Executive Forum in Action


The Executive Forum’s Independent Career Track Group (ICT) hosted guest speaker George Bradt in a “fireside” chat where he shared insights and stories from his start-up and discussed how to differentiate yourself, create and capture revenue, drive client satisfaction, and develop business. George is the founder and chairman of the executive onboarding group PrimeGenesis. They help prepare leaders before they start new positions, speed up their assimilation, set direction, build the team, accelerate momentum, and deliver results. EF ICT Chair, Jim Ranton, facilitated.


Be Different

George had worked for a large consumer brand where he witnessed new executives come on board and experience disorganized, thoughtless first days. It made him angry. And it stuck with him. Years later he started his company PrimeGenesis - at a time when no one had ever heard of executive onboarding. He set out to offer something no one else was offering - to solve the problem that 40% of leaders fail within the first six months of new positions.


Create Awareness

George wrote a book, The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan, that would be the playbook for his company, as well as its initial marketing tool. He made his prospective audience aware of what he had to offer. He also had an article placed in Forbes Magazine, and since then has written nearly 900 articles for them. These articles are the top of his sales funnel. His website had offered executive summaries by signing up with an email. This initially developed his database, from where he developed a stream of leads and built a pipeline.


Avoid the Roller Coaster

When you’re an independent consultant you may find yourself on a roller coaster – too much work, then no work. Once you get your first project, it’s super, and it fills up your time. But there’s often no time for business development, and thus no pipeline. So, after you complete that project, there’s no next project. George did not want to ride this roller coaster. He decided not to pursue his endeavor alone. He hired four partners and kept one day per week for business development – 20% of his time. When you have a team, you can sell beyond your individual capacity, turn down work, and hand off assignments.



The Shenorock Shore Club in Rye, New York was the perfect setting on September 14, 2023 for this distinguished group of EF members to enjoy a wonderful evening with one another during the Professional Enrichment Dinner.


From Left to Right: Carl Cohen, Heath Podvesker, Jim Ranton, John Hopper (Co-Chair), Allen Shapard, Steve Zales (Co-Host).


Kneeling: John Eisenstein


The New York Yacht Club Harbour Court in Newport, Rhode Island was the perfect setting on September 6, 2023 for this distinguished group of EF members to enjoy a wonderful evening with one another during the Professional Enrichment Dinner.


From Left to Right: Nicky McHugh, Patrick O'Neill, Barbara Karpinska (Co-Host), David Smith and Katia Facchetti (Co-Host).


EF’s Media, Marketing & Insights (MMI) Special Interest Group (SIG) hosted speaker John Parikhal in an interactive presentation titled Surfing Your Future: How to Survive and Thrive to 2025, where he shared insights and stories about how to manage change in the business landscape, and implications for leaders. He drew from his decades of experience as an entrepreneur, trend spotter, marketer, executive consultant, and creator. John has helped hundreds of clients – including NBC, CBS, PepsiCo, Disney, Zimmer Biomet, and Viacom – ride the waves to billions of dollars in profit and growth in industries as diverse as media, healthcare, sales, marketing, and digital transformation.


The Giant Wave

John likened change to a giant wave. You can’t fight it, but you can surf it. And to manage change successfully, you need to read it, ride it, and stay balanced. Change happens so quickly that in many ways it’s already here, even if you don’t immediately detect it. For instance, everyone is talking about artificial intelligence, but it’s been around for quite some time. You’ve encountered it everywhere from the McDonald’s drive-up window to medical technology.


Read the Wave

Look ahead. John identified a few notable areas where we’ll see change, including demographics, where we have more data than ever. We don’t just identify people by their nationality or age anymore. People have become more tribal than national, identifying with political and social ideals, religions, or even Taylor Swift. People over 70 years old think they are 50. They are more active than ever and intend to complete everything on their bucket list. There are opportunities to be found in these kaleidoscopic segments.


Ride the Wave

You’ll need a mix of agility, anticipation and upskilling to successfully manage change. Innovation and constant improvement are of utmost importance for an organization and in management. Everyone has genius. The challenge is getting it out of them. Creative abrasion refers to the rubbing together of opposite ideas. Most people don’t speak up, they don’t like to disagree. So, sometimes their ideas, perhaps the best ideas, stay buried. One way to combat this is to lead from the middle, not the top. An example of what not to do is Elon Musk’s handling of Twitter – X.


Stay Balanced

Everybody has their own slice of genius. Find it. Get better. Challenge yourself, get uncomfortable. Manage your habits. You probably already have the skills, sometimes you just need to get outside yourself to realize it. And through it all, remember to breathe.



Boston Executive Forum members meet monthly to exchange ideas, best practices, and industry insights. In July, the group connected over lunch to celebrate some wins. Representing different industries, backgrounds, and experiences; these monthly lunches foster meaningful connections that go beyond business, creating a network of like-minded individuals committed to each other's success.


From left to right: Barbara Karpinska, Nicky McHugh, Susan Myers, David Reibel, and Jeff Popper


Demystifying the Boardroom

The Executive Forum’s Board Journey team hosted guest speaker Jocelyn Mangan, CEO & Founder of Him For Her, a social impact venture aimed at accelerating diversity on corporate boards. To bridge the network gap responsible for the sparsity of women in the boardroom, Him For Her engages business luminaries to connect the world’s most talented female executives to board service. Jocelyn delivered a virtual, interactive presentation titled “Demystifying the Boardroom,” providing background on Him for Her and articulating the network gap, the kind of expertise boards look for, and how to choose a board. EF member June Archer facilitated.


Jocelyn has over two decades of technology experience building iconic global mobile apps and market-leading software products at some of the world’s best local, consumer, and marketplace companies, including CitySearch, Ticketmaster, OpenTable, and Snagajob. Jocelyn currently serves on the boards of Papa John’s International, Inc. (NASDAQ: PZZA), ChowNow, and Wag!, and is an advisor to Homebase and CORE. She is a part-time moderator for the Netflix Leadership Program. Jocelyn was honored as a member of the 2016 class of Henry Crown Fellows at the Aspen Institute, was a global ambassador for the Vital Voices Global Partnership, and was one of Fast Company’s “100 Most Creative People in Business” in 2015.


It’s not a pipeline problem. It’s a network problem.

There is no shortage of female executives qualified for board service. But, Boards are made up mostly of men. And they find new members mostly through their personal networks. Female executives tend to be underrepresented within the personal networks of men serving on Boards today. So, we need to break into that network. Him For Her helps accomplish this with round table dinners and by partnering with investment companies.


Six Dimensions of Expertise

When a Board has an opening, they're usually looking for candidates categorized across six dimensions of competencies – functional, industry, ESG, scaling, business model, customer segment. Most female executives looking for a Board role have experience in all six, but may not realize it. They must look at themselves in a multidimensional way.


Be Picky

There are lots of open Board seats, so be picky. Choose a Board you are willing to spend the next ten years with. Take a long-term sensibility in making your choice. Enjoy the CEO. Be interested in the industry. Learn from and contribute to the other Board members. Appreciate the culture. Look for transparency. Understand the time commitment.



The Shorehaven Golf Club in Norwalk, CT was the perfect setting on May 25, 2023 for this distinguished group of EF members to enjoy a wonderful evening with one another during the Professional Enrichment Dinner.


From Left to Right: Jim Kickham (co-host); Jim Daly, Ed Wiggers; Jim Ranton; Katherine Skinner (co-host); Jennifer Buchholz; Lee Wachter; Peter Bingaman; David Gitow


Executive Forum and the International Women’s Forum co-hosted an interactive webinar “How Can I Use ChatGPT and Generative AI as a Business Solution?” with guest speakers Florin Rotar, Chief Technology Officer, and Carol Thorney, Industry Lead, both at Avanade, a leading provider of digital, cloud and advisory services, industry solutions and design-led experiences via Microsoft. EF members Barbara McCartney and Paul Villani facilitated


Unleashing the Power of Generative AI

Generative AI consists of artificial intelligence algorithms that use existing content like text, audio files, or images to create new plausible content. It can solve problems, quickly synthesize data, and help create new ideas. It’s an innovative business tool with applications for all parts of a business including customer service, marketing, decision making, sales, and compliance. And 98% of global executives agree AI foundation models will play an important role in their organizations’ strategies in the next 3 to 5 years.


ChatGPT – What is GPT4?

Using natural language processing techniques ChatGPT can provide automated responses to questions and conversations with users. You can talk to it like a person, and it will respond to you as a person. Do this by creating chat threads. Use prompts, queries or directives to ask ChatGPT to generate a response.


Ask ChatGOT what GPT-4 is, and this is its response - GPT-4 is a state-of-the-art language processing model developed by OpenAI. It stands for "Generative Pretrained Transformer" and is the third iteration of the GPT series of models. GPT-4 is trained on a massive amount of data and can generate human-like text on a variety of topics. It is a powerful tool for natural language processing tasks such as language translation, summarization, and text generation.


Value-add of Generative AI

Generative AI will add business value to all parts of a business:

  • Customer Service - Self-service with “ChatGPT”-like chatbots will add efficiency in all channels, smart routing, automatic email answering, e.g., product questions, complaints, etc.
  • Marketing Support - Market with newly generated images or graphs. Create content for client or internal communication (email, text, letters etc.). Add the support of open question customer surveys with next-generation sentiment analysis and intent recognition.
  • Sales support – Use suggested email responses that are personalized and context specific, automated client read-outs, meeting preparation information, meeting summaries, and action items. Add efficiency with autogenerated next-best action, upsell, and cross-sell opportunities.


The Business of Broadway

The Executive Forum hosted special guest and speaker, Wendy Federman, thirteen-time Tony Award-winning theater and film producer, and President at Foolish Mortals Productions, at a networking event where she discussed the “Business of Broadway.” She shared her personal journey to building a successful career as a Broadway producer and founding the new Museum of Broadway. In addition to being a Tony Award-winning theater and film producer, she has received two Olivier Awards, eleven Drama Desk Awards, twenty Outer Critics Circle Awards, eighteen Drama League Awards, and three GLADD Media Awards for many of her over ninety co-productions.


“Don’t feel like your first career has to be your last career.”

Producer is Wendy’s third big career. When Wendy’s father died, she and her brother took over the family business. She was 23 years old. She was in the front office negotiating pricing with mostly male clients who wanted to speak with a man. She learned how to speak up, stand up for herself, and be prepared. She learned to believe in a great product, how to put finances in place and keep costs under control, while reaching the target market to attain maximum sales - all important skills she’d utilize as a producer. Ten years later they sold the family business and Wendy became a biofeedback therapist, operating stress management centers. It gave her more time to spend with her young family. The father of a child in her son’s playgroup happened to own two off-Broadway theaters. He recognized Wendy’s passion and understanding of the theater world and asked her to co-produce the national tour of “Legends!,” a show about two actors who hated each other, starring Joan Collins and Linda Evans of “Dynasty” fame. This would be Wendy’s first producer credit.


Wendy’s passion and understanding of the theater world came from her family. They were well-established in the entertainment world. Her mother and aunt performed on radio, movies, television, and Broadway. Her uncle was Paul Frees, the voice of the Jolly Green Giant, the Pillsbury Doughboy, and many other famous characters. A biography written about his life and voices was titled Welcome Foolish Mortals. It was from that title where Wendy would find the name of her company. Wendy had originally hoped to be a performer and studied dance, but she always had a mind for business and fell in love with producing from the first instance.


What do producers do? It’s more than just the finances.

  • Find the product and ensure that the art is there.
  • Build the team. Establishing the right team is important, and often it’s made up of writers and actors and others you’ve stayed in touch with over the years.
  • Prepare a budget. Attract investors. Share a recoupment chart with them so they know when they might break even. Aim to pay the investors first, not the producer. • Find a theater for the show. This is not easy and is one of the first tasks. Space is at a premium, so the theater owner is the first person to reach out to.
  • Shepherd the project from inception to opening night. Market the product. Sell tickets.
  • Take the reviews and use them to better the production and move forward. Keep the production open. Manage the actors. And if the show is nominated for awards, manage that process.


The Rails Steakhouse in Towaco, NJ was the perfect setting on April 27, 2023 for this distinguished group of EF members to enjoy a wonderful evening with one another during the Professional Enrichment Dinner.


Seated from left to right: Mark Pettie (co-host), Michael McDonagh and Dennis O'Donnell


Standing from left to right: Michael Epstein, Ernie Toth, Bruce Perlmutter, Phil Harvey, Mark Mishler, Sam Recenello, Barry Pincus, Mark Kapsky, Richard Gellman and Jerry Fragetti (co-host)


The Beach Point Club in Mamaroneck, NY was the perfect setting on April 27, 2023 for this distinguished group of EF members to enjoy a wonderful evening with one another during the Professional Enrichment Dinner.


Seated from left to right: Heath Podvesker, Katherine Skinner, Josh Rucci and Paul Kadin


Standing from left to right: Allen Shapard, Dave Lampert, Jack Randall, Brian “Fitz” Fitzgerald, Co-Host Bob Sloane, Co-Host Andy Glaser


The Penn Club in NYC was the perfect setting on April 18, 2023 for this distinguished group of EF members to enjoy a wonderful evening with one another during the Professional Enrichment Dinner.


Standing from left to right:


Stefanie Shelley, Robyn D’Elia, Wendy Palmer, Ted Chang, Lori Strasberg, Lucie Claire Vincent, Lori Marcus, Patricia Raufer, Alexandra Aleskovsky, Judy Levin


The Wee Burn Country Club in Darien, CT was the perfect setting on April 11, 2023 for this distinguished group of EF members to enjoy a wonderful evening with one another during the Professional Enrichment Dinner.


Standing from left to right:


George Russell (Co-Host), L.K. Tan, Nicky McHugh, David Smith, Rick Routhier (Co-Host), Barbara Karpinska, Chip Steppacher, Don Foscato, Werner Domittner, Mark DeGennaro and Bruno Perreault


It’s All About Attitude

EF’s Technology Special Interest Group (SIG) hosted Technology Pioneer, John Patrick in an engaging discussion on technology literacy where he shared insights gained from a vast career in the technology industry. John is the well-known author of the series, “It’s All About Attitude,” he started in 2001. A 35-year veteran of Internet Technology at IBM, John was a co-founding member of the World Wide Web Consortium at MIT. He has also authored seven books, the most recent published in August 2022 is Reflection Attitude – Current, Past and Future. Technology Literacy is a term used to describe an individual’s ability to assess, acquire, and communicate in a fully digital environment. EF members and co-Chairs of the Technology SIG Robert Hendricks and Paul Villani facilitated the discussion.



John shared the concept of “outside-in thinking,” which he wrote about in his first book. When he was at IBM they had not yet embraced the internet. John was seen as a renegade in promoting the importance of the internet. To change their minds, John embraced the concept of “outside-in thinking.” He traveled all over the world expounding the future of the internet. IBM heard what he was saying and eventually adopted it. Outside-in thinking requires taking different views of an issue and walking in the shoes of your customer or stakeholder. .


Artificial intelligence (AI) is developing rapidly. The many categories under AI include facial recognition, machine learning, and self-driving cars, to name a few. There are more than 8,000 start-ups that VCs are pouring money into. This will become a trillion-dollar industry. The pace will continue to accelerate as computers’ power and storage capacity increase, the internet becomes more reliable and faster, and computer scientists continue to do research in the area.


Board Search Readiness

The Executive Forum’s Board Journey team hosted speaker Alyssa Gelbard, Founder & CEO of Point Road Group where she also directs the company’s Board Director/Executive Branding practice. Alyssa delivered a virtual, interactive presentation titled “Board Search Readiness,” articulating the importance of doing your homework, optimizing your personal brand, and networking strategically in your search for a board position. EF member June Archer facilitated.


Alyssa serves on the Advisory Boards of Peterra Kitchen and the Graduate Sports Management Program at Endicott College. She sits on the Board of Directors and is Career Management Chair of Financial Executives International (NY Chapter) and serves on the Executive Committee and is Membership Chair of the Private Directors Association (NY Chapter). Alyssa is an elected member of the Tufts University Alumni Council and co-chairs the Tufts Women's Network in New York.


Do Your Homework

Understand why you want to serve on a board and be able to articulate those reasons well. Identify the right fit for you. Do you want a board position with a public or a private company? Understand the obligations required of each. Searching for a board position is different than searching for a job. The sense of urgency and the timeframe are not the same.

Optimize Your Brand

Optimizing your brand is very beneficial as it can improve your visibility and credibility. Know your value to a board. Know what to emphasize and be consistent. Do not assume people already know your accomplishments and what you can bring to the table. They don’t. Be clear and concise in your message and ensure it’s consistent across all platforms, including your board resume, board bio and LinkedIn.


Network Strategically  

Not everyone enjoys networking, but it’s better to do it consistently than occasionally because you want to build momentum and stay relevant over time. Ensure the people in your immediate circle know you are looking for a board position and understand the value you can bring to a board. Determine if your network supports your search. Are any of them current or past directors? Do they sit on a nomination committee? Do they work for an organization that services boards?


The Case(s) for Economic Equity

The Executive Forum hosted special guest and speaker, Dr. William M. Rodgers III, Vice President and Director of the Institute on Economic Equity at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, at a networking breakfast where he delivered a presentation titled “Cases for Economic Equity.” Dr. Rodgers shared his personal journey and made compelling cases for economic equity, including a business case and how improving those households with income above the Federal Poverty Level but below the basic cost of living (ALICE) can strengthen a whole community.


Dr. Rodgers served as Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, Chief Economist at Rutgers University’s Heldrich Center, holds doctorate and masters degrees in economics from Harvard University, and has frequently appeared on CNBC, Bloomberg, Yahoo Business and other major media outlets.


The Business Case

It was no longer enough to simply issue statements about the abhorrent, racially charged, violent events taking place. Action needed to be taken. The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis created the Institute on Economic Equity in this vein to look at barriers to wealth and labor and the community response. An improvement in economic equity benefits everyone. Black men earn about 60 cents for every dollar White men earn. If that number were equal, it would amount to an additional $1.6 trillion in buying power. Closing the income gap increases buying power. Corporations are leaving money on the table. The reasons for this gap vary by community, but if private and public investments were made in transportation and childcare, for instance, those groups affected by these barriers would have a better chance to compete and succeed.


ALICE is an acronym that stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. ALICE represents the households with income above the Federal Poverty Level but below the basic cost of living. Firefighters’ and teachers’ families are examples of ALICE households. These people work hard, vote, and are good citizens but they are poor. This is not a common narrative. It’s not all about race. It’s not about laziness. ALICE households face challenges like housing and childcare that impact a whole community. We all have an interest in improving conditions for ALICE.

Dr. Rodgers asked us all to become champions of economic equity, finding solutions that give people what they need in our communities.


Using ChatGPT to Optimize Your Job Search

EF’s MIT/New Member Group hosted Ron Bates, Managing Director & Founder of Ascent Logic, in an informative and interactive discussion on artificial intelligence (AI) and using ChatGPT in your job search. Ron demonstrated how to analyze job descriptions and tailor your resume and application, identify strengths and weaknesses in your resume relative to job specifications, and optimize your resume for job application systems, applicant tracking systems (ATS) and LinkedIn, all using various prompts. As a global executive coach, career coach, and leadership coach, Ron works with executives who seek to level up their leadership capacity and capability to drive more economic value and achieve greater career fulfillment. EF member and New Member Program Co-Chair Sean O’Toole facilitated.


First things first

In four months ChatGPT signed up 400 million members. It took Facebook six years to achieve that and the whole world was in awe then. AI will unlock human potential and increase productivity like never before. The industrial revolution increased productivity 26-30%. An MIT study of white-collar workers using ChatGPT demonstrated they experienced an increase in productivity of 50%.


 AI is good at diverse recombination. That is, taking stand alone categories and analyzing them to create a unique category that is a combination of them all. AI is not good at creating something brand new or the first of its kind. It can war game complex sales strategies, but it can’t discover a new life-saving drug.

Using ChatGPT

Using natural language processing (NLP) techniques ChatGPT can provide automated responses to questions and conversations with users. You can talk to it like a person, and it will respond to you as a person. Do this by creating chat threads. Use prompts, queries or directives to ask ChatGPT to generate a response.

Ask ChatGPT to act as an expert, a candidate, a hiring manager, or a critic to help tailor the response to what a candidate should emphasize in an interview or which skills would differentiate the candidate. Copy and paste your resume and ask ChatGPT to analyze it to determine how it aligns with the job specifications. If something is missing it may just be that the candidate needs to edit how they portrayed that skill.

Ron provided several practical tips, demonstrated actual prompts, and shared strategies for leveraging this powerful AI tool.


Are You an impact Player?

EF’s MIT/New Member Group hosted speaker Tracy Benson, Certified Executive Coach and Founder and CEO of On the Next Page, in an interactive discussion titled “Are You an Impact Player?” Tracy identified what it is to be an impact player and the practices which differentiate them. Tracy has been mentoring, coaching and advising leaders and managers in some of the world's leading companies for 30+ years including ADP, American Standard, Aramark, GE, Ingersoll Rand, Mars, Merck, Nike, Novartis, PepsiCo, as well as mid-sized market-leaders and non-profits. EF member and New Member Program Chair Sean O’Toole facilitated.


What it Takes to Be an Impact Player

Tracy shared insights into what it is to be an impact player and identified five practices that differentiate an impact player from others. She also provided a case study and tips to nurture these skills with your team. Some of the practices include the following:

- Demonstrate curiosity and practical focus. Do the job that needs to get done but also look around to see what’s important to the organization. Go beyond what’s in the job description.
- Step up. Don’t wait for an invitation to initiate. Others may be waiting for direction; but take action, even in an environment of ambiguity and change. 
- Move things across the finish line. Your track record shows that any task given to you is as good as done. 
- Embrace change and ambiguity. Adapt and learn. Everyone needs process and structure, but you know how to sway.


NEW YORK (April 19, 2023) – The Executive Forum announced the appointment of Richard Gellman to the newly created Board role of Co-Chair, New Member Program. The management and success of the New Member Program are of critical importance to the Executive Forum, and provide new members with the tools, programs/content, and significant networking opportunities for them to succeed in finding a new full-time, interim, or consulting role. The board has decided to add a Co-Chair to the New Member Program to augment the exceptional work that Sean O'Toole currently provides.


Richard joined the Executive Forum in February of 2021 and has been an active group member. He has worked closely with Sean for several months and has agreed to join the board to help manage this critical area. Before joining the Executive Forum, Richard spent more than two decades as VP of Marketing/Advertising at Tourneau, the largest national luxury watch retailer in the U.S. Richard formed Ancer Advisors in 2021, a niche consulting firm specializing in talent acquisition. He also offers management and marketing consulting to small cap and mid-size firms. Also in 2021, Richard joined Stoll & Co on a contract basis focused on Business Development, Talent Acquisition, and Digital Marketing.


“I have experienced firsthand the support and value of membership in the Executive Forum. It has enriched my professional life and expanded my network – many of whom have turned into friends, said Gellman, “In my role as co-head of the New Members Group, I hope to effectively reflect the EF’s mission and communicate the resources that the EF offers.”


“We are pleased to welcome Richard to the Board as Co-Chair, New Member Program. Richard exemplifies our values of community and engagement and will continue to advocate for progress in the New Member Program,” said Executive Forum Co-Chairs, Cheryl Palmer and Scott Smith.


About the Executive Forum

The Executive Forum is a volunteer-led organization for accomplished top executives who are a premier source of modern executive talent and see their careers as a journey and not a destination. A community of c-suite-level executives from leading corporations, private equity firms, boards, and independent consultancies, the Executive Forum provides an unparalleled, diverse network of collaborative, connected, and growth-focused leaders and experts who are committed to - supporting one another. For more information, visit https://www.executiveforum.org.


EF’s Independent Career Track Group (ICT) hosted Nadine Keller in an interactive presentation titled “Your Lead Generation Strategy,” where she shared insights on the importance of developing a lead generation strategycommon mistakes, and various short-term and long-game activities. Her presentation also included a comprehensive worksheet.  Nadine is the Founder and President of Precision Sales Coaching & Training, LLC. For the past eighteen years, Nadine’s firm has provided strategic programs for tens of thousands of sales professionals in Fortune 100 companies. Her expertise crosses sales, marketing and communications with a focus on helping organizations drive sales behavior to achieve their goals. Recently, Precision expanded their offering to women entrepreneurs in service-based businesses by developing a hybrid on-line learning and coaching programShe is the author of the book Make it All About Them: Winning Sales Presentations. Jim RantonChair of the ICT group, facilitated.


Why Lead Generation?

You don't have a business if you don't have a steady flow of leads that convert to clients. For a small service-based business, lead generation can feel overwhelming. Nadine shared common mistakes and short-term and long-game activities to build a strategy. Some of the many Nadine discussed included those listed below.

Common Mistakes:

Not Doing the Math

Start with your revenue goal and back into how many leads you’ll need to reach that goal. Know your conversion ratio, the price of your service, and your win rate. And if you’re stuck at a revenue plateau, rejigger some of these components. Precision offers a Lead Generation Strategy Template that can help.

Not Asking for Referrals 

Don’t assume clients will provide you with referrals. You must be disciplined to ask for them. Put a system in place to accomplish this. Referrals are the low-hanging fruit of a lead generation strategy. They typically have a higher conversion ratio and shorter sales cycles.



Asking for referrals 

Networking — in-person events and online events 

Email marketing (with a lead magnet if you have a decent size list of ideal clients)


Social Media posts (valuable content) 

Website optimization 

Authoring articles in established media channels


Shenorock Shore Club in Rye, NY was the perfect setting on March 16th for this distinguished group of EF members to enjoy a wonderful evening with one another during the Professional Enrichment Dinner.

Standing from Left to Right: Steve Zales (Co-Host), Dave Nelson, John Hopper (Co-Host), Steve Mason, Brian Anderson, Marc Jaffe, Adrian Norman, Kevin McGahren and Nick Nocca 



The Elongated Career: A Conversation with Charlotte Japp


EF’s Media, Marketing & Insights (MMI) Special Interest Group (SIG) hosted a discussion with Charlotte Japp on the elongated career and thriving in today’s multi-generational workplace. She shared her journey and how she came to believe in the mission of intergenerational work and culture. Charlotte was recently profiled in the Wall Street Journal article “Here Comes the 60 Year Career,” February 12, 2023. She is a creative leader who specializes in content development and has held positions at VICE Media, Live Nation, TikTok and several startups.  Charlotte is currently Head of Platform at ffVenture Capital, a seed stage fund investing in FinTech, AI, B2B, and SaaS. She is also the founder of Cirkel, a startup creating a community of 20-70+ year-old professionals which provides mutual mentoring and networking across generations and supports older workers to thrive along their longer lifespan. EF member Patricia Raufer facilitated the discussion.


Charlotte’s parents’ journey


Charlotte’s parents were pushed out of their respective careers at ages 45 and 50. Both made transitions to something else due to agist hiring trends. Her dad had been a stamp collector and started an eBay store. Her mom was the oldest in her office at the time, 2008, at age 45. She took the independent route becoming an art advisor. Both made the transition for the need of purpose and a paycheck.


A jungle gym more than a ladder


Witnessing her parents’ abrupt end to their first careers impacted Charlotte. Each job she held in her 10-year career since college built on each other, and each role prepared her for the next one, even if it wasn’t immediately apparent. We are all living longer lives and five generations now make up the workforce. It’s not only the late career professionals who need to examine their future. The early career professionals also need to look ahead at their career trajectory. In today’s world, the career path will resemble a jungle gym more than a ladder. People must pace themselves as they move up, down, sideways, and diagonally. The early career professional needs to try new paths, learn new things, and adapt to their curiosities that will evolve as they age.




In 2018, Charlotte founded Cirkel, having noticed a huge gap between the 20-somethings she worked with and the baby boomers like her parents. Multigenerational workplaces needed to be normalized and mentorship needed to be more accessible. But more importantly, mentoring needed to be a two-way street — her parents needed that support and guidance in their careers, just like Charlotte’s friends did. Her friends and colleagues wanted career mentorship, while her parents and their friends were looking for new skills to stay competitive in their careers. CIRKEL offers a platform where a community of professionals ages 20-70+ can connect for two-way career support and mentorship.


The Executive Forum has launched its New Horizons Work Group. It is a reimagined version of the New Horizons SIG which focused on assisting end-of-professional-career members transition into meaningful pre-retirement and retirement activities. The New Horizons Work Group takes a more introspective approach into a process for attaining fulfillment and happiness in life’s “Third Age.”


EF members strongly identify with their career during their working life, perhaps to a greater degree than many. So, it’s no small matter when members consider moving away from full time work. It creates a void but is also offers opportunities to reconsider from where self-esteem is derived. In our “Third Life” we are given new freedoms from our work life to do almost anything we chose to do. It can be a daunting transition.


EF’s New Horizons Work Group helps members consider issues like how they will replace the self-esteem they derived from working life, how they will now introduce themselves, how they will adjust to new routine, and how to develop a new purpose. Without considering these issues and others, retirement may not be fulfilling and happy. The group offers a five-step boot camp approach to successfully make this transition, establishing mini-groups who work together on self-reflection, value, and purpose through various exercises, homework, and readings.


The New Horizons Work Group is chaired by EF members Jim Forbes and Paul Kadin. Jim, one of the original EF members, is a financial and operations senior executive who provides leadership in helping not-for-profits. He is a known thinker and leader on purpose. He has often spoken to groups on the topic of "Life Re-imagined" with a focus on fulfilling a purposeful life. Among his many roles, he has served AARP’s National Board and National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD). Paul is Managing Partner at Resonance LLC. He was a marketing executive, a proponent of applying attitudinal insights to business, passionate about process and is now a certified professional retirement coach.



At Becton Dickinson, a global medical technology leader, Jerry served as Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer and was responsible for all aspects of IT and shared services strategy and operations globally. As Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Coty, Inc., Jerry led all areas of the IT and cybersecurity functions for the global organization, including successfully integrating a $13 billion acquisition, the largest M&A activity in beauty industry history, with no impact to business operations. Throughout his career, Jerry has also held executive leadership roles with a variety of companies including Revlon, McKesson, Avaya and Avon.


Elaine Riddell and Marie Meliksetian continue their many years of service to the Executive Forum, each assuming new Board roles and changes to their Board responsibilities. Marie assumes the role of Vice President of the Executive Forum Board and will be working on strategic initiatives critical to the ongoing success of the organization. Elaine will lead the organization’s Special Interest Groups as SIG Chair.


Marie is a transformation and transitional leader with focus on bringing change and growth through strategy, operation, technology, data, processes, and people.  She is currently the CEO of Reliance Solution Services, LLC and President of International Women’s Forum of Connecticut. Throughout her career, she has served as US Chief Executive Officer for a DXC Company and has held a variety of senior global positions at IBM.  She is the recipient of numerous business, leadership and mentoring awards including IWFCT Leadership award, Women in Technology by Harve Nash, Best Biz Executive, Women in M&A by BDO, NAFE Women of Excellence and IBM ovation/innovation awards.


Marie joined Executive Forum in 2016 and was quickly engaged in developing Executive Forum's Strategic plan. In 2018, she joined the Executive Forum Board as SIG Chair, collaborating with more than 20 Co-Chairs across eight SIGs who delivered more than 40 events a year. In her new role, Marie is focused on the development of the Executive Forum strategic plan that aligns with the organization’s revamped mission, vision and values designed to further the value and engagement of Executive Forum members.


Elaine is a growth activist who believes that breakthrough potential exists in every company. As a CEO, for more than 15 years (NOPWorld Health, TNS Healthcare, Kantar Health), she is recognized for transforming mature, stagnant, global data, analytics, and consulting firms into high-performing, market-leaders with sustained profitable revenue growth at three-times the market rate. Her playbook also draws on her experience at Abbott Labs (now AbbVie), a top 10 pharmaceutical company, and IMSHealth (now IQVIA), the leading multinational health information and technology firm, Today, Elaine is a Managing Director with Oaklins DeSilva+Phillips, a leading investment bank for the marketing and media services sectors.


Elaine joined the Executive Forum in December 2010 and has made numerous contributions over her more than a dozen years with the organization. She served on the Executive Forum Board from 2012 to 2017 and co-led the M.E.D.I.A. SIG for seven years. Elaine was re-elected to the Board in 2019 as Vice President. In this role, she led the Executive Forum branding initiative, running a cross-functional team that drove the selection, implementation, and communication of the Executive Forum’s current brand.


“We are delighted to welcome Jerry on his appointment as Chair, Technology and congratulate both Marie and Elaine on their new roles. It is incredibly gratifying to work with such a talented group of executives, and we thank them for their contribution and commitment to our members,” said Executive Forum Co-Chairs, Cheryl Palmer and Scott Smith.


About the Executive Forum


The Executive Forum is a volunteer-led organization for accomplished top executives who are a premier source of modern executive talent and see their careers as a journey and not a destination. A community of c-suite-level executives from leading corporations, private equity firms, boards, and independent consultancies, the Executive Forum provides an unparalleled, diverse network of collaborative, connected, and growth-focused leaders and experts who are committed to - supporting one another. For more information, visit https://www.executiveforum.org. 


Profile photo of Jerry Flasz


EF’s Investing Special Interest Group (SIG) hosted a discussion with Shawn Lese, Chief Investment Officer & Head of Funds Management, Americas of Nuveen Real Estate. He was joined by colleagues Max Osborne, Managing Director, Alternative Investments Business Development, and Brian Cullen, Vice President, Wealth Advisor Consultant. Shawn shared insights into what the real estate market looks like now, examining it from two perspectives – capital markets and real estate operations.  Shawn leads a team of portfolio managers in driving investment performance and partnering with clients on their current and prospective real estate investments. In addition, he oversees the end-to-end investment process.

Before joining Nuveen, Shawn served as a managing director on the capital markets team of Grosvenor Fund Management. Shawn has also worked as an officer in Morgan Stanley’s real estate investment banking group. EF member Gary Liberman facilitated the discussion.

Capital Markets

Before June 15, 2022, capital markets and real estate operations performed incredibly well. On the capital markets side, it was easy to raise money, valuations were rising, and debt was relatively cheap. Then Jerome Powell, Chair of the Federal Reserve, dumped a bucket of cold water on the lending market. Interest rates rose. The zeitgeist changed. Would inflation be here forever? Powell tried to take hold of the market and reestablish himself. The balance between jobs and price stability went out the door. The balance no longer existed, only price stability. All this affects real estate. When the interest rates stabilize, the lenders will get back in the market, buyers will feel comfortable again, and investors will return to what will be the new normal. But, it may be a longer-term hold, as there’s caution today in deploying capital.

Real Estate Operations

Though the capital markets may be challenging, the operations side of the equation is solid.  Examining the long-term average vacancies rate in the market, Shawn looked at four sectors – industrial, apartment, retail, and office. Industrial, apartment, and even rental, which were lambasted in 2017 by e-commerce and then COVID, are strong to showing growth. The office sector in the US doesn’t tell a great story, as employees are slow to return to their offices, and vacancies are very high. Prices in real estate are under downward pressure, but it’s a market worth watching.


The Harvard Club Dinner, NYC  was the perfect setting on December 5, 2022 for this distinguished group of EF members to enjoy a wonderful evening with one another during the Professional Enrichment Dinner.

From left to right - Nick DiCarlo, Mauricio Barberi, Nick Nocca, Doron Grosman (dinner co-host), KaRon Joyner, Josh Rucci, Alexandra Aleskovsky, Sanjiv Khattri, Kathy Murray (dinner co-host), Allen Shapard


EF’s New Members/MIT Group hosted EF member Perri Richman in an interactive presentation and workshop titled Building Your Leader Brand, where she shared insights on developing your brand in transition by focusing on your most valuable personal marketing assets - your value proposition, your ask, and your simple story. Perri is a reputation advisor with a passion for building brands through the behavior of leaders, partnering with individuals and organizations undergoing change and transformation. During her 20+ year corporate career, she held corporate communications, brand and marketing, CSR and ESG roles of increasing importance at American Standard, Ingersoll Rand and Trane Technologies, and at the communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller with Fortune 500 companies in professional services, automotive, financial services, and consumer packaged goods.

Value Proposition

Who are you professionally? What do you value? What problems do you solve? Underlying it all is your leadership superpower – what you focus on as a leader. When done well, your value proposition will guide you on how and where you communicate, and it will serve as a filter in choosing the right assignment.


Your value proposition informs your ask. Ask for what you want. Be specific. The more specific the ask, the more effective the conversation and network engagement. People want to help but don’t always know how to help if the ask is too broad. Be specific to make it easier for them. And if you don’t know what to ask for, say that.

Simple Story

Keep your transition story simple and to the point. Do not over explain. Less than a few sentences will suffice. Why did you leave your role and/or where are you in your job search? That’s all you need.


EF’s Investing Special Interest Group (SIG) hosted a discussion with Joe Zidle, Chief Investment Strategist in the Private Wealth Solutions group at Blackstone. He shared insights from Blackstone’s list of the Ten Surprises of 2023, an annual series Byron Wien, Vice Chairman in the Private Wealth Solutions group at Blackstone, and Joe publish. This is the 38th edition. Drawing on data from all over Blackstone, these lists include views on several economic, financial market and political surprises for the coming year. A “surprise” is an event that the average investor would only assign a one out of three chances of occurring, but which Byron and Joe believe has a better than 50% likelihood of happening. 

Prior to his position at Blackstone, Joe worked at Richard Bernstein Advisors, an independent investment advisor, where he was responsible for portfolio strategy, asset allocation, investment management and marketing to major wealth management firms and independent RIAs. Prior to that, Joe spent nearly a decade at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, most recently serving as Head of Investment Strategy for Global Wealth Management and Deputy Director of the Research Investment Committee. EF member Gary Liberman facilitated the discussion.

 Insights from Ten Surprises of 2023:

There will be new names on each party’s respective ticket for the presidential nomination for 2024. Not Trump, not Biden, but surprises on both sides.

The Fed won’t pivot in 2023. Inflation will run hotter. It won’t cut rates. The market will be challenged. But as they say, the key to a successful portfolio, and to keep on the right side of history, “don’t fight the Fed.”

The US dollar remains strong against major currencies, including the yen and the euro. This creates a generational buying opportunity for dollar-based investors to invest in Japanese and European assets.


EF’s New Members/MIT Group hosted speaker Nicole Resch, Co-Founder of Imperative, a collaboration platform. In an interactive discussion titled Power Your People with Values-Based Leadership, Nicole shared insights on the purpose economy and the importance of employees finding meaningful connections and fulfillment at work. Imperative helps organizations build employee connection through conversations and relationships through their platform so organizations can easily scale connections across all their employees. The platform enables video-based peer coaching conversations across organizations that increase leadership abilities, productivity, and fulfillment.

Prior to Imperative, Nicole created and managed talent development programs for Microsoft. While there, she also partnered with Microsoft Philanthropies to globalize the annual giving campaign. She is also the founding chair of Upwardly Global, a nonprofit that connects highly skilled new Americans to jobs in their professions. EF members Jim Cornehlsen and Sean O’Toole facilitated.

Types of Relationships People Want at Work

People want someone at work with whom they can collaborate on projects, work through challenges, offer different perspectives, and feel safe. So why don’t people just do it? There’s still a watercooler, right? People don’t know how to bridge from “how was your weekend?” to “tell me about the philosophy of your approach to work.” The Imperative platform gives people the scaffolding they need to have conversations that build the kinds of relationships they want.

Fast Track to Trust

Value is having a trusted relationship in your organization, feeling seen and heard. The Imperative platform can take two people at the same level in an organization who may be across the world from each other and connect them. It provides them with the questions to ask each other so initially they can get to know each other. From there they might share what they are working on. Then collaboration develops organically. And as trust develops some risk taking may follow. This process allows people to own their growth, engagement, and fulfillment.


Like all the Executive Forum (EF) Special Interest Groups (SIGs), the Private Equity SIG provides its members learning and networking opportunities through thought leadership, events and meetings. Specifically, the Private Equity (PE) SIG creates opportunities for EF members to approach and meet with PE principals.  EF members can network with PE companies as executives who have the experience and skills required in their potential deals. The PE SIG acts as an adjunct to regular EF activities, providing a supplemental means of improving members' understanding of, and access to, PE-related opportunities. It is an important source for leading edge insight​ into the sector. EF members Allan Grafman, Tate Pursell, and Greg Libertiny serve as Chairs of the PE SIG.

In addition to helping EF members stay abreast of current happenings in the PE sector, the PE SIG will facilitate introductions between EF members and PE firms. This benefits all those involved in terms of deal flow, career development, and networking opportunities. All the participants in these meetings gain a deeper understanding of each other, sharing interests, insights, and transactional opportunities.

Whether taking advantage of educational opportunities offered by the PE SIG on topics such as market trends, disruptions, innovations, and investments or networking or introductions to or meetings with PE firms, EF members can gain a competitive advantage by leveraging the knowledge gained as well as new contacts made to succeed in their career.


The Rails Steakhouse, Towaco, NJ was the perfect setting on October 27th for this distinguished group of EF members to enjoy a wonderful evening with one another during the Professional Enrichment Dinner. 

Left Front to Back: Sam Recenello, Co-Host Mark Pettie, Gordon Stewart, Susan Comparato, Robyn D'Elia

Right Side Front to Back: Mark Mishler, Michael Epstein, Co-Host Jerry Fragetti, Phil Harvey, Nicholas Nocca


EF’s Technology Special Interest Group (SIG) hosted Jonas Block, Chief Product Officer, and Michel Botbol, Chief Financial Officer, both of IPwe, Inc., in an engaging presentation where they discussed IPwe's Smart Intangible Asset Management platform and how it utilizes blockchain technology, AI and patent #NFTs (IPwe Digital Assets) to simplify intellectual property portfolio management. Jonas leads development of IPwe's technology using novel approaches to dissolve the existing access restrictions and open the global IP commercialization markets for everyone. Michel has over thirty years of successful financial, strategic and commercial planning, information technology, operations and vendor negotiations experience for both domestic and international organizations. EF member Walter Yosafat facilitated the presentation.

The world is going intangible. But it’s difficult to value intangible assets like intellectual property It can be very subjective. And the overhead costs can be substantial. There’s a need to make the connection between intellectual property and financials more transparent. Understanding the financial metrics of intangible assets is critical for decisions-makers. IPwe’s Smart Intangible Asset Management Platform fulfills this need in one single product.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) drives this product. IPwe is creating NFTs and tokenizing patents and other intangible assets into digital assets. The NFT is like a decentralized data warehouse that holds the asset. The tokenization of intellectual property makes it easier to trace, license, commercialize and transact, with verified information, and greater transparency.



The Wee Burn Country Club in Darien, CT was the perfect setting on October 12th for this distinguished group of EF members to enjoy a wonderful evening with one another. From left to right: Mark Breene, Gretchen Garrigues, Pat Matteson, co-host Rick Routhier, Jim Ranton, co-host George Russell, Sean O’Toole, Lisa Yarnell and Bruno Perreault.


EF’s Media, Marketing & Insights (MMI) Special Interest Group (SIG) hosted a discussion with Mauro Porcini, Chief Design Officer at PepsiCo. He shared insights from his new book, The Human Side of Innovation – The Power of People in Love with People, which focuses on innovation, design and leadership. Mauro joined PepsiCo in 2012. He continues to instill design thinking into PepsiCo’s culture and leads innovation by design that impacts the company’s brands, which include Pepsi, Lay’s, Mountain Dew, Gatorade, Sodastream, Doritos, Lifewtr, Bubly, Aquafina, Cheetos, Quaker, and many others. Prior to joining PepsiCo, Mauro served as the Chief Design Officer at 3M. He began his professional career at Philips Design and then created his own design firm, Wisemad Srl, in Italy. EF member Eugenio Perrier facilitated the discussion.

Insights from The Human Side of Innovation – The Power of People in Love with People:

“Innovation is an act of love”

Observe the people we serve. Understand them. Create a solution for them - innovate. Focus on their needs, wants, frustrations, and desires. It all starts with caring for the people we serve. At one time we could grow our businesses focusing on different variables, never actually touching the product.  This model worked for a while. But no longer. Today anyone can compete, and anyone can disrupt. Look no further than Uber or Airbnb as examples.  We need to be excellent. We need to go beyond setting goals and attaining them. We need to constantly set new goals. Today we need to love the people we serve to be competitive. Target calls their customers “guests.” In one word they’ve defined how they view their customers and how their employees will treat them.


Putting people first requires unicorns - people who love people, who genuinely want to create meaningful solutions for actual human beings. Unicorns are folks you want to hire to innovate. They have many characteristics, including the ability to dream, optimism, kindness, and curiosity, to list a few. We are at a pivotal moment, moving from thinking about financial goals, market share, and technology as competitive advantages to focusing on the needs, wants, and dreams of people in everything we do in our business. Smart companies will invest in the people they serve to future-proof the business.


The Executive Forum Honors Chris Craig and Marie Meliksetian  with the Robert C. Sloane Award
The Executive Forum (EF) presented Chris Craig and Marie Meliksetian with the Robert C. Sloane Award at the Fall 2022 Leadership Conference “Leading with Guts, Grit, and Grace” in Greenwich, CT, in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the EF this year.

Craig joined the EF in 2014. He has been the Chairman of the EF Angels Group since 2016, actively recruiting New Members to engage with the EF Angels. He was a Founding Committee Member of the Consumer Products Special Interest Group, serving from 2015-2016. Craig has been an independent consultant for the past 10 years and serves on several Advisory Boards. His expertise includes marketing, branding, and digital transformation for start-ups through mid-cap companies.

Marie joined the EF in 2016. She became a Board Member in 2018 as Chair of Special Interest Groups and took on the role of Board Vice President earlier this fall. She co-led the EF Board in developing its strategic plan and has significantly contributed to the EF’s diversity initiative by facilitating the partnership between the EF and the International Women’s Forum of Connecticut. She serves as a member of the Board Nominations Committee, supporting the Board’s succession plan. Currently, she leads the team in implementing the EF’s Vision, Mission, and Values and the strategic implications to support it.

In each instance, the Robert C. Sloane Award has been presented to an individual who has taken the EF to “a new level” and contributed significantly to the overall value of being an EF member. After the board created and presented the first such award in 2004 to Bob Sloane, one of the EF’s three co-founders, each subsequent winner has played a significant role in advancing the EF. 



The weather could not have been better on October 6, 2022 when a small group of EF members shared an awesome evening at the Shenorock Shore Club in Rye. From left to right: Bruce Perlmutter, Jim Sullivan, dinner co-hosts Steve Zales and John Hopper, Judy Levin, Steve Mason, Nicholas Nocca, David Cox and Tim Daniels.


EF’s New Members/MIT Group hosted speaker Greg Monaco in an interactive presentation titled Market Yourself Like a CMO, where he shared insights on developing your personal brand and becoming a magnet for the kind of work you love. He broke down the journey into four “musts” discussed below. Greg is a brand and story coach, who works with authors, entrepreneurs, executives, and artists. Previously, he was a Founding Partner of Monaco Lange, an independent global brand consultancy, and was a Senior Copywriter at Ogilvy helping tell stories for clients like Girl Scouts of the USA, American Express, AT&T Wireless, SAP, and IBM to name a few. EF member Sean O’Toole facilitated this event.

Four “musts” in developing your personal brand:


Figuring out what fuels you beyond the result is key. It’s not what you do, but why you do it that is the foundation of your story. Be the specific solution to a specific problem so you can uniquely deliver it by telling magnetic stories.


Determine who you want to work with, who needs you most and who can afford you. The intersection of those three is your target audience, your bullseye.


Your story is the connective tissue that builds the bridge between you and your audience. Develop a point of view. That’s what people buy. The confidence you have in your point of view will differentiate you.


Get your story out there, making it the foundation of each part of your journey. Lay the groundwork for awareness so folks know who you are, they’ll then show interest in you, which will lead to a hire and others advocating for you.


Executive Forum Launches My Board Journey

The Executive Forum has launched My Board Journey, a product designed to aid members in pursuing board roles. In alignment with their mission to empower senior executives to reach their fullest career potential, this tool is EF’s latest offering. EF surveyed its members and discovered that more than half expressed interest in serving on a board. It’s that very interest that drove the development of this innovative tool. And the timing is perfect. As businesses rise from the pandemic crisis, they are reevaluating the opportunities that will carry them into their next growth moment. As part of that assessment, many organizations are evaluating their boards and adjusting their focus and agenda.

My Board Journey gathers the best of both EF and external resources in a single place. Information is divided into sections, including, a proprietary Board Assessment tool that helps determine if board service is the right move, Board Fundamentals to help expand one’s knowledge base, Compensation & Hiring Trends to help understand the latest hiring trends and sought-after skillsets, and Board Certification which summarizes the best of a multitude of options.


The Beach Point Club, Mamaroneck, NY was the perfect setting on October 27th for this distinguished group of EF members to enjoy a wonderful evening with one another during the Professional Enrichment Dinner.

Seated Left to Right: Barbara Karpinska, Alison Walsh, Denise Denson, Dave Nelson
Standing Left to Right: Kevin McGahren, Peter Santry, Co-Host Bob Sloane, Ted Stone, Tom Morton and Co-Host Andy Glaser


EF’s Fall Leadership Conference “Leading with Grit, Guts and Grace” brought its members and guests the opportunity to listen to, engage with, and learn from some of the best, including Jason Feifer, Editor in Chief, Entrepreneur Magazine and author of Build for Tomorrow, who shared insights on finding the greatest opportunity in times of great change.

Jason delivered a presentation on change and disruption and how we must identify opportunities in our quickly changing world. Jason shared stories and insights from business leaders and innovative CEOs. He also drew lessons from history – from the bubonic plague to Nintendo’s launch of the Wii. He described four phases of change - panic, adaptation, new normal, wouldn’t go back - and how to navigate through them, including widening our lenses so not to miss opportunities simply because our view is too narrow.

He asked us to reconsider the impossible. A change can offer new opportunity. We just may need to shift how we look at the opportunity. Change may force us to step outside the box, but we may find that the best opportunity was outside the box all along. Change shifts the window on options that we are willing to consider.


EF’s Fall Leadership Conference “Leading with Grit, Guts and Grace” brought its members and guests the opportunity to listen to, engage with, and learn from some of the best, including EF Members Zara Ingilizian, Head of Consumer Industries, The World Economic Forum; Randall Beard, CEO, RSB Advisory LLC; and, Michelle Bottomley, Founder, CEO, Modern Growth Exchange who came together to present a roundtable discussion on how to find new patterns in this time of uncertainty and how to execute on  new opportunities. 

Zara addressed the importance of building resilience in an organization, especially as we face a future of volatile politics and economics. Zara described five pillars of resilience, including operational, strategic, financial (risk management), social, and organizational. Having deconstructed resilience, she offered a framework to achieve it including four drivers, resolve (gaining commitment from employees), communications (planning), agility (ability to execute a plan), and empowerment (creating a culture of empowerment, trust, and ownership).

Michelle shared practical approaches to ensure future growth melds purpose with customer-centric insight, all supported by metrics.  The key to resilience is creating and keeping customers. Digital transformation is important but it’s the customer who counts. Determining who are your high value customers (HVC) is the first step. These are customers who represent your highest percentage of revenue and drive most of the category profits. Knowing who they are will help an organization weather the uncertain future. Michelle shared a framework for growth, keeping at its center the importance of a customer centric strategy.

Randall provided insight on the emerging use of agile and AI fueled tools and methods to optimize business planning and product design. He identified three trends, including businesses’ increased use of agile methods; utilization of AI in production, design, and packaging of products; and movement beyond past ROI to market measurement encompassing future predictions.

Following the presentations, the audience was broken up into discussion groups to tackle one of three questions regarding resilience, growth, and agile methods.   


EF’s Fall Leadership Conference “Leading with Grit, Guts and Grace” brought its members and guests the opportunity to listen to, engage with, and learn from some of the best, including Sharon Prince, CEO and Founder, Grace Farms Foundation and Adam Thatcher, CEO, Grace Farms Foods.

Sharon and Adam took the stage to share the story of Grace Farms from inception into the future.  Sharon shared their humanitarian mission to pursue peace though nature, arts, justice, community, faith, and advancing good in the world.

Grace Farms is a cultural and humanitarian center in New Canaan, CT, sitting on 80 acres of reserve land. The River building, embedded in a natural landscape, is designed to break down barriers between people and sectors. It contains a 700-seat amphitheater, a library, a commons area, a tea pavilion and a subterranean basketball court.

“Design for Freedom,” one of their new initiatives, aims to eliminate forced labor from the building materials supply chain. There are 50 million people enslaved today, and that number is growing because of a weak response and a lack of accountability. Grace Farms intends to change that.

Adam runs Grace Farms Foods, a subsidiary that educates the public about the charitable work of Grace Farms Foundation. The brand demonstrates what the Foundation advocates for - ethical and sustainable supply chains in all teas and coffees they sell. They trace the entire supply train from tea gardens in India to the product sold at Grace Farms to ensure every step has a fair-trade international rating, the gold standard.



Great food, wine and conversation were enjoyed by 10 EF members at the October 13, 2022 Penn Club Professional Enrichment Dinner! Seated from left to right: Michael Neuwirth, co-host Stefanie Shelley, Torry Burdick and Zara Ingilizian. Standing from L to R: Chitra Balireddi, Kelly Christiano, co-host Lori Tauber Marcus, Peter Stearn, Randi Schatz and Michelle Crecca.


EF’s Media, Marketing & Insights (MMI) Special Interest Group (SIG) hosted a discussion with Vivek Shah, CEO of Ziff Davis, where he shared his personal journey and insights on a variety of topics which included the struggles media incumbents had pivoting to digital from print media, the importance of “owning your balance sheet,” and the potential of “non-traditional” tie-ups between brands and content organizations. Vivek Shah is CEO of Ziff Davis, Inc., a digital media and internet company whose portfolio includes leading brands Mashable, IGN, PCMag, Speedtest, RetailMeNot, Everyday Health, BabyCenter, Moz, and Vipre, among others. EF member Josh Rucci facilitated the discussion.

Personal Journey

Vivek graduated from Tufts thinking he’d go into foreign policy, but a last minute and unforeseen complication changed his plans. He had been involved in campus publications and decided to pursue that industry. A year later he was at Time, Inc. as the pivot from print to digital was painfully unfolding. The problem the incumbent faced was the “trade of dollars for dimes.”  Time did not “own its balance sheet,” so it couldn’t use its capital to invest in itself. For a startup it would have been an easier transition, but it was a struggle for Time, Inc.

Vivek was given big jobs at an early age. Running Fortune at age 32 enabled him to meet CEOs and global thinkers. In 2009, Vivek was advised to change his path. He’d only ever worked at Time, Inc. and if he stayed too long, he’d never leave. It was time to change his narrative and look for something where he’d be an owner. Vivek looked for a company going digital and struggling. He knew Ziff Davis and brought it to a private equity concern. If he could turn it around – great. If he failed, he’d be seen as a risk taker. Vivek led the acquisition of Ziff Davis when it was a private company and its subsequent sale to publicly traded J2 Global which was later renamed Ziff Davis. Since then, there have been 80 acquisitions. Revenue has grown to $1.4 billion. And Ziff Davis “owns its own balance sheet.”

Insights and Takeaways

  • Important for organizations to “own their own balance sheet” to drive growth through acquisition and make investments.
  • “Multiple Rents” – extract multiple, meaningful revenue streams among advertising, subscriptions, events.
  • Potential of “non-traditional” tie-ups between media and content owners to drive audience acquisition and engagement (examples Penn Gaming/Barstool, Optum/Healthgrades).
  • CMOs are not interested in funding journalism. They want to advance goals for their brands. Deliver real value (e.g., customer acquisition) to marketing partners.
  • Content is consumed via topic searches. Navigation is search based. SEO is key.


EF’s Investing Special Interest Group (SIG) hosted an engaging and educational panel discussion titled Energy Industry in Crisis.  EF members and industry experts Nick Alexander, Mark Gibbens, and John Hartig shared their thoughts on pressing issues; Hassan Tabbah facilitated and John Margaritis hosted.

On the road to zero emissions – is it feasible … by 2050?

In a word – no. At least not in the short term. There’s lots of money being poured into relevant technology but the government incentives in place will last 20 years, so strides will be made but not immediately. Another challenge we face is infrastructure. It’s not set up to move renewable energy around the country and into the homes of the consumers. We need that transformation to take place. Oil companies are heading toward clean energy by advancing research on energy storage technology, but it’s just the start.

What’s the outlook on electric vehicles?

Once upon a time energy used in the consumer’s home was predictable. Not anymore. Distribution must be increased so folks can charge their Tesla. Energy companies will need to forecast how much energy will be needed. They will need to invest in AI to gauge how customers are using energy so they can accommodate that use.

EV’s rely on the lithium battery and the technology is constrained. Producing those batteries is not a green endeavor, and it’s difficult to find the raw materials, not to mention the recycling issues.

Where do we invest in this industry – what are the “picks and shovels”?

Natural gas will play a large role in this sector. There is high demand for this fast and flexible, instantly available energy. The US is the largest LNG exporter in the world. Only about 30% of the gas in the ground gets to consumer’s homes, so investment in technology to increase that efficiency is smart.


Some serious Executive Forum bonding occurred at the Country Club of Darien Professional Enrichment Dinner on September 28, 2022. Attendees included (seated from left to right) Gary Cohen, Gerry Mintz and Katherine Skinner. Standing from left to right are Jon Rubin, dinner co-hosts Don Foscato and Mike Lorelli, Don Ross and David Gitow.


The Executive Forum was honored to feature an enlightening discussion by #VikMalhotra, Head of Americas for McKinsey and co-author of the book CEO Excellence: The Six Mindsets that Distinguish the Best Leaders from the Rest, at our Spring Leadership Conference.

Vik reiterated how important the role of CEO is, yet how few excel. Interviews with 67 elite CEOs yielded six mindsets that separated the best from the rest – and all the elite CEOs excelled at all six mindsets – all the time

Spoiler alert -- the six CEO duties and winning mindsets are below (but don’t miss Vik’s book for the compelling stories that bring these mindsets to life):

  1. Duty: Set the Direction. Mindset: Be bold. Push the envelope and do more than just get the organization to the next level. Set the vision early on
  2. Duty: Align the Organization. Mindset: Treat the soft stuff as the hard stuff. Pay close attention to culture and talent. Think through key roles and assign top performers accordingly.
  3. Duty: Mobilize through Leaders. Mindset: Solve for the team’s psychology. Don’t create a team of stars, create a star team. These CEOs’ biggest regret is they didn’t act fast enough to find the right talent.
  4. Duty: Engage the Board. Mindset: Help directors help the business. Build foundations of trust and engage them in an effective manner.
  5. Duty: Connect with Stakeholders. Mindset: Start with “why”. Spend significant time with customers and/or clients, and always look to learn.
  6. Duty: Manage Personal Effectiveness. Mindset: Do what only you can do. Be relentless on managing your calendar and energy management. Excel at compartmentalizing issues and stay humble.



The Executive Forum is grateful to #PeterGleason, President & CEO of the National Association for Corporate Directors, for speaking at our Spring Leadership conference.

Interviewed by EF Member Allan Grafman, Peter shared his wisdom on a range of topics, including the issues that are top of mind for boards today:

  • Economic uncertainty and inflation, including people issues/the “great resignation”
  • War in Ukraine and its impact on trade, embargoes, and energy
  • ESG and compliance, as well as cyber-security
  • Board make-up and longevity – attracting diversity and how quota help or hurt, how long board members should serve, and the cost of retaining board members who are no longer adding enough value


Yet another insightful session from the Executive Forum Spring Leadership Conference featured EF members Christine Dellecave (Thought Leader and CEO of Dellecave Consulting) and Karon Joyner on the New World of Work.

A few best practices shared by these experts:

  • Talent acquisition and engagement - There is no silver bullet and compensation is just one of many levers. Walk the talk with a clear purpose, mission, and values.
  • Development: invest in training and skills to create a talent marketplace internally and save the time (and potential costs) of looking outside first.
  • Diversity and inclusion – work hand in hand with equity and belonging. Every leader needs to be accountable for DEI.
  • Focus on why people stay: use “stay interviews” to give people a voice and be deliberate about your commitment in the employee value proposition.
  • Workplace: In most industries hybrid is here to stay, so continue to find ways to adapt to this since employees are demanding this and want the continued flexibility.
  • Leadership: Every leader is an HR leader. The CHRO is a facilitator of people programs and a trusted partner for all leaders. Don't think of HR as the team “responsible for people”.



NEW YORK (February 16, 2022) – The Executive Forum (EF) announced the appointment of seven new board members, each having made significant contributions to the growth and evolution of the organization.

New board members include Stephen Cassell, EF Brand & External Marketing; Mark DeGennaro, Secretary; Robyn D’Elia, Treasurer; Barbara McCartney, EF Leadership Conference, and Member Events; Jessica Perry, Member Engagement; Lisa Rosenberg, EF Brand & External Marketing and Andy Yost, Member Engagement.

“We could not be more excited by the energy and new ideas that each of them brings to the organization. By combining the talents of Stephen, Mark, Robyn, Barbara, Jessica, Lisa, and Andy with those of the existing members of the Board, we know that the Executive Forum will continue to add tremendous value to the organization and its membership,” said newly elected Co-Chairs, Executive Forum Cheryl Palmer and Scott Smith.

  • Mark DeGennaro will serve as EF Secretary with immediate effect. In his career as an Attorney at White & Case; Chief Operating Officer for boutique investment bank Gruppo, Levey & Co.; Managing Director for the financial services firm Collingwood Group and its successor firm SitusAMC; and Managing Director of Edvantage Initiatives, an Edtech accelerator at the University of Southern California, Mark is both a strategic business executive and accomplished attorney.
  • Robyn D’Elia succeeds Kevin McEnery as EF Treasurer. Robyn is a strategic financial leader and the former CFO of Bed Bath & Beyond, a Fortune 500 omnichannel retailer. During her 20+ year career with the Company, Robyn took on progressive responsibility for every aspect of the accounting and finance function while the Company’s revenue grew from $800M to over $11.5B through organic growth, acquisitions, digital transformation, and international expansion. 
  • Lisa Rosenberg and Stephen Cassell will co-lead the newly created EF Brand & External Marketing committee. Both Lisa and Stephen have enjoyed successful careers in strategic leadership roles at major global companies. Lisa held key roles with both Havas PR and Porter Novelli, a global PR firm within Omnicom, and is currently Partner and President, Consumer Brands, at Allison + Partners, a global marketing and communications agency. Throughout her career, Lisa has worked with some of the world’s leading brands including Budweiser, Gillette, M&M/Mars, PepsiCo, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, and American Airlines. A noted industry leader, Lisa is often quoted on brand and marketing trends and has served on numerous award juries, including Cannes Lions, The Clios, Brand Film Festival, Sabre Awards, Silver Anvils, Snackable Content, and PRWeek Awards, among others. She has been recognized by PRovoke Media as an Innovator 25, by PRWeek as a Hall of Femme, and a Champion of PR and has won more than 40 awards on behalf of her clients. Stephen has spearheaded transformative, global growth for some of the world’s most recognizable brands, including Cigna, J.P. Morgan Chase, American Express, and HSBC. Most recently Stephen, as Fortune 13 Cigna’s Enterprise Chief Brand Officer, led efforts resulting in the establishment of the new brand operating structure for the $165B revenue enterprise and the launch of the data-driven, digital-first Evernorth, a new $100B health services organization under the Cigna umbrella. An industry thought leader, Stephen has received multiple Cannes Lion (Gold, Silver, Bronze), Shorty, Webby, Gold Pencil, and Effie awards for growth-oriented business and marketing innovations.
  • Jessica Perry and Andy Yost will co-lead Member Engagement. In addition to serving on the former Community Platform committee since joining the EF and on the EF Brand committee since its formation earlier this year, both are also exceptionally well-qualified professionally for their new roles on the EF Board. After foundational roles in digital marketing, business development, content, and product development at Dow Jones, Jessica served as VP, Product Planning & Operations at Conde Nast, VP/General Manager for Atlantic Media, and SVP Publishing and Media and Chief Digital Officer at SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) for 5+ years. Following his career foundation in increasingly responsible marketing roles at American Express, Andy served as SVP Marketing at Columbia House, Dow Jones, and Viacom before taking on CMO roles at Gannett, future of work startup HighPerformFlex, and, since June 2021, with healthtech start-up Kinsa.
  • Barbara McCartney succeeds Angus Gephart as Chair, EF Leadership Conference and Member Events. Prior to accepting her new role, Barbara served as Co-Chair for the EF Member-In-Transition program, working closely with EF Board member Sean O’Toole to revitalize and modernize that program. In her professional life, she is the founding CEO of Trofi Nutritionals which is on a mission to optimize personal health through next-generation nutritional solutions.  Before founding Trofi, Barbara established an outstanding record of accelerating growth in the food, nutrition, and wellness industries in executive, marketing, and innovation leadership roles at Nestle, Pillsbury, Abbott, Unilever, and Hyde Park Group Food Innovation which helps early to midsize companies increase momentum via disruptive product news and channel expansion.

In addition to these recent appointments; and, after successfully leading the EF’s Community Platform initiative, current board members Mitch Gross and David Steward are elected to co-lead Executive Forum’s New Business Development and are charged with shaping the organization’s growth initiatives and ensuring continued value for all members.

About the Executive Forum
The Executive Forum is a volunteer-led organization for accomplished top executives who are a premier source of modern executive talent and see their careers as a journey and not a destination. A community of c-suite-level executives from leading corporations, private equity firms, boards, and independent consultancies, the EF provides an unparalleled, diverse network of collaborative, connected, and growth-focused leaders and experts who are committed to - supporting one another. For more information, visit 



EF’s Technology Special Interest Group (SIG) hosted speaker Michael Leckie in an insightful presentation and workshop titled Escape from the Emerald City - The 7 Myths of Change & Transformation, where he dispelled common misperceptions about change in organizations, including those below. Michael is the former Chief Learning Officer for the Digital Industrial Transformation at General Electric (GE) and is currently founding partner of Silverback Partners, LLC, an organizational consultancy. He also held the position of Managing Vice President in Gartner's Executive Programs business. EF member Steve Adler facilitated this presentation.

Change management is about technology

No, it’s not. It’s human. Change is a human capability everyone possesses. Embracing change or rejecting change occurs at the individual level. Change behavior, change the conversation, and the systems and technology will follow. 

Change Leadership means establishing the path and ensuring people stay on it

Sure, establish a goal, but do NOT lay out all the steps to attain it. Leaders should go first and make the path safe.

Leaders articulate changes and followers make the changes

Leaders need to experience the change first so they can empathize with those who follow. They need to talk about their own change journey so others can see a way through. People tend to do what they see, not what they’re told.

Leaders institute new beliefs to drive change

Behaviors change beliefs—not the other way around. New beliefs don’t take hold until old beliefs are discovered and disconfirmed one person at a time. So, start with pockets of least resistance, create legends and stories, and gain momentum over time.