Marsha Brockenwell

From the School of Life – Three questions towards self-knowledge

January 2, 2019

An exercise for daily reflection that I’ve been working on.  Pick one of the above questions and write for fifteen minutes.  If it is helpful, make a list of things while considering the following categories:

  • Work
  • Relationships
  • Children / Parents
  • Health
  • Money
  • Things I have to do / want to do / am afraid to do

Now, the next step would be to begin unpacking each item you’ve listed.
For items you are anxious about, try answering:

  1. What steps do you need to take?
  2. What do others need to do?
  3. What needs to happen when?

Getting it on paper makes things a bit more manageable.

This is from Self-Knowledge, published by the School of Life.

LinkedIn posts

February 27, 2019

Over the past week I’ve been binge-listening to the LinkedInformed podcast with host Mark Williams, thanks to a tip from Mahan Tavakoli. I’ll be sharing my key takeaways in this weekly email. Here’s one:

I’ve been writing sub-optimal posts on LinkedIn. I generally do a post about each episode of Unleashed with the name of the guest, a short summary, and a call-out to subscribe to my weekly email.

I’ve learned that anything that smacks of being self-promotional is disfavored by the algorithm and limits views. And that ideally, posts should invite conversation. Pose a question.

According to Mark Williams, if you are seeking to raise the profile of a post and increase your own profile as well, the best thing you can do is comment on the post (perhaps ask a question of the author). Liking a post is OK, but doesn’t help as much.  Sharing a post is not as good as commenting on it, because it breaks the connection with the other comments on the post.

I’m curious about what you are posting. If you’d like me to comment on your LinkedIn post, mention me with an “@Will Bachman” and I’ll see if I can think of something to add to encourage conversation.

A single piece of paper

Instead of a whole deck, what if you go to a meeting with one piece of paper? I love this infographic created by Umbrex member Ian Tidswell.

I can imagine having a robust two-hour discussion based on this one page alone. Have you ever gone to a client discussion with just one piece of paper?

The (70 : 30) Squared rule

We all know the 80-20 rule. What about the (70 : 30) Squared Rule?

The (70 : 30) Square Rule says when you are having an initial context discussion with a client, client should be speaking 70% of the time, and consultant should be speaking 30% of the time. And when the consultant is speaking, 70% of that 30% should be asking questions.

Once we’re in the room, the goal is not to establish our credibility, but to deeply understand the problem.

It is hard to self-monitor to actually know how much time we are talking vs. asking questions. Consider asking a colleague to join you and give you feedback. Or record a call (if legal in your jurisdiction) and listen to yourself.

More thoughts in Episode 159 of Unleashed.

Yes, you should get long term disability insurance

An Umbrex member asked me last week if I’d recommend that she get disability insurance.

Short answer: Absolutely.

It is a bit of a hassle, but I would encourage everyone (in the U.S., at least) to get long term disability coverage. The process takes 4-6 weeks, and there is never a better time to start than right now.  Cost is ~1-3% of annual protected income.

A good website to compare quotes is Policy Genius.

I discuss considerations in buying disability insurance and the factors that affect the price in Episode 157 of Unleashed.

Browsing top-ranked papers on SSRN

This chart is pulled from the article “Notes on Designing Your Company” by Kevin J. Boudreau, Harvard Business School working paper 16-131. You can download the full document here.

This was the second-most downloaded article on SSRN (Social Science Research Network) the week of March 18th.

SSRN is a fun place to browse – you can get a free account, see the rankings of the most-downloaded papers, and download papers for free.

Other top-ranked articles include (free account required to download):

  1. A Brief Introduction to the Basics of Game Theory
  2. Some Simple Economics of the Blockchain
  3. The Evolution of Fintech: A New Post-Crisis Paradigm?
  4. 18 Topics Badly Explained by Many Finance Professors
  5. How a Botched Study Fooled the World About the U.S. Share of Mass Public Shootings: U.S. Rate is Lower than Global Average

How to make outbound calls

Outbound calls are one of the best ways to keep relationships strong and stay top-of-mind with decision makers.

But making outbound calls – even to people in your core network – can be awkward.

It helps quite a bit, though, if you have a plan for what you’ll say and how to steer the conversation.

At the Top Tier events last year, one of the highest rated topics was David A. Fields sharing his approach to making outbound calls, including:

  • Why you should not always try to “add value” whenever you make a call
  • What to say if you reach voicemail
  • How to navigate “The Turn” if a possible project opportunity gets mentioned
  • What to say when asked what you’ve been up to

David was kind enough to return to Unleashed as my guest to discuss his approach on Episode 170, which we’ve added to Unleashed Essentials – the top episodes I encourage people to start with.

You can download for free the call outline that is excerpted above by going here. That link will also take you to a Script Bank that David developed.

Can’t get no satisfaction?

Gotta love a 2x2x2 matrix.

Eden McCallum in partnership with London Business School did a survey of independent consultants and current consultants.

A web version of the results is here.

A different downloadable version of the results is here.

A cool way to hire an employee for your firm

David A. Fields is hiring a Principal to join his firm, and I thought his approach is worth sharing, for anyone who is looking to grow their team.

First, there is a detailed video explaining the position. Then an online application that sorts for those who are seriously interested. Pretty cool idea to have an in-depth video of the person you will be reporting to.

How to set consulting fees

A listener of Unleashed asked for advice on how to set fees, and I shared my thoughts in Episode 174. I’ve added that episode to Unleashed Essentials.

In this episode I refer to, and strongly recommend, Chapter 22 of The Irresistible Consultant’s Guide to Winning Clients: 6 Steps to Unlimited Clients & Financial Freedom, by David A. Fields.

Novelist and Umbrex member Tim DeRoche emailed me two reactions to the episode:

“First, I try to set my rate so that I *lose* maybe 10-20% of potential projects because the client says I’m too expensive.  That tells me I’m at the outer edge of what the market will bear for someone like me.

Second, I will often discount for smaller companies.  They usually have smaller budgets and lower expectations.  But I enjoy working with smaller organizations, so it’s partly related to your idea of the Fun Discount.”

How to start a podcast

I believe that hosting a podcast is such an amazing opportunity for independent professionals. A single activity that allows you to simultaneously:

  1. Build relationships with your guests (potential clients)
  2. Learn something
  3. Raise your visibility / build credibility in your chosen niche

In case you missed the “How to start a podcast” session last Friday but wanted to attend, we recorded the session, and here is the video.

And you can download the PDF of the presentation here.

How do you expose yourself to new ideas? (Recommended app: Feedly)

Feedly is an app I love to discover and then follow blogs.

The discovery tool is great: enter one blog that you’d like to follow, and then the app suggests a series of other blogs on the same topic that you might also like.

Some of the favorite blogs in my feed are (and I don’t agree with all of them. Part of my goal is to regularly read writers I disagree with, to challenge my thinking)

Marginal Revolution
The Big Picture
Farnam Street
A Learning a Day
Gabe the Bass Player
Gene Expression
Sasha Dichter’s Blog
Slate Star Codex
The Story of Telling
Flowing Data

How do other consultants market their practice?

Michael Zipursky surveyed consultants on how they market their practice; you can check out the results here. I interviewed Michael on Episode 120 of Unleashed.

One stat: 41% said making outbound phone calls is the marketing activity they dislike the most.

(On Episode 170, David A. Fields shared his advice on how to make outbound calls.)

How do you market your practice?
What has worked?
What have you tried, but didn’t get any traction?

TeamGantt (what project planning software do you use?)

At Top Tier New York last week, at one session we discussed favorite tech tools (thanks to Sarah Sonnenfeld for facilitating.)

For a SaaS project management tool that can be shared with clients, several members recommended TeamGantt.


Sarah Sonnenfeld loves Tripit, a tool that “makes sense of all your travel plans and creates a single itinerary for every trip.”

1. Forward your confirmation emails
2. Get a master itinerary
3. Download the app


Margarita Soto has been a fan of Scribd for years; I’m a late adopter.

Pay one monthly subscription and you get unlimited access to their library of books, audiobooks, and magazines.


There’s plenty of apps to read, review, and mark up PDFs.

I find LiquidText particularly elegant. It’s the closest digital tool I’ve found that feels like I’m reading and writing on printed pages.

You can highlight and make annotations on LiquidText – but that’s not what makes it great. My favorite feature is how you can pull out selections, organize notes, and add comments in one place from multiple documents.

LiquidText is currently available on the iPad. It should be available for Microsoft within the year.

Priority Pass

I had the Chase Sapphire credit card for about a year before I bothered to get Priority Pass, which is one of the included benefits but requires an extra step to sign up.

For me, the Priority Pass membership alone justifies the annual fee for the Sapphire card, with the free access to lounges in nearly every airport. around the world.

When I travel with the family, I’ve never had a problem getting the whole crew admitted for free.

(In fact, writing this email from the VIP lounge in the airport in Guayaquil, Ecuador.)


Audacity is a free audio editor that does a lot of the basics pretty well.

New LinkedIn Feature: Open for Business

I received an email from LinkedIn on Tuesday letting me know about a new feature:

Here is the text of the email:

“Today we’re piloting a new product dedicated specifically to business owners and freelancers: Open for Business. This new feature will enable you to showcase the services you provide on your profile, so that you and your business can be found in search on LinkedIn. From there, potential new clients can reach out to you for free — it’s as easy as that.”

I just added this new profile section to test it out. I don’t know if this feature is being released selectively, or if everyone can now add it.  If you have questions or insights about this new feature, please share on the Forum.

Here is a screenshot of my LinkedIn profile with the new section added:

Transferwise and OFX

What have you found to be the best way to send or receive funds internationally, when the transfer involves a currency exchange?

When I found that my bank charges a currency exchange fee of nearly 3%, I started using OFX, where the fee is under 1%.  Several Umbrex members have told me that they use Transferwise, which seems like a more powerful solution.

Note: the initial setup involves a bit of know-your-customer anti-money laundering administrative hassle, so if you anticipate needing one of these services, get it in place in advance.

USPS Informed Delivery

Even if you have automated and shifted from physical mail to electronic delivery as much as possible, some important communications still come in hard copy via the postal service.

If you are away from home for a stretch of time and live in the U.S., the United States Postal Service has a nice free feature called Informed Delivery (not available in all zipcodes.)  When you sign up, you get an email every morning with an image of the outside of all the envelopes arriving that day along with a listing of any packages being delivered.

Not so exciting when the incoming is junk mail (as in the sample below from my own inbox), but nice to know when a paper check from a client will be arriving.

Company page on LinkedIn

If you haven’t created a company page for your firm on LinkedIn, please do so – it is worth the five-minute investment of time, making a profile look more professional.  Here’s the instructions.

Connect on LinkedIn with other members of the community

The chart is from The Human Network: How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs, and Behaviors, by Matthew O. Jackson, a fascinating survey of academic findings on how we are affected in all sorts of ways by the people with whom we are connected.

To me, the book reinforced the core mission of Umbrex:
To provide opportunities for top-tier independent consultants to connect with one another. 

And the book inspired this week’s tip: Connect on LinkedIn with other members of the Umbrex community.

You can find all members of the Umbrex community on the Umbrex website. The hyperlink on every member’s name goes to their LinkedIn profile.

The website’s filter tools allow you to find members who share your geography, function, or industry.

As always with LinkedIn, good etiquette is to include a personalized note, such as, “I’m a fellow Umbrex member [based in Munich] / [focused on pricing projects] / [focused on the high tech industry]. I tend to work with [type of clients]. My contact info is […..]. Looking forward to connecting.”

Note: if you aren’t in the habit of sending out multiple connection requests, you may want to limit to about 10-15 per day or LinkedIn may put restrictions on your account for possible bot activity. Over time you can increase the number gradually.

Correspondence cards

August 14, 2019

Sending a handwritten note to a client is a nice touch, whether after an introductory call:

Such a pleasure to meet you; looking forward to exploring ways for us to support your Asia growth initiative.”

or at the end of a project:

So pleased to hear that the Board approved the recommendations you presented….

Having a stack of handsomely-designed correspondence cards (plus envelopes and stamps) on hand helps overcome the activation energy that this extra step of client service requires. makes beautiful 32pt cards, 4.13″ x 5.82″  (10.5 x 14.8 cm).

Sanitized work sample

August 14, 2019
The last four clients I’ve spoken with have all asked independent consultants to provide a sanitized sample of work.  Consultants without a sample deliverable are definitely at a disadvantage.

Is everything you’ve ever done so confidential that there is no way you can sanitize it? Then take a free day, hire yourself, and create a sample deliverable, outside in, e.g.:

  • Is your focus M&A? Then pick a recent publicly announced merger, and prepare the strategy document that you would have shown to one of the CEOs to justify the deal.
  • Do you specialize in operational improvement? Observe the Department of Motor Vehicles and create a one-day diagnostic of improvement opportunities (should not be hard to find some.)
  • Is your focus digital marketing? Pick a set of consumer brands and do an outside-in assessment
  • You’re an expert in PE due diligence? Pick a company that interests you, interview some customers and former employees, and put together some pages

Turn on 2 Step Verification to protect your email account

August 21, 2019

It takes about three minutes to set up 2 Step Verification (2SV, also called Two Factor Authentication), and the simple step is one of the most important things you can do to keep your email account from being hacked.

Chances are that
a) You know you should turn on 2 Step Verification
b) You haven’t done it yet

Why not do it now? It’s OK, this email can wait. Here are links to common services:

Google services
Microsoft account
Apple ID

Proposal template

August 28, 2019

Here is a sample proposal template that I’ve successfully used to win dozens of projects. You can download a Word version here. A friend sent this template to me 11 years ago and it has served me well.

Sometimes, a project needs a horizontal PPT-style proposal that takes a lot more work.  Knocking out a proposal in this vertical format, however, generally takes me about half an hour.

Section headings:

  1. Project context
  2. Objectives
  3. Scope
  4. Approach
  5. Team
  6. Timing
  7. Professional arrangements
  8. Use of this proposal
  9. Next steps
  10. Contact info

The Rise and Fall of American Growth

September 4, 2019

In The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living since the Civil War, Robert Gordon argues that the dramatic growth rate in the American economy in the “special century” from 1870 to 1970 can not be repeated, because, basically, we’ve already made the major improvements in the standard of living that can be made.

“Modern humans first emerged about 100,000 years ago. For the next 99,800 years or so, nothing happened.”

Free (or cheap) international phone calls

September 4, 2019

When 1.5 billion humans are already using WhatsApp, I recognize that this barely counts as a tip. Nevertheless, I’ve interacted with members of the community who still haven’t signed up.

WhatsApp is handy for making free international phone calls.

For cases where the other party doesn’t have a WhatsApp account, it is useful to also have a Skype account, of course.

Beyond WhatsApp and Skype, what tools do you use to make international calls?

Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life

September 11, 2019

The ability to control your own attention may be the master skill for the 21st century, and in Indistractable, Nir Eyal provides a framework – based on science – to regain that control, namely:

1. Master your internal triggers
2. Make time for traction
3. Hack back external triggers
4. Prevent distraction with pacts

Establish your vacation policy

September 11, 2019

In August I recorded 70 short videos for a course on how to set up a consulting practice. I will get them all edited and available online within the next month or so. Stay tuned.

I just got the first video back from our editor and would love your feedback on the design.

In this episode, I suggest that independent professionals discuss with their significant other and agree up-front on their vacation policy.

Never Enough

September 18, 2019

Judith Grisel, the author of Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction, has a PhD in neuroscience…. and from the age of 13 to 22 she was a heavy user of alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, opioids, LSD, barbituates, meth, and every other drug she could lay her hands on (she’s been clean for three decades.) Fascinating throughout.

“Opiate tolerance is mind-boggingly robust. Addicts can administer up to 150 times the dose that would be lethal to naive users, and, even so, just feel ‘right’ but not really high.”

Recap emails

September 18, 2019

Recap emails: A five-minute investment that dramatically improves the effectiveness of meetings and the client experience over the course of a project.  Further thoughts on Episode 203 of Unleashed.

How to Hide an Empire

September 25, 2019

They didn’t cover this in my high school history classes: How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States by Daniel Immerwahr tells the story of all the U.S. territories, islands, atolls, archipelagos, and the other miscellaneous possessions.

Did you know that America’s longest war, until Afghanistan, was the Philippine War (1899 to 1913), in which an estimated 750,000 Filipinos died? I didn’t.

“U.S. troops entered Cuba (four times), Nicaragua (three times), Honduras (seven times), the Dominican Reublic (four times), Guatemala, Panama (six times), Costa Rica, Mexico (three times) and Haiti (twice) between 1903 and 1934.”


September 25, 2019

At a breakfast with company founders last week, we shared favorite tech tools. Michael Cherkassky recommended DocSend, and half the table seconded the recommendation.

DocSend allows you to:

  • Securely share large files
  • Keep track of who has opened them
  • Get alerts if the document is forwarded
  • Get page-by-page analytics on where people spent time
  • Make edits to the doc after you send it
  • Auto-expire documents or turn off access at any time

The Years That Matter Most

In The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks Us, Paul Tough explores “how the system works and whom it works for.”

As an appetizer, check out “Legacy and Athlete Preferences at Harvard” by Arcidiacono, Kinsler, and Ransom.  “Our model of admissions shows that roughly three quarters of white ALDC admits would have been rejected if they had been treated as white non-ALDCs.” [ALDC = athletes, legacies, dean’s interest list {big donors} and children of faculty.]

Initiative charter

October 2, 2019

When kicking off a project, particularly one that involves a broad set of stakeholders, you’ve probably created one-page initiative charters.

You can download a PPT of the above version here.

How Fascism Works

“Fascist politicians justify their ideas by breaking down a common sense of history in creating a mythic past to support their vision for the present. They rewrite the population’s shared understanding of reality by twisting the language of ideals through propaganda and promoting anti-intellecualism, attacking universities and educational systems that might challenge their ideas. Eventually, with these techniques, fascist politics creates a state of unreality, in which conspiracy theories and fake news replace reasoned debate.”

From How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them, by Jason Stanley

Accounts Receivable Process Review Checklist

October 9, 2019

A client asked for some advice on reducing accounts receivables balances, and as a problem-solving tool for his team, I put together the above checklist (download here), mostly based on my own experience of collecting on invoices over the past 11 years.

Poor Economics

October 16, 2019

Esther Duflo, Abhijit V. Banerjee, and Michael Kremer won the Nobel Price in Economics this week for their experimental approach to figuring out what interventions actually work to alleviate povery.

Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty, by Duflo and Banerjee, is a highly engaging overview of the research – with many counter-intuitive results.

As you may have already heard this week, Esther Duflo is the youngest recipient and only the second women to receive the Economics Nobel.

Best name badges ever

October 16, 2019

If you are organizing an event where more than ten people will show up, it is nice to provide name badges.

These are the best I’ve found. They’ve got magnets that go inside your shirt. No annoying pins or clips.

If you re-use the name badges, you can buy these insert refills.

The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down

October 23, 2019

Came across this wonderful book by Buddhist monk Haemin Sunim at the train station bookstore at Amsterdam Centraal. Three million copies have been sold (in the original Korean) and what a joy that it is now available in English.

“Would you like to make your child happy?
Then get off work a little early today.
Wait for your child in front of school.
Horse around together on the playground.
Let your child choose where to go for dinner.
And shower your child with loving attention.
On your way home, pick up ice cream for the family.

Your child will remember this day forever.”


October 23, 2019

Canva is a fun design tool that doesn’t require a weeklong class to get started.  I downloaded the app yesterday and in 5 minutes had created my first Instagram-style post (above).

The tool has templates for infographics, proposals, invitations, certificates, tri-fold brochures, menus, letterheads, tags, tickets, gift certificates and a couple dozen other categories.

Fentanyl, Inc.

October 30, 2019

New synthetic addictive drugs are being invented in China faster than authorities can outlaw the drugs.

Sophisticated users are buying these drugs over the Internet and having them shipped BY MAIL from China.

Fentanyl and its analogues are more addictive than existing drugs derived from natural substances, and can kill in insanely small amounts.

Terrifying view of the unfolding opioid crisis and the future of drug abuse.

The author of Fentanyl, Inc., Ben Westhoff, is the guest on a recent episode of the podcast Conversations with Tyler.

BagBNB (Luggage storage)

October 30, 2019

Ever need to store your bags for a few hours while traveling?

BagBNB is like AirBNB for your bags.

As an example, this map shows locations currently available to store bags near Times Square – just $6 per day per item.

Open Borders

November 6, 2019

Noted economist Bryan Caplan teams with illustrator Zach Weinersmith to make the argument for open borders and answer the common arguments against open borders.

Whatever your views on immigration, this book is highly recommended. Compelling use of the graphic novel format and a model for other non-fiction seeking to reach a broad audience.

I liked this quote from Amy Chua: “Do you know what a foreign accent is? It’s a sign of bravery.”

Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration presents views with a mission: “Seeing the Earth from a great distance has been proven to stimulate awe, increase desire to collaborate, and foster long-term thinking.” Here are Dutch Tulips

Printer for holiday cards

November 6, 2019

Great source for holiday cards (or other printing needs): NextDayFlyers.

  1. Far more economical than Shutterfly or other consumer brand
  2. You get complete artistic control and don’t need to use some pre-existing template
  3. No Shutterfly logo

NextDayFlyers would be primarily for U.S. customers.  What are your recommendations for customers in other countries?

Keep It Moving

November 13, 2019

Twyla Tharp is 78 and still choreographing new dances.

Her latest book, Keep It Moving: Lessons for the Rest of Your Life, provides an argument for and tips on remaining physically active as we age.

Her previous book, The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life, is one of my all-time favorites.

Getting to zero greenhouse gas emissions

You could do an entire final progress review using one page like this.


How to source expert interviews

November 13, 2019

In Episode 213 of Unleashed, I share tips on how to source expert interviews for your projects, both through expert networks as well as how to find them yourself. (Here’s a transcript for those who prefer to read rather than listen.)

The episode includes tips on:

  • Using an Upwork researcher to create the target list for outreach
  • How to reach out and make the interview request on LinkedIn
  • How much to pay an expert
  • Benchmarks for response rate you should expect
  • Pros and cons of recording the interview
  • Suggested design of interviewee tracking sheet (Download a template here.)

Generally, it is more economical to source expert interviews yourself rather than using an expert network.

What You Do Is Who You Are

November 20, 2019

In What You Do Is Who You Are: How to Create Your Business Culture, Ben Horowitz, cofounder of legendary VC firm Andreessen Horowitz, explains that “culture is how your company makes decisions when you are not there.”

I like that he draws lessons from a more diverse set of leaders than the typical business book, including Toussaint Louverture, the leader of the only successful slave revolt in history, and Shake Senghor, leader of a prison gang in Michigan.

Stefan Draschan matches visitors with artwork

“Stefan [Draschan] does it by camping in galleries for days, waiting for visitors who perfectly match the artworks they observe.”

Some of these made me laugh out loud.

What have you already heard about this effort?

November 20, 2019

When you are meeting for the first time with someone new at a company you are serving, what do you say?

I used to take up the first five minutes of the conversation by force-feeding the person with a summary of the project.

Now I start with: “What have you already heard about this effort?”

In Episode 215 I explain why I find this question so valuable.

The Infinite Game

November 27, 2019

I aim to pursue life with a five decade time horizon, and I enjoyed Simon Sinek’s argument in favor of playing The Infinite Game.

“There is no such thing as coming in first in marriage or friendship.”

“There is no such thing as winning education.”

“No matter how successful we are in life, when we die, none of us will be declared the winner of life.”

Keep playing, everyone.

Information is beautiful awards

The website Information is Beautiful is out with their 2019 Awards. Stunning.

Donnie Brasco

December 11, 2019

I had seen the movie, but this book is extraordinary. FBI agent Joe Pistone infiltrated the mafia and stayed undercover for six years.

A thrilling story and powerful meditation on what it takes to build trust.

Recommended: Donnie Brasco by Joseph Pistone with Richard Woodley

637 languages spoken in NYC

One of my favorite things about living in NYC is walking down the street and hearing a language that I don’t even recognize being spoken. Click here for a zoomable map. Source: The Endangered Language Alliance

Nepal fact of the day: There are 700 speakers globally of Seke, an indigenous language of Nepal.  100 of those speakers live in NYC.

Create an online course

December 11, 2019

You know something that someone, somewhere, wants to learn. Consider creating an online course to share what you have to teach.

In Episode 220 of Unleashed, Umbrex member Paul Millerd discusses how he has created several online courses.

Paul’s StrategyU teaches basic consulting skills. His Carve Your Own Path course takes you on a journey to reimagine your relationship with work, launch creating projects, and redefine ambition.

Follow Paul on Twitter @p_millerd

Stillness is the Key

December 18, 2019

Not a meditation book, but a meditative one.

Ryan Holiday encourages us to find stillness in our lives: “Stillness is what aims the archer’s arrow. It inspires new ideas. It sharpens perspective and illuminates connections.”

Stillness is the Key.

Climate Change

The Museo del Prado has teamed up with the World Wildlife Foundation to update several of its paintings to reflect the impact of climate change.

Increase your conversion rate

December 18, 2019

David A. Fields returns to Unleashed in Episode 221 to share tips on how to increase the conversion rate of leads into opportunities.

Hear more of David on Episode 1 (how to win clients), Episode 170 (how to make outbound calls), Episode 172 (how to set up your CRM system), and Episode 190 (on successful consulting partnerships.)

And of course sign up to get David’s weekly blog posts.

Satellite imagery

The NYT used satellite imagery for a story on a decade of urban transformation.

The Ungrateful Refugee

Back in 2001, Dina Nayeri was in my class of Business Analysts in the New York office of McKinsey. Later, after getting an MBA at Harvard, she turned to writing and has two published novels.

Now she has produced her first non-fiction book, the story of how she left Iran with her brother and mother in 1989 (leaving their father behind.) Their story is intertwined with the stories of more recent refugees, based on reporting Dina did at a camp in Greece.

I read The Ungrateful Refugee in one evening over the holidays: highly recommended.

Welcoming new member T.G. Jayanth

Umbrex is pleased to welcome T.G. Jayanth with Corvine Consulting to our community.  T.G. Jayanth was a practice expert in the Capital Projects & Infrastructure (CP&I) practice of McKinsey for four years before leaving in Dec. 2019 to launch his consulting practice focused on helping clients get the best returns on their capital project investments. T.G.’s expertise covers the entire project life-cycle, from early project concept through development, risk management, preliminary and detailed engineering, procurement and contracting, construction, commissioning and handover to operations. He helps clients establish effective project management office (PMO)’s, build their project organizations, and raise their project performance to best-in-class levels of excellence.

Prior to McKinsey, T.G. had a 35+ year career in capital projects, with leadership roles with Owner, Contractor, and Supplier companies. As V-P of Capital Projects for SunCoke Energy, T.G. built a capital projects organization from the ground up implementing best-practices and leading and mentoring a team executing a portfolio of projects.

T.G. has extensive international project experience, including several years leading LNG projects in North Africa (Algeria). He speaks fluent French. T.G. has helped clients realize recurring savings of 15 – 30% on their annual capital spend, and believes he can do the same for any company regardless of industry that has an annual capital spend in the $200M – $3B range.

T.G. lives in the Houston, TX area but is willing to serve clients anywhere in the world.

Welcoming new member Ricardo Fernandez

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Ricardo Fernandez to our community.  Ricardo Fernandez spent 10 years in consulting in BCG, Accenture and KPMG focusing on strategic projects, due diligences, innovation, integrations and business plans.

The last 8 years he has been focusing on digital growth technology companies where he has experience in Growth, Sales, Marketing Operations and mostly in Financial Services. He recently left Prodigy Finance a Fintech marketplace that has originated $1B to lend to international students going to the top masters around the world.

Ricardo was CSMO and led up strategic partnerships for the company while sitting on the executive committee. Ricardo is based in Madrid and has 2 kids. He is an Engineer from UC Berkeley (with Honors) & MBA from INSEAD with a scholarship from Fundación Rafael del Pino.

Ricardo is happy to collaborate on projects focused on growth, sales and strategy in Europe

Welcoming new member Glenton Jelbert

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Glenton Jelbert to our community.  Glenton does operational improvement work and data analytics.

He is a lean manufacturing expert, recently helping organizations with everything from factory layouts to complete operational turnarounds. He is also a data expert.

He has a PhD in Physics, and is comfortable in Excel, Access, MySQL, and Python. He uses these tools to gain operational and strategic insights out of messy data and to set up systems to do the same. He is very hands-on, having been the VP of Engineering at a high tech manufacturer for four years.

He lives in Orange County, California.

Can’t Find Iran on a Map

Politico provided an unlabeled map and asked registered U.S. voters to put a dot on Iran.

Only 28% correctly located the country. I’ve seen statistics about geographic ignorance before, but usually you just get the percentage. The map makes a more powerful statement.

Welcoming new member Eric Hiller

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Eric Hiller to our community.  Eric is the managing partner of Hiller Associates, the leading consulting firm specializing in product cost management (PCM), should-cost, design-to-value and software product management.

He is a former McKinsey & Company engagement manager and operations expert. Before McKinsey, Mr. Hiller was the co-founder and founding CEO of two high technology start-ups: aPriori (a PCM software platform) and Before aPriori & TADA, he worked in product development and manufacturing at Ford Motor Co., John Deere, and Procter & Gamble.

Mr. Hiller is the author of the PCM blog He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a master’s and bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Welcoming new member Michael Casaburi

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Michael Casaburi with Revulus Growth Partners to our community. Michael Casaburi spent 13 years at Bain and has been running a boutique consulting firm focused on market due diligence for investors and growth strategy for companies since 2013.

Michael brings top tier consulting approaches to investors (e.g., PE firms), the middle market, and BUs of large companies. He’s worked with some of the largest investors/companies globally as well as smaller firms/companies.

Michael lives in a Chicago, Illinois suburb (Naperville) with his wife and children. Michael is happy to collaborate on projects involving market due diligence, growth strategy, and strategic planning.

Assorted Links, January 20, 2020

January 20, 2020

1. Why video gaming will take over

2. The New American Dream, David Perrell

3. 19 Things To Remember, Holstee. #11: Remember than no one has it figured out.

4. Places to go in 2020, according to Tyler Cowen

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Iconic Books Set in 150 Countries

Check out this link for the full graphic: The Most Iconic Books Set in 150 Countries Around the World. How much better is this graphic than just a list?

Our family is going to East Africa this summer, and I just ordered Weep Not, Child (Kenya) and A Cowrie of Hope (Zambia.)

Superhuman email

January 23, 2020

A friend who is the CTO at a public company told me he has been using Superhuman, and it makes him 3x more productive on email. I just signed up to test it with my Gmail account.

Richard Stuebi attending DistribuTECH

January 23, 2020

Next week Umbrex member Richard Stuebi will be attending DistribuTECH in San Antonio, TX. Richard is on the Advisory Committee helping to organize the event.

DISTRIBUTECH International is the leading annual transmission and distribution event that addresses technologies used to move electricity from the power plant through the transmission and distribution systems to the meter and inside the home.

Assorted Links, January 27, 2020

January 27, 2020

1. “Ma computes that between 2014 and 2018, China lost 17 million industrial jobs while adding 46 million service jobs. ” The Money Illusion

2. “I’m going to describe an industry. Then, you’re going to guess which one I’m talking about. You have three choices: commerce, education, or politics.” David Perrell asks What the hell is going on?

3. 10 CRM systems for freelancers. This article doesn’t include Pipedrive, which is the CRM I recommend.

4. Government Schooling and Supermarkets. Cafe Hayek

5. 14 ways to get your clients to pay your invoices faster.

6. Guide to Internal Communication, the Basecamp Way

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Final deliverables should have more hand-drawn charts with no data.

January 30, 2020

If you are looking to raise your visibility by appearing as a guest on podcasts, one approach to getting booked is to do the work yourself: identify podcasts that could be a good fit, reach out to the hosts, and pitch yourself as a guest.

A more expensive but more efficient approach is to hire a podcast booking agency, such as Interview Valet. Those agencies typically charge a recurring monthly fee that works out to about $400 per podcast booking.

Another option which I just learned about from Rick Watson is, which connects podcast guests and hosts. He has gotten booked on four podcasts by using the site, which costs just $99 per year for a basic subscription to be listed as an expert, or $299 for a premium subscription.

Margarita Soto attending the World-Changing Women’s Summit

January 30, 2020

Umbrex Co-Founder Margarita Soto is attending the World-Changing Women’s Summit this week in Sonoma, CA.

The World-Changing Women’s Summit is a gathering for mission-driven women leaders described as an opportunity to intentionally slow down and incubate connection, inspiration, and rejuvenation with other incredible women.

Umbrex is a Network Partner of this summit.

Assorted Links, February 3, 2020

February 3, 2020

1. McKinsey legend Pete Walker has written a book: Powerful, Different, Equal: Overcoming the Misconceptions and Differences Between China and the US

2. Update on the war-torn economy in Syria

3. Chris Brogan predicts skills that will be most valued in the coming years

4. Tyler Cowen’s spring 2020 Industrial Organization reading list and syllabus

5. ‘Ask yourself, “Would I bet $10,000 on being able to fulfill this commitment? If not, why not?”’ Leo Babauta on The Heartbreaking Effects of Being Only Partly Committed to Most Things

6. “Unfortunately, Jeanine Cummins narco-novel, American Dirt, is a literary licuado that tastes like its title.” from Pendeja, You Ain’t Steinbeck: My Bronca with Fake-Ass Social Justice Literature

7. Which contentious issues are NOT partisan?  (TLDR: they get ignored by the media.)

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What a 9 billion pixel image looks like

Ever curious what a 9-billion pixel image looks like? Click on this one.  You can zoom in 9 times, and if you’ve got time you’ll be able to count 84 million stars. This is one to show your kids. Via Seth Godin.

Welcoming new member Adrian Blake

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Adrian Blake with Portrane House.  Adrian spent five years as a digital specialist at Partners in Performance, focusing on using digital tools to drive Operational Improvement.

Prior to PiP, Adrian led the Advertising Business Group of DTN in its turnaround for private equity investors, including serving as Publisher of The Progressive Farmer, the world’s biggest agricultural magazine.

He spent 6 years at McKinsey & Co., specializing in Media & Entertainment. He began his career in the Entertainment industry, leading global distribution of Saturday Night Live and Comedy Central.

He graduated from Harvard College and has an MBA from Wharton. He lives in Omaha, Nebraska with his wife and 3 children, where he plays tennis and leads an Irish traditional band. Adrian is happy to collaborate on projects involving digital media and operational improvement.

Todd Bryan attending StartmeupHK 

February 6, 2020

Todd Bryan will be attending StartmeupHK in Hong Kong.

StartmeupHK seeks to promote Hong Kong as a startup destination, connect entrepreneurs, and create a vibrant ecosystem that draws innovative, high impact ventures from around the world.

Welcoming new member Katarina Podlesnaya

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Katarina Podlesnaya.  Katarina spent 8+ years across management consulting at BCG, venturing and blockchain product development at ConsenSys, advising multiple start-ups, and serving as an owner of a retail business.

Katarina’s expertise focuses on growth strategy, procurement and negotiation, technology, operational improvement, and organizational design.

She currently resides in New York City and maintains a strong network and presence in San Francisco, Washington, DC, and Dubai, UAE. Katarina is happy to discuss collaboration opportunities irrespective of global location.

The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Means of Ascent

February 7, 2020

Finally finished listening to all four books of Robert Caro’s magisterial biography of Lyndon Johnson.

Better than anything I’ve ever read on showing how power actually works in the U.S. government, and what happens behind the scenes. (Big investment – took me a year, but worth it.)

Highly recommended: The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Means of Ascent

Assorted Links, February 10, 2020

February 10, 2020

1. Umbrex member Paul Millerd’s piece, The Boomer Blockade: How One Generation Reshaped the Workforce and Left Everyone Behind, was blogged about by Tyler Cowen. That’s like being picked as the Oprah Book-of-the-Month in my universe. Congrats to Paul.

2. How McKinsey Destroyed the Middle Class, according to Yale Law School Professor Daniel Markovits, in The Atlantic.

My post on LinkedIn about this article opened, “Other than a failure to define terms, historical errors, a confusion of correlation and causation, a failure to consider the counterfactual, a poor understanding of how corporations work, and a failure to disclose a conflict of interest, I have no complaints about the recent piece by Daniel Markovits in The Atlantic.”

3. I got quoted in this piece on the Cisive blog: Fostering Collaboration in the New Decade

4. Thanks to the Anti–Gig Economy Craze, Freelance Writers Are Getting Hurt from the Mises Institute

5. Good Science, Bad Science, Pseudoscience: How to Tell the Difference from Farnam Street.

It would be an interesting exercise to write a parallel article on good consulting, bad consulting, pseudoconsulting, and how to tell the difference.

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To lead, be the first follower

February 11, 2020

In the first 20 seconds of this 35-second video, the man in the bench is singing alone. Then one person – hard to tell who – joins him around 0:22, and within 8 seconds the whole crowd has joined in.

To be a leader, you don’t always have to go first.

It takes courage and leadership to be the first follower.

I once read (can’t remember where) a post making this same point, illustrated by this fabulous 3-minute video titled “Sasquatch music festival 2009 – Guy starts dance party.” If you are ever looking to illustrate the S-shaped market adoption curve, that video could be Exhibit 1.

Knitting climate change

“In an effort to make the ongoing effects of climate change more visible, needleworkers around the globe are creating temperature blankets and scarves that track local weather patterns.” – From

Welcoming new member Carlos M. Entrena Utrilla

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Carlos M. Entrena Utrilla. Carlos is a physicist-turned-consultant with deep expertise in the commercial new space industry.

He started his consulting career as an independent consultant for space startups, providing services for market studies, creation of business cases and definition go-to-market strategies. He worked for a year at McKinsey’s Madrid office, where he completed first-hand various operational transformation projects with the RTS and Marketing & Sales practices.

He has also published several works on lunar commercialization, asteroid mining, and private Mars settlements. He lives in Madrid and is happy to collaborate on projects involving startups and new ventures, space and non-space, as well as strategy projects for growing companies.

Welcoming new member Deepak Batra

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Deepak Batra.  Deepak was at Bain for 6 years, predominantly based out of India working on global projects, and had an opportunity to work out Amsterdam and Boston. While his work was sector agnostic, Deepak specialized “functionally” in Private Equity due diligence.

Post his consulting stint, Deepak worked with OLX, India’s leading online classified platform (Craigslist counterpart) in several roles ranging from Analytics, Strategy to General Management.

He is based out of New Delhi, India, working as an independent consultant. Deepak would love to collaborate on commercial due diligence, customer analytics, NPS and projects in digital businesses.

Dan  Markovitz is attending KataCon 6 and John Nantz is attending McGuire Woods Healthcare Independent Sponsor Conference

February 13, 2020

Next week Umbrex member Dan  Markovitz will be attending KataCon 6 in Austin, TX and John Nantz will be attending McGuire Woods Healthcare Independent Sponsor Conference in Chicago, IL.

KataCon (or the Kata Summit) is the annual gathering place for Toyota Kata Geeks across North America and around the globe. It’s where the “convinced” and the “curious” gather to share what they’re learning, freely and enthusiastically. There is an interesting mix of short keynotes, hands-on breakout sessions, intensive deep dives, and mini-updates from a variety of practitioners, industries, and applications.

McGuire Woods Healthcare Independent Sponsor Conference is a premier two-day healthcare-focused private equity, lending and finance conference exploring new ways to successfully close transactions and achieve growth. This year’s conference includes presentations by companies seeking investment or financing.

Anand Joshi is attending ScaledML

February 20, 2020

Next week Umbrex member  Anand Joshi will be attending ScaledML in Mountain View, CA.

At ScaledML the creators of TensorFlow, Kubernetes, Apache Spark, Tesla Autopilot, Keras, Horovod, Allen AI, Apache Arrow, MLPerf, OpenAI, Matroid, and others will lead discussions about running and scaling machine learning algorithms on a variety of computing platforms, such as GPUs, CPUs, FPGAs, TPUs, & the nascent AI chip industry.

Welcoming new member Luke Xie

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Luke Xie with Lux Advisors.  Luke is a former McKinsey Business Analyst with the strategy practice and has been independent consulting since 2013. He has operating experience across early & late stage start-ups including Airbnb, Sentio (consumer hardware), and Coda Automotive (electric vehicles). Luke also has venture capital experience from working at Romulus Capital (early stage) and RocketFuel (blockchain). He has functional expertise in digital strategy, due diligence, entrepreneurship, growth, innovation, and support.
Luke lives in Los Angeles and is an avid racing driver and instructor. He is happy to collaborate on projects worldwide and is conversationally fluent in Mandarin.

Daniel Wiser is attending Natural Products Expo West

February 27, 2020

Next week Umbrex member Daniel Wiser is attending Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, CA.

The 39th annual Natural Products Expo West, the world’s largest natural and organic products event, gathered an inspired community of more than 86,000 attendees from 136 countries, all working to drive positive change in the CPG industry.

Welcoming new member Richard Cho

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Richard Cho with Growing Abundance Mindsets.  Through his time at Gartner, Bridgewater, and McKinsey Richard developed a set of tools, frameworks and practices that have been adapted from leading business thinkers and applied across multiple Fortune 500 company teams to successfully drive new initiatives.

Often times technology problems are usually business engagement problems, and he has a track record of getting these initiatives on track. Richard is passionate about building world-class cross-functional digital teams that go after big goals by developing a culture of meaningful trust-based relationships and continuous learning.

Vijay Goel is speaking at Catersource/ The Special Event in Las Vegas, NV while member Carlos Entrena will be attending MIT Space Week

March 5, 2020

Next week Umbrex member Vijay Goel is speaking at Catersource/ The Special Event in Las Vegas, NV while member Carlos Entrena will be attending MIT Space Week in Boston, MA.

The Catersource Conference & Tradeshow is the only annual event of its kind. A show of unrivaled influence and inspiration, it’s a spirited gathering of all the people, ideas, and trending innovations shaping the catering and events industry.

MIT Space Week 2020 is three packed days celebrating space exploration writ-large, across the Institute.

Welcoming new member Rezzan A Kose

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Rezzan A Kose. Rezzan is an operations, organizational design, and strategy leader and the founder of Ares, a boutique advisory and consulting firm. Before starting her own practice, Rezzan was the business product owner of an AI-based technology platform at Citadel, a global hedge fund.

Prior to that, Rezzan was an Engagement Manager at McKinsey & Co. focusing primarily on business transformation, process redesign and operations across different sectors including financial services, insurance and pharmaceuticals. Along with client services, she was also the deputy COO for McKinsey’s internal advanced analytics center, overseeing day-to-day operations and execution. Earlier in her career, Rezzan worked as a research fellow at Goldman Sachs covering energy sector and commodities.

She lives in New York City and plays polo competitively.

How deadly is the coronavirus?

I found this chart from the NYT helpful to understand the coronavirus in context: comparing it to other diseases on fatality and average number of people infected by each sick person.

Welcoming new member Zac Peake

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Zac Peake with Constratego Ltd.  Zac Peake has broad consulting and corporate experience, with work that spans strategy development, growth planning, performance improvement, cost reduction, organisation design, and transformation / change for a mix of consumer and retail, financial services, and private equity clients.

Zac has worked at Booz & Company (Consumer and Retail practice), The Parthenon Group (commercial due diligence) as well as independent consulting. Zac’s previous corporate work includes roles as strategy director at Mitchells & Butlers and marketing / growth director at PE backed A-Plan Insurance.

Zac lives in Cambridgeshire, UK.  In his free time Zac plays board and card games, listens to audio books and podcasts, snowboards, and strives to occasionally produce a half decent watercolour painting.

Assorted Links, March 9, 2020

1. Amazing photos of bookstores in China.  Never seen anything like these in my life.

2. Turns out Cuban infant mortality statistics not as good as reported.

3. Why slate operators matter.

4. My kids showed me this TED talk: What happens when you reply to spam email.   And we all laughed out loud.

5. Saw this film short at the New York International Children’s Film Festival this past week and really loved it: My Grandfather’s Memory Book

tags Mining

Welcoming new member Brendan Kelly

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Brendan Kelly.  Brendan Kelly has more than 15 years of professional experience across multiple sectors and industries including public affairs, top-tier consulting, and financial services.

Following an early career as a lobbyist for the Irish financial service industry, he joined the Dublin/London office of McKinsey in 2010 where he worked primarily on strategy and operations for clients in the banking and insurance sectors. On leaving McKinsey in 2014 he worked initially as an independent consultant before taking up a role as Head of Strategy for Credit Suisse’s  private banking business in Europe based in Switzerland. He returned to independent consulting in early 2019 to have greater freedom to develop his own entrepreneurial ideas.

Brendan’s distinctive strengths include conceptual problem solving, communications, and team leadership and his working style combines the intellectual rigor of consulting with pragmatism and practicality.He is particularly interested in supporting projects in strategy development and implementation, change and transformation, and program management.

In addition to his strong background in financial services, Brendan has a proven track record in driving change and creating value across multiple industries including Food, e-commerce, publishing, and pharma. Brendan’s focus is on serving clients in the UK, Ireland, Switzerland and Western Europe.

Welcoming new member Uma Sethi

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Uma Sethi. Uma was a Founding member and Principal at BCG Digital Ventures, where she led multi-disciplinary teams to innovate and launch new startups, digital products or experiences.

Prior to that, she was at McKinsey for nearly 10 years. She served as the America’s Retail Practice Manager for 4 years and the remainder as a classic strategy consultant. Uma was also a Founding Member of

Uma currently lives in Redondo Beach, California with her husband and 2 young boys. Uma is looking to collaborate on innovation or strategy projects.

Welcoming new member Seline Karakaya

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Seline Karakaya with Excelerate Global.  Seline Karakaya is Founder and Managing Director of Excelerate Global, a venture capital and private equity advisory group. In this capacity, Seline has worked with closely with companies ranging from start-ups to multi-nationals to support their growth priorities. She works closely with founders, CEOs, and Boards of Directors—often as an interim CXO—on the most pressing issues, from hiring to pricing, strategy to fundraising, organization to business

Prior to founding Excelerate Global, Seline was a Director at American Securities, a New York-based private equity firm with one of the most successful track records in the industry. During her tenure, Seline co-led the development of the Firm’s “Shared Vision” process for value creation and alignment, advised portfolio company CEOs across a variety of industries and business topics, ranging from strategy and growth to talent and change management, and led the execution of a number of high priority initiatives. She also developed and oversaw the Firm’s commercial due diligence efforts.

Prior to American Securities, Seline was a management consultant at Bain & Company, where she spent over 6 years advising Private Equity, Retail, Consumer Products, Tech/Media executives on M&A, corporate strategy, change management, and growth initiatives ranging from product development to new market entry. Seline was among the original members of Bain Los Angeles’s Private Equity Group.

Seline was Chief of Staff at FEI Women’s Health, overseeing all strategic initiatives across the commercial aspects of the business leading up to its strategic sale to Barr Pharmaceuticals. She has also held positions at Amgen, Cerberus Capital Management, and American Express in a variety of capacities.

Seline graduated with the highest honors from the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business Honors Program with a B.S. in Business Administration, Strategy & Finance. She is also an active advocate of children’s causes in developing countries and animal welfare around the globe.

Seline is happy to collaborate on growth strategy and commercial value creation projects in the Western U.S.

Assorted Links, March 16, 2020

1. Liz Specht on coronavirus math.

2. “What Time Do You Wake Up? Write It in the Comments and I Will Tell You Why You Are Bad and Lazy Compared with Me, a 3:15 a.m. Waker-er Upper Who Owns Not One but Two Vitamix Blenders” and more morning routines from The New Yorker Daily Shouts

3.  “Cultivate an environment that will help you. Environments are like cheat codes  If you can surround yourself with builders, you will have a higher chance of becoming a builder.” And more Daniel Gross quotes from Erik Torenberg

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Data room tools recommended by the community

A few weeks ago I asked the community for recommended M&A data room tools.  The most frequently recommended tools were:
iDeals Virtual Data Rooms 
Deal Room
Merrill Datasite

Other tools mentioned once or twice include:
efileCabinetGoogle DriveeRoomOpentextSharePointBoxCitrixDeal RoomClient AccessSharefileSalesforceP CloudDocSendAnsaradaMS TeamsBCMS

Additional Tips:

  • Utilize tools to restrict the most sensitive information to “view only” — no printing or downloading. Remember, there is no requirement to put information in a data room, and sometimes the best way to share information is in-person
  • Review usage metrics daily to ensure other party(ies) are keeping their commitments, and real deal work is occurring. Look for signs of inappropriate user id/password sharing as well – eg, one user has connected from 10 different devices
  • Due diligence questions and answers should be logged carefully – include keywords, topics, whatever is meaningful in a data field so that they can be searched before potentially answering the same question(s) twice.

Welcoming new member Liz Kenny

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Liz Kenny.  Liz Kenny is a former McKinsey consultant with eight years of independent consulting and freelance experience. She partners with clients to drive sales growth as either a consultant, or a short-term embedded team member. Liz has a strong blend of both consulting and operating experience, and has supported strategic initiatives across a wide range of industries including retail, technology, media and entertainment, and financial services.

Liz balances her time between strategic and creative projects. When she is not working with a client, she is writing screenplays and other content (TV pilots, short films, etc.) Liz is based in Los Angeles with her new puppy, Fozzie Bear. Liz is happy to collaborate on projects in the Western U.S.

Welcoming new member Justin Lechner

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Justin Lechner with Bonsai Growth. Justin Lechner is an ex-Bain consultant based in Brooklyn, NY. After leaving Bain, Justin has split his time between ventures in the enterprise AI space and independent consulting work (innovation and technology projects).

Justin’s particularly passionate about applications of data science within the Consumer, Healthcare, and PE spaces. Justin is excited to collaborate on projects with a data focus

Competitive Intelligence Firms

Last week I asked for recommendations in intelligence firms. Here are firms recommended by members of the community:

Welcoming new member Travis McElveen

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Travis McElveen with Matterhorn Advisors. Travis McElveen spent nearly 4 years at McKinsey & Company in a variety of roles, including Engagement Manager, where he served companies in the transportation, aerospace, and basic materials industries across multiple functions, including operations, pricing, advanced analytics, and growth strategy.  Additionally, Travis has extensive experience serving organizations in the federal and non-profit sectors.

After starting his career at McKinsey & Company as a Business Analyst, Travis joined the US Navy as a pilot, ultimately becoming a Tailhook qualified aviator landing on aircraft carriers. Travis rejoined McKinsey in the Charlotte office following his military service.

He lives in Charlotte, NC, with his wife and two children and is an avid skier and outdoorsman.

Welcoming new member Gennadiy Goldenshteyn

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Gennadiy Goldenshteyn with First Principles. Gennadiy Goldenshteyn is leveraging almost 20 years consulting and progressive line leadership experience to launch his own consulting firm, First Principles, in September 2019. First Principles breaks down seemingly complex strategy and operations problems down to their foundational basics (i.e., first principles) and creates implementation programs to systemically drive improvement. Areas of Gennadiy’s expertise include:

  • Product-driven and customer-focused innovation and growth strategy, based on principles of Design-to-Value and Design Thinking
  • End-to-end product development
  • Lean operations
  • Business process optimization
  • Transformational program design and implementation
  • Fractional/Interim C-suite services (Product, Operations, Innovation/Technology)

Gennadiy brings world class consulting experience from his years with McKinsey Operations practice, including helping build McKinsey’s Product Development sub-practice. Furthermore, he has held positions of increasing leadership responsibility with Ford Motor Company, United Technologies (UTC) Aerospace Systems, Yum! Brands, and Welbilt Corporation.

Gennadiy serves companies of all sizes and all life stages – from start-ups (both seed and growth stage) to small-and-medium-sized businesses in need of expert support, and established industry leaders looking to reinvigorate their operations. While Gennadiy has successfully served clients across multiple sectors, he has particularly deep expertise in Industrial Machinery, Consumer Durable Goods, Foodservice, CPG, and Automotive.

Welcoming new member Brett Pentz

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Brett Pentz. Brett has 12+ years of management consulting and client services experience, delivering a range of strategy engagements for corporate, private equity, and public sector clients across industry, mostly focused in Healthcare and Technology. Brett’s management consulting work spans formative skills and credentials developed at Bain & Company, followed by contributions to position Teneo’s management consulting capabilities to reflect its brand as the global CEO advisory firm. Brett also possesses strong implementation and value delivery credentials from his years as a healthcare software implementation specialist for leading electronic medical record vendor Epic.

Brett primarily focuses on roles and projects where his experience and educational background can add the most value, often serving health and wellness-focused services and technology platform-focused companies, but he has demonstrated successful outcomes as a generalist at Bain and Teneo across a range of industries and project types. Specialties include corporate/BU strategy and planning, sales and marketing effectiveness, commercial due diligence and post-acquisition value creation, and target operating model and organizational design.

Brett lives in Montreal, Canada with his wife, after moving there two years ago from London, England – all part of his American expat adventures. He is happy to collaborate on any projects, particularly in the northeast (of the US and Canada).

Making productive use of time when projects get delayed

The past week, I’ve published five episodes with ideas on how to stay productive when a project gets delayed.

In Episode 235, Mark Williams, aka ‘Mr. LinkedIn,’ provides advice on updating your LinkedIn profile. Mark is the host of the podcast Linkedinformed, which is one of my favorites.

In Episode 236, I discuss how I use Evernote as my external brain. Evernote is a note-taking app on steroids.

In Episode 237, I discuss MixMax, which gives you email superpowers (if you use Gmail or G-Suite.)

In Episode 238, I cover 17 technology tools you may want to set up for your practice.

Episode 239 covers 14 ideas for investing in your marketing collateral.

Create an estate plan

If you don’t have an estate plan in place already, PLEASE get one drafted up, now.

The ROI is dramatic:

Attorney’s fees to draft up a full estate plan including a trust, power of attorney, health care proxy, all the guardian designation documents: ~$5,000.

Cost to go through probate if you don’t have a trust when you die: ~5-10% of your estate, plus all assets tied up for 9-12 months.

In Episode 250 of Unleashed, trust and estates attorney Maureen Pritchard discusses:

  • What information you should gather before meeting with a trust and estates attorney?
  • What is the benefit of creating a will?
  • What are the benefits of creating a trust?
  • What are the considerations in designating a guardian for your children?
  • What other documents, besides a will or trust, should be included in an estate plan?
  • How much will it cost to have the documents prepared?
  • Why not use LegalZoom?
  • How to select a trust and estates attorney

Maureen generously provided these files to get you started: Estate Planning Worksheet, this Will Design Sheet, and these 12 tips for guardianship.

Welcoming new member Surbhee Grover

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Surbhee Grover with Steel & Graffiti Strategy consulting. With 18 years experience in consulting and brand management, Surbhee Grover provides growth strategy, innovation, digital and marketing advice to leading companies across consumer oriented industries (incl. food & beverage, beauty/ cosmetics, education, hospitality, luxury and digital media). She gained considerable experience during her six year tenure with Booz & Company (2004-2010). Her work has included projects such as the development of an innovation strategy & processes for a global beverage firm; creating a digital strategy for a leading educational entity focused on its international markets; determining global sales capabilities and Go-To-Market strategies in emerging markets for a leading consumer electronics company; and developing a growth product roadmap for a leading European food player.

In addition to this, Ms. Grover honed her product management expertise with firms such as L’Oreal and Marico Industries (Asia) and Colgate Palmolive (N. America). Finally, in partnering with clients across Asia, North America and Europe (UK, Denmark, Netherlands, and Ireland), Surbhee has developed a nuanced understanding of the challenges and opportunities that confront global businesses. Apart from advising senior leaders at global corporations, Surbhee advises several early stage start-ups. She is also a freelance travel writer for the Forbes (Asia).

Welcoming new member Tegan Blaine

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Tegan Blaine with Blue Cairn. Dr. Tegan Blaine is founder and principal of Blue Cairn Group, which specializes in consulting around climate change leadership and action.  She has over 20 years of experience in climate science, policy, and international development, most recently serving as a vice president on a climate change initiative at the National Geographic Society.  She also led the climate change team in USAID’s Bureau for Africa for over a decade, where she developed USAID’s strategy and investment plan for its climate change work in Africa, and built and led a team that provided thought leadership and technical support to USAID missions in Africa.  Before USAID, Tegan worked on climate change and international development at McKinsey & Company; served as a policy advisor on water at the U.S. Department of State; and taught math and physics as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania.

Tegan is happy to collaborate on projects focused on climate change or sustainability, both internationally and domestically.

Welcoming new member Sarah Dolman

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Sarah Dolman with Healthtech Catalyst. Sarah has 15 years of broad healthcare experience, spanning bio-pharmaceuticals, health-tech, med-tech and insurers. She has spent the last five years advising teams as they define product strategy, identify strategic investors and build deep partnerships. Sarah has experience in top-tier consulting (BCG), health-tech (Verily, f.k.a Google [X] Life Sciences) and drug-development (Merck). Sarah is most excited when projects sit at the interface of science, tech/AI, and care-delivery.

Welcoming new member Allyson Pritchett

April 9, 2020

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Allyson Pritchett.  Allyson spent 4+ years as a Project Leader and Consultant in the Retail / Consumer practice at Boston Consulting Group and recently began independent consulting in 2020. Prior to BCG, she worked in Business Development for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts as well as Corporate Strategy for 7-Eleven and Dean Foods Company.

Allyson has particular expertise in implementing large scale transformations and has lead major transformations in retail, travel & leisure, and financial services. She hails from Alabama and North Carolina, but now lives in New York, New York and is actively involved in her alumni chapter and the New York Junior League. Allyson is happy to collaborate on projects involving business transformation, product launch, and sourcing / procurement in the U.S.

Welcoming new member Tushar Srivastava

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Tushar Srivastava. Tushar is an independent strategy consultant who started his consulting career at McKinsey where he spent more than 3.5 years working as a generalist, eventually developing a spike in healthcare and life sciences. He has spent more than 3 years working as an Independent with multiple projects in pharma, life sciences, medical technology and healthcare.

Functionally, he is comfortable working on strategy initiatives across R&D, marketing, operations, technology, and pre-sales. He is open to collaborating on projects and supporting (research/analytics) clients without a restriction on geography, he has worked on projects in North America, Europe and APAC.

Welcoming new member Supriya Sen

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Supriya Sen with Singapore Management Consulting.  Supriya has spent five years as a Senior Advisor in the banking and infrastructure practice at McKinsey (since 2015). Prior to McKinsey, she was an advisor and investor in infrastructure project and climate finance where she worked with multilateral, commercial bank and private equity investor clients in India, China, South East Asia and Middle East.

Supriya has particular expertise in digital finance, public private partnership initiatives and platform economics in the context of smart cities. She has been involved in major transformations within banking & financial services, energy and transportation, as well as health and education sectors. She lives in Singapore. Supriya is happy to collaborate on projects in Asia and the Middle East

Welcoming new member Lawrence E Adjah

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Lawrence E Adjah with Adjah.  Lawrence is a community builder and business advisor who began his career as a management consultant for McKinsey & Company in its New York office, helping to serve some of the world’s largest professional sports organizations and media companies. After McKinsey, Lawrence served as the Senior Director of Business Development at a premiere sports and entertainment marketing agency in New York. He later became a direct advisor to some of the world’s leading media & entertainment companies through his own advisory consulting firm, Adjah.

He’s the Founder and Chairman of Family Dinner Foundation, whose mission is to connect the world as a family at and beyond the dinner table. Inspired by the growing epidemic of loneliness and isolation, the foundation launched its first initiative, Our Family Dinner in 2008 which reached nearly 50K people across 35 cities.

Lawrence lives in Jersey City, NJ and is happy to partner on projects in the sports, media & entertainment space, as well as projects across all industries that involve growth strategy or strategic sourcing and procurement

Welcoming new member Ashu Dalvi

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Ashu Dalvi with South Pointe Strategy.  Ashu has spent over 15 years as a consultant with various firms, including A.T. Kearney and Booz Allen Hamilton. He loves working on ambiguous problems and has developed and implemented transformational business strategies for tech, transportation, and non-profit clients. Ashu recently founded South Pointe Strategy, a consultancy that helps clients in all sectors build operating models that support their business ambition. Just prior, he was building out the strategy and operations practice for Slalom Consulting in San Francisco.

Ashu lives in San Francisco with his wife, Margia, and their dog, Maizie. In his free time, you can find him playing flag football and intensely watching University of Michigan basketball and football. Ashu’s favorite part of being a consultant is solutioning with peers and clients; he is happy to partner on U.S.-based projects involving strategic planning, operational improvement, and leadership development.

Welcoming new member Yevgeniy Rikhterman

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Yevgeniy Rikhterman.  Yevgeniy Rikhterman spent three years as the Director of Strategy at Herff Jones, a PE owned CPG company. Yevgeniy has experience in creating strategic plans, as well as an evergreen strategic planning processes. Yevgeniy led the strategic planned that helped to maximize the value of Herff Jones during a critical PE transaction.

He also led the corporate development, and M&A aspect, and as such has specific experiences that is applicable to mid-size companies looking to grow through partnerships and acquisitions. In addition, he led multiple product transformations, and is experienced in not only understanding root causes, but also guiding the implementation of the solution. Prior to Herff Jones Yevgeniy spent two years as a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), working on a variety of projects in finance, retail, pharmaceuticals, telecom, industrial goods, and aviation.

Yevgeniy lives in New York City, and when not working enjoys travelling around the world, and outdoor activities. He is happy to work projects globally.

Welcoming new member Katy Huang

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Katy Huang with HAW Consulting.  Katy comes with a stellar educational background: Master of Engineering in Chemical Engineering from Oxford University, MBA from Harvard Business School and Lloyd’s Leadership Program Exec Ed at London Business School.

Since going in house in 2006, she reported to the country CEO. Her insurance experience spans Life Insurance with McKinsey, chief of staff for Beazley’s Political risk and Contingency division for 5 years, freelance consulting projects for Bought By Many, Charles Taylor Adjusting, Hiscox and Oasis Loss Modelling Framework. Her McKinsey Business Technology Office background also makes her very unique in understanding the challenges of how to leverage ever changing technology for business growth and optimisation. She’s a great thought partner and invaluable in helping her C-level clients make things happen and a role model for working mothers. It’s her 9th year as a school governor at the local state maintained primary, and now also serving at the multi academy trust secondary school next to it.

Welcoming new member Sai Patil

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Sai Patil.  Sai Patil spent seven years as a strategy consultant at Bain & Co and then three years at Mattel leading strategy and marketing teams. Sai has particular expertise in growth strategy for consumer/retail companies as well as retail promotional strategy and marketing optimization. Prior clients include Fortune 500 companies in beauty, fashion, home decor, coffee, printing, pet food and education. Sai is highly strategic with deep expertise in utilizing consumer and market insight. She lives in Manhattan Beach, California with her husband and 3 elementary age children and new dog, Lucky.

Sai is happy to collaborate on projects involving competitive/market analysis and growth strategy in the U.S.

Welcoming new member George Nahra

Umbrex is pleased to welcome George Nahra with GZN Consulting.  George spent four years in the Chicago office of McKinsey, in the retail and sales & marketing practices, serving predominantly retailers and other consumer-facing clients.

After leaving McKinsey, he spent several years as a Senior Management Associate at Bridgewater Associates. He then returned to retail, re-joining Abercrombie & Fitch (where he started his career several years earlier) and building the company’s first Strategic Planning function.

He then move to Chico’s FAS, a women’s apparel/accessories retailer with three principal brands: Chico’s, White House I Black Market, and Soma.  At Chico’s FAS,  George led Strategy, Business Development, and International.

George has been an independent consultant twice – once between working for Abercrombie and Chico’s, and most recently since roughly December 2019.  He serves retailers across a wide range of topics.

George lives in Fort Myers,  FL, with his wife and dog. He’d be happy to collaborate on any retail projects

Welcoming new member Caroline Wooldridge

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Caroline Wooldridge. Caroline Wooldridge spent a few years at BCG after an MBA at Wharton. Since BCG, she has led operations at ~100 person start-up, and most recently spent a year in strategy & transformation work at WeWork. Prior to Wharton, she worked 7 years in marketing and media.

She has just left WeWork to begin independent consulting. Caroline has particular experience in transformation, operating models and org structure, strategic planning, board / funding material, marketing, product development, and customer satisfaction analysis. She lives in Brooklyn and is exploring opportunities in both New York and Los Angeles, as well as remote engagements.

Welcoming new member Jay Jung

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Jay Jung with Embarc Advisors.  Jay Jung was an Engagement Manager in McKinsey’s Hong Kong office where he was part of the Corporate Finance practice. His prior experience includes investment banking at Goldman Sachs New York and San Francisco offices, where he was a Vice President and completed ~$50 billion M&A and capital market in transactions.  He also started his own technology startup, which raised funding from Softbank and other VCs.

In 2018, Jay started a consulting firm focused on helping startups and small medium size business in their fundraising, strategic finance, growth and M&A. He also works with private equity and venture capital firms in supporting investment due diligence, financial modeling and presentations. Jay lives in San Francisco, California. Jay is happy to collaborate on projects involving complex financial modeling, capital raise or M&A.

Welcoming new member Sean O’Toole

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Sean O’Toole with Forge.  Sean O’Toole is a Partner at Forge > Outcomes, a growth innovation firm to F1000 companies. Sean specializes in deploying coaching leadership teams through change, building innovation capabilities, and launching new businesses.
A former McKinsey consultant, Sean has over 15 years P&L experience with American Express, Progressive Insurance, and Western Union. founded and sold a fintech company; and is an EIR
Sean is happy to collaborate and provide input on projects relating to innovation, growth, and strategic change.

Welcoming new member Swan Sit

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Swan Sit.  wan Sit is an independent consultant specializing in digital, marketing and strategy. Having spent the past decade of her career accelerating digital into legacy companies, she held two key roles as a Vice President at Nike — overseeing Global Digital Marketing during the Emmy-winning “Dream Crazy” campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick, and running Digital Operations, Product, Supply Chain and Service for a $2B ecommerce business during the Air Jordan 11 Concord launch, the largest in online history. She led digital at Revlon and Elizabeth Arden, using it to pull them out of a turnaround, and ran online strategy for the Esteé Lauder Companies, increasing its digital footprint to 400+ sites across 50 countries in 5 years. From modernizing hundred-year-old brands and partnering with unexpected influencers like Chelsea Handler, Iris Apfel and Gigi Gorgeous, to launching augmented reality makeovers and driving double-digit growth, Swan has demonstrated both the left- and right-brain skills required for a marketer that drives revenue. She was selected as a Brand Innovators 40 under 40 and Marketing Woman to Watch, and took home both Best Social Campaign and Best in Show at the Glossy Awards. You might recognize her as one of the faces in Twitter’s national “She Inspires Me” campaign during the Oscars, or from judging the world’s largest hackathon in Saudi Arabia alongside Steve Wozniak.

Prior to beauty, Swan was a management consultant at Bain, owned an ad agency focused on emotional branding, was a product manager at Newell (she launched a factory in China during SARS) and created infamous marketing campaigns at Trilogy Software during the dotcom boom. Swan graduated with a BA in Economics from Harvard and an MBA from Columbia.

Swan does speaking engagements around the world on Marketing, Digital Transformation and Leadership in the Digital Age. She is a Board Director of a publicly-traded pharmaceuticals company, advises a variety of businesses and sits on the boards of industry and philanthropic organizations including AdWeek’s Diversity and Inclusion Council, L2 Digital Think Tank, Women in Retail, Consumer Goods Technology Council, Impact Network, Foundation Rwanda and Worldview’s space think tank. Having traveled to 85+ countries, her favorites include Antarctica, North Korea, Mongolia, Rwanda, Bhutan, Myanmar and Tanzania for Kilimanjaro. She can often be found smashing a volleyball and chasing restaurant openings, or flying around on skis and horses – her two newest hobbies.

Welcoming new member Shubu Mitra

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Shubu Mitra with MarCaps.  Shubu is COO of MarCaps and is dedicated to helping clients successfully apply industry leading frameworks, tools and processes to design a modern marketing organization and create a capability development plan.  Prior to co-founding MarCaps LLC, Shubu led Agile Measurement to assist marketers measure, monitor and manage their online and offline marketing, advertising and promotion efforts using agile data-driven approaches.

Shubu was also Director of Connection Effectiveness and Productivity at The Coca-Cola Company where he led Coca-Cola’s global effort to improve the effectiveness of brand marketing communications and increase media productivity.  He started his career as a consultant with McKinsey & Company and worked with several CPG clients on brand growth strategy and marketing spend effectiveness. Shubu looks forward to collaborating on projects requiring marketing organization design and capabilities planning

Welcoming new member Wayne Grundy

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Wayne Grundy with WJG Digital Ltd.  Wayne has worked extensively in consulting including roles at McKinsey & Co as ecommerce practice expert, and Alvarez & Marsal as partner leading the UK cyber security practice.

Wayne trained initially as an engineer and designer and made his early career leading digital technology start-up businesses within corporates:

  • B2C – at the Automobile Association he launched the first UK insurance website. At British Airways he built a personalised travel portal.
  • B2B – at BAE SYSTEMS he digitised the supply chain for military aircraft and led an international cyber security programme for the defence industry.

Wayne went on to become CIO for Raytheon UK.

Working as an independent Wayne has worked as a strategic advisor in the private equity sector helping to develop a portfolio business, identifying acquisition targets, working with the founders of these businesses on their acquisition and growth strategy.

Wayne’s core expertise is strategy, business building, digital innovation and technology-based change.

tags Energy

Enhance your information security

Hacking is up during the coronavirus pandemic.

In Episode 263 of Unleashed, information security consultant Gary Chan explains 12 action items to enhance your information security.

You can download the graphic above along with a summary sheet on Gary Chan’s website.

Welcoming new member Marla Malluk Gozman

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Marla Malluk Gozman.  Marla Malluk Gozman spent nearly ten years at Bain & Company in their Boston, London, and New York City offices. Since then, she has been an independent strategy consultant and also spent three years as Sales Strategy Director with Zearn, a nonprofit education technology organization. Marla has expertise in growth strategy and strategic planning, market and competitive analysis, and pricing, as well as advising start-up and nonprofit organizations. She has experience in many sectors, including health care, education, consumer finance, retail, hospitality, and telecommunications. Marla lives in northern New Jersey with her husband and son. She is happy to collaborate on growth strategy and market/competitive analysis projects in the greater New York City area.

Welcoming new member Rodolphe Lebrun

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Rodolphe Lebrun with LDP Partner.  Rodolphe Lebrun is an advisor and interim executive for biotech, medtech and biopharma. He spent 5 years at McKinsey focusing on Life Sciences and led commercial excellence at AbbVie Belgium for 2 years. Prior to McKinsey, he was a R&D project manager in aerospace within the Safran group. Rodolphe supports Life Sciences companies across their lifecycle: raising venture capital as interim CEO for startups, reviewing go-to-market strategies in scale-ups and improving biologics manufacturing in Big Pharma. He lives in Belgium and serves clients mostly in Europe.

Whiteboard apps for videoconferences

One aspect of in-person meetings that I’ve missed in the age of the videoconference is the ability to stand around a whiteboard and brainstorm.

This week I discovered that Zoom has a whiteboard feature built in. You need to enable the annotation feature (instructions here).

If you’re on the Zoom on your laptop, you can join the Zoom with your tablet and then click Share / Whiteboard, and you’ll be able to draw with your finger or tablet pen. You can also enable such that a group of users can annotate in parallel, though I haven’t mastered that.

Welcoming new member Andre Martinelli

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Andre Martinelli.  André has spent his career helping companies and people grow.  Prior to starting his consulting practice, André was a Director, Go-to-Market for Vista Consulting Group (VCG), the operations arm of Vista Equity Partners. Before that, André was a Managing Director at Blue Ridge Partners, a management consulting firm exclusively focused on helping companies accelerate profitable revenue growth. In both roles, André worked with portfolio company CEOs and Chief Revenue Officers to develop go-to-market strategies, build sales organizations, and implement processes and tools to deliver consistent, profitable growth. He began his career at McKinsey, where he returned after business school.

He lives in Michigan with his wife and two young children, and enjoys attending University of Michigan football and basketball games and heading “Up North.” Andre is interested in B2B sales effectiveness and go-to-market strategy projects, particularly for PE-sponsored companies in the Midwest.

Welcoming new member Andrew Hone

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Andrew Hone with Zenith Strategy Associates.  Andrew Hone spent three years as a Principal in the Strategy and Private equity practices at Bain & Company. Prior to Bain, he was a Partner at L.E.K. Consulting, where he specialised in corporate strategy and private equity advisory services. For the last eight years he has been running his own consulting firm and operates across ANZ and the UK. He focuses on strategy development, performance improvement and transaction services.

Andrew is based in Sydney with his wife and two children and is a keen golfer. Andrew is happy to collaborate on projects across ANZ and the UK involving strategy development and implementation, cost reduction and performance improvement.

Recording family history during the pandemic

Recommended pandemic activity: record family history.

Every Sunday morning for the past nine weeks, I’ve recorded an hour-long call with my dad. So far we’ve covered his time in elementary school, high school, college, the Army, grad school, meeting my mom, his professional career as a nuclear engineer, and my childhood. You can hear the most recent discussion, on his second career as a handyman, which he enjoyed a lot more than designing fuel for nuclear power plants.

Some of my dad’s stories are new to me, some I’ve never heard before; I’m glad to have this chance to preserve them.
Meanwhile, our kids have been interviewing their abuelita each week, and those calls help lift her spirits.

Welcoming new member Mika Malin

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Mika Malin. Mika has broad experience in line management and business development roles, as a senior executive and as a management consultant.  He’s tackled complex board level as well as factory floor level business problems as a consultant at the BCG, in a boutique consulting firm and as an independent consultant.

Mika has a track record of successfully leading businesses and people with a P&L responsibility, as well as planning and executing strategy and M&A transactions in a publicly listed media company as a member of the corporate leadership team.  He’s sharpened his marketing and sales skills in world-class fast moving consumer goods companies, in both local and international roles.

MBA from Harvard Business School has provided him with a solid foundation for strategic thinking, an analytical mindset to problem solving and a structured approach towards business issues.

Mika is analytical but action-oriented, he believes in concrete strategy and brilliant execution, he like to structure complex issues into actionable concepts, he take challenges seriously but want to have fun in the team.

Mika lives in Helsinki with his wife and daughter. In his spare time he runs the Harvard Club of Finland as the President of a non-profit organization of 120 members, and what ever spare time he has left, he spends in the hockey rink or on the golf course.

Mika’s geographic focus is in the Nordics and Europe, but will be happy to discuss relevant opportunities beyond these regions as well.

Welcoming new member Yi-Hsin Chang

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Yi-Hsin Chang with Chang Unlimited.  The secret to Yi-Hsin Chang’s success, no matter the industry, company or situation, is her creativity, tenacity and hard work. She is single-mindedly driven by a need to succeed and to make a positive impact on everything she does.

Yi-Hsin has developed and implemented growth strategies, and led transformational change in companies small and large. She is particularly adept at assessing and adapting to new situations, and managing challenging personalities.

After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a Morehead Scholar, Yi-Hsin started her career as a reporter at The Wall Street Journal and then as a writer for The Motley Fool at the height of the era. When she decided she wanted to run businesses, not just write about them, she went to business school at NYU Stern.

Yi-Hsin’s business career started at McKinsey & Company and Goldman Sachs. She later transitioned to industry so she could have direct, hands-on impact on businesses, including The Kessler Group, Hanover Insurance, and DTN (Data Transmission Network).

Most recently for nearly a decade, Yi-Hsin worked alongside The Kessler Group’s highly successful Founder, Chairman and CEO Howard Kessler(inventor of the affinity credit card) as Chief of Staff/COO, and was instrumental in running the credit card advisory firm, developing creative solutions for major bank clients and their cobrand partners.

Yi-Hsin founded her own independent consulting firm Chang Unlimited, LLC to partner with clients to do deals, build businesses and maximize value. Leveraging her experience in a wide range of industries, business lines and functions, she is highly versatile and capable of solving complex problems and helping companies grow.

Family photo album

Recommended if you’ve got some time available:

In 2009 I curated all the digital photos the family had taken during the year and made a 100-page, 11″x14″ photo book. Since then, I’ve made it an annual practice, and for the total joy received it has been one of my best time investments (30-40 hours each year to curate 20K digital photos down to ~200-300).

With changing digital formats and changing platforms, digital photos are evanescent. Unlikely your grandkids in 50 years will be able to access your Facebook or Instagram account; but a printed album can still be on the shelf.

I used to use MyPublisher until they shut down. Now I use Shutterfly. The premium 11×14 books are expensive (~$300 if you add 100 pages) but if you design it and wait around, you’ll eventually get an email with a 60-70% discount code.

Welcoming new member Lindsey Pitt

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Lindsey Pitt. Lindsey Pitt started her career as a strategy consultant at McKinsey, largely in retail, CPG and media; some strategy work, some implementation work.  She subsequently joined Strategos, a boutique consultancy focused on organic growth in blue-chip organizations, where she collaborated with clients to design insight programs and develop and pitch opportunities for investment (think Shark Tank or Dragons’ Den).  In contrast to McKinsey strategy work, these projects were mostly handled by clients themselves through facilitated workshops, which was great for building engagement/ownership.  She freelanced as a consultant in UK for 8 years before moving to San Francisco in 2010.  Since she wanted to get her hands dirty, she joined the managed services team at an alternative legal services provider, designing solutions and reengineering processes.

In normal times, Lindsey volunteers at 826 Valencia, a not-for-profit that supports under-resourced students with writing skills.  She also talks about writing a crime novel, but doesn’t actually do it.

She’d love to collaborate on organic growth projects, process reengineering, and strategy development/execution work.  She also has deep subject matter expertise in Legal Department redesign(!)

Welcoming new member Jeff Boschwitz

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Jeff Boschwitz with JSB Consulting. Dr. Jeff Boschwitz has spent the last four years as an independent consultant focused on growth/new product and operations strategy for healthcare companies. Prior to that Jeff was COO of Personal Genome Diagnostics, EVP of Operations and Corporate Development at PLUS Diagnostics, VP Sales and Marketing for Orchid Cellmark and Director of Marketing Strategy and Analysis for Quest Diagnostics. Prior to going to industry, Jeff spent 10 years in consulting, the last five at Booz Allen Hamilton where he was a Principal in the healthcare practice.

Jeff received his PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from Cornell University and completed his Post-Doctoral work at Stanford University. He lives near Princeton NJ with his wife and spends his spare time with his racehorses. Jeff specializes in business unit, asset monetization, and cost reduction strategies and is happy to collaborate with anyone pursuing projects of this type for healthcare clients.

Welcoming new member Christophe De Greift

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Christophe De Greift with NEXUSQUANTS. Christophe De Greift has 15 years of experience in management consulting, part of it at The Boston Consulting Group and more recently running his own consulting firm focused on business analytics. Christophe has led 75+ projects in Latin America and Europe and has particular expertise in marketing analytics and supply chain analytics in sectors such as media, finance, logistics, consumer goods, energy and mining.

He lives in Lima, Peru with his wife and two young children and will keep exploring Peru with them, as soon as lockdown ends.

Christophe is happy to collaborate in transforming data into business value, both remotely and in Latin America or Europe.

Welcoming new member Brenna Rauw

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Brenna Rauw with Vulpine Strategies.  Brendan Rauw was a project leader at BCG in the private equity and healthcare practices, and spent ten years after BCG leading technology commercialization for universities.  Brendan has particular expertise in intellectual property, licensing, and entrepreneurship in the life sciences.

Brendan lives in Portland, OR, advising private equity investors and pre-revenue life science companies across the country on strategy, partnering, and market assessment.  Brendan is particularly interested in healthcare and life sciences projects relating to market analysis and due diligence.

The Forever Transaction

Congratulations to Umbrex member Robbie Kellman Baxter on the release of her second book, The Forever Transaction: How to Build a Subscription Model So Compelling, Your Customers Will Never Want to Leave. Robbie discusses the book with me in Episode 288 of Unleashed.

Robbie’s first book, The Membership Economy: Find Your Superusers, Master the Forever Transaction & Build Recurring Revenue, was named a top 10 marketing book of all time by BookAuthority, and we discussed that one on Episode 6.

Welcoming new member Elias Boustani

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Elias Boustani. Elias is a Strategy Consultant with 13 years of experience. He has led the design and implementation of Tech entrepreneurship programs for the World Bank, General Electric, the American University of Beirut (AUB), Expo 2020 Dubai, MCIT KSA, and Beirut Digital District among others.

Prior to that, Elias was a Senior Associate for Strategy& (previously booz&co) working in the Telecom practice on Corporate strategy, Marketing strategy, Demand analytics, Business Planning, Human Capital and SME strategies across clients in K.S.A., Indonesia and India.

Prior to Strategy&, Elias was a Consultant for Accenture France, where he worked as a system integration consultant for major French companies in different industries: Louis Vuitton Malletier and Shiseido in the luxury industry, Faurecia in the automotive industry and Paris City Hall in the public sector.

Elias is a mentor of startups and a university lecturer at AUB and ESA Business Schools.

He is happy to collaborate on projects involving Strategy, Tech, Innovation and Entrepreneurship in France or the Middle East

Welcoming new member Astrid Marechal

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Astrid Marechal with Paraty 22 SA. Astrid Marechal began her career as a Tire Designer at Goodyear Technical Center in Luxembourg.  Later, she  was an Associate Principal at McKinsey & Company where she worked for ten years in North America, Brazil, Russia and Western Europe. Astrid has extensive expertise in strategy development, transformation and go-to-market solutions across multiple B2B industries, including industrial, technology and materials sectors. She has held several interim management positions as P&L owner of BUs. Her clients refer to her as a very sharp and driven person, who is great at getting to the bottom of things and coming up with solutions.  She is also recognized to connecting well with the organization at all levels.

When time allows, Astrid enjoys spending time with friends and family and going on motorcycle trips. Astrid speaks fluent French, English and Portuguese and has a good knowledge of German. Astrid lives in Luxembourg, and is fully mobile geographically.

Welcoming new member Christian Frank

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Christian Frank with Redwood Wellness Partners. Christian Frank spent 8 years at McKinsey in Germany (Automotive, Operations, Sales and Marketing) and the US (HighTech, Healthcare, IT).  After working at IBM in corporate strategy, SMB strategy and Healthcare Business Process Outsourcing he joined ADP as head of corporate strategy and employer services marketing.  Following ADP he founded an employee wellness screening company and has been working as an independent consultant for the past 8 years.

Build your virtual team

As an independent professional without the infrastructure of a large firm we need to build our own virtual team.

Section 4 of The Umbrex Guide to Setting Up Your Own Consulting Practice has 13 videos on this topic, with tips on how to find:

  • Administrative Assistant
  • Bookkeeper
  • Tax Accountant
  • Attorney
  • Insurance Broker
  • Remote IT support
  • Research support

Welcoming new member Michael Janov

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Michael Janov with Azurite Consulting. Before joining Azurite Consulting, Michael spent 5 years with McKinsey & Company as an Engagement Manager working out of their Sydney, New York and London offices. There he devoted his time to M&A Transactions and Merger Management with a strong passion for B2B and Industrial sector work.

Michael previously worked in the Group Strategy team at Qantas Airways, where he led multiple teams in redefining the domestic strategy – stretching from network optimization and fleet management, through to embedding the first Group-wide customer strategy.

He holds an M.B.A from INSEAD, as well as a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from UNSW. He enjoys playing soccer, snowboarding and cooking in his free time and is in the midst of transitioning from London to New York with his wife.

Michael joins Eli Diament and the team at Azurite Consulting. Azurite Consulting is the leading provider of unique primary research to private equity firms, hedge funds, large enterprises and portfolio companies in the B2B space. With a 100% track record and repeat clients, Azurite consistently delivers unique datasets of niche, difficult-to-find respondents in high volume and obsessively high quality.

Michael and Azurite are happy to collaborate with anyone at the crossroad of primary research and B2B to provide clients the highest level of conviction in their decisions.

Welcoming new member Igor Buchatskiy

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Igor Buchatskiy.  Igor is a Managing Partner of BGlobal Capital. Prior to joining BGlobal, Igor has run large farming companies in all the major sectors of agriculture – animal husbandry, row crops and sugar production – and worked as a consultant specializing in Strategy, Operational Improvement and Digital Innovation for McKinsey & Co in Brazil and for Bain & Company in CIS. Igor has also co-founded an FMCG company that today is the leading producer of hummus in Ukraine with over 75% market share.

Igor has over fifteen years of international business development, agricultural and entrepreneurial experience, is passionate about agriculture and food, and always goes an extra mile in order to help entrepreneurs build great companies. He is an active mentor to the startups at the Techstars Farm2Fork program sponsored by Cargill and Ecolab and at the Impulse Accelerator sponsored by OCP. Igor sits on the Advisory Board of Hummingbird Technologies, a UK-based precision Ag platform operating worldwide.

Igor lives in Boston with his wife and son, his daughter Catarina is already in college.  He is hoping to get back to competitive tournament poker once the pandemic is over.  Igor is happy to collaborate on projects on Strategy/Operations/Digital innovation in Agriculture/FMCG/Mining worldwide.

Powering Prosperity: A Citizen’s Guide to Shaping the 21st Century

Umbrex member Indranil Ghosh is the author of the recently published Powering Prosperity: A Citizen’s Guide to Shaping the 21st Century.

In Episode 289 of Unleashed, Indranil discusses the key themes of the book: inclusive governance, investing with purposes, and empowering local communities.

Business Insurance

If you are looking to get business insurance, check out this episode of The Umbrex Guide to Setting Up Your Own Consulting Practice.

This episode includes an overview of 33 different types of business insurance that independent consultants may consider purchasing.

How to write a consulting proposal

In case you missed the webinar last week on how to write a consulting proposal, here is a recording.

Here are the slides.

Here is a proposal template in Word.

Welcoming new member Mukesh Jagota

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Mukesh Jagota with JRCC Partners. Mukesh Jagota spent five years as a Senior Leader in the Consumer and Retail Practice at Strategy& (formerly, Booz & Co.). Mukesh was one of the firm’s key thought leaders in the area of Sales & Marketing. In particular, Mukesh has conducted numerous client projects and research in the areas of in organizational transformation, portfolio strategy, next-generation marketing and innovation capability building, insights & analytics, international strategy, CPG and retail trade effectiveness, digital strategy, and sales force effectiveness. Mukesh also led significant work across the firm’s Deals practice, including helping architect the largest ecommerce acquisition in history.

Prior to his time at Strategy&, Mukesh led a regional specialty retailer, tripling its size within three years, and was a finance professional (e.g., corporate finance consulting, investment banking, private equity). Since 2019, Mukesh has been Managing Partner at JRCC Partners, a boutique strategy consulting firm that counts multiple Fortune 500s as clients. Mukesh would be happy to collaborate on projects across the globe in the Consumer & Retail sectors or that focus on Deal (including due diligence) or Sales & Marketing related work.

Welcoming new member Mike Mortensen

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Mike Mortensen with Tandem Analytics. Mike has advised business leaders at the intersection of strategy and technology for more than a decade. His experience in business transformation comes from three perspectives: business strategy at McKinsey & Company, machine learning implementation at IBM, and as a business executive responsible for growth at a global conglomerate.

Prior to Tandem Analytics, Mike led teams of business consultants and data scientists to support IBM clients in developing analytics and AI transformation programs. He partnered with clients from concept to realization, including algorithm development, pilot program design, technical integration support, and overall program management. Mike has advised business leaders on AI and analytics strategy across industries, including telecommunications, finance, industrials, retail, and health care.

Before joining IBM, Mike was a Director of Strategy & Innovation at Wolters Kluwer, where he led digital transformation for a B2B portfolio company. To improve customer centricity, he launched a portfolio of initiatives, including machine learning for segmentation and customer behavior insights. Early successes with pricing strategy and customer segmentation fueled transformation efforts across digital marketing, as well as increased personalization of sales and service.

Welcoming new member Chris Moe

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Chris Moe with Cartograph. Chris Moe joined McKinsey in 2011 as a BA, focusing primarily on Sales & Marketing for B2C companies, across topics including pricing, digital pricing, and growth. After leaving to spend two years at a structured credit hedge fund in NYC, he returned to McKinsey and split between Marketing and Sales and work in Education, focused on University transformations. Chris co-founded Cartograph in 2018, an agency focused exclusively on Amazon consulting for emerging CPG brands.

Chris now lives in Austin, TX, and is always happy to talk Amazon, eCommerce, or CPG.

Pro-active, ongoing LinkedIn connection request strategy

Consider setting up an ongoing program of sending connection requests on LinkedIn to build your professional network in your niche.

This is in addition to sending connection requests to all the clients you work with and others whom you interact with.

Steps to do this:

  1. Decide on the profile of the person you’d like to connect with.
  2. Develop a reason for individuals who fit that profile to connect with you. Also note that, counterintuitively, some people may be more willing to connect to provide YOU with help than to RECEIVE your help. So consider asking for help.A few connection request ideas:
    – I’m doing a project on XYZ and would value your insights
    – I’m organizing this virtual event, would you like an invitation?
    – I’m organizing a community for people interested in XYZ
    – Would love to interview you for my blog/podcast/white paper
    – I’m a fellow alum of Famous College. Would be grateful to get your advice on ABC
  3. Pay a freelancer to create a Google sheet for you listing people who fit the target profile.  Sheet should have columns:
    – First name
    – Last name
    – Current job title
    – Current employer
    – LinkedIn URL
    – Location (maybe)
  4. Send your personalized LinkedIn connection requests to those on the sheet. Add columns to track:
    – Date connection request sent
    – Email address of the person (if they connect with you)
    – Status of your follow-up

NOTE: If you get flagged by too many recipients as “I don’t know this person,” then LinkedIn will remove your ability to send connection requests unless you know the recipient’s email address. In general, if you send < 50 connection requests per day and at least 20% of the requests are accepted and only a small number are flagged “I don’t know this person,” you should be OK.
So start small – just 10 per day – and check the response rate.

On the browser version of LinkedIn, you get prompted if you want to add a personalized note – you should always do that.

On the LinkedIn app, perversely, LinkedIn hides the personalized invite three levels down. So following the above program is much easier on the browser.

If you DO want to send a connection request with the app, here is how to personalize it:

Welcoming new member David Uriarte

Umbrex is pleased to welcome David Uriarte with Horvent. David Uriarte, former BCG consultant, has an outstanding track record of achievement in customer experience, business management, digital transformation and development in travel & leisure and other service industries. Senior international advisor, entrepreneur and executive with more than 20 years of relevant experience. Digital and people passionate, optimistic, flexible, with a strong strategic vision and leadership in high growth business.

Managing Partner in Horvent Advisory Services and Partner of GuestPro (Leading new generation SaaS to manage hotels). He is also an Associate Professor in Service Management at Toulouse Business School and The Valley of Digital, Mentor at Conector Travel Tech, BTS, Startupbootcamp IoT & Big Data and at The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and Strategy Advisor at Hacks/Hackers Barcelona.

He previously held executive positions in PGI Management, Pierre Vacances Center Parcs and Barceló. David holds an MBA at IESE/ Georgetown University, a Business Degree in the University of the Basque Country.

David also paints horizons in his freetime. Do not hesitate to check his instagram page

David is based in Barcelona Spain and is happy to collaborate on projects in Spain and travel industry worldwide.

Welcoming new member Rijul Takkar

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Rijul Takkar. Rijul Takkar is a Strategy and Operations Consultant specialising in the Metals and Mining sector. He worked with a boutique consulting firm, The Smart Cube, for four years where he led the business transformation programme for the largest steelmaker in the UK. He has extensive experience in setting up transformation offices, driving operations excellence and managing change in large-scale manufacturing organisations. He also worked as a Specialist Consultant with BCG in their Industrial Goods practice, helping drive operations improvement and cost reduction initiatives for the leading steel company in India.

He holds an Engineering degree in Manufacturing and is currently pursuing his MBA from INSEAD. Outside of work, Rijul is a Formula 1 fan and a fitness enthusiast. He is happy to discuss and collaborate on projects involving process and digital transformation, and operations improvement.

Welcoming new member Ivo Sarges

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Ivo Sarges with Synapsos. Ivo spent 11 years with Monitor Group in Frankfurt and Johannesburg and ran Peppers & Rogers (a global customer centricity consultancy) in South Africa for another 3 years. Since 2013 he operates as an independent consultant with a focus on assisting large corporates to design, develop, equip and manage their own in-house consulting capabilities.

He is an expert strategy facilitator and has developed particular workshop based applications for strategy facilitation which usually draws extensively on internal capacities combining them with external capability. Key industries Ivo has worked in includes: transport / logistics, telco, banking, insurance, mining, tourism, public sector. He is currently based in Johannesburg, South Africa, but highly flexible with regard to travel.

Welcoming new member Ryan Wilber

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Ryan Wilber.  Ryan has spent the past 10 years working with healthcare providers to design and implement innovative solutions to pressing care delivery challenges. His experience spans working with small community hospitals, large academic research centers, and integrated multi-hospital systems in the US and internationally to assess and implement new processes and technologies.

While his clients have been varied, his work has had in common a focus on addressing the core provider challenges around access, cost of care, patient experience, and quality. Increasingly, this work has centered on digital and virtual solutions. He believes the most effective solutions to healthcare challenges combine process and culture change with innovation and technology. To that end, he also works with a Bay Area venture fund to assess emerging healthcare technologies and advises their healthcare-focused portfolio companies on how to meet the needs of healthcare providers.

The Power of the Dog

I spent the past couple weeks reading the three-book Power of the Dog series by Don Winslow – a gripping tale of the Mexican drug trade told from multiple perspectives (e.g., a DEA agent, various drug kingpins, a mistress, a boy who escapes from Guatemala on the train through Mexico, addicts, undercover cop in the U.S., journalists in Juarez.)

Deeply researched, and provides insights hard to get from traditional non-fiction reporting.

Welcoming new member Brad Sostack

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Brad Sostack. Brad Sostack spent two years in McKinsey’s operations practice and has over 15 years of leadership experience in transformation strategy, operational planning and execution, and change management. Brad served in the United States Navy as an enlisted technician and as an officer specializing in the operations and maintenance of nuclear submarines.

He holds a Masters’ of Business Administration from the University of Florida and Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Oregon State University. Brad lives in St. Petersburg, Florida with his wife, Lana. He is currently an independent consultant where he has worked with clients in retail, manufacturing and aerospace/defense

Mid-Year Review

This weekend I’ll be working on my mid-year review.

Above are some prompts for reflection, from a tweet by Steve Schlafman.

Tiago Forte published his mid-year review – it is inspiring.

Welcoming new member Ana Freire

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Ana Freire. Ana Freire has been working as an independent consultant in New York for over three years, supporting Fortune 200 Companies. Ana has been supporting clients tackle change management, operational efficiency and market assessment initiatives. Prior to becoming an independent consultant, Ana worked as a financial analyst at Johnson & Johnson, and then spent almost four years at BCG, having worked on Financial Services, Pharmaceutical and Consumer Goods Industries.

Welcoming new member Steve Rooks

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Steve Rooks.  Steve Rooks has spent the last 25 years driving value creation across many different industries as a private equity portfolio advisor to TorQuest Partners, AMP Capital, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP), Sun Capital and TPG Capital, an executive at Avaya and Bell Canada, and a management consultant at Bain & Company.  His most recent PE portfolio efforts were for TorQuest Partners and AMP Capital to lead value creation in their respective North American portfolios, for Ontario Teachers to drive a Lean/ Operational Excellence transformation at an marine container terminal operator, and for Sun Capital to drive a merger consolidation of the Canadian operations for a folding carton manufacturer.

At Avaya, Steve was the GM for the $3.8B Enterprise Segment and a major alliance with HP.  Steve joined Avaya from TPG Capital (one of Avaya’s owners), where he worked for several years with management teams to drive value creation and turnarounds across a range of TPG’s portfolio companies globally, including rapid $85+ million increases in EBITDA at a coal power and mine business, a medical device manufacturer, and a casino and hospitality business. Prior to joining TPG, Steve drove a $250 million transformation of customer experience at Bell Canada across all channels.

Steve joined Bell Canada after working for 8 years at Bain & Company, a leading management consulting firm, helping to drive change across many different industries and on the full range of topline and bottomline business challenges. He began his career as an engineer in IBM’s manufacturing division.

Steve holds a BASc (Honours) in Mechanical Engineering from University of Toronto, an MASc (Honours) in Mechanical & Electrical Engineering from University of Toronto and an MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, where he was an Arjay Miller Scholar. Steve also holds 3 patents in applied image processing.

Welcoming new member Pablo Craievich

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Pablo Craievich. Pablo has over 20 years of experience in senior management roles in strategy (McKinsey&Co and ANZ) and in business management, integration and turnaround across a number of industries (e.g. banking, education, retail, telecom and professional services). Throughout his career, Pablo developed strategies to tackle complex industry issues and led businesses going through significant transformation or complex market environments.

Pablo is based in Melbourne, Australia and is happy to collaborate in projects across Australia and Asia-Pacific.

Jobs to be Done

Umbrex member Steve Wunker worked closely for over five years with the late HBS professor Clayton Christensen, who first popularized the “jobs to be done” approach to innovation.

Steve discusses how to apply the “jobs to be done” methodology in Episode 309 of Unleashed.

More info on jobs to be done including a quick reference guide on the website of Steve’s firm, New Market Advisors.

Welcoming new member Amit Bhagat

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Amit Bhagat. Amit Bhagat brings together a combination of corporate and consulting experience.  In the corporate world, he was General Manager of a $300M business unit of a public consumer goods company.  In addition, he was Head of Strategy and M&A. Within his portfolio of responsibility, Amit led teams in each of corporate strategy; M&A and post-merger integration, business insights and analytics; and transformation.  In the consulting world, Amit was Managing Director at PwC Strategy& focusing largely on M&A related engagements – post-merger integration planning and execution as well as post-merger growth strategy. Amit is based in Toronto.

Welcoming new member Shona Especkerman

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Shona Especkerman with Invictus Consulting.  Shona is an accomplished management consultant and senior adviser with 20+ years of experience in Top Tier consulting firms (Booz & Company, Schlumberger, Accenture) on complex strategic engagements for companies, governments and investors. She has been running her own firm since 2016.

She has extensive experience designing innovative solutions for strategy, business development, organisation, business operations and digital challenges. She is passionate about collaborating with senior executives, investors and government officials in Asia Pacific and the Middle East’s fast growing markets to cultivate new business opportunities and create competitive advantage. Her sector experience includes energy, petrochemicals, e-commerce, logistics & transportation, financial services and retail.

She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with her fiance, 2 dogs and cat, and is an avid meditator and yoga practitioner. Shona is happy to collaborate on projects involving Strategy, Organisation and Operations

Welcoming new member Christian Hager

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Christian Hager with Christian Hager Consulting. Christian Hager was a management advisor at McKinsey & Company from 2000 to 2010. In 2010 he started his own consulting practice. Christian focuses on growth topics, incl. strategy, business model development, sales initiatives, M&A, PMI, etc. and selectively supports restructuring and cost reduction projects. He serves clients in a broad range of industries, recently focusing on travel, logistics, insurance, and eCommerce. He lives in Zurich, Switzerland

Welcoming new member Christopher Rischard

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Christopher Rischard.  Christopher Rischard spent eight years as Digital Leader in the TMT practice at Booz & Company based in Paris and Madrid focused on digitalization, data and tech-enabled growth strategy. After several years as a Principal, he set off as an independent consultant in London in 2014. Prior to Booz and his MBA at INSEAD, Christopher lived in Washington DC where he was raised and he worked for 8 years in enterprise solutions sales at MCI Telecommunications. Christopher would be delighted to collaborate on digital strategy, digital transformation and digital value creation engagements for both corporate and private equity clients.

Welcoming new member Aurora Rotes

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Aurora Rotes.  Aurora Rotes spent 8 years at McKinsey, specialising in strategy and operations for the retail and consumer industries. Aurora moved to corporate, working as Head of Strategy and Transformation for Mango, second apparel retailer in Spain behind Inditex. Later, she dived into the start-up world joining an early start-up specialised on location intelligence applied to retail, and as senior advisor to multiple start-ups in the retail and e-health space.

Aurora is currently based in London, and is happy to engage in professional opportunities, both as independent consultant or interim positions in UK, always related to retail, consumer or e-health.

Welcoming new member Sumeet Sanghani

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Sumeet Sanghani.  Sumeet Sanghani is a proven growth achieving sales and P&L leader in the outsourcing and shared services space, who is looking for a role in which he can amplify and accelerate growth for a fin tech company.

Sumeet brings the ability to advise and influence senior client executives to embrace solutions which can help them digitally transform their operating and business models for breakthrough performance. He combines advisory and consultative selling skills from his days as a top tier management consultant with McKinsey, EY and Deloitte, with deep domain knowledge in retail banking and lending, coupled with strategic, financial and operational expertise. He has a track record of closing large deals with top 25 banking clients in North America, managing high performing global sales and client management teams and has had P+L responsibility for running and growing business units with over $300M in revenues at Conduent and Cognizant.

Sumeet can help with initiatives to enhance returns from outsourcing and shared services initiatives, from strategy development and planning, to execution plan development and implementation, including assessment and selection of outsourcing partners, commercial negotiations and contracting and governance.

8 ways to find a job during the pandemic

On Thursday, July 16, from 12-1 p.m. I’m leading an interactive discussion to cover eight ways to find a job during the pandemic.

Primarily targeted at recent grads of college or B-school.  Non-recent grads welcome too.

If you know someone who is looking, please feel free to share the link to register:

Also: if you have ideas on how to find a job during the pandemic, please let me know. (I’ve come up with seven.)

Welcoming new member Tom Andrews

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Tom Andrews.  Tom’s core, Board-level expertise is in driving business strategy, performance management and the identification and execution of growth/scale-up opportunities. Most recently Tom was hired by Travel Counsellors, a platform business, at the beginning of 2019 to support and drive the next phase of growth for the business. Previously Tom held senior Strategy roles at InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) Plc, latterly Vice President of Strategy & Planning for IHG Europe where he led development of a new global brand to address a major growth opportunity in the region.

Prior to IHG, Tom spent time as a strategy consultant at McKinsey’s London office after an initial career in consumer goods brand building and innovation. Tom is now based near Manchester in the UK

tags Energy


All of a sudden I’ve been hearing about Mural, “a digital workspace for visual collaboration.” While they’ve been around since 2011, have 100 employees, and received $23M in funding in January 2020, seems like COVID has been driving their growth as more people work remotely.

Check out the 100+ visual facilitation templates for everything from workshop planning to storyboarding to service blueprint.

Welcoming new member Anushia Kandasamy

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Anushia Kandasamy with Samanea Asia Consulting.  Anushia is a management consultant and senior leadership facilitator based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with 11 years of experience at McKinsey & Company. Anushia has extensive experience working with in the public sector, as well as with larger SMEs in Malaysia and Southeast Asia. She has also served United Nations agencies on Change Management and Leadership Development.

As a versatile problem-solver, Anushia works across a range of topics related to socio-economic development – and is especially adept at the intersection of government and business. She is also keen on capacity-building, having successfully supported senior leaders in larger SMEs on topics such as problem-solving, communications and managing change.

In addition to these topics, Anushia also conducts impact reviews, helps organisations to set up their business performance management and programme management practices.

Building Relationships Using LinkedIn

Several members who could not join live asked for the recording of the July 23 webinar I did with Sree Sreenivasan and Dorie Clark on how to build relationships using LinkedIn.

Sree is a leading thinker on the use of social media, and he has given training on social media around the world.  He has been the Chief Digital Officer of New York City, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Columbia University. Since the pandemic started he has been leading a daily live call with experts.

Dorie was named one of the Top 50 Business Thinkers in the World by Thinkers50, and the #1 Communication Coach in the World by Marshall Goldsmith Leading Global Coaches Awards. She writes regularly for the Harvard Business Review and is the author of the bestseller Entrepreneurial You.

Welcoming new member Thomas Steiner

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Thomas Steiner with Steiner Advisory.  Tom Steiner combines eight years as a leader in industry with four years of consulting experience, at McKinsey and as an independent. He has served in roles including Sr. Director, Corporate Strategy; Head of Supply Chain; and in various hands-on operational positions where he has led up to 400 people. Tom is particularly passionate about leading transformational change programs for clients.  He has functional expertise in supply chain, operations, strategy, and M&A integration; and is focused on clients in industries including energy, industrials, technology, manufacturing, and private equity.

Tom lives in Houston, Texas with his wife and three daughters

Welcoming new member Kordt Griepenkerl

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Kordt Griepenkerl with Med-Beratung. Kordt  spent five years in the McKinsey healthcare practice in Germany and then worked in leadership positions for the medtech firms Biotronik and Trumpf Medical (now part of Hill-Rom). He covers a wide range of fields from operations to sales and marketing and extensive international experience. He and has been running his own consulting firm  Med-Beratung UG since 2012.

Prior to McKinsey, Kordt obtained this PdD in theoretical physics. He lives in Reutlingen, South of Stuttgart, Germany.

In his spare time, he tries to improve this skill on his trombone and baritone horn as well as getting up to speed, running in the hills behind his house.

Kordt is happy to collaborate on projects in the healthcare industry.

Welcoming new member Alina Khlibyk

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Alina Khlibyk. Alina spent 2 years as a Consultant at McKinsey & Company, Moscow, primarily focusing on transformation projects in banking, retail and basic materials. Has experience in Agile transformations at banks. Prior to McKinsey graduated as a Master’s in Management from Graduate School of Management in Saint-Petersburg, Russia. As a student striked all Big-3 consulting international events as well as Google: was selected as a participant of McKinsey Next Generation Women Leaders, BCG Aspire, Bainworks, Google Bold Immersion EMEA. Currently, lives in Moscow. Alina is happy to collaborate on projects, especially on Agile topics.


While 170,000 companies are using Airtable, I only just heard of this tool, from Kim Calichio when we recorded Episode 310 of Unleashed. She and her team have been using Airtable to manage a volunteer-run effort that is feeding 700 families per week in New York City.

The Airtable website calls itself “part spreadsheet, part database” – looks like a powerful tool worth learning about.

Welcoming new member Adriana Mascolli Fontes

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Adriana Mascolli Fontes. Adriana is a former Senior Expert in the Organizations Practice at McKinsey with a  focus on Organization and Leadership development. Since leaving the Firm in 2012, she has been collaborating with top boutique leadership consulting groups like Mobius Executive Leadership in designing and delivering leadership development programs. She is a certified Coach (ICF) and holds several certifications in the field of Organization, Culture and Leadership Development.

She spent 11 years at McKinsey, and prior to that 3 years at Monitor Group. She started her career at Banco Itau in Sao Paulo, Brazil and has a bachelor in Civil Engineering.

She has been living in Marin County, in the Bay area with her husband and two high-school children for 2 years. Prior to that, she lived in a sailing boat for 4 years, sailing from Seattle (US) to New Zealand.  She speaks fluent English, Portuguese and Spanish. Her Italian is a bit rusty.

Adriana would be delighted to collaborate on projects involving organization, culture and leadership pillars.

Welcoming new member Nicholas Gertler

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Nicholas Gertler with Galen/Atlantica.  Nicholas is co-founder of Galen/Atlantica, a boutique agency that shapes markets and co-creates health. He works with the global pharmaceutical industry across the medicines lifecycle on issues of regulation, access, medical and policy, and with medical foundations addressing complex multi-stakeholder issues. An enduring passion is solving antimicrobial resistance, while a new focus is the proper application of artificial intelligence to medical decision-making. He has co-led a dozen initiatives bringing together senior leaders and leading experts across industry, government and civil society.

Nicholas started his career as a regulatory lawyer in the Washington DC office of Latham & Watkins, and spent several years as a McKinsey consultant in Europe and the Middle East.

While at home, he is vastly outnumbered by his wife and two daughters. While traveling, he strives to sing karaoke in every city he visits.

Nicholas would be excited to collaborate on issues at the intersection of science, strategy and policy and on innovation in general.

Pandemic Aftermath: How Coronavirus Changes Global Society

Futurist Trond Undheim, former director of the MIT Startup Exchange, wrote 17 hours per day for six weeks in February and March this year, producing the 450-page Pandemic Aftermath: How Coronavirus Changes Global Society, which was published in May.

Trond spoke to me about his work as a futurist and the ideas in this book in Episode 315 of Unleashed.

Welcoming new member Himanshu Sharma

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Himanshu Sharma with Avolve Group.  Himanshu has 15+ years of experience across strategy and operating roles across both in industry (Citi, Capital One) and consulting (4+ years at Monitor Deloitte Strategy), serving medium-large global clients. Himanshu has particular expertise in financial services and insurance, with a functional focus on strategy, new product solution development, partnerships and product marketing / go-to-market. He lives in Jersey City, NJ with his wife and daughter, performs stand-up comedy in his spare time and is patiently waiting for the New York comedy clubs to re-open.

Himanshu would love to collaborate on digital and business transformation growth projects.

Google Calendar keyboard shortcuts

August 11, 2020


These shortcuts are handy for anyone using Google Calendar.

Not shown at left:
6 –> Full year view

Other shortcuts are here.

Five minutes that can save hours:

Whatever product you use, try doing a search for ” [product name] keyboard shortcuts”

Welcoming new member Sara Zanichelli

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Sara Zanichelli. Sara has 10+ years of strategy consulting experience, as core member of Financial Services Practice at BCG and previously at Simon-Kucher & Partners (recognized as world leader in pricing consultancy). After BCG, she held managerial roles in ING Bank (innovative digital bank, agile pioneer), being responsible for customer value management (marketing, pricing, customer intelligence, complains) and later serving as tribe leader for lending products.

Sara spent the last 6 months in Qatar, working on digital strategy and transformation projects at Oliver Wyman. She is in the process of relocating to Singapore with her husband.

Sara is happy to collaborate on digital transformation and marketing projects.

Welcoming new member Stefan Faust

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Stefan Faust with < F A U S T >.  Stefan spent 2,5 years at McKinsey, as a generalist consultant, then became a partner at a leading communications consultancy. Followed by 15 years of experience in the banking / wealth management sector, focusing on strategy, programme management & coordination, transformation & change and marketing & communications.

He lives in Zurich / Switzerland and practices and teaches yoga and meditation. He is a certified coach and loves to work with people.

Currently he is taking an advanced training in “Business Sustainability Management” from University of Cambridge in order to move into this seminal area, increasingly relevant to all businesses.

Stefan is open to any project request which may fit his field of experience and also willing to travel.

Welcoming new member Marcia Spitalney Nuffer

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Marcia Spitalney Nuffer with BlueShor.  Marcia Nuffer spent 21 years at McKinsey. For roughly the first half, Marcia was a strategy consultant focused on helping organizations realize their business goals through organizational change and leadership development. In 2003, Marcia became McKinsey’s Chief Learning Officer. In this role, Marcia was responsible for building one of the most lauded global leadership development programs in the world and leading strategic people initiatives for the firm.

Today, Marcia has her own consulting firm, BlueShor, focusing on leadership and talent development, executive coaching, and people strategy. While serving companies and nonprofits of any size, Marcia has a particular interest in manager development at high growth companies.

Marcia is happy to collaborate on projects related to leadership and talent development – both strategically and programmatically – and talent strategy. She is also open to executive and team coaching opportunities. While Marcia’s major focus is the Atlanta area, her long-term global experience and the possibilities of remote work enable her to collaborate internationally as well.

Cover emails that work when responding to project opportunities

August 18, 2020

Last Friday I shared tips on what to put in an email when you respond to project opportunities – either a direct client inquiry or with an intermediary.

You can view the recording of the webinar here and download the slides here.

Online workshops to enhance your skills

August 25, 2020

A few workshops that look awesome. I’d do all of these if I had the time.

The Marketing Seminar:  “An Akimbo workshop for marketers who want to grow.” Registration for the next session starts September 15. Also check out the other workshops run by Akimbo, founded by Seth Godin.

Building a Second Brain: “Helping people save their best ideas, organize their learning, and dramatically expand their creative output.” Enrollment for the next cohort is open now through August 24.

Write of Passage: “Accelerate your career by writing online.” Next cohort starts January 27, 2021

How are you planning to invest in your skills this fall?

Welcoming new member Martin Wilhelm

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Martin Wilhelm.  Martin spent over 8 years in corporate consulting before becoming an independent consultant based in Berlin.

Martin gained experience from Boston Consulting Group, Stern Stewart and the in-house consultancy of Maersk in Copenhagen, Denmark. Moreover, Martin served as Head of Strategy for Europe’s leading hotel booking page trivago and as head of category management for Wayfair Europe.

Martin lives in Berlin with his partner. He is more than happy to collaborate on projects involving process optimization, organizational changes and digitization worldwide.

tags Energy

Free course: Twitter Growth, Influence & Monetization

August 28, 2020

This free course launched last Friday and so far 1,874 people have signed up for it.  About four hours of video content.

I went through 85% of the course videos over the weekend and highly recommend it to anyone who is – like me – new to Twitter and trying to figure out how to use Twitter (and not be used BY Twitter.)

Sign up for the course here:

Neverbounce to validate email addresses

September 1, 2020

If you – or your client – ever needs to verify that a set of emails are valid, Neverbounce is a useful tool.

I recently used it to validate a list of 2,700 emails.  Simple to use.

I uploaded a CSV file and within a couple minutes Neverbounce tested them all and identified 21 emails that are no longer valid.

Cost: $40 buys you credits to test 5,000 emails.

Welcoming new member Melanie Espeland

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Melanie Espeland with Espeland Enterprises.  Melanie S. Espeland has over 13 years of professional experience across strategy and operations. She is the Founder of Espeland Enterprises, a boutique consulting firm.  Their services include executive voice coaching and business consulting.

Melanie has consulted for businesses for 5 exciting years, utilizing her MBA and toolkit from top tier management consulting firm McKinsey & Company.

For her Executive Voice Coaching clients, she offers a unique mix of voice prowess (as a signed Voice Actor with CESD Talent) and prestigious business savvy.  Melanie believes there is an incredible opportunity for professionals to improve their careers and overall confidence through harnessing their voices.

Melanie has an MBA from Columbia Business School, a BS from Cornell University, and has studied voice acting with industry leaders Paul Liberti and Anna Garduno.

When not working with E E clients, she enjoys voice acting and painting.

Todoist task manager

September 3, 2020

I’ve tried using a digital task manager in the past, but gave up.

My list of to-dos was unorganized and became unmanageable.

For the last five years, I’ve used a notebook, writing a new task list each day, by hand.

I do like the physicality of the paper, but I often lose track of longer-term action items.

On Saturday, I set up a Todoist account, and it feels like a massive weight has been taken off my shoulders.

The key has been organizing tasks into a system of projects and areas, per Tiago Forte’s PARA method.

Todoist is a delight to use.  Syncs across all devices, of course. Easily add a task from email. Move projects up and down to prioritize.

Note: Tiago Forte uses the task manager Things, but that tool is not available for the PC.

Read it later with Instapaper or Pocket

September 4, 2020

Another recommendation from the Building a Second Brain Course: save articles and long newsletters to a read-later app.

This allows you to avoid distractions throughout the day and schedule focused reading time.

I’ve set up auto-forwarding filters for the newsletters I subscribe to.

The two leading apps are Instapaper and Pocket.

They have similar functionality. This Medium article can help you choose.

Show people how to pronounce your name on LinkedIn

September 7, 2020

LinkedIn launched a feature in July that lets you show people how to pronounce your name.

If anyone has ever been unsure how to pronounce your name, consider taking thirty seconds to add the pronunciation to your profile.

Just open the LinkedIn app, click to edit your profile, and click on the banner.

Twelve Favorite Problems

September 11, 2020

This tip is from an exercise we did last week in Tiago Forte’s Building a Second Brain course.

Write down your twelve “favorite problems” and save in your notes app or desktop or some place you’ll see regularly.

The idea being: by writing them down and reviewing periodically, your mind will be working on these problems in the background.

Here are some examples from those shared by participants in the course:

How can I spend 75% of my time doing work that inherently gives me joy?

What actions can I take as a dad to develop resilient, clever, and kind children?

How can remote health monitoring help patients manage chronic diseases?

What am I going to do once my purchase agreement/employment contract ends with the company we sold our business to?

IFTTT to connect your applications

September 13, 2020

You can use IFTTT (stands for “if this, then that.”) to connect many common applications with one another.

No coding required.

E.g., I used this applet to send all my Instapaper highlights to my Evernote account.

For more advanced integration options, check out Zapier.

Welcoming new member Colleen Miner

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Colleen Miner. Colleen Miner spent three years as a consultant and Instructional Designer at McKinsey, and has just started her own consulting firm to work on education innovation and future of work projects. Prior to McKinsey, she was Senior Director, Content Strategy for 2U, Inc. and the Digital Learning Project Coordinator at The Museum of Modern Art.

Colleen has particular expertise in digital learning, design thinking, and capability building programs at scale. She is currently traveling through the Midwest with her husband and training for her next marathon. Colleen is happy to collaborate on projects involving design thinking, instructional design, or online learning.

Welcoming new member Sean Folan

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Sean Folan.  Sean is a versatile brand growth strategist with deep expertise leveraging insights and analytics to build and activate brand strategies and growth plans for clients in healthcare, consumer products, hospitality, aviation, telecom and financial services. His work has ranged from category and brand creation to product/service innovation, launch planning and campaign development/execution.

Sean and his family live in Connecticut where they enjoy hiking, biking and spending time with friends. He is looking to collaborate on projects involving brand growth strategy development and execution in the US, regionally, or globally.

Welcoming new member Ulrich Schumacher

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Ulrich Schumacher.  Ulrich is an expert in CRM, CEM, e-commerce and marketing; especially in the B2B and B2C retail environment. To date, he has been able to successfully apply his skills in various renowned companies in consulting and line functions. Ulrich is able to lead and realign large marketing areas in a contemporary and future-oriented way.

Due to his extensive knowledge in the areas of on- and offline instruments, he achieved concrete marketing successes. He is familiar with the peculiarities of e-commerce sales channels, omni-channel marketing approaches and has a proven track record of building and expanding CRM programs profitably. Ulrich is happy to collaborate on projects involving CRM and marketing in Europe

Use Readwise to capture, review, and integrate insights from books

September 22, 2020

Do you find yourself reading books with amazing insights that you expect will transform your thinking — and then six months later you can’t even remember what the book was about?

Happens to me all the time.

I just signed up for an account with Readwise, which aims to address this problem.

Readwise sends you a daily email with text that you have highlighted when reading Kindle books, so you can review the passages you previously captured.

The tool also allows you to automatically sync the text of all those highlights to an Evernote account, where you can then integrate the passages into your own creative work.

Prefer physical books? With Readwise you can snap a photo of a page in a book. The app converts the image to text with OCR, and then you can highlight that text and save to your account.

Welcoming new member Jose Fornell

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Jose Fornell with Impact Point Co.  Jose has over 13 years of experience with BCG and Alvarez and Marsal advising under-performing and distressed companies. He has advised companies in the SaaS, consumer, automotive, logistics, technology, manufacturing, and telecom industries. His core areas of expertise include transformation management, turnaround/restructuring, and the Office of the CFO.

While at BCG, Jose led numerous transformation management offices responsible for developing and executing holistic programs at multi-billion dollar clients, including a $250M transformation effort in the business technology industry and a $2B transformation effort in the automotive industry.

Prior to BCG, Jose led numerous turnarounds and restructurings (in and out of Chapter 11) with Alvarez and Marsal, which included managing liquidity crises, chapter 11 administration, and various interim treasury and FP&A roles.

Jose lives in Miami and is an avid boater along with his 3 daughters and wife.  He is happy to collaborate on change management, turnaround/restructuring, liquidity management, FP&A, and rapid cost-take out projects anywhere in the US.

Welcoming new member Neil Bansal

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Neil Bansal with Coppertree Partners.  Neil  is a 20+ year New York based executive and former McKinsey consultant who is passionate about building, scaling and leading businesses across consumer/retail, financial and technology sectors.

He most recently served as Managing Director and Head of Transformation at BNP Paribas in the Americas where he focused on strategy, innovation and digital transformation. Neil recently launched Coppertree Partners as a platform for independent consulting work and thought leadership.

Welcoming new member Przemek Czerklewicz

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Przemek Czerklewicz. Przemek worked as a specialist consultant focused on end-to-end support for M&As in the strategy practice at McKinsey. In 2017 he started his independent consultancy, advising on transactions, technology strategy and innovation.

Przemek has been responsible for over 30 due diligence and acquisition screening studies, both for financial and industrial buyers. Most of his Clients are healthcare institutions, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, as well as high tech and social sector organizations. He has also managed pro bono projects in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, helping rising startups, local producers and farmers.

Welcoming new member Wendy Richards

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Wendy Richards with MarTel Advisors. Member of the Board for AMC Natural Drinks, Wendy advises this family-held Spanish corporation on international strategy and leadership development. Beyond the boardroom, she builds team cohesion through executive coaching and change management, serving PE and Venture-backed firms.

An experienced Chief Marketing Officer in the investment industry, Wendy’s clients include Makena Capital Management and Altegris Investments. She led telecoms finance for HSBC in London and the design and roll-out of the first digital mobile networks across Europe for AirTouch/Vodafone based in Brussels. Wendy was honored as Fortune’s “Top 50 Most Powerful Women in Business in Europe”.

A McKinsey and Stanford alumna, she is an avid sailor at home on San Francisco Bay and has sailed her 41-foot sloop across the Med and the Caribbean.

Welcoming new member Agnes Allotey

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Agnes Allotey with Stratosphere. Agnes is a Strategy, Innovation, Product and Organizational Development expert and a Management Consultant with 19 years of experience at firms including McKinsey and Company, Bloomberg L.P., Dow Jones & Company and Milvik (BIMA).  She has exposure to multiple industries and functions including the development of Public-Private Sector Partnerships, Insurance, Mining, Banking, Sustainable Enterprises and Media.  She is currently the Founder and Executive Director of Stratosphere, a management consulting firm focused on serving companies with interests in Africa.  Some of her recent work include working on a transformation for a sovereign wealth fund and helping a large international foundation decide on which sectors to invest in.  Agnes is also a Project Manager for CGAP, a think tank housed at the World Bank focusing on financial inclusion.

She also contributed to articles for the McKinsey Global Institute, carrying out key pieces of research into South Africa’s economy and McKinsey Women where she studied gender imbalances at work and the effect on company EBITDA.  She has also published hundreds of articles on the Bloomberg Terminal for consumption by traders in real-time and edited copy for the Wall Street Journal as a National Copyreader for Dow Jones & Company.

Agnes is also a career coach and served on the Boards of the Kuenyehia Prize for Contemporary Art and Unryddle, a technology-enabled educational development agency for university students. She has an MBA from NYU Stern School of Business where she specialized in Finance and Strategy and a Bachelor of Arts from Bryn Mawr College in English Literature with a minor in Physics.

Welcoming new member Seth Townsend

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Seth Townsend with Tonisgah Group. Seth  spent 5 years at McKinsey as part of the Healthcare practice, leading efforts across sales growth, pricing, operations, due diligence, M&A, and corporate strategy for companies in the pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and healthcare industry.  Following his time at McKinsey, Seth worked at Novartis where he held roles in Commercial, Shared Services, Finance, and Operations in both the US and Switzerland.  He was most recently Head of Commercial Support Operations in the Sandoz Division, a global leader in generics and biosimilars where he led a team of over 30 people across insights & analytics, salesforce effectiveness, sales training, and data services. Seth was the SVP Transformation for Beacon Health Options, the largest private behavioral health company with sales of over $2B (now a part of Anthem).  There, he led initiatives across transaction management, margin improvement / value creation, and organizational restructuring.

Seth holds a Global Executive MBA with distinction from INSEAD, a PhD in Biological Engineering from MIT, and a BS in Biomedical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University.  Seth lives with his wife and two daughters in New York.  He would be happy to collaborate on projects in the pharmaceutical, healthcare, and private equity industries.

Use Airr to “highlight” and save clips from podcasts

September 29, 2020

I’m loving Airr, a podcast player app that allows you to highlight and share clips from podcasts.

When you are listening to a podcast and hear something you’d like to save or share, you just click a button.

By default the app selects a 45 second clip surrounding that point in time. You can adjust the start and stop point, and then title the clip.

Some of the more popular podcasts include transcripts.  You can click on the transcript and jump to that section of the audio. With these shows, when you save an AirrQuote, you get the relevant section of the transcript as well as the audio clip.

You can export your AirrQuote to Evernote, email it, or export it in a variety of other ways.

You can also make the AirrQuote public, like I did with this clip about the pre-game rituals of professional athletes from The Productivity Show. (That conversation got me thinking about how business professionals could design a pre-game ritual to prepare for the work day – a potential future podcast topic.)

Welcoming new member Anthony Howe

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Anthony Howe.  Anthony has worked at three leading consultancies including McKinsey (strategy), AT Kearney (manufacturing/operations) and Accenture (Information Technology).  After leaving consulting, Anthony joined the financial services industry, initially launching a corporate development team for the CEO of a private payments company and then progressing to leadership roles at Wachovia, Wells Fargo and, most recently, USAA.

In his most recent role as Head of Strategic Intelligence at USAA, Anthony managed three teams including corporate strategy, enterprise competitive intelligence and strategy analytics.  Mr. Howe has the ability to integrate and coordinate complex transformation initiatives given his functional breadth spanning strategy, marketing, operations, information technology, data and analytics and corporate development.  Anthony has only recently decided to pursue independent consulting after USAA necessarily turned its focus from growth to risk and compliance given the current regulatory environment.

Welcoming new member Anna Engströmer

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Anna Engströmer with Anna Engströmer GmbH. Anna is Swedish, has worked across Europe and lives in Switzerland. She worked 2006-2011 in McKinsey in Italy, in the Business Technology Office and the Operations Practice. She was a manager at Zurich Insurance (Finance and Sourcing) and at UBS (Vendor Governance).

She works independently for clients in Switzerland and Europe. She has vast experience in service design, strategic sourcing, vendor governance and financial performance management. She is fascinated about well-functioning systems, with clear rules of engagement and respectful and interest-based collaboration and negotiation. Problems that fit her are complex, cross-functional, new or old, requiring agility in grasping them and addressing them. She energizes from people, and cares about both organizational performance and people’s health. She is fluent in Swedish, English, Italian, German and French.

In her free time she takes care of and is challenged by her Swedish-Italian family. She’s an avid learner and covers a wide range of topics: healthcare, nutrition, wellbeing, neuro-feedback, business startups, and latin.

Welcoming new member Kareem Hall

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Kareem Hall with K Hall Consulting. Kareem is a management consultant and entrepreneur with 15 years of experience in market research, strategic planning, and workshop facilitation. He has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA from Morehouse College. Kareem runs K Hall Consulting, a strategy, qualitative analysis, and market research consulting firm. He also serves as the Program Lead for the Southside Atlanta and Eastlake / Kirkwood cohorts of Emory University’s Start:ME program, an intensive business training program for promising local small businesses. Before founding K Hall Consulting, Kareem led transformative client projects and implementations as an Engagement Manager at Mission Measurement, and as a Consultant at Bain & Company, Accenture, and ProInspire.

In addition to his professional pursuits, Kareem is passionate about community outreach and volunteer work. He currently serves on the board of the Harvard Business School Club of Atlanta and resides in Atlanta with his wife, Erika, and his daughter, Eila (who is excited for her brother due in November). Kareem also recently launched Soccer Shots Atlanta East, a premier soccer experience for children ages 2-8 in DeKalb County that he owns with his wife, Erika.

Welcoming new member Michael Hagmann

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Michael Hagmann with MSP. After completing his studies in management engineering at the University of Karlsruhe (TH), Michael worked for The Boston Consulting Group for over five years. There, he led and developed teams as a project manager within the scope of strategy and efficiency improvement projects in different contexts and industries.

Since early 2009, Michael has been a self-employed interim manager and consultant. He is primarily involved in situations of disruptive change, turnaround or business model transformation, typically in the role of interim managing director or programme manager. The focus of his assignments is on the industrial goods and services sector, machinery and plant engineering, renewable energies and private equity. His clients are both subsidiaries of corporate groups as well as medium-sized companies.

Michael completed a special training as restructuring manager and worked outside Germany for almost eight years as part of his studies and professional activities.


October 6, 2020

I dictated this section and had it transcribed with the app.  I haven’t fixed any typos, just added line breaks

Otter is a very powerful. Artificial Intelligence transcription tool. That’s very affordable for just $10, a month, you get 6000 minutes of transcription, that works out to .16 cents per minute. Here’s three ways you can use it.

Number one, when you’re out and about. You can leave yourself a voice memo, and have it transcribed and email to yourself.

Number two, if you have an existing audio recording. You can have it transcribed and that works very easily by just dropping the file into a dropbox folder.

Number three, you can connect otter to a zoom meeting and get live transcription. So check it out. It’s

Welcoming new member James Agres

Umbrex is pleased to welcome James Agres with 2nd St Strategy. James is a Senior Management Consultant with 10+ years of strategic consulting experience. His work focuses on sell-side and buy-side commercial due diligence for Private Equity and Investment Banking clients. James possesses deep expertise in developing and executing organic and M&A driven growth strategies for mid-market clients. He also has extensive experience in operational performance improvement, value creation, and transformation initiatives across diverse industries including industrials, healthcare, consumer products, ecommerce, retail, media, high-tech and financial services. James is a proven team leader experienced in delivering multiple concurrent complex, ambiguous, and data-driven projects in rigorous and fast-paced environments, consistently addressing the most challenging strategic issues facing my clients and delivered distinctive solutions.

James has received an MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business with a specialization in Strategy and Finance and a BS in Computer Science from DePaul University.

His specialties are:
• Commercial due diligence
• Primary market research
• Growth strategy development and execution
• Post M&A integration and synergy capture
• Advanced problem structuring, problem solving and data analysis

James is looking to collaborate on lower middle market due diligence and growth strategy engagements, particularly where extensive primary market research is needed.

Welcoming new member Eugenio Iguzquiza

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Eugenio Iguzquiza. Eugenio is a seasoned strategy and operations professional experienced in multinational environments, cross-functional teams and matrix organisations with a focus on the Consumer Goods and Food & Beverages sectors.

Eugenio worked 5 years in management consulting as a Senior Associate for Booz & Company followed by operations/commercial strategy roles with Nestlé. Following a stint in UBS investment banking, he most recently worked at the UK’s leading bottling and beverages company BRITVIC PLC where he was responsible for developing industrial strategies across all business units and leading multidisciplinary teams in the implementation of supply chain programs globally. He is also active as an interim manager for Blue Chip and SME clients.

Eugenio has a background in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering from Ecole Centrale de Marseille and an MBA from INSEAD. He is fluent in Spanish, French and English.

Eugenio is happy to collaborate on projects involving operations and supply chain for manufacturing industries across Europe.

Welcoming new member David Edelman

Umbrex is pleased to welcome David Edelman. After 30 years as a Chief Marketing Officer (at Aetna/CVS) and building consultancy businesses in Digital and Marketing Transformation (with McKinsey, Digitas, and the Boston Consulting Group), I would love to work with others on helping companies in healthcare, fin services, consumer services, and marketing tech/svcs shape their strategic direction, build their teams’ capabilities, and become more digitally agile. I know what it takes from the top strategic level down to the nitty gritty of tech, ops, and creative to get great marketing done.

I am also open to appropriate opportunities on boards, and am currently on two non-profit boards — The Walnut Hill School for the Arts, and the Boston Ad Club — where I serve on the strategy committees, building a future direction for both institutions to expand their impact.

I’ve published in HBR, speak frequently at industry conferences and events, and blog on topics ranging from digital marketing to the Customer Decision Journey. But most importantly, I am also a music fanatic and play saxophone.

Begin building your own second brain

October 13, 2020

As knowledge workers, each one of us is running our own knowledge factory, but school and most workplaces teach us to run our ‘factory’ more like an artisan’s bespoke workshop, with each knowledge product we ship lovingly hand-carved and made-to-order.

Last Friday I shared the productivity lessons I learned from taking Tiago Forte’s course Building A Second Brain.

In case you missed it, here is a recording. (To see subtitles* when watching the video, click “CC.”)

I’d encourage you to check out the course. Next cohort will start in spring 2021. Link:

In the meantime, check out Tiago Forte’s blog, Praxis. A good post to start with is The PARA Method: A Universal System for Organizing Digital Information.


*PS: How to add subtitles to a video:
From or other transcript service, get a .srt file (not a .doc file).
Then after you upload your video, you will also upload the .srt file.
Here are instructions for LinkedInVimeo, and Youtube.

Mekko Graphics

October 14, 2020


Mekko Graphics is a plug-in originally developed for Bain that enables consultants using Excel or PowerPoint to quickly create compelling and insightful charts that go far beyond the standard built-in options.

Seriously, check out this PPT deck with 250 beautiful charts.

David Goldstein, one of the Founders of Mekko Graphics, gave me a demo of the product, which you can watch as Episode 333 of Unleashed, or on Vimeo.

Welcoming new member Abhinav Chandra

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Abhinav Chandra.  Abhinav is a seasoned Senior Leader with deep expertise in Retail/Consumer and Technology across a wide range of functional areas. Abhinav was an Associate Partner in McKinsey’s Retail and Operations practices where he served multiple clients on topics including omni-channel supply chain strategy, marketing and growth strategy, store operations and private label design and sourcing to name a few.

Post McKinsey, Abhinav was at Amazon, where he was Head of Customer Experience, Worldwide and Head of Women’s Clothing business. At Amazon, he drove increased automation using advanced technologies like AI/ML to scale operations and drive growth and profitability.  Abhinav lives in the San Francisco – Bay Area and loves to watch and play cricket. He is looking forward to collaborating with you.

Welcoming new member Mortimer von Plettenberg

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Mortimer von Plettenberg.  Mortimer von Plettenberg, a lawyer by background, started his career as an Associate in McKinsey’s Hamburg office. Focusing on operations transformation and restructuring projects, he left as an Engagement Manager five years later to co-found a non-profit educational start-up: Teach First Deutschland places bright graduates of all backgrounds in underprivileged schools to improve educational equity. Having to take care of the family forestry business in Western Germany, Mortimer stepped down as CEO but remains an active shareholder.

As an independent consultant in Wiesbaden (close to Frankfurt), he focuses on operational transformations and restructuring, e.g. in airline, automotive and logistics.

He loves piloting small planes and playing rock piano (to the dismay of his wife and three children).

Mortimer is happy to collaborate on projects with an operations focus in Europe

Welcoming new member Alex Jacobs-Hajian

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Alex Jacobs-Hajian.  Alex is a C-Level Strategy and Operations Management Consultant focused on Mergers and Acquisitions, Deep Technical Know-How, and Business & Legal Acumen

Functional Expertise:
• Program and Project Management
• Client Relationship Management and Value Realization
• Digital and Technology Strategy
• Lean Six Sigma Certified

Industry Domains:
• Resources and Utilities
• Communications, Media, and Technology
• Healthcare and Life Sciences
• Government and Public Service

Welcoming new member Bernard Borowski

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Bernard Borowski with Digital Lean & Data Advantage Group. Bernard is an outcome-driven digital transformation executive for the services industries who led large scale programs and client engagements that unlocked value from digitized processes and data insights.

He most recently acted as Chief Data Officer for the shared services group of Pharma giant Sanofi; was a Principal in the Technology Advantage practice of the Boston Consulting Group focused on Lean in Services; Executive Director at Morgan Stanley (finance strategy, operations & technology) and held Master Black Belt and finance operations roles at GE for 12 years.

His skills and experience include:
Multi-$mm efficiencies in global shared services operations
Design, roadmapping, jump-start & deployment of digital transformation and continuous improvement programs
Value creation and risk mitigation through enhanced data management and governance
Turn around of mission-critical customer-facing operations

Bernard is happy to collaborate at any stage of a digital transformation in need to accelerate value creation.

Welcoming new member Tarik Djeddour

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Tarik Djeddour with Stellaris Consulting. Tarik is a Healthcare focused former McKinsey manager who started his own consulting firm in 2016. He mainly focuses on go-to-market strategy, commercial due diligence, and insight & analytics projects, supporting pharma and med device teams mostly in Europe and the US. An engineering & MBA graduate of Imperial College London, Tarik has worked for industry leaders such as Honeywell and Shionogi, as well as boutique consultancies.

His 20 years of professional experience is a blend of senior consulting know-how for blue chip clients and hands-on senior executive operational experience across the start-up to incumbent spectrum. He is married to a primary care physician and splits his time between London and Girona in Catalunya, Spain. He is fluent in English, French, Italian, and is developing fluency in Spanish and Catalan. Tarik is happy to collaborate on projects

Welcoming new member Bart Sichel

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Bart Sichel with bps Captura. Bart is President of bps Captura, which provides independent advisory and consulting to corporate senior leaders, private equity firms, and boards across multiple consumer facing industries.  Bart has hands on experience driving growth, and provides expertise in Marketing, Digital Transformation, Ecommerce, Innovation, Format Renewal, and Customer Loyalty.

Bart was Chief Marketing Officer at Burlington Stores, leading Marketing, Ecommerce, and Corporate Strategy, and he was part of the dedicated executive management team that turned the business around under private equity ownership, took the company public, and increased shareholder value over ten-fold.

Prior to Burlington, Bart was a Principal at McKinsey & Company where he co-led McKinsey’s North American Retail Marketing Practice among other leadership roles. Before McKinsey, Bart was involved in several startups, and was a Vice President at Chemical Bank.  Bart also teaches graduate classes on the topic of leadership at NYU, and serves on the National Board of Directors for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Bart holds a B.A. in Economics from Vassar College, and an M.B.A. in Marketing and Finance from Columbia University.

Welcoming new member Janet Bumpas

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Janet Bumpas. Janet Bumpas comes from Silicon Valley where she was part of three startups. She loves all aspects of growing an idea through launch and then building it in the marketplace. Usually, she focuses on product, working with customers to understand their needs and translates these into a product. Currently, she lives in the Netherlands where she works both with large companies and entrepreneurs helping them to launch and scale businesses. She has run accelerator programs for entrepreneurs and intrapraneurs and really enjoys both working with teams and facilitating larger group workshops.

Janet has also consulted many of the world’s leading organizations on growth and profitability strategies.  After receiving her MBA from The Harvard Business School, she worked at BCG. She later worked at Razorfish as a Senior Strategist where she advised corporate clients on how to profitably use the Internet to further their corporate goals. Finally, Janet has extensive experience in international development (World Health Organization, the World Bank, TechnoServe, and as a consultant to several other international development organizations).

Welcoming new member Imoudu Alexander Osikhena

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Imoudu Alexander Osikhena. Imoudu is an ex-Bain consultant with deep consulting experience across several industries and functions including financial services, consumer goods, energy and telecoms etc. Prior to Bain, he worked with Procter & Gamble as a senior brand manager leading top brands in different geographies. Imoudu is also an expert in the development and public sector, having worked as a consultant to some government agencies/Ministers and with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations on some of its projects.

Welcoming new member Johannes Hoech

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Johannes Hoech with MarqetU. Johannes is a C-level Silicon Valley executive experienced in “Growth Architecting”, i.e. all aspects of state-of-the-art pipeline generation and revenue management. Expert analyst and motivational leader with strong skills in general management, strategy, product management, and customer success, as well. 25+ years of experience leading technology startups through early stage, high growth, and turnaround phases.

Having managed organizations ranging in size from a 3-person start-up to a 400-person business, Johannes drives revenue and scales fast growing organizations of all sizes. With his German half he executes efficiently with a highly analytical approach, and with his California half he innovates pragmatic solutions.

Welcoming new member John Long

Umbrex is pleased to welcome John Long with Satoe Solutions.  Jack Long was a consultant at McKinsey focusing on leadership development, organizational transformation, and strategic planning.  Following that he as an executive at IDEMIA where he lead integration and transformation, strategic planning, and value creation efforts.  Prior to McKinsey, he was an Innovation Fellow at Oxford University leading teams building startups based on University IP.  Jack holds a PhD in nanoengineering from Johns Hopkins and spent 8 years on active duty in the Marine Corps, and is currently a Reservist at the Office of Naval Research focusing on AI/ML.  He lives in Washington, DC and is happy to collaborate on projects in North America.

Welcoming new member Rashay Jethalal

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Rashay Jethalal.  Rashay has over 20 years of experience in North American financial services and a deep passion for scaling modern businesses.  He had led businesses in asset management (Purpose Investments) and transaction banking (CIBC) and a proven track record of providing strategic advice in both capital markets and retail banking.  He enjoys working with early stage and rapidly scaling new ventures, particularly in the fintech space.  Rashay has deep acumen in growth strategy and transformation.  He lives in Toronto, with his wife and two daughters, and is an avid basketball fan. In his spare time, he also enjoys angel investing.

Welcoming new member Duncan Mitchell

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Duncan Mitchell with OCC Business Services.  Duncan Mitchell spent over 6 years at McKinsey focused on the Energy practice. He specialises in transformation/turnaround and has been running his own consulting firm since 2016. Duncan has broad experience, first as a Chemical Engineer at the leading petroleum technology licensor, UOP and also in operations improvement at Arcelor Mittal – the world’s largest steel company. Functionally Duncan specialises in post-merger integration, performance measurement and management and strategic transformation through acquisition or restructuring.

He lives in Chicago IL by the airport and is happy to travel as necessary to serve clients.

Morning pages

October 27, 2020

Julia Cameron introduced the concept of morning pages in her seminal book, The Artist’s Way: A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self.

The idea is simple enough: every morning, within forty-five minutes of waking up, you sit down and write whatever comes into your head, for roughly fifteen minutes.

It is not intended to be a journal.

You aren’t intended to ever read the entry again.

Just write.

Many people have reported making stunning personal and creative breakthroughs after adopting this practice.

You could consider it a form of meditation.

I’ve been writing morning pages every day for the last two months. (While the canonical approach is to write at least three pages in long-hand, I type on the Belkin keyboard of my iPad.) For me, the practice helps reduce mental chatter, provides a sense of calm, and has led to some ideas I’m excited to implement.

Welcoming new member Michael Z Guterbock

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Michael Z Guterbock.  Michael worked for a decade in disaster preparedness and global health for the Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response (ASPR) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Michael currently consults with Booz Allen Hamilton as a country risk manager. Prior to his consulting and government career, Michael worked for the private sector in the international development space. He is pursuing his Doctorate in International Affairs from Johns Hopkin University’s School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS). He co-lives in Washington D.C. and Bologna, Italy with his wife and two young children. Michael is happy to collaborate on projects involving strategic planning, risk assessments, diplomatic engagements, and global health. Michael spans both the U.S. and Western Europe

Welcoming new member Jonathan Schwartz

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Jonathan Schwartz with Schwartz Consulting. Jonathan leads performance improvement strategy and execution efforts and manages large, complex programs/projects in manufacturing, distribution, and service operations. Since leaving McKinsey as an Engagement Manager, he has led operations improvements, lean implementations, and large programs/projects at several manufacturing companies, Bank of America, a tech start-up, a healthcare communications firm, etc. He often works with private equity portfolio companies and was a VP and Lean Champion at American Capital. Prior to McKinsey, Jonathan spent 7 years in manufacturing leadership roles with Motorola and Hewlett-Packard and was a Fellow in the Leaders for Manufacturing Program at MIT. Jonathan lives in Atlanta, GA with his wife and 2 teenage daughters.

Transferwise to send international payments

October 30, 2020

Thanks for Margarita Soto for obtaining this new benefit for Umbrex members:

I’ve found Transferwise to be the best way to send or receive funds when a currency exchange is involved.

If I receive an international wire transfer via my bank, they charge a hefty fee – not as an explicit line item, but built into an unfavorable exchange rate.

If I receive the same payment via Transferwise, however, I end up with ~2% more funds received.

And when I’m sending funds when a currency exchange is involved, the recipient will get ~2% more if I use Transferwise than if I use my bank.

Also, Transferwise allows you to create accounts in different currencies – so if a client is paying me in GBP or euros or CHF, I can hold onto the funds in that currency, and use it to pay a subcontractor in that currency in the future, without having to convert to and from USD.  I discuss Transferwise in more detail in Episode 247 of Unleashed.

Welcoming new member Matthew Kien-Meng Ly

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Matthew Kien-Meng Ly.  Matthew spent four years at Bain & Company helping companies understand market insights and develop growth strategies. Prior to Bain, Matthew was a software engineer and technology professional. Matthew has particular expertise in identifying customer / competitive insights and new markets, assessing policy / regulatory impact on markets, and developing growth strategies / plans. He lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada with his fiancée and enjoys woodworking in his spare time. He holds a JD from Harvard and a BASc in Electrical Engineering from the University of Waterloo. Matthew is happy to collaborate on projects in US and Canada.

The magic of one hour

November 3, 2020

There’s a certain magic in starting.

We may have the idea for a bold new initiative, think about it for months, making no progress.

Setting aside one hour, we get started.

And then, the universe conspires to bring the project to fruition.

This Sunday, many of us will get a free hour when we turn back the clocks.

Some ideas for what I call Start-Something Sunday:

1. Register a domain for that new company you’ll start

2. Sign up for a course on Coursera, Udacity, edX, LinkedIn Learning, or other site

3. Write the outline of a webinar or course you could teach

4. Create an account on Libsyn for your new podcast

5. Set up a note-taking system using Evernote, Roam Digital. or Notion and begin creating what Tiago Forte calls your Second Brain

6. Send a hard-written note to a former mentor letting her know what you’ve been up to recently

7. Get a Squarespace account and finally start building your website

8. Learn a sun salutation sequence to invigorate your mornings to hire a virtual worker in the Philipppines

November 6, 2020

You can hire a college-educated full time employee – 40 hours per week –  based in the Philippines for ~US$400 – $800 per month.

Consider what you could achieve with that leverage.

The best site that I’m aware of for hiring a full time employee in the Philippines is

You pay a flat fee of $69 per month to post a job and review resumes. You can hire employees directly without going through the site, and once you’ve found someone, you can cancel the month subscription.

Welcoming new member Shailendra Gupta

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Shailendra Gupta with SG Consulting.  Dr. Shailendra Gupta is an alum of McKinsey & Company, and has 25 years of experience in executive roles at large as well as pre-IPO technology companies. He specializes in Strategy, Business Development and Operations where he has a significant track record of achievement. Shailendra has an MBA from Wharton and a PhD from the University of Maryland in Mechanical Engineering. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and two teenage children.

New service offering for members: LinkedIn sourcing

November 13, 2020

A new service that we’re offering to members – custom LinkedIn sourcing.

How it works: You let us know a set of criteria to filter on and the fields you’d like to get, and we’ll create a Google sheet with LinkedIn contacts, as in the example above.

A few use cases for this service are:

1) Business development – get a list of execs in your target niche
2) Identifying experts to interview for a project
3) Due diligence: identify every employee at a company to build an org chart outside-in

You can of course do this yourself: I share tips in Episode 51 (How to outsource research tasks using Upwork) and Episode 213 (How to source experts for interviews.)

This service is for those members who don’t want to go through all the hassle of finding someone and training them.

We have hired a team of full time employees, trained them, and paid for LinkedIn Sales Navigator subscriptions.

Our current pricing on this service:
US$100 gets you a full 8-hour shift.  This will usually get you about ~200-300 LinkedIn contacts with 5-6 columns of data.  If you want more columns of data, or have more strict search criteria, you’ll get fewer, and if you just want name and LinkedIn URL you’ll probably get more.  (During this trial period, the service is available only in units of 8-hour shifts.)

100% money-back guarantee if you aren’t satisfied.

Turnaround time: We’ll start on the next available shift (shifts start 8 p.m. EST Sunday – Thursday) unless we’re already fully booked for that shift.

If you’d like to use the service, submit your request here.

Welcoming new member Luka Repansek

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Luka Repansek.  Luka Repansek worked as a management consultant in the financial institutions practice at McKinsey and gained experience in a number of European markets. He was Fellow at the McKinsey Global Institute in San Francisco were he conducted research on global capital markets. After McKinsey, Luka spent several years as a strategy and M&A advisor at large European financial institutions including KBC Group in Belgium and Sberbank in Austria. Luka has particular focus on strategy development and execution, corporate finance, capital markets and wealth management. He lives in Slovenia with his wife and a daughter. He is happy to work on strategy and corporate finance related projects in Europe and the Middle East

Welcoming new member Roman Churilin

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Roman Churilin.  Roman has 8 years of hands-on experience in international management consulting (McKinsey), private equity & fast-growing tech startups with concentration in B2B commercial strategy development & execution and ops turnarounds:
– While working at McKinsey and a PE fund he delivered over 10 projects for corporate & public organizations from various industries (eg, metals & mining, healthcare, real estate) to streamline their sales ops, increase assets productivity, reduce OpEx, and build employee capability;
– After his corporate consulting career, he worked at international B2B SaaS and B2C startups covering international sales scaling, strategic partnerships & fund-raising.

Roman is currently based in Russia and glad to support global projects on Sales strategy & Ops optimization remotely.

Portable monitor for a second screen

November 20, 2020


I got this tip from my son’s friend, who is staying with us at the farm for a week (after a negative COVID test.)

Izzy pulled his laptop for schoolwork out of his bookbag and then pulled out this 15.6 inch portable LED monitor to serve as a second screen.

The monitor – about the size of a Macbook – fits into a convenient carrying sleeve.

At home I’ve got two 27-inch monitors, but I’ll admit – I was not aware that “portable monitor” is even a product category.

I immediately bought one for myself to use as a second monitor when traveling. ($99 on Amazon.)

Welcoming new member Jeremy Muench

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Jeremy Muench with Infinity Growth Partners.  Jeremy Muench has worked the last ~20 years in the B2B software space and most recently with Vista Equity Partners (leading private equity software investor) as a Managing Director and member of Vista’s internal operating team (Vista Consulting Group). Prior to Vista, he worked at a Vista portfolio company as COO and at McKesson Corporation and General Electric in several operating roles (Lean Six Sigma, post-merger integration, corporate development and strategy, system implementation, go-to-market effectiveness). Earlier in his career, he was a Bain consultant.

Welcoming new member Suheb Ahmad

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Suheb Ahmad with Digital. Suheb is an entrepreneur and an ex-BCG consultant. He was one of the few associate consultants hired specifically for digital practice in BCG. He is particularly good at building long-lasting client relationships and has a knack for product development and problem-solving.  With over 4+ years of experience and his background, surely sets him apart from others.

Welcoming new member Udayan Mittal

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Udayan Mittal.  Udayan Mittal spent over 6 years at McKinsey where he joined as a BA and left as an Engagement Manager. During his time at McKinsey he worked across multiple geographies in Asia and North America, focusing on life sciences (pharma) and consumer sectors. Outside of McKinsey he has worked at J.P. Morgan and most recently at eBay where he was the Principal of the Corporate Strategy team. He has expertise in Strategy Consulting both at McKinsey and at larger corporations with a focus on growth initiatives. He lives in the Bay Area in California and loves playing tennis, meeting new people and volunteering. He would love to work on independent consulting projects or collaborate on exciting ideas in the consumer, retail or non-profit space.

Welcoming new member Warwick Simons

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Warwick Simons.  Warwick Simons has 20 years of experience advising clients on corporate strategy, growth opportunities and investment & portfolio appraisals. He started his career with six years at Bain & Company, including an MBA at INSEAD, before joining a London-based hedge fund to apply his Bain skill set to public market equity investments. Warwick moved to Hong Kong in 2010 to pursue a career in equity research, which included three years leading Goldman Sachs’ Asia-Pacific team focused on evaluating businesses sustainable competitive advantages, and three years running his own independent investment research business. Warwick transitioned this business into an advisory & consulting model during 2020.

Warwick is based in Hong Kong with his wife and their young family, and together they split their time between Hong Kong, New Zealand and the US West Coast.

Welcoming new member David Summa

Umbrex is pleased to welcome David Summa with Business Model Innovation.  Dave has 10 years in management at Fortune 100 companies; 10 years as CEO of Silicon Valley startups; over 60 years of experience on Board of Directors; and was a partner at McKinsey where he ran the Global Innovation Practice.  Today, Dave is a partner in Business Model Innovation LLC where he advises CEOs, does consulting projects and takes on acting management assignments.  He has operating and consulting experience in life sciences (Rx development, devices, instrumentation, ag); developing countries (Gates Foundation for 5 projects all involving sub-Saharan Africa); and clean tech (electrochromic windows, biofuels and microbial-derived chemicals).  Dave is an astrophotographer and swimmer.  He works with clients anywhere and prefers to work on-site.

Welcoming new member Murat Çeliksoydan

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Murat Çeliksoydan with Valueplus Consulting. Murat is currently working as a partner in Valueplus Consulting, a boutique consulting firm focused on supply chain consulting, working capital management and transformation projects. Murat has more than 10 years of experience in supply chain management, operation model design, process management, channel strategy, customer segmentation and value proposition design. He has experience in production, consumer products and retail sectors.

He has worked in in Middle East region through his career in BCG around 1.5 years and currently, he is living in Istanbul, Turkey with his wife and new born twins.

Welcoming new member Ziad Nasrallah

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Ziad Nasrallah with High Impact Advisors.  Ziad brings in 15+ year of experience in top tier strategy consulting and private equity companies in the Middle East. He has extensive experience in performance improvement, turnarounds, restructurings, providing strategic and financial advisory to PE funds, family groups and conglomerates; with hands-on experience in retail and distribution, manufacturing, transportation and logistics, money transfer and B2B services. Prior to founding High Impact Advisors, Ziad was Managing Director of the Portfolio Team at GrowthGate Capital, a regional private equity firm and prior to that was VP within the Private Equity team of The National Investor. Ziad started his career at Bain & Co.

Talk less / Ask more questions

November 27, 2020

On several occasions recently, well-qualified consultants didn’t get a project because, in the initial call with the client, the consultants spent too much time talking about their own experience.

Consultants may ask about our experience.

But they actually don’t care about our great case examples.

They care about their problem.

If clients do ask, “Tell me about your relevant experience in the widget industry,” try responding with a question instead of answering.

“Sure, happy to discuss some related work I’ve done. First, I’d love to understand a bit more about your current challenge so I can share the most relevant examples…”

Shift the conversation to the client’s problem and don’t look back.

Here are some questions off the top of my head – by no means an exhaustive list. Several of these I learned from David A. Fields:

  1. So, what’s the current situation?
  2. What have you done so far?
  3. Why are you looking for help externally?
  4. Why are you looking for help on this now?
  5. What outcome are you hoping to achieve?
  6. What would the business impact be of that?
  7. What sort of challenges have you faced so far in getting this done?
  8. Assume this project were to be a big success – what would that look like?
  9. This project could be tackled in a bunch of different ways: what’s your mental model of how the project should be done?
  10. What sort of timeline do you envision?
  11. To what degree is the internal team aligned?
  12. Why might some stakeholders support a different direction?
  13. Which internal stakeholders do we need to involve?
  14. When were you thinking of getting started?
  15. Who will be involved in the selection of the consultant to support this? What will the process be?
  16. What sort of budget do you have in mind?
  17. Is the budget approved? Or if not, what will that approval process look like?
  18. What would the background be of the ideal consultant for this project?
  19. What role do you see the consultant playing on this project?
  20. Let’s say you’ve got the final deliverable in your hands right now. Please describe it to me – what pages does it include?
  21. Let’s say we’ve completed this transformation effort. How do things work differently around here?
  22. What makes you think that I [or my firm] could be helpful on this? Why do you think we might be the right choice for you?
  23. What would be your top concern for working with a consultant with my background?
  24. What would you need to see from us to confirm this effort and get started?

Discussing these questions is a lot more interesting to the client than hearing about that similar project you did three years ago.

Welcoming new member Peter Kovacs

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Peter Kovacs.  Peter spent almost nine years in various Strategic, Finance, and Business Unit roles at MUFG Union Bank in California. Prior to that, he spent four years in the FIG practice at McKinsey out of Budapest, Hungary. Since 2016, Peter has been balancing his time with independent consulting both as an individual and leading teams in a variety of engagements primarily for FIG and PE clients, as well as owning and operating several unrelated small businesses in the beauty, health, and wellness space. Peter’s passion is for strategy and execution work in the finance and banking space, but is always open to and excited to broaden his experience in an ever-changing market. He lives in Orange County, California with his wife and three young children and is either in the gym or mountain biking every morning. Peter particularly looks forward to collaborating on projects involving strategy, operations, and / or execution throughout the U.S.

Welcoming new member Christoph Traxler

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Christoph Traxler with Dr. Traxler Consulting.  Chris has more than 15 years experience as an executive board member within Centrotec, a European group of companies active in many fields including medical technology/ in-vitro-diagnostics, precision engineering, HVAC, solar and plastics technology. Centrotec has 600m revenues, is publicly listed at the Frankfurt stock exchange, but majority-owned by a family, so Chris also knows the world of a family office.

Before Centrotec Chris spent four years at McKinsey as associate and engagement manager, with an industry focus on banks and utilities, and a functional focus on corporate finance & strategy. Projects he has worked on range from M&A via restructuring to risk management, usually with some analytical problem at its core.

Chris has studied theoretical physics and mathematics obtained his Ph.D. (in German “Dr.”) at Giessen university. His love of science and technology remained unchanged throughout his management career, in his free time he likes to look into new trends such as deep learning, 3D printing or smart home.

During his studies, he was advising a finance portal on financial derivatives calculations.

Chris lives in Fulda, Germany, which is a very central location between Frankfurt, Wurzburg, Kassel, Giessen and Erfurt.

Welcoming new member Katherine Ogburn

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Katherine Ogburn.  Katherine served as the Director of the strategy department at Ready State LLC, a boutique tech marketing agency in North Beach, San Francisco. She is now an independent consultant and volunteer for nonprofit organizations that focus on food security, climate and environmental justice, where she provides client insights, evaluation support and theory of change development support.

The six years Katherine spent with Ready State came on the heels of six years in marketing strategy at McCann Worldgroup San Francisco, and 2 years with McKinsey in Stamford, Connecticut. She lives in Berkeley, California with her family and spends as much time as she can outside where she runs, hikes, bikes, swims and kayaks. Katherine would love to collaborate on marketing and nonprofit projects.

Welcoming new member Peter Hsia

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Peter Hsia with CH Consulting Advisors. Peter  is one of the founders of CH Consulting Advisors, a strategy consulting firm focused on consumer and retail.  He has over 30 years of consulting experience with Accenture, Kurt Salmon, Swander Pace and McKinsey.  CH Consulting focuses on serving the private equity community with due diligence and portfolio strategy as well as working with mid-cap companies on growth strategy.  CH Consulting is based in the San Francisco Bay area and serves a national client base.

Adding addresses to an email

December 4, 2020

I used to start writing an email by first adding all the email addresses.

And then, once, I accidentally hit ‘Send’ on an email to clients when the email was still very much in draft form.

New habit:

Write the email first, polish it, review it: and THEN add the email addresses as the last step.

Welcoming new member Stephen Dunn

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Stephen Dunn.  Stephen is an experienced Partner/Managing Director focused on IT and Operations strategy, transformation, process improvement, value creation, and cost reduction. He has led projects for Fortune 500 companies from practically every industry but has focused for the last ten years on Energy, Insurance, and Health Plans. For the past three years, he as concentrated on helping companies plan for and achieve Digital Transformation including Robotics Process Automation, AI, and Cloud – typically while squeezing the costs associated with legacy systems and operations. He has negotiated over $18B in ITO and BPO contracts, including large ITO, Finance and Accounting, Human Resources, and Back Office operations.

Stephen has significant global work experience, having lived and worked in the UK (8 years), Spain (1 year), India, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, and China.

Welcoming new member Odd Utgård

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Odd Utgård with The Real Consultancy.  Odd  spent two years with McKinsey in Oslo following his graduation from the London School of Economics. After McKinsey, he spent several years working with high tech startups and spin-offs from research institutes and universities, before founding the leading Norwegian tech incubator and seed fund – StartupLab. Odd’s key expertise is in growth and strategy, with a keen eye for business improvement opportunities and analytics.

He lives in Oslo, Norway and works primarily in the Nordics (but is happy to work globally once the pandemic allow him to!) Always interested in discussing business problems or opportunities and football over a coffee.

Welcoming new member Saad Sameer Abujubara

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Saad Sameer Abujubara with Impact Partners.  Saad was an Engagement Manager at McKinsey. Prior to McKinsey, he was a market planning manager  with Sunbulah group (FMCG sector). Currently is a Partner at Impact Partners local consulting firm in Riyadh. Saad has particular expertise in planning, strategy and initiatives delivery, and operation and organizational excellence ,and has lead major transformations projects with government sector. He lives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia with his wife and two kids. Saad is happy to collaborate on projects in the region and to discover partnership model with Impact Partners

Welcoming new member Andrew Lodge

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Andrew Lodge.  Andrew has been an independent consultant for a year working in financial services. He was an Associate Principal at McKinsey in London, a Head of Division in financial stability at the Bank of England and a senior policy adviser at HM Treasury in the United Kingdom.

Andrew has led major transformation projects in financial services, particularly in banking, and also in public sector organisations.  He is moving – coronavirus permitting – to the Greater Toronto area with his family to be closer to his wife’s parents. Andrew is very happy to collaborate on strategy or transformation projects in financial services or public sector in Canada or east coast U.S.

Update your email display name

December 11, 2020

You might check how your professional email appears in the inbox of recipients by sending yourself an email to a personal account.

Some issues I commonly see:

  1. Instead of seeing the sender’s first and last name, just see the email address
  2. Sender’s first and last name are all lower case “first name” or some odd case “FIrst Name”

What’s the impact?

  1. The sender looks just a bit unprofessional to every recipient
  2. Adds a stumbling block when recipients using an iPhone try to Add Contact. Instead of first and last names automatically populating, the email address shows as the first name
  3. Makes it harder for the recipient to search for the sender by name in their inbox

Good news: Fixing your “display name” takes less than five minutes.

Users of Gmail and G-suite
Users of Microsoft

And of course you should not be using a personal email for consulting work.
If you are still using a gmail, yahoo, hotmail, or aol account, consider taking 30 minutes to buy a domain and get a professional email address.
In a previous survey, 2/3 of community members with a professional email address use G-Suite, 1/3 use Microsoft, and a tiny percentage use some other provider.

Welcoming new member Emre Kara

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Emre Kara with Proludus. Emre is the founder of Proludus. He serves as a trainer and consultant.

Emre graduated from Bilkent University with BS and MS degrees in Industrial Engineering. During his master, he also studied business and economics in Aarhus Business School in Denmark.

He started his professional career as a finance specialist at Unilever. He worked in personal care and hair care categories for Turkey, North Africa, Middle East, and Russia.

Then, Emre joined Bain & Company’s Istanbul office. He worked as a management consultant for five years. He advised many clients in retail, consumer goods, household appliances, airlines, technology, and logistics from Turkey, Europe, and Middle East. His areas of expertise include strategy, digital transformation, operational turnaround, agile way of working, loyalty program redesign, contact center optimization, in-store sales push, and market entry strategy.

Emre has had interest on professional development and adult learning theory and applications. He served as a trainer in many occasions in his academic and professional career. He designed, developed, and delivered trainings on various topics in the companies where he worked and also for his clients based on their needs.

Emre is a professional scrum master with a PSM certificate – he is an expert in agile way of working. He is one of the pioneers in Turkey to apply agile principles and practices to solve problems in business functions – outside of IT domain. He trains and coaches professionals and agile project teams, help them crack business problems leveraging his industry and capability specific expertise.

Welcoming new member Sharad Elhence

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Sharad Elhence. Sharad is an experienced business strategist and innovator. Most recently he was the founder and CEO of a social impact startup to create a Netflix-like digital platform for the arts & culture ecosystem.  Earlier, in his consulting career with McKinsey, i2 Technologies (now BlueYonder), Infosys Consulting, and North Highland he has successfully launched and run consulting practices.

His domain expertise includes Operations Improvement (Supply Chain & Procurement), Data Analytics, and Value Assurance across several industry verticals including Retail, CPG, Distribution, and Technology. He is known for taking on complex challenges and turning around failed or stalled projects.  He is based in Dallas, TX but enjoys global travel.

Conduct an annual review

December 18, 2020

The end of the year provides a good occasion to reflect on what went well and what could have been improved. And to set priorities for the year ahead.

If you are looking for a template or set of prompts, here are five to check out:

For the past week I’ve been spending a half-hour each morning writing responses to prompts in The Ultimate Annual Review, created by Steve Schlafman.

Tara McMullin assembled this list of 30 Questions for Reviewing An Unusual Year.

A classic guide is Chris Guillebeau: How to Conduct Your Own Annual Review.

Hannah Braime, on her blog BecomingWhoYouAre, posted How to Do a Personal End-Of-Year Review

And Jay and Wendy Papasan offer the Kick Ass Guide To Your Couples Goal Setting Retreat, which you and your partner could easily spend a whole weekend working through

100 Tips for a Better Life

December 24, 2020

Here’s a set of 100 tips for a better life published by Ideopunk on the blog LessWrong.

Check the link for the full list.  #100 is a good reminder:

“Bad things happen dramatically (a pandemic). Good things happen gradually (malaria deaths dropping annually) and don’t feel like ‘news’. Endeavour to keep track of the good things to avoid an inaccurate and dismal view of the world.”

Get bad at something

January 1, 2021

Develop expertise. Become the best in your niche. We often hear that advice, and I’ve probably said it a few times.

Well, there’s also value in becoming BAD at something – particularly considering the incremental value per unit effort.

Example from chess:

If you have never played before and don’t know the rules, you are not even bad at chess. You are level 0. When people talk about the game, you have no intuition at all of what chess feels like.

Now let’s say you spend a full weekend with a patient tutor who teaches you the rules of chess, and you play a couple dozen games.

You are now bad at chess. Level 1. Any competent player will easily defeat you.

And yet you can now enjoy playing a game with someone at your level.

And you can imagine what it might be like to spend years studying openings and getting better.

Your universe has expanded.

A professional example: Tableau

If you’ve never programmed Tableau at all (level 0), it is difficult to manage a Tableau expert.

But with three or four days of self-study, you can get to level 1. Now you know what to ask an expert to do, even if you can’t do it yourself.

The value of going from level 0 to level 1 is  greater than going from level 4 to level 5. As Tyler Cowen has written, “average is over.”

One strategy for life, then, is to become truly world class in one or two areas, and to get bad at lots of things.

Welcoming new member Divya Agarwal

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Divya Agarwal. Divya spent eight years with McKinsey having started as a business analyst out of college. She is a creative, committed, and analytical partner to industry-leading clients to deliver organization turnaround of $500M+. Expert in culture and organization structure redesign, talent strategy and people analytics, and designing and delivering skill-building programs for managers and executives. She is affiliated with McKinsey Academy, an innovative learning digital platform and suite of experiential and digital skill-building offerings at organizational scale, having led its early stage product and client development.

Divya’s passion projects are in education and wellness. For two years, I worked with Education Resource Strategies, a national non-profit that partners with K-12 leaders to allocate time, people, and funds. I serve on the board of Vidya Gyan, a non-profit committed to education success and healthy habits for young girls in rural India, and Coney Island Prep, the first charter school in South Brooklyn. She’s held faculty and advisory roles with the MIT’s Middle East Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow and McKinsey Learning. Finally, at Harvard, she was a Teaching Fellow with the Kennedy School and Graduate School of Education. She’s an athlete, having trained as a competitive gymnast and dancer growing up. She is a certified Yoga teacher through Yoga Alliance and Kula Yoga Project and teaches in NYC.

Divya is keen to collaboration on projects focused accelerating the potential of talent and an organization’s design.

Welcoming new member Chris Rooney

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Chris Rooney with BosunPartners.  Chris has spent the last five years building Wipro’s Digital business and the global leader of the Digital Transformation practice, serving a series of clients on strategic business initiatives from design ideation to business operations. Before Wipro, he was COO of a series of privately held financial services companies and a discrete manufacturer as part of the lead investor’s portfolio operations.

Chris is an alum of McKinsey, where he was an associate principal of the Stanford office.  He lives in Jamestown with his wife, and his two children have just started their careers. He still enjoys playing lacrosse & find a local boxing gym. Chris is happy to collaborate on projects involving digital design or business operations divestiture and go-to-market/commercialization.

Intermediate lenses for working on screens

January 15, 2021

I’ve worn glasses since 9th grade. My corrected vision has always been fine.

Then three years ago, age 47, I was experiencing serious eye fatigue when working on the computer.

I couldn’t keep the text in focus.

Over the course of a year, seemed like the problem was gradually getting worse.

I thought: “too much screen time, too much blue light.”

Finally I visited the optometrist. She gave me a prescription for intermediate lenses, designed for looking at a screen about two feet away.

I didn’t even know that was a thing.

Got a dedicated pair of glasses with these intermediate lenses and – boom – problem solved. Sharp focus, no eye strain.

If you know someone complaining of eye strain, ask them if they’ve talked to their optometrist about intermediate lenses.

Welcoming new member Chandler Arnold

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Chandler Arnold with Renegade Consulting Collective.  Chandler has spent 20+ years designing and implementing purpose-driven impact initiatives for social enterprises, family offices, and more than fifteen Fortune 500 Companies. These companies include The Walt Disney Company, Pizza Hut, Ford, Target, New York Life, The Coca-Cola Company, and others. Chandler has also served as the CEO of Experience Early Learning and the COO of First Book, where he oversaw global operations and the distribution of more than 100 million new books to children from low-income families. A former BCG consultant, Chandler has deep experience working with leaders in a number of industries including CPG, food & beverage, entertainment, retail, biotech, and philanthropy.

Chandler and his husband live in Washington, DC with their five-year old son. Chandler is happy to collaborate on projects focused on public-private partnerships, cause-marketing campaigns, scaling social enterprises, executive coaching, and advising bold philanthropists.

Welcoming new member Atul Kannan

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Atul Kannan with Eagle Leaf Group. Atul was a consultant at Bain prior to starting his consulting firm, Eagle Leaf Group. He stared his career at ExxonMobil, where he held several roles, including in Engineering and as a section head. Atul focuses on diligence, research, and strategy for PE and corporate clients (particularly in Industrials and Technology).

Welcoming new member Peter Costa

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Peter Costa with Capman Organizational and Leadership Excellence, LLC.  Pete leverages his extensive global experience as a Leader and General Manager to help organizations implement transformational strategies and leaders achieve their potential. In addition to his time at McKinsey, where he was an Engagement Manager in the operations practice, he has served as an Officer in the US Navy, a change leader at GE, and held P&L responsibility at Honeywell and Jensen Hughes (a PE-backed global leader in life safety consulting).  In all of these operational roles, Pete has successfully turned around struggling organizations and developed a cadre of exceptional leaders.  He draws on this practical experience to quickly build credibility with clients and to develop lasting change programs.

After 7 years as an expat based in London and Dubai, he now lives north of NY City with his wife and 4 children at their hobby farm.  Pete would be happy to assist on projects involving strategy implementation, management operating system deployment, or building out talent development programs in a US or international setting.  He is also a formally-trained executive coach

Why create content on a regular basis?

January 22, 2021

If you are planning to start a blog or a newsletter or podcast or other form of regular content creation, it is worth taking time up front to articulate – at least to yourself – your objectives.

It is easy to get distracted by metrics such as number of views or downloads, when those may have no relation to the reason you decided to create content in the first place.

For example, if your primary goal is to build relationships with potential clients by interviewing them for your blog or podcast, then the audience size doesn’t matter. You could meet your objectives with zero downloads.

On the other hand, if your goal is to build a marketing funnel for some paid product, then you do care about having an audience – but only to the degree that your audience includes potential buyers.

Here’s a incomplete list of reasons why you might want to create content – I add more color in Episode 344 of Unleashed.

1. Learn about a topic
2. Research for a book
3. Develop your skills
4. Business relationships with:
a. Potential clients
b. Potential partners
c. Potential suppliers
d. Authors
e. Other cool people
5. Marketing funnel for a paid product
6. Establish credibility
7. Have a reason to reach out regularly to network
8. Discover what you think
9. Become more observant
10. Help others
11. Save time by recording the advice you keep giving one-on-one
12. Just feel a need to express yourself
13. Monetize with advertising

Welcoming new member Jeffery Perry

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Jeffery Perry with Lead Mandates. Jeff is a dynamic thought leader and global strategic business advisor. After an impactful 30-year career in management consulting at notable firms Booz & Co., A.T. Kearney, and recently retiring from Ernst & Young (EY), as Founder & CEO, Lead Mandates LLC, he fulfills his passion as an independent advisor—to help organizations improve business and leadership performance.

Businesses are facing unprecedented disruption and uncertainty. Based on his years of advising clients through strategic growth, mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, business transformations, and disruption, Jeff is uniquely positioned to help organizations achieve their strategic and operational goals.

Leaders need to demonstrate authenticity and courage and motivate others in their organization to bring their best every day. Jeff leverages lessons learned regarding how to harness leadership as a prerequisite to achieve organizational goals.

Jeff also serves on the Board of Directors of Fortune Brands (NYSE: FBHS).

Welcoming new member Guilherme R Bcheche

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Guilherme Bcheche. Guilherme has already dedicated more than 12 years to supporting leaders and teams in complex strategic and organizational challenges. Having worked for several years at McKinsey & Company leading projects for large corporations around the world, Guilherme is focused on supporting leaders and their businesses in their transformation journeys. He is a professor at Fundação Dom Cabral Business School, where he teaches leadership and strategy. He is a psychoanalyst, executive coach, specialist in entrepreneurship and innovation from Stanford Graduate School of Business and has his masters degree in Consulting and Coaching for Change from Insead with distinction.

He lives in Sao Paulo and spend the weekends in the countryside close to the nature. Guilherme is happy to collaborate on organizational transformation and leadership development projects worldwide.

Capturing attention with your email footer

Cyril Lagrange has the the most useful and engaging email footer I’ve come across. He gave me permission to share.

Here’s the email footer:


The first link takes you to his one-page website: a simple, clean, professional design (and a nice model if you’re ready to create your own website.)

The “My Favorite Digital Workplaces and Solutions” link takes you to this Airtable view of Cyril’s favorite tools:

The Credentials link takes you to his project list, also built in Airtable. Not everyone can get permission to list all clients publicly. If you can, it does help build credibility.

And the Toolbox link takes you to a Notion page that displays the frameworks and tools Cyril uses in his practice.

Welcoming new member Manfred Gamauf

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Manfred Gamauf with Gamauf & Co. Manfred spent 5 years as consultant in the procurement, supply chain & and operations practice at McKinsey and has been running his own consulting firm on procurement strategy, supply chain management and operations since 2013. Prior to McKinsey, Manfred spent 5 years as global procurement manager in the system integration and procurement organization with IBM in Europe and the US. After McKinsey, Manfred led global operations excellence organizations and served as Chief Procurement Officer for White & Case LLP in New York, Mondi Group, and KPN (Royal Dutch Telecom) in Europe. Manfred has particular experience in strategic sourcing, negotiations, turnaround, cost reduction, reorganization and digital transformations projects, serves as interim CPO and private equity advisor, and has led procurement organization up to 350 people.

Manfred lives in Vienna, Austria and loves to collaborate on strategic sourcing, supply chain and operations projects and on any form off negotiations.

Welcoming new member Darryl Stickel

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Darryl Stickel with Trust Unlimited.  Darryl served as a consultant for the Toronto office of McKinsey & Company prior to founding his own company Trust Unlimited. Darryl has spent the last 20 years helping individuals and organizations understand what trust is, how it works, and how to build it. During those 20 years Darryl has worked with a wide range of organizations around the globe on issues of trust. Included in this was work helping the Canadian military in it’s attempts to build trust with the locals in Afghanistan.

Darryl’s expertise on trust stems from his doctoral thesis, building trust in the face of hostility, written while at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. This theoretical knowledge combined with years of practical, applied experience give Darryl a rare perspective on issues related to trust. Teaching in Luxembourg and working with global companies have also allowed Darryl to learn and apply his insights in a remarkable range of settings. Darryl is happy to collaborate and act as a thought partner and coach.

Darryl lives in Victoria BC Canada and has 2 sons that are the centre of his life.

Welcoming new member Sari Martinez (Poage)

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Sari Martinez (Poage). Sari is currently an independent consultant focused on the Retail industry. She has more than 15 years experience in the industry, and has deep expertise in driving Merchandising, Strategy, and Growth functions and initiatives at companies like Saks Fifth Avenue, Rhone Apparel, Hanna Andersson, Bliss Spa, Gap, McKinsey & Co, and L Catterton. She has operational experience working in DTC and Wholesale retail, startups, PE backed small and mid sized companies, and large multi-banner corporations.

Sari lives in New York City with her husband and their two year old daughter. She is happy to collaborate on projects involving merchandising, product development, Go To Market, inventory planning, production / supply chain, strategy, growth, business development, personalization, loyalty, credit operations, and pricing / promotions.

Welcoming new member David Sundquist

Umbrex is pleased to welcome David Sundquist with D.M. Qwist Consulting. David is an independent consultant with expertise in leading operations/manufacturing/lean transformations for clients within various industries e.g. Battery Production, Automotive and Assembly, Heavy Duty and Consumer Goods. David’s expertise lies within: Lean Manufacturing, Operations Transformations, Performance management, Project Management, Change management, Capability Building.

Welcoming new member Marco Piacentino

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Marco Piacentino with Soir Bleu. A blend of strategy, operations and M&A consulting activities are the characteristics of Soir Bleu srl, the firm that Marco founded in 2012. The aim is to provide clients with an advantage point through a comprehensive, generalist view of their business with a touch of specific industry knowledge.

Before 2012 Marco has been Senior Partner in charge of the ICT and Business Services Practices at Cross Border s.r.l., an M&A Boutique, member of Global M&A an International Network focused on Mid Market Transactions. His industrial professional career includes more than ten years at the Olivetti Group where he managed subsidiaries in Europe, Asia And Latin America. Marco also covered Corporate positions with international breadth, including VP Marketing EMEA at Unisys. International M&A projects, JVs and Corporate Counsel for Italy are the areas where Marco looks forward for collaboration with other professionals.

Welcoming new member Cyrille Alheritiere

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Cyrille Alheritiere with Marmenia Consulting. Cyrille is a Freelance Consultant running his own firm based in Geneva. He specialises on advice to SMEs in particular in the preparation of business plans, valuations, due-diligence, sales & operations and fundraising pitch books.

Prior to starting his own activity, Cyrille spent 14 years at UBS in Front and COO management roles, his last role as Head of Wealth Management Latin America Geneva. Here he gained a deep understanding of entrepreneur’s needs and saw the opportunity to work closely advising SME owners. At McKinsey he worked out of the Business Technology Office in Brussels and Amsterdam on strategic banking and technology projects. An engineer with a PhD from University College London, an MSc from Georgia Tech, he has recently completed a degree in Sustainable Finance from the School of Sustainability Management Switzerland.

Husband, father of two and avid skier, he works on short-term or part-time retainer projects with SME owners who need a confidential, senior sparring partner who still greatly enjoys getting deep into an excel spreadsheets & powerpoint analyses to solve problems together. He is fluent in English, French, Italian and has good command of Spanish and Portuguese.

Welcoming new member Nigel Dews

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Nigel Dews with GNG Partners in Growth. Nigel has experience in technology, finance, media, telecommunications, energy, FMCG and venture capital. This experience has spanned executive, board and consulting roles in both public and private companies. Nigel began his career as an Economist at the Reserve Bank of Australia before joining McKinsey & Company and working in Sydney, New York and London offices. Nigel has held leadership roles in many growth companies including as CEO of Fairfax Digital, 3 Mobile, Vodafone Australia, Message Media Group and UK based start up, Hue.

More recently, Nigel was a Partner and Director at Port Jackson Partners, a leading Australian boutique strategy firm founded by ex-McKinsey Partners. Nigel is also an Operating Partner with OneVentures, a leading Australian technology and healthcare venture capital firm with over A$500mil under management. Nigel and his business partner Graham Bougen established GNG Partners in Growth in late 2020 and are happy to collaborate on growth strategy consulting. We are based in Sydney and happy to work across Australia and New Zealand.

Collecting fees on time

In Episode 373 of Unleashed, I share tips on how to increase the chances that your client will pay you on time, based on my experience collecting on 1,500+ invoices over the last 13 years.

The episode covers:

1. What to include in the contract
2. Questions to ask after the contract is signed
3. What to include on your invoice
4. How to follow up after sending your invoice

You can listen on the website or subscribe to the show on iTunes or Spotify.

Or if you aren’t into listening you can download a transcript.

Welcoming new member Waldemar Maj

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Waldemar Maj with Metropolitan Capital Solutions. Waldemar is a Founding Partner of Metropolitan Capital Solutions, a strategic consulting and transaction advisory company, founded in 2009. He has over 20 years of experience in consulting, banking, industry, and government. He worked for McKinsey & Company in Warsaw, Poland. He served as a member of numerous supervisory boards of listed and unlisted companies, including Warsaw Stock Exchange. He spent over 10 years in investment and corporate banking in Switzerland (UBS), USA (IFC/World Bank) and Poland. He was Vice-President/CFO of PKN ORLEN, a Fortune Global 500 company, Vice-President of Bank BGZ/Rabobank Group, and President/CEO of DZ Bank Polska. He also was an Advisor to the Minister of Finance.

He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and Ph.D. in Physics. He completed 7 marathons on 7 continents and an Iron Men Triathlon in Poland.

Welcoming new member Jaime Preusche

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Jaime Preusche. Jaime is an independent consultant in the process of setting up his practice, leveraging his experience with the public and private sectors in the Americas, with an MBA from the University of Virginia, and over 10 years of experience, including a two-year stint at McKinsey. Jaime has helped start-ups get off the ground, large corporations design strategy turnarounds, and worked with the largest LATAM e-commerce company doing product management with a strategy consultant mindset. He has helped municipal governments become more efficient (in Argentina), and designed public policies that boost economic development leaving no one behind (in the USA). He is passionate about challenging the status quo in both the private and public sectors with a focus on social, environmental, and governance impact.

He is constantly curious and a life-long learner, and speaks multiple languages to varying degrees: English and Spanish natively, intermediate Portuguese, and French and German conversationally; which he continues to refine. Although EU-born, he currently resides in Buenos Aires, Argentina and is happy to collaborate on projects involving strategy development, public policy development and organizational transformations in the Americas and Europe.

Welcoming new member David Hensley

Umbrex is pleased to welcome David Hensley with Hensley Partners. David spent seven years at McKinsey & Company, in London and in the EuroCenter in Brussels. He was a core member of the Organisational Performance Practice. Before McKinsey David worked for Shell in a range of planning and marketing roles in London and Johannesburg. After McKinsey David was the Group Head of Strategy at Carlton Communications (now ITV), and then Executive Director of Credit Suisse’s IT subsidiary. He been a Senior Parter with Towers Perrin, and with leading brand consultancies FutureBrand (then part of McCann) and Lippincott (part of Oliver Wyman).

David has been running his own consulting practice, Hensley Partners, since 2005 working with clients across the UK, Europe, Africa and the Middle East – and occasionally China, India and America. David is happy to collaborate on projects involving corporate branding, corporate strategy, organisational design and change management.

Welcoming new member Alun Thomas

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Alun Thomas with Thema. Alun was with McKinsey’s London office from 1991-95. He joined the Firm as an experienced hire, having designed bits of Aero engines and run a battery factory on the edge of the Sahara desert. After consulting and profit responsible leadership in blue-chips, Alun focussed on helping early stage disruptive B2B businesses. Alun has returned to his roots in West Wales and is particularly interested in initiatives that contribute to the decarbonisation agenda and to the Welsh economy generally.

Welcoming new member Sertac Yeltekin

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Sertac Yeltekin with Zingforce Ventures. Mr. Sertac Yeltekin is the Founder and Managing Director of Zingforce Ventures “Z-Force”, a firm specialized in venture building, advisory and social finance based in Singapore. He is also the Co-founder and General Partner of Purpose Venture Capital, a firm investing in early stage tech companies with scalable impact prospects.

Mr. Yeltekin has 27 years of experience in the financial sector as a senior manager and consultant.

He is the Co-Founder of Etkiyap, the first impact investing platform in Turkey, dedicated to advocacy, training and fund-raising in Turkey and in the surrounding region. He is an investor in early stage companies in Turkey, Europe and Asia; a keynote speaker on asset management, alternative investments and impact investing globally; a contributor to numerous articles, blogs and training programs; and a moderator and commentator on TV and podcasts covering Asian and Global markets.

He has been Chief Operating Officer for Insitor Partners, a Singapore-based Venture Capital firm, active in impact investing to support social entrepreneurship in South and Southeast Asia since 2017.

Prior to Insitor, Mr. Yeltekin was Senior Vice President at Unicredit Banking Group from 2002 to 2017 in Italy with numerous C-suite and Board membership roles in asset management, banking, finance & planning and human capital management divisions. Before joining Unicredit in 2002, Sertac Yeltekin worked as a management consultant in Turkey, Israel and Italy at Bain & Company between 1998 and 2002.

Mr. Yeltekin holds many prestigious institutional roles in business education. He is currently an Executive-in-Residence in IMD Business School, Lausanne and Singapore; a Member of the Advisory Board for Bocconi University. SDA Business School, Milano, Italy; a member of the Advisory Committee of Cottino Social Impact Campus, Torino, Italy; and a Senior Advisor for European Foundation for Management Development, Brussels, Belgium. After attending Robert College in Istanbul, Mr. Yeltekin graduated from Swarthmore College, PA, USA with a B.A. degree in Economics and Political Science. Sertac also holds a graduate degree from the Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies in International Economic Relations at its European Center, Italy.

Mr. Yeltekin is fluent in Turkish, Italian and English. He has a working knowledge of German and French.

Welcoming new member Karin Isberg

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Karin Isberg with Iceberg Consulting. Karin spent a couple of years as Associate Consultant with McKinsey in the Madrid and London Offices. Prior to this she was in International Marketing with Merck Sharp & Dohme.

After McKinsey Karin has pursued a career first in Executive Search and then in various Executive roles in Human Resources in the Pharma, Med Tech and White Goods industries. Since over 10 years she is an independent consultant and primarily focuses on organizational strategy, change, transformation and efficiency.

Karin has lived and worked in the US, Spain, the UK and Italy in addition to her native Sweden and is fluent in several languages. She resides in the Stockholm and greater Milan areas.

Welcoming new member Matthew James

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Matthew James with Materia Consultancy Ltd.  Matt was an Engagement Manager the McKinsey London office from ’98 to ’02 before joining the Mining & Metal industry in Australia, growing Lynas Corporation from a start-up to a $3 billion market cap ASX 100 company. In 2014 Matt returned to the UK and started Materia Consultancy Limited and worked as a freelance consultant, with a focus on industrial growth strategy projects, programme management and due diligence studies.

In 2017 Matt joined the global Executive Leadership Team of Harsco Corporation to implement the Environmental Services division growth strategy designed by Materia Consultancy. As VP Strategy, Business Development and Innovation, Matt was responsible for divisional strategy, acquisitions, strategic investments, and development of an innovation team.

Matt lives in Guildford, just outside London and has two children just starting high school.

Welcoming new member Heidi Beck

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Heidi Beck with Kuglin Beck Advisory.  C-Suite people focused executive who brings a unique skillset to align multiple stakeholders to challenging, transformative, and often difficult decisions across leading influential organisations (public and private).

Heidi has deep strategy, transformation, and organisational design experience and broad application of general management in both corporate functions and business roles (with P&L responsibility.)

Deeply passionate about creating high performing, diverse, and truly inclusive teams, Heidi is committed to improving leading organisations’ capabilities to embed change and realise their potential through supportive, inclusive, and non hierarchical leadership.

Functional specialties: organisation design, strategy and transformation, commercial negotiations (public and private sector), customer insights/analytics, and performance management

Significant industry expertise (who consults occasionally) in travel, transport (aviation, rail) and logistics industries across Australia and North America (with dual US-Australian citizenship).

Welcoming new member Jessica Graf

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Jessica Graf with LeFil Consulting. Jessica (Zurich-Switzerland) is the Founder and Managing Director of LeFil Consulting. Before LeFil, she helped another consultancy in the field of social innovation and entrepreneurship ( She also spent 8 years in developing countries, serving public and nonprofit institutions, such as the UNDP, Action contre la Faim, the OSCE and the Swiss Foreign and Economic Affairs. She then worked at McKinsey & Company and managed Vietnam Holding Asset Management for another 6 years.

She graduated in Political Sciences at the University of Geneva, and holds an MBA from INSEAD. She lives in Zurich, with her family and two children. Jessica is happy to collaborate on projects related to social entrepreneurship, social innovation, and partnerships between the public and private sectors.

Create a target list of clients

Periodically I speak with consultants who are looking for advice on business development.

One of the questions I ask is whether the consultant has created a target list of clients – not just in their brain but on paper or in a spreadsheet.

Usually the answer is no.

One of the reasons we avoid doing this, I think, is that when we get explicit on which specific clients we’d like to serve, we must be willing to make choices and exclude every other company. (And we might miss an opportunity!!)

But the Universe favors focus, and a sort of magic happens when we find clarity on what problems we want to solve and for whom we want to solve them.

Once you have a target list, you can show it to people.

And you can ask a question that I learned from a career coach, Ellis Chase, fifteen years ago.

NOT: “Do you know someone at one of these companies.”

The question to ask instead is: “What do you think of this list?”

That question opens possibilities:

Perhaps the person will suggest other companies you should add (now that they know the type of client you’re interested in.)
Or tell you that one company on your list is actually a terrible choice.
Or offer to make an intro.

A list shows you’ve done your homework.
A list tells you who you need to call.
A list is a sign that you’ve turned pro.

Welcoming new member Tomás Elewaut

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Tomás Elewaut with Hopen – Management Consulting.  Tomás spent seven years at McKinsey & Co., leading projects in South America, and has been running his own consulting firm focused on strategy, organization and business development since 2012.

Before starting his own consulting practice, he was founder and business development manager of and important agribusiness operation that raised capital from US institutional investors and the IFC (International Finance Corporation). Prior to McKinsey, he worked for the Techint Group and Banco Galicia. Tomás has particular expertise in strategy and general management advise, as well as board organization, as he currently serves in the board of a renowned nonprofit hospital.

He lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina with his wife and three undergrad school age children. Tomás is happy to collaborate on projects involving strategy, organization, business development and general management advise.

Welcoming new member Valerie Warland

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Valerie Warland with VW Management.  Valerie is an independent non executive director based in Luxembourg, with a strong focus on alternative investment structures. She has more than 25 years of experience in the finance industry, where she enjoyed several strategic positions, like PMO director at Alter Domus, leading global alternative fund administrator, financial planning and analysis director at Paypal Europe, management information vice-president in the Dexia Banking Groupe.

She started her career as a strategy consultant with Bain & Company Benelux, Brussels. She graduated in 1995 with a master degree of the Solvay Business School, Brussels. She is married and has three dynamic children. She would be happy to help develop luxembourg based business.

Welcoming new member Aviv Avni

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Aviv Avni. Aviv started his career as a consultant with the Brussels office of Bain & Company in 2019. At Bain, Aviv gained experience working with various clients from the consumer goods and industrial sectors in Europe and the United States. Last year, Aviv returned to Israel temporarily to start his own company specializing in importing and distributing innovative protective gear. Following a period of rapid growth, Aviv successfully sold his company and relocated to San Francisco to live with his husband.

Prior to joining Bain, Aviv spent three years practicing as a competition and finance attorney. Aviv advised and represented major Israeli and American financial institutions in matters relating to compliance with financial regulation, clearing mergers and acquisitions and launching new products and services.

Currently, Aviv consults a number of Israeli clients and is looking forward to continuing his career journey in the United States.

Welcoming new member Mats Hugosson

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Mats Hugossonn with EpikOne Sweden AB. Mats has a passion for solving complex industry and business challenges in an international context. He has a background as a management consultant at McKinsey, CEO and business unit manager with a focus on developing new business and generating growth. He is very hands-on and goal-oriented with a strong track record in strategy / business development, sales leadership and creating results. His industry expertise is mostly from business services, IT/telecom/tech and industrial sector. He has special expertise in business and digital transformation.

Mats lives in Stockholm with his wife and two teenaged children and loves boating in the Swedish Archipelago. He is happy to collaborate on projects in Europe involving sales management, strategy development/execution, business and digital transformation within his industry expertise.

Welcoming new member Bulent Seber

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Bulent Seber.  After a consulting stint at Bain, Bulent joined his family consultancy business in the diamond industry. He helped diversify the company into taking actual stake in the diamond industry with both manufacturing and wholesale operations. He helped companies including his own capitalise on opportunities during and post 2008 Great financial recession implementing best practice principles. He currently also serves on the Board of Diamond Club of Antwerp.

Welcoming new member Taoufik El Khazzani

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Taoufik El Khazzani.  Tao spent 2 years within the Operations practice at McKinsey working within the telecom, hi-tech and automotive sectors. Following this first consulting experience, he joined Vivendi to lead trend forecast and strategy projects in the telecom and media space.

He then decided to add another expertise focusing on the luxury and fashion industries : after a M.S. at Institut Français de la Mode (IFM), he has managed strategy and business development for various brands, large and small. He is always excited to collaborate on projects linked to creative industries

Need-Payoff Questions

Setting: An initial discussion with a client who needs help on Project X. You’re excited because you’ve done Project X before, and you’ve shared convincing evidence that you’re an X-pert.

In this scenario, it is easy to forget to establish with the client the business value at stake.

After all, the client wants a problem solved, and you can solve it.

And yet the client may not have thought through the business value of solving the problem.

Having an explicit discussion makes the business implications more salient, and puts your fee in context with the expected return.

Neil Rackham calls these “Need-Payoff Questions” and covers them in Chapter 4 of Spin Selling.
David A. Fields covers these in the chapters on the Context Discussion in The Irresistible Consultant’s Guide to Winning Clients.

Here are a few:

  • How would this help your business?
  • How will it be useful if [we get these insights from consumers / improve throughput on the line / get top team alignment / …]
  • In what other ways could this help?
  • Why do you think it would be a good idea to…
  • Why do you need to….
  • How will it benefit your customers if….
  • What impact will it have if…..
  • How will profitability / customer retention / sales productivity change if…
  • Let’s assume the project is complete and has been very successful. Tell me how your world is different.
  • What would this let us do that we can’t do right now?

Welcoming new member Cathrine Cornella

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Cathrine Cornella. Cathrine focuses on the circular economy in Switzerland and transitioning businesses to a less resource-intensive and more circular business model. Most recently, she spent a couple of years working in various organizations in Malawi (Southern Africa) and Switzerland on sustainable agricultural supply chains, economic empowerment of farmers and young people, and development projects.

Initially, she worked with McKinsey and as an independent consultant focusing on strategy and operational efficiency in financial services, telecommunication and other sectors.

Cathrine lives in Zurich, Switzerland, with her husband and two kids and likes to explore the beautiful Swiss Alps hiking, rock climbing or back country skiing. Cathrine is happy to support on projects aimed to transition to a more circular economy or business model and related to resource optimization.

Welcoming new member Eduard Saez

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Eduard Saez with Antifragile Solutions.  Eduard Sáez spent 3 years at Bain & Company, mainly focused in M&A and Private Equity practice.

After those years, Eduard co-founded a fashion ecommerce startup. He exited the company after selling his equity to an industrial investor, and decided to travel the world for a while.

He is currently living in Andorra, working