A Look Back on 2021 and the RED Team

As we reflect on the past year, we are grateful to the incredible executives that make up InterimExecs RED Team, as well as our clients who have put their faith in us and the leaders we deploy. We’ve jumped into companies from fintech to healthcare to manufacturing. Some struggling with declining revenue, lack of systems and process, or high turnover. Others experiencing big growth — maybe even spurred on by the last two years in a pandemic and changes to consumer behavior.

We’ve wrapped up a few top highlights from the year here: 2021 Year in Review

Wishing you and your families happy holidays and a prosperous New Year!

2021 YEAR IN REVIEW

A Veteran CPG Executive on Building a Cannabis Brand

The cannabis business has been exponentially growing in the last few years — just look to the proliferation of dispensaries, and growing acceptance across state lines. But thanks likely in part to stress and stay-at-home orders, 2020 was a big year for the bud. According to a BDSA report, sales of legal cannabis in the U.S. hit $17.5 billion last year, a nearly 50% increase from 2019. And it’s projected to jump to more than $40 billion by 2026 as more and more states legalize cannabis overall or add adult use programs to existing medical ones.

That means standing out in the market is all the more important. Businesses can follow some parts of the consumer product playbook, but with wildly different rules and regulations from state to state, bringing a cannabis product to market is anything but traditional. That’s what InterimExecs RED Team executive, Leah Bailey — Chief Business Development Officer at Australis Capital Inc. an early stage, brand focused MSO that was originally an offshoot of Canadian LP Aurora and former CEO of Fluresh, a vertically integrated cannabis company based in Michigan — experienced when she made the pivot to cannabis.

“I’d worked for many years in consumer products and was looking to find new challenges and learn a new industry,” says Bailey, whose resume includes mass market personal care and beauty product providers Helen of Troy, Paris Presents and Unilever. “I love the fact that everything we do is a challenge. Many people are coming out of traditional consumer products companies like PepsiCo and Kraft and going into cannabis from a marketing standpoint. It’s become very accepted.”

What is the key to starting and growing a cannabis business? Here, Bailey explains how to translate traditional CPG skills to a cannabis brand, understanding consumers without traditional market research, and what the future holds for the industry.

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An ERP Implementation Strategy to Improve Your Business Operations

It’s a common scenario: A company spends the money to delve into a massive ERP implementation only to get stalled, Or worse, flounder and fall flat (and lose big bucks in the process).

Maybe it’s the lack of planning or software curation. Maybe it’s not thinking ahead for future needs. It might also boil down to not having the right talent to make that integration sing.

For all that goes into ERP implementation — ERP, or Enterprise Resource Planning, is, after all, managing, streamlining and tying together all the most essential parts of a business — strategizing every step should be a nonnegotiable.

“ERP systems usually get replaced every seven to 10 years. I’ve been with some companies where they hadn’t replaced them for 25 years,” says Bruce Howard, an InterimExecs RED Team member and Interim CIO who has spent much of his career implementing ERP systems.

“There’s a planning phase to bring all of the pieces together and make sure you’ve got a clear approach and clear people assigned. And then you need a methodology for the way you select systems and implement.”

To better understand the components of a successful ERP implementation and strategy, how an ERP can support business operations and better decision making, and how bringing in a veteran can elevate the process, we asked Howard along with interim executives Tony DeLima and Alonso Vargas to walk us through the essential elements.

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Lessons from Intel Capital’s Co-Founder Avram Miller

Avram Miller, a well regarded Silicon Valley luminary, has recently published a memoir that chronicles his journey in the world of technology.

It is called The Flight of a Wild Duck, which is how Intel’s CEO, Andy Grove, referred to him because Miller would always chart his own course. This included founding Intel Capital, which became the most successful corporate venture group, and playing a leading role in the creation of residential broadband.

The book is full of interesting stories of key figures in the tech world and well as important lessons.

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4 Best Practices for Family Business Succession Planning

Running a family business is no walk in the park. The family dinners or holiday gatherings could be mistaken for board room meetings, with topics of conversation jumping between family matters and minute business topics.

Discussions get further complicated when it comes time for a transition of ownership as the first generation of family businesses starts to look towards retirement and relinquishing control of day-to-day activities. Who will step in to lead the company?

A number of family business succession issues arise, from siblings quarreling about how to divide up the business and inheritance to instability within the organization as employees wonder what their future holds.

Yet, so many family owned businesses don’t have a solid succession plan.

Problems in Family Business Succession Planning

Some owners prepare to sell the family business and about 30% of U.S. family-owned businesses turn into second-generation businesses, but often not without complication.

When you peel back the layers, the emotions and history of a family are always at the center.

Ed Pendergast, a board executive who has sat on eight family boards and advised many more family businesses, often sees one or more family members feel that they are not being treated fairly by other family members. Whether it’s viewed as a grudge or just selective memory, these power dynamics among the next generation in line can cause headaches for the business.

But surprisingly, Pendergast doesn’t view the second generation as the biggest challenge: “It’s actually the third generation with the hardest road ahead,” he says. “The first generation runs the business and passes it on to the second generation. And then by the time the second is trying to figure out who to pass it on to, family member A has three kids, family member B has two, and family member C has none. Who’s going to be in the business? It becomes much more complex the more people are involved.”

The numbers show just how difficult this transition is. Approximately 12% of family-owned businesses are passed down successfully to a third generation and only 3% to a fourth or beyond.

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Company owners and investors call us wanting to brainstorm about the type of leaders they need, which is great – right up our alley.

Why do companies call us saying they need an interim executiveA top interim put it this way: companies show up because something is going really, really right. Or because something has gone really, really wrong.

Fitting into one of those categories is just the start of the conversation. We also must determine if an organization is the right fit to work with InterimExecs RED Team.

We have invested 12 years and thousands of man-hours screening, ranking, and choosing the most talented CEOs, CFOs, COOs, and other executives across the C-suite to form the RED Team. That work continues every day, curating top talent for leadership on demand. These relationships are dear to us, so just as we screen executives, it’s important that we also screen companies that want to land a great executive.

Would your organization be a good fit for us and the RED Team? We have listed the top three factors we seek in both executives and companies we choose to match for talent.

Let’s explore this together and see how we match up in our leadership on demand values and your company’s goals:

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How to Protect Your Company from Cyberattacks — and 4 Steps to Take if You’ve Been Hit

It took just one leaked password to breach Colonial Pipeline in the May 2021 cyberattack. 

A few months earlier, in March, more than 30,000 U.S. organizations were hit by hackers who used Microsoft Exchange to gain access to email accounts. 

In June a cyberattack took down the IT systems at JBS meat processing plant, resulting in the temporary closure of all nine of its U.S. locations. 

These headlines are just a fraction of the recent cyberattacks on companies. And experts say we’re in for a long, vulnerable ride.

According to Cybercrime Magazine, ransomware attacks against businesses will occur every 11 seconds this year and cause $6 trillion in damages. By 2025, the grand total is expected to hit $10.5 trillion annually.

That’s why it’s not enough to build a response-to-recovery playbook. Organizations have to have thorough, vise-like cyberattack prevention measures in place to ensure it’s (mostly) business as usual. 

“Incident and crisis management are the key pieces—business continuity is the umbrella,” InterimExecs RED Team executive and CISO, Zeeshan Kazmi says. “But who’s taking care of all the other stuff? Recovery without formal plans can’t blunt the impact. But with a plan, you face an initial crisis and recover from it. And then pretty quickly, you’ll come back.”

Here he breaks down the background on ransomware, the impact of cyberattacks, how to protect your company, and a step-by-step guide if—gulp—you’ve been hit. 

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Great, You Saved on Executive Compensation, But to What End?

Low price is the last refuge for marketers who don’t have the patience or guts to demonstrate value for those that need it. – Seth Godin

When it comes to buying gas for your car, fertilizer for your lawn, or for that matter the price Apple pays for the copper in your iPhone, lowest price makes sense. These are the classic definition of the word commodity – something which comes from the ground and whose price rises and falls with supply and demand.

Unfortunately, we all now use the word commodity to mean much more, applying the sense of generic-ness to just about every product and service available to us. If you are marketing soap, for example, you face over 1,000 competitors on Amazon. If however you’re the marketer behind Tesla or NetJets or the Chicago Bears football team, your job is simpler. You won’t sell as much, but your product is so highly differentiated that when your customer wants you, there’s no close substitute. You are not a commodity. You are unique.

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Top Signs You Need an Interim Executive

InterimExecs RED Team of top interim and part-time executives around the globe range in specialties from CEO to COO, CIO, CFO, CMO, and CSO. But, title is not the main focus. Interim executives are often project-based resources that can be pulled in alongside the current management team to carry out big projects, mentor someone internally, or assess how your business is doing and create a roadmap for the future.

If you meet the following criteria, we can probably help:

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