Eric J. McNulty

The coronavirus that causes the disease known as COVID-19 is rocking the world. People are hoarding supplies. Markets are gyrating. Governments are restricting travel. Amid abundant turbulence, the relative certainty around which people and organizations plan their activities seems to be the resource in shortest supply.

The technical aspects of the response are the most straightforward: The experts are known, resources are being allocated, and increasing amounts of data are being gathered to guide decisions. While there is no instant fix to an infectious disease outbreak, and there are many potential missteps, the path to a solution is well illuminated.

More challenging — and affecting far more individuals, organizations, and communities — are the human dimensions of the response. The ill must receive care, the families of those who perish deserve comfort, and those who are well need to keep functioning despite their fear, or the consequences will be a global, social, and economic catastrophe. This need for continuity in spite of unnerving disruption falls on the shoulders of organizational and community leaders. As Linda Ginzel of the Booth School of Business always reminds me, leading is about guiding people into the future despite its risks and uncertainties.

Over more than 15 years of field research on crisis leadership in a range of incidents, such as hurricanes, terror attacks, and public health events, including this one, my colleagues and I have found that there is an art to leading through the darkest hours — and, just as important, that mastering that art makes executives better everyday leaders as well.

There are two overarching takeaways from our work. The first is that while an initial crisis may not have been preventable, the secondary crisis of a bungled response is avoidable. The second is that every incident has narratives with victims, villains, and heroes. We are still early enough in the story of COVID-19 that executives and organizations can shape the role they will play. Rising to the part of hero requires intentional choices to put some measure of self-interest aside in order to contribute to a greater good. This is a situation where the stakeholder-centric intentions of the Business Roundtable’s famous 2019 letter redefining corporate purpose are put to the test.

The art of effective crisis leadership focuses on three interdependent areas of activity that help foster sustained high — even heroic — performance by your teams and the larger enterprise:

Adaptive capacity.

Crises evolve over time, especially long-duration events such as an infectious disease outbreak. Organizations and their leaders must execute a series of pivots as the facts on the ground and their operational context shift. Often, they require parts of the organization that do not normally work together to come together seamlessly. They may also flatten the hierarchy, with subject matter experts suddenly engaging directly with senior executives, perhaps even leading them. There is great potential for fear, friction, and conflict.

A successful pivot requires planting one foot on something solid and moving the other to change direction. In the disruption of crisis, an unshakable commitment to core values and principles creates an island of certainty that facilitates more fluid action relating to strategy and tactics. If, for example, your organization proclaims that people come first, ensure that all of your decisions in this time reflect that. Support people throughout the company who make decisions using those tenets, even if there are short-term financial consequences. Value contributions no matter who offers them — this is no time for politics.


While many play defense during a crisis, there is an opportunity to be aspirational as well. Imagine that the adversity of the situation coalesces your team to rise to its absolute best. Think about how you may all emerge from this incident stronger, more engaged, and more capable than you were before. Creating such conditions calls leaders to reassure and encourage everyone throughout the enterprise that “we can do it” and then supporting them both at work and at home.

Lucy English, PhD, vice president of research and science at meQuilibrium, a company specializing in workforce resilience, shared with me that research shows approximately 50% of people are “worst-case thinkers.” In a crisis, they will be operating from fear — contributing negative energy and sharing doomsday scenarios. English said that the antidote to this is for leaders to operate from a realistic assessment of what is most likely to happen. This, she said, “reframes the situation to one that is inherently less scary.” With that most-likely-outcome assessment, leaders can then challenge the team to move the needle into more positive territory.


Our research has shown that trust is at the foundation of cooperative and collaborative leadership. The COVID-19 outbreak offers numerous tests of trust as well as the opportunity to be a hero to associates, customers, and communities. The question for leaders to ask is, “How can we be fully trustworthy to each of our stakeholders during this difficult period?” Trust is built through dialogue and actions, not proclamations and intentions; involve those affected in defining in tangible terms what trust means in these circumstances.

As this is a global situation, short-term share price is most likely to be driven by general market conditions unless your products or services are directly related to the response. This lack of control can be liberating. When better to demonstrate your loyalty, compassion, and commitment to workers and customers? When better to be a good neighbor? There will be conditions that affect us all and that are beyond the control of any individual company. For example, a city (or, in the case of Japan, an entire nation) may close its schools. That choice will create consequences for families, including logistical, emotional, and economic hardship. Helping mitigate those risks internally with your employees and perhaps even externally with customers and partners creates enduring bonds that pay long-term dividends. Your efforts may include direct corporate support or creating ways for people to help one another.

Decisions made and actions taken in trying times resonate far beyond the present. I have worked with executives whose leadership during the Great Recession, the Arab Spring, and other significant events helped define their organization’s culture for years afterward. Forecasts about climate change, global urbanization, and aging populations indicate that pandemics and other disruptive events will increase in frequency. Eventually, there may be one with a high, 1918-level morbidity rate that pushes our social and economic systems to their limit. The lessons we can learn and the practices that can be put in place now make our organizations healthier today and better prepared for future turbulence.

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Helping Teams Focus When They’re Suddenly Working Remotely

Helping Teams Focus When They’re Suddenly Working Remotely


By Russ Hill – Partners In Leadership

Effectively managing remote teams during a time of uncertainty.

The nature of work is changing – fast! The mandated precautions being put into place due to COVID-19 has left most workforces attempting to adapt to working completely remote. As uncertainty swirls around us, leaders are faced with the challenge of helping employees focus on what they can control.

Culture is leader-led. That’s perhaps truer than ever in a moment like this. So much of the engagement level and focus a team demonstrates is a result of the experiences their immediate leaders are creating.

Increase Visibility as Certainty Decreases

Leaders should increase visibility in moments of disruption and uncertainty. This leads to greater alignment and focus. Most of us are now attending virtual meetings. Those should be happening frequently – with web cams on. A team needs to see their leader right now. Your body language speaks volumes. It can be calming.

In the absence of virtual meetings, the next best way to increase visibility is through conference calls, short video clips, or emails. None of this communication has to be lengthy, but it should be frequent.

If your team normally has meetings once a week, you might consider doing them two or three times a week. One of them could be the normal length. The others could be briefer and feature a “huddle-like” atmosphere. The longer the period without seeing and hearing from a leader and peers right now, the higher likelihood of distraction, confusion, and a lack of focus.

Doug McMillion, the President and CEO of Walmart, is one leader who is effectively demonstrating this principle. Almost daily he is posting to LinkedIn pictures of him in different Walmart locations around the United States. Along with the pictures of him interacting with Walmart associates on the floor of the store are typically a few lines of text of what he heard and felt while in the store.

He recently posted this message to his associates on social media as well, “Dear associates, words can’t express how proud I am of each of you for the incredible effort you have put in over the past few weeks. In the face of uncertainty, you have delivered for our customers, members and each other. To you and your families: Thank you. I’m grateful.”

McMillion’s visibility is intentional and designed to demonstrate empathy as well as focus. His employees can see what their leader is doing in the midst of the chaos around him.

Help People Feel Heard, Virtually

As we increase visibility, aim to both communicate adjustments the business is making in light of fast-changing market conditions as well as give people the opportunity to feel heard. Our visibility shouldn’t be just one direction. Facilitating discussion during this moment leads to greater focus and alignment.

An effective question to ask a team during a virtual meeting would be: “What reality do we most need to acknowledge right now?” This question allows them to share all the disruption they’re feeling. A follow up question might be, “What part of the problem or solution do we need to own?” That begins to refocus the team’s energy around what they control rather than the chaos. The next two questions a leader might ask are, “What else can we do right now?” and, “Who will do what, by when?”

We call this process See It, Own It, Solve It, Do It. They are the Steps To Accountability. Accountability and ownership don’t happen by accident. Creating a Culture of Accountability is never easy but current world conditions make it incredibly challenging without intentional and continual effort by leaders.

Focus on Results

Virtual teams need constant reminders of what results matter most. What results do they need to be focused on? Without clear direction on the two to three results the leader needs effort focused on right now, dispersed teams might get distracted or spend time on things the leader doesn’t view as most important.

Consider an example: A large health insurance organization had thousands of employees, from nurses to behavioral health professionals, working mostly from homes located across the U.S. As the customer needs changed quickly, leaders of this part of the business huddled to define three Key Results that they needed this remote workforce aligned around.

One was around growth. Another was customer experience. The third had to do with compliance. In virtual sessions of no more than 100 employees at a time, leaders presented the Key Results and facilitated discussion around them.

No organization has the luxury of time or calm right now. That increases the need for clarity around the most critical results a team or teams need to deliver in the short-term. When leaders clarify to remote employees the results that matter most in the next few weeks or months, it allows the workforce to make decisions around what to prioritize and what to stop working on.

Recognize and Reward Desired Behavior

In this moment of disruption, virtual meetings and online collaboration tools provide a great opportunity to recognize and reward desired behavior. Innovation and adaptation are more important than ever. As you see members of your team demonstrating the urgency, agility, or problem-solving mindset needed right now, call it out. That’s easily done digitally. It sends messages to others of what you, as the leader, are looking for. Water what you want to grow right now.

As unsettling as these times are, they provide an opportunity: Disruption destroys the status quo and accelerates innovation. Those who intentionally lead their team in the appropriate ways will find their remote workforce maneuvering the rapids, even avoiding the boulders while using the white water to accelerate movement. They’ll come out of this stronger and better positioned than before to meet the demands of their customer.

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Term: Central Registration Depository—CRD

What Is the Central Registration Depository (CRD)?

The Central Registration Depository (CRD) is a database maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority since 2007 for all firms and individuals involved in the U.S. securities industry. It is used to store and maintain information on registered securities and broker firms, as well as individuals who dispense investing and financial advice.

The data within the Central Registration Depository can be used like a background check on brokers and financial advisers, showing any complaints that may have been filed against them, enforcement actions, education, as well as licensing and professional certifications.

Understanding the Central Registration Depository (CRD)

The data found in the Central Registration Depository (CRD) is put in use in FINRA’s BrokerCheck program, which provides background information on more than 6,800 registered broker-dealers and more than 660,000 active registered individuals to potential investors.


  • The Central Registration Depository (CRD) is a database the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) maintains of all entities in the U.S. securities industry.
  • FINRA’s BrokerCheck program uses CRD information to provide background information on more than 6,800 registered broker-dealers and more than 660,000 active registered individuals.
  • CRD data can be used like a background check on brokers and financial advisers, showing any complaints, enforcement actions, education, as well as licensing and professional certifications.
  • Central Registration Depository data is available on the internet as Web CRD.

Interested parties can also access CRD data by calling BrokerCheck toll-free at (800) 289-9999. Investors can also find such information through their state’s securities regulator or via the North American Securities Administrators Association.

Central Registration Depository (CRD) and BrokerCheck

BrokerCheck offers the following information on brokerage firms:

  • A summary report that provides an overview of the firm
  • A profile of the firm’s ownership
  • A firm history, including any mergers, acquisitions or name changes
  • A description of the firm’s operations, listing its active licenses and registrations, the types of businesses it conducts and other details
  • Arbitration awards and any regulatory or disciplinary events on the firm’s records

BrokerCheck offers the following information on individual brokers:

  • A summary report that provides an overview of the broker and his or her credentials
  • A listing of the broker’s qualifications, including current registrations or licenses and industry exams that the broker has passed
  • Previous employment data for the past 10 years, both in and outside the securities industry, as reported by the broker
  • Any customer disputes or regulatory and disciplinary events on the broker’s record.

Central Registration Depository (CRD) on the Web

FINRA makes the Central Registration Depository available on the web as Web CRD. According to FINRA, “the system contains the registration records of more than 3,700 registered broker-dealers, and the qualification, employment, and disclosure histories of more than 634,000 active registered individuals.”

“Web CRD also facilitates the processing and payment of registration-related fees such as form filings, fingerprint submissions, qualification exams, and continuing education sessions. Web CRD is a secure system for entitled users only. Firms must complete FINRA’s entitlement process noted below to request access to use Web CRD.”

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