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Susan Meier shares a post from Workspace Studio on the office of interior designer Antigone Michaelides.

What do you do?

I tell spatial stories. People ask sometimes, what’s your style? And I say that that’s an irrelevant question, and I refuse to answer it. What matters is that I listen, and I get this raw material, this narrative. And because I have certain tools from education and experience, I can translate that into a spatial story, which the person who gave me the narrative can inhabit comfortably.

Tell us about the space where you work.

It’s a double-height space, and upstairs is my son Leo’s loft. We have this very big solid wood surface that is one desk. One part is for Leo, and I have my working corner. Underneath the desk is a collection of materials, like stone or oak samples. All of my samples, all of my files, all of my stuff is in this little corner of the universe.

How would you describe your creative process?

On one side of my space, I keep what is current. At the moment, it’s an Alexander McQueen book and some things that fell off a chandelier. This is the kernel and the start of the process. There’s the start here of something that looks very feminine, very ethereal, very whimsical, but the underlying premise is very structural and rational, just like Alexander McQueen’s.

For commercial work or for museums or for reference, I use sketchbooks, because I need to flip back and forth. For residential projects, for some reason, I don’t want to use my sketchbook. I do it on loose leaf of paper. I don’t know why; this is a mystery to me. I start sketching, and it’s the beginning of an expression; we rise from the floor up, and onto the walls, and now I know where we’re going. The idea of sculpting space from the inside out is beautiful to me.

 

Key points include:

  • What helps productivity
  • The most important elements of the work environment
  • Rituals in the workday

 

Read the full article, The Design Of Folk Tales, on Workspace-studio.com.

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Lynn Compton Seay with Seay Associates. Lynn is a registered nurse with 5 years of clinical experience and a deep understanding of frontline care delivery.  As a management consultant with McKinsey & Company, she worked broadly across functions (operations, strategy and org) and developed depth in large-scale enterprise transformations. As a Vice President and General Manager at Kaplan North America, she led and grew a division that creates and delivers digital products for the institutional & retail nursing education markets.

She is excited to join her husband Andrew at Seay Associates, LLC, where she will be building out the firm’s healthcare practice. They live in Dallas with their daughter, Genevieve, and cat, Chicken.

Robyn Bolton shares one simple rule that can help build a culture of innovation and a solid team. 

I do.  We do.  You do.

My Mom taught pre-school.  It wasn’t a job; it was her calling.  Kids gravitated to her like she was the Pied Piper, and she greeted them with unequaled patience, acceptance, and love.  Years later, her students would talk about how she changed their lives when they were only four years old.  And she did it by following one simple rule.

I do.  We do.  You do.

Whatever she was teaching, whether it was sitting still at a table and eating a snack or writing the alphabet, she always did it first so the kids would know that it’s possible and not be afraid to try.

Then, they would do the activity together.  Side-by-side, they would eat a snack or draw letters, the kids occasionally glancing to the side to mimic her and my Mom gently coaching and encouraging.

Finally, she would step back, never disappearing completely, always within sight, but no longer right there.  By doing this, she created the space for them to be independent and to build confidence.

It is easy to say that she was teaching.

It is more accurate to say that she was leading.

It is precisely what executives need to do if they want to build a culture and capability of innovation within their teams and businesses.

I do.

It is not enough to encourage your team to take risks.  YOU need to take risks.  Ask a question in a meeting.  Say, “I don’t know.”  Challenge the status quo.  Be the first to do something different or uncertain, so your people know that it’s possible and aren’t afraid to try.

Key points include:

  • Fostering confidence
  • Avoiding judgment
  • Stepping back

Read the full article, Follow This 1 Simple Rule to Build a Culture and Capability of Innovation, on Milezero.io.

 

Robbie Kellman Baxter asks and answers what features should be free and what should be paid in a freemium subscription?

I get asked all the time what features should be freemium (aka free forever) and what features should go behind the paywall.

The answer is, of course, it depends.

But here are some useful frameworks.

Does your business model depend on VIRAL MARKETING?

If your “free” subscribers are a marketing channel for attracting paid subscribers, you might want to invest in making your offering attractive for free subscribers.

Does your business model depend on a NETWORK EFFECT?

If your free subscribers create value for your paying subscribers, simply by participating in your network, and are part of the product, you might think of your investment in features for free subscribers as part of your product development investment. This could be through their content, through their data, or even through their eyeballs.

Does a significant percentage of your freemium subscribers predictably CONVERT to paid?

If your free subscribers are your best acquisition channel, that’s a good reason for continued investment from your lead gen budget.

There are some other things to consider as well.

Have you ALREADY offered the feature for FREE?

Many businesses launch with generous free offerings, planning to “monetize later”. This can be an effective way to build community or to beat competitors in a land grab situation. However, when you build a trusted ongoing relationship by giving stuff away for free, you might be building an expectation, an implied commitment, to giving it away for free forever. It can be very hard to put something previously available for free behind a paywall.

Key points include:

  • Later monetization
  • Lost leaders
  • The top guiding principle

Read the full post, What Features Should be Free and What Should be Paid in a Freemium Subscription?, on LinkedIn.

 

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Daniel Behr. Daniel is an entrepreneurial leader skilled at developing and implementing growth and innovation strategies. He brings a unique combination of experiences in strategy consulting, startups, business development and the commercialization of new technologies in the life and physical sciences. Daniel seeks to help leadership teams figure out “where to play” and “how to win”. He is based in the Boston area.

Carlos Castelan shares a report on the post-COVID impact on high-traffic malls.

Malls in the U.S. continue to experience closures in the wake of the pandemic and changing customer behavior.

The Background:

Walkthrough of “Mall of America” located in Bloomington, Minnesota

Goal to understand changing customer experience in leading malls and how stores are changing amidst the current landscape

Observations supplemented by insights from company websites and publicly available information

Key points include:

  • Mall vacancies and tenant turnover continues post-pandemic (even in high traffic malls like the Mall of America)

  • Design and look & feel are important to an elevated customer experience and brand perception

  • Niche retailers and DTC players are testing brick-and-mortar concepts to engage customers 

  • Continued focus on health and wellness – as well as offerings such as office space – are still being tested post-pandemic

Access the full report, Mall of America visit: Bloomington, on NavioGroup.com.

Chris Moe and Jonathan Willbanks share the results of this year’s Amazon Prime Day.

Hi Everyone,

It’s us again with a mid-year Amazon update – hope you’re having a great summer!

2021 has been an interesting year on Amazon. Supply chain challenges have remained front and center, just like 2020, and this year at times has felt soft versus some of the pandemic highs. That said, with the exception of March and April, most of our clients are seeing strong PoP growth for the months in 2021.

We continue to grow as an organization along with Amazon’s rapidly expanding CPG market. We’re particularly excited to be supporting multiple brands in Fresh and Whole Foods, as Amazon enters the world of same-day and temp-controlled grocery delivery. We’ve also built a knowledge function which helps us consolidate and share some of the best insights from our work. We’ll be sharing these more often in our newsletters and other channels, including our Slack channel.

We’re always looking to partner with great brands looking to make a strong play in eCommerce. Thanks for your support and introductions to brands that you work with.

Looking forward to seeing you in person at some conferences this fall!

PRIME DAY RESULTS 

ROI on Prime Day deals seen in week following: In the week after Prime Day, our brands who ran any type of Prime Deal saw a 36% sales lift and a 77% session lift (traffic), compared to averages of their last 6 weeks. This reflected an improvement by 25- 30% in Sales Rank. 

Prime Exclusive Discount Coupons (merchandised in baby blue) had the largest impact: 3- 5x average sales lift on the sales day, and 90% sales lift the week after Prime Day. This significantly outperformed normal coupons and lightning deals during Prime Day.

Key points include:

  • Flo Pos
  • Bids rising in response to privacy
  • Reply to reviews

Read the full article, 2021 Amazon Thoughts & Prime Day Recap, on GoCartograph.com.

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Vasyl Davydko. Vasyl is an independent consultant with expertise in financial services, media and technology. Originally from Ukraine, raised in Spain since age of 13, he started his career at McKinsey Madrid office. He later worked at Amazon Spain, prior to joining as COO one of the leading SME digital lending ventures based in SE Asia. Vasyl later co-founded EduCredit, an education financing platform for IT students. He spent last year and a half as an independent consultant, working with organizations such as Bain & Co., Financial Times Strategies, GLG, amongst others.

Bernie Heine shares a post designed to improve leadership skills by avoiding these seven mistakes.

Avoid negative conflicts.

Resolving conflicts, both employee- and customer-related, is an area in which all leaders must excel. To address the conflicts in the right way, it is crucial to understand that there are two types of conflicts:

Productive conflicts: Productive conflicts are good for business. They are based on being trustworthy and vulnerable towards the person you are communicating with. Everyone must have the freedom to create a productive conflict to acquire new and innovative business ideas. A productive conflict is a healthy conversation between people who share the same goal. In his best-selling book, The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni states that vulnerability-based trust is essential to achieving productive conflict and building cohesive teams.

Negative conflicts: When there is no trust, especially vulnerability-based trust, there is no productive conversation either. If a leader shuts down all constructive criticism and treats it as an assault on their character, that can only cause mistrust and prevent others from speaking their mind.

Being a great leader means developing emotional intelligence that will allow you to have enough humility to recognize your own mistakes and understand the difference between positive and negative disagreements.

  1. Have a friendly attitude vs. favoritism.

Becoming too friendly towards certain employees can sometimes be a hindrance to good leadership. Having a friendly attitude and beaming with positivity is one thing; becoming too friendly is a whole other situation. A leader who fails to set clear boundaries will face employees who try to take advantage of the situation and ask for special attention. The best way to set boundaries is to treat everyone equally, and of course, adapt to their behavioral style. Do not allow yourself to provide unique benefits for one of the employees and not for others.

The remaining points include:

  • Standing by your words
  • Paying attention to employee needs
  • Sharing the vision

Read the full article, 7 Leadership Mistakes to Avoid, on ProfessionalBusinessCoaches.com.

 

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Hugo Teophilo Rufino. Hugo has worked for McKinsey in the practices of financial services, public sector mostly serving clients in strategy, org design, performance implementation and digital transformation

Besides McK, he worked for PwC/Strategy&, Altran and as Executive Director for companies in the Tech and Insurance industries

He lives in Brazil with his wife and baby daughter. Hugo is passionate to serve clients and collaborate in strategy and transformative projects.

Andrew Hone shares a step-by-step guide to applying top-tier strategic consulting techniques.

What is a strategy review?

A strategy review is a process to identify new value-creating opportunities within a business. It could be about improving the performance of an existing division. Or it could be about taking advantage of a new market adjacency opportunity.

It is also an opportunity to step back from day-to-day operations. You can assess the strategic foundations on which the business is built.

It, therefore, needs to be a clear fact-based analysis of the business opportunity or issue.

When should you undertake a strategy review?

Many companies undertake strategic reviews on an annual basis as part of their strategic planning process.

Other businesses will undertake them on a more ad hoc basis. For instance, when presented with a specific opportunity or problem within the business.

Furthermore, a change of ownership or appointment of a new CEO can often trigger the need for a strategic review of the business. It can be a great way to clarify key areas of opportunity and challenges within the business.

What are the outcomes of a strategic review?

It should lead to a clear set of strategic recommendations. The review should also set out a future roadmap for the business. This roadmap charts the course for the business. This helps enable increased and sustained performance now and for the future.

Delivering a strategic review

Start with the answer

Strategic reviews are often undertaken under considerable pressure to get to an answer rapidly. Every day needs to count. Moreover, you can’t afford to spend time on research or analysis that doesn’t make the final cut.

 The leading strategy firms therefore adopt a hypothesis-led approach to strategy formulation. For instance McKinsey’s Decision Tree or Bain’s Answer First approaches.

Be 80/20

When operating under a severe time constraint, it is critical to be 80/20 in undertaking new analysis.

You should be targeted in your data gathering and research. You can achieve a lot in a short space of time. An online survey to your key customers can be quick to set up. But can yield valuable insights.

You probably can’t build an in-depth financial model in 4 weeks. But you can do some high-level modelling of the main financial levers of your business.

Key points include:

  • Allocating dedicated project resources
  • Documenting the key findings
  • Time to implementation

Access the full guide, The Four Week Strategy Review, on ZenithStrategy.com.

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Neeraj Monga with ANTYA Investments. Neeraj is a top-ranked investment professional with extensive experience in forensic accounting, corporate governance, fundamental equity analysis and thematic research. Over a successful career spanning twenty years in global investing and advice, Neeraj has assisted clients in avoiding torpedo stocks that decimate portfolio performance. Neeraj focuses only on actionable and strategic investment advice and avoids the EPS-based rat-race that provides little value-added information to institutional investors.

In his consulting practice, he advises clients on M&A and acquisition-related due diligence as an independent advisor to directors. Many global companies such as HP, Caterpillar and others have been burnt by buying far-flung businesses that had to be written down due to sub-optimal due diligence by advisors, investment bankers and the management team.

He also advises teams on go-to-market strategy for new products, entering new geographic areas, and identifying new customer segments. All advice is data-driven, fact-based and provides actionable implementation plans. Numbers, details and ideas speak naturally to Neeraj.

If you are looking to add tremendous value in the shortest possible time on a complex project, then he is your man. Neeraj can provide leadership training, lead and coordinate top-management idea generation summits, and challenge top-management teams to stress test ideas and projects to ensure a winning outcome for everyone.