2 & 3Q19 Highlights

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“Mind-blowing.”

-worldwide business consultancy managing partner

We’re pretty sure that quote was meant as a compliment and we humbly accept it. The executive underwent WPNT Ltd. Executive Communications Coaching & Rehearsal in New York for a keynote speech to 300 C-suite leaders. That was just one engagement of a busy second and third quarter. It also saw the roll-out of new programs as well as overseas travel to support clients. Also, we’ve come up with an alternative to the dreaded word ‘boss.’ Read on.

  • A series of WPNT Ltd.- designed Stakeholder Communications webinars were conducted for professionals in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Japan, Latin America and North America surrounding the spinoff of their division to a stand-alone, public company. Attendees were provided with counsel and templates for how to communicate this major change and its effect on stakeholder relationships.

  • To pre-empt questions from clients and prospective clients in unforeseen situations that become public, WPNT Ltd. designed a webinar for this professional services firm called Communications Readiness. The goal was to align firm leaders on orientation and messaging in unplanned situations.

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  • In an effort to maximize revenue generation, WPNT Ltd. designed and conducted Networking to Drive Business Development for consultants and partners of this executive search firm. The course emphasized practical strategies and techniques (digital and face-to-face) for expanding professional networks.

  • WPNT Ltd. spent a week in Switzerland for business unit leaders of this medical device company. Almost 30 leaders were supported with WPNT Ltd.’s Executive Communications Coaching.

  • As part of their executive development, WPNT Ltd. has been retained by private equity and mobile payment firms to provide on-going communications coaching for valued leaders of their respective companies.

  • New C-suite leaders of this biotech firm, participating in their first New York investor meeting were prepped by WPNT Ltd. during Executive Communications Coaching & Rehearsal which took place outside San Francisco.

  • WPNT Ltd. has expanded its private equity client roster with a new, tech-focused firm with offices on both coasts. Elsewhere at a long-time PE client, members of one of its specialized funds underwent Executive Communications Coaching for deal team and portfolio company management meetings.

  • As part of its on-going effort to position and elevate team members’ expertise, another cohort of specialists from this travel and credit card client participated in Executive Media Training for the Content Expert. WPNT Ltd. Press Corps Associate Pat Peeples provided real time stories during the program.

  • As a follow-up to the Customer Service Communications workshops held in 4Q18, Communication Clinics were conducted over two days for this worldwide machinery maker. The private sessions focused on continuing development for tech team members in Atlanta.

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  • For the ninth year, MBA interns assigned to general management, treasury and marketing functions for this science & technology company received communications coaching from WPNT Ltd. The Executive Presentation Skills programs were followed by midterm and final presentation rehearsals during the summer in advance of the interns sharing their project findings with senior leadership.

  • Stephanie Nora White supported two, graduate classes of Northwestern University’s Integrated Marketing Communications program with lectures on messaging.

  • Are you one of the many who dislikes the word ‘boss’ yet are frustrated by lack of a suitable alternative? Check out wpntld.com/Insights and read how ‘LINC’ might be just the ticket.

  • Looking ahead to 4Q19, keep an eye out for a new look to the brand and website. Same logo, same company mission, but a fresh look.

Hey Boss… Time for a Name Change

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…At Long Last, a Meaningful Alternative

By Stephanie Nora White

Never before have so many new words entered the English lexicon at such rapid speed.

Inspired largely by the never-ending proliferation of technology in our lives and a rash of national political and social movements, we now have “political words of the year,” “digital words of the year,” and even “WTF words of the year.” New words in 2018 included “mansplainer,” with a likely 2019 addition being “complexifier” (courtesy of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’, ahem, complex love life and business holdings).

According to the Global Language Monitor, a new English-language word is created every 98 minutes, or about 5,366 a year. Linguistic-loving organizations such as Merriam-Webster and the American Dialect Society have made a publicity-generating cottage industry out of publicizing, ranking and legitimizing the continuous stream of new words.

Perhaps even more intriguing are old words that have gotten new meanings. Think “cloud,” “handle” “troll,” “dumpster fire,” “rogue” and “lodestar.”

But what’s the one word many of us detest at worst and tolerate at best, which never seems to go away? “Boss.” It’s a word that just won’t die, despite the widespread aversion to it, and its particularly repugnant pedagogy.

Boss is an English bastardization of the Dutch word “baas,” which roughly means “master.” It emerged as a less-offensive alternative in the time of slavery, according to 1872’s Americanisms: The English of the New World. In more contemporary times, boss “became a convenient moniker for the rising capitalistic equivalent of the corporate figurehead,” according to U.S. author, photographer and “guerrilla historian” Jonathan Haeber. Nonetheless, such odious phrases as “my boss is a slave driver” endured, and in too many circles over too many years, employees of all ranks disdained the word. It has a bluntness to it, a lack of humanity, and its boorish phonetic sound doesn’t inspire worker bees to “lean in.” Complexifying the situation is the often-byzantine structure of today’s matrixed workplaces.

So, we propose a placement for “boss”: LINC™, which stands for “leader in charge.” Whether someone is an executive vice president reporting to the CEO, or a coordinator reporting to a specialist, LINC covers it. The letter “L” is more lilting and friendly than its brutish-sounding predecessor. Besides, “leader in charge” actually means something, and is free of the baggage of one of the country’s most reprehensible chapters. LINC also should work equally well in left-brain-driven computer science and engineering companies that have never encountered an acronym they didn’t like, and in right-brain-dominant creative design labs and think tanks.

So, who’s with us? Can we star six “boss” and wordsmith it with “LINC”?


Stephanie Nora White is managing partner of WPNT Ltd. The U.S.-based firm has provided communications training and strategy to organizations worldwide from Fortune 300 companies to Silicon Valley start-ups for more than 20 years. Follow her on Twitter at @WPNTLtd.

1Q19 Highlights

A busy first quarter is being followed by another moving at an even quicker pace. Here are some of the ways in which WPNT Ltd. supported clients in the healthcare, animal pharma, private equity, media and manufacturing space in the first quarter.

  • Stakeholder Communications messaging webinars, facilitated by WPNT Ltd. got underway for this eye care company in advance of its spin-off from a global pharma maker. The goal is to harmonize communications efforts with key audiences across North America, Asia, Europe, The Middle East, Africa, Japan, and Latin America as the new company emerges. Relatedly, the executive leadership team underwent WPNT Ltd.’s Executive Media Training in preparation for related business media interviews including with CNBC.

  • WPNT Ltd. will find itself back at this international, materials machine maker in Q2 for more Customer Service Communications Coaching with the tech team. Members are challenged as the company is enjoying success and thus growing call volume while learning a new customer service IT system.

  • C-suite leaders of this international building contractor participated in an Executive Communications Coaching program with an eye toward an important analyst call. After undergoing significant reorganization and change, the team is working to build confidence with sell side analysts. The company is known for some of the most iconic structures around the world.

  • Three days of Executive Communications Coaching were completed for managers at this leading asset management firm. Elsewhere in the company, WPNT Ltd. aided with rehearsal coaching in advance of one of the firm’s annual investor conferences.

  • Bloggers and journalists of this internet travel site underwent Executive Media Training for the Content Expert. The team is seeking to widen its exposure and elevate its expertise across other media platforms.

  • Again in the quarter, WPNT Ltd. was retained to rehearse business leaders with their talks at this animal health company’s national sales meeting. The gathering regularly draws close to a thousand attendees.

  • In the spirit of continuous improvement and professional development, WPNT Ltd. attended this year’s SXSW Ideas Festival in Austin. The word heard throughout was ‘empathy,’ that being the need for it in AI and algorithms. Interesting as that is considered a key pathway to connection in communications.

4Q18 Highlights

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“You rock. Your coaching was extraordinary and the way you boosted my confidence and capabilities was one of the best coaching interventions I’ve had in my 30-year career. Thank you for your support and brilliance.” — global business unit head, healthcare

“This was an intense, fantastic two days. One of the most useful training experiences of my career.” — global communications leader, medical devices

  • Communications leaders of this international medical device and bioscience leader near Chicago took part in a two-day, WPNT Ltd. Executive Media Training program. The program was designed not only around skill improvement, but strategies for strengthening their work as internal communications counselors with senior leadership. Two, WPNT Ltd. Press Corps members assisted with print interview simulations and submitted stories.

  • Customer Service Communications Coaching continues in 1Q19 for this Italy-based woodworking machinery & systems company, following sessions in 4Q18. The workshops took place at the U.S. headquarters outside Atlanta. Simulations were conducted by WPNT Ltd. Associate Doug Reitz whose background in voice over work and music performance brought real world nuance to the sessions.

  • WPNT Ltd. provided the talk for the inaugural event of this women’s affinity group in New York City. In addition to networking time, the group is making communications skills content part of their meetings. Elsewhere in this asset management firm and in advance of year-end evaluations, WPNT Ltd. provided Performance Review Coaching to managers in Ft. Worth. In San Francisco, Executive Communications Coaching and Communications Clinics were held for emerging leaders.

  • In advance of investor conferences at the New York Stock Exchange and in London, WPNT Ltd. conducted Executive Communications Coaching & Rehearsals with five senior leaders. This medical products maker is expected to formally spinoff from its parent company. About 150 supply side analysts and other investors attended between the two cities.

  • Half a dozen vice presidents of this global payments company in Silicon Valley participated in WPNT Ltd.’s Executive Communications Coaching. They represented the global customer operations team.

  • “Sans the Sex, What if a Kavanaugh/Ford-like Incident Strikes Your Organization” appeared in the October issue of CEOWorld. Penned by WPNT Ltd.’s Stephanie Nora White, it addresses what business leaders can learn from it.

The Nature Conservancy

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Whether it’s expanding urban green space, supporting the increasing use of renewable energy, improving working lands or protecting existing forest, grass and wetlands, the Nature Conservancy takes the approach of science and collaboration with business to make a difference. TNC’s scientists and biologists work closely with chemists, engineers, entrepreneurs, economists and financiers at leading companies to further incorporate and enhance sustainability practices. For more than 100 years, TNC looks at science- based solutions with maximum impact. It can be green practices in a cemetery, reef restoration or green infrastructure for storm water management. TNC believes that nature, particularly in cities is a first line of defense for climate change.

■ Sans the Sex, What if a Kavanaugh/Ford-Like Incident Strikes Your Organization?

by Stephanie White for CEOWorld Magazine, October 2018

by Stephanie White for CEOWorld Magazine, October 2018

The allegations, recriminations and public spectacle have subsided after the messiest Supreme Court nomination proceedings in more than a quarter-century, and the court has seated a new justice, Brett Kavanaugh.

But with Democrats potentially poised to take the U.S House of Representatives in the Nov. 6 midterm elections, and multiple national mainstream news organizations reporting that, if victorious, the new majority party will renew its investigation and possibly move to impeach the junior justice, it’s likely the controversy that surrounded his confirmation is far from over.

In the meantime, what can business and organizational leaders take away from the episode? What lessons emerged that can help them protect their organizations and ensure their employees and organizations aren’t marred by an analogous incident?

Let’s consider a hypothetical devoid of the sensationalism of alleged sexual misdeeds. Susan is a trusted lieutenant who has spent her entire career in your organization’s finance operations. On the eve of a major promotion to the organization’s senior leadership ranks, Susan is accused of embezzlement more than two decades ago. At the time, Susan was an entry-level employee, and the organization was fledgling, with few systematic financial controls. Managerial and operational changes since then make it impossible to prove the most serious accusations. However, it’s clear from recollections of former employees that Susan’s record-keeping was shoddy, and her proclivity for providing over-the-top entertainment and gifts for customers and vendors would violate the organization’s current policies. Although she’s had her detractors regarding management and policy issues, Susan has had a solid performance record, and been regularly promoted.

Almost more concerning than the initial allegations, however, is Susan’s reaction to them. She was loudly defensive and belligerent when asked about with the accusations. She forcefully responds that this is the work of a powerful minority within the organization, set on taking down one of the highest-ranking women in the company. She vehemently denies all negative assertions about her behavior, including recollections several former co-workers have about drunken junkets with customers. She offers seemingly disingenuous explanations for a few of the lesser, but still troubling, anecdotes. Her response doesn’t appear to be about setting the record straight, but about saying whatever she thinks will salvage her reputation and position of authority within the organization.

The way the episode has unfolded means it’s well-known through much of the organization. The executive team must decide how—of even if—the allegations will be addressed, including whether Susan receives the long-expected promotion to the organization’s highest ranks.

Avoiding “Willful Blindness” in Responding

Even if it becomes clear that it’s impossible to conclusively prove that a crime occurred, organizational leaders still have a responsibility to consider what did happen, and weigh what their response will communicate about the organization.

Enter the concept of “willful blindness,” which businesswoman and author Margaret Heffernan popularized in a best-selling book of the same name. Heffernan defines willful blindness as the complex process by which people choose not to see troubling or difficult behaviors because it’s more comfortable for them at the time not to know, a form of plausible deniability that makes them equally blind to the possible consequences of their inaction.

When institutions and organizations evaluate situations like Kavanaugh’s and Susan’s, their analysis can boil down to a two-part question: When is a person’s defense a white lie—a negligible untruth told to spare feelings or prevent embarrassments? And when is it a misrepresentation or obfuscation—including events that may be less serious than those initially alleged, but are still very troubling, and which call the individual’s judgement and veracity into question?

If it’s the latter, the episode provides important insight into a person’s character that should not be ignored, and certainly should not be rewarded.

Susan’s employer may determine that, given her performance over the bulk of her tenure, that her career and reputation should not be destroyed by these belated revelations. However, rewarding her defensiveness, anger and belligerence, and overlooking the less serious, but still troubling incidents that subsequently came to light will ultimately cost the organization more than the benefits of promoting her.

Senate leaders and President Donald Trump made the calculation that the political payoff of confirming Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court was worth the reputational damage his ascendancy will do to the Senate and the court. History will be the final arbiter of the wisdom of their decision. If you take a similar tack, first consider whether the fallout for your organization ultimately may be more existential.

■ Hurricanes Florence & Michael

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As natural disasters become more frequent and powerful, response efforts are always increasing.  To assist the Red Cross in aiding victims of Hurricanes Florence and Michael WPNT Ltd. is providing on-going financial support. Even weeks after the hurricane carrying record amounts of rain made landfall, rivers continue to rise and flooding has ensued.  Tens of thousand of residents have been displace in the Carolinas and Virginia. Entire livestock populations have been decimated. Officials say it will be months before the economies in those states are normalized.

■ 3Q18 Highlights

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“Amazing learnings.”
market development leader, North America
global science & technology company

“We were awarded the work! The training with you couldn’t have come at a better time. We used it to prepare…including using the message model.
- senior consultant, Europe
professional services firm

”It was phenomenal and completely changed my perspective”
- journalist, financial e-publisher

  • In preparation for a motivational talk circuit with high school students in economically challenged cities, this well-known investor and philanthropist received WPNT Ltd. coaching during rehearsal. His rags-to-riches life story was made famous in an Academy Award-nominated movie.

  • Select members of this international leadership development program representing Mexico, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Spain, and the UAE took part in WPNT Ltd.’s Executive Communications Coaching has they prepare for presentations in 4Q18. The coaching is one component of a year-long professional development program at this global chemical producer.

  • With its acquisition of a European partner, this professional services firm is beginning its evolution as a global player. WPNT Ltd. provided Executive Communications for Teams to help standardize some of the selling processes between leaders of the UK office and members of the healthcare practice. 

  • Wrapping up their summer internships, MBA interns at this worldwide specialty materials company were prepped for their presentations to senior leadership by WPNT Ltd.

  • As it continues its strategy to reposition its accountants and IT leaders as best in class consultants with internal and external stakeholders, WPNT Ltd. worked with ten managers of this asset management company. Four programs were conducted and include team and private coaching components.

  • WPNT Ltd.’s Janice Hayes served as press corps during an Executive Media Training for the Content Expert program for a quartet of journalists.  The reporters are extending their financial consumer website’s brand by serving as subject matter experts on business cable channels.

  • Look for “Helping Kids with Communications Skills in Today’s Screen- Driven World” which will be featured on Nextavenue.org. during October 2018. Authored by WPNT Ltd., the article addresses the obstacles and opportunities in finding ways to teach children interactive communications skills in a tech-dependent world.

■ 2Q18 Highlights

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“The communications training session with WPNT Ltd.

was the most useful I have ever had on the topic. 

Really outstanding.”  

Global business unit leader, medtech

 

“Game changing. I’m an avid user.”

C-suite executive, technology

 

  • WPNT Ltd. supported a number of clients during May, a traditionally busy month for investor conferences.  On the west coast, leaders of a technology firm and an asset management firm underwent Executive Communications Coaching & Rehearsals over the course of a month in advance of their meetings.  Elsewhere, a well-known global medtech company’s team of eight senior leaders participated in a similar coaching schedule in anticipation of their New York meeting with investors.  Share price at both public companies rose following the conferences.

 

  • Having a ‘tsunami of scenarios’ to which participants had to respond, WPNT Ltd. created this specialized program for a Pennsylvania-based energy company called Communicating in Crisis & Controversy.  Four WPNT Ltd. Associates with backgrounds in transportation and improvisation assisted with the day-and-a-half long program.  A round robin of eight crisis scenarios were created involving various stakeholder audiences and venues.  Participants had limited time to message and respond to each one.  One participant, whose Fitbit stress feature was triggered remarked, “Thanks for putting together the incredible training.  This accomplished exactly what I wanted.”

 

  • Physicians with immunotherapy and organ transplant expertise at this Mid-Atlantic health system participated in an Executive Media Training for the Content Expert program designed by WPNT Ltd.  The doctors not only addressed new disease treatment technologies but are working to raise awareness of living donors as a first option when considering organ transplantation.

 

  • Continuing its commitment to enhanced communications skills to drive performance, WPNT Ltd. made two visits in the quarter to this Texas investment firm.  Each four-day run Included Executive Communications Coaching, WPNT Ltd.’s predicate program, Communications Clinic for those seeking continuing development in a private setting, and another day for Performance Review Coaching which provides a format for managers to effectively critique their teams.

 

  • Summer internships for the 2018 roster of MBAs at this global science and technology firm have begun.  Representing Harvard, Michigan and Northwestern, the MBAs kicked off their internships with Executive Presentation Skills Training conducted by WPNT Ltd.  Our firm will support them again two more times this summer.

 

  • Speaking to approximately 25 graduate students at Northwestern University, WPNT Ltd. addressed crisis communications as a component of the integrated marketing communications program there. In addition, each student was interviewed to better understand the real life pressure of messaging in an emergency.

■ Safeguarding Marine Life

West Papua, Indonesia—the epicenter of global marine diversity—is home to more species of fish and coral than anywhere else in the world. This largely untouched region also supports the second largest rainforest and the largest mangrove forest—a critical buffer to climate change.  But, its riches are a constant attraction for exploitation and recently, the region has come under increasing threat from marine and terrestrial pressures. Blue Sphere Foundation—in partnership with Conservation International— is working to engage local communities and politicians to protect the area.  WPNT Ltd. is providing financial support to the cause.

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■ 1Q18 Highlights

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“The opportunity to work with you was truly a gift.”  -vice president, investor relations Fortune 300

“This (coaching program) was a game changer for me.”  -consultant, professional services firm

 

  • WPNT Ltd. provided coaching and rehearsal to almost a dozen senior leaders of this global pharmaceutical company during its annual sales meeting. More than a thousand attendees gathered in Dallas.

 

  • In advance of his participation at the SXSW conference in Austin, WPNT Ltd. supported this panelist with Executive Communications Coaching & Rehearsal. His remarks and responses focused on balancing quantitative and qualitative information in digital transformations and product development.
     
  • WPNT Ltd. conducted a strategy session for a professional services client for the formal roll out of a new service category. The session focused on audience analysis and product differentiators and benefits.
     
  • Effective Communications for the Written & Spoken Word is a new WPNT Ltd. workshop for staff and aspiring professionals. Despite the ubiquity of email, few have been counseled on how to maximize its effectiveness. This intensive and interactive workshop provides the architecture and skill-building for improved emails and spoken communications with supervisors.
     
  • “What if Trump Led Rather than Bullied, Blamed and Boasted?” That’s the title of a commentary in CEOWorld by WPNT Ltd.’s Stephanie Nora White. The piece is a cautionary tale for business leaders about the importance of developing and protecting credibility. “Teaching our Kids to Talk in a Screen Driven World: Practice” also authored by Stephanie emphasizes the urgent need to ensure practice opportunities in everyday life for children. 
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  • WPNT Ltd. is pleased to announce a new partnership with Bruce J. Zanca. Bruce is an award-winning strategist, message architect and consultant. He has counseled C-Suite and corporate board members on investor relations, crisis communications and corporate marketing issues. He worked as a C-suite executive himself at four publicly traded businesses; assisting three of them to complete initial public offerings and helping to bring one public company private. Bruce served as a White House spokesperson and advisor to three presidential administrations.

■ What if Trump Led Rather than Boasted, Blamed and Bullied?

A Cautionary Tale for Business Leaders On the Value of Credibility & Empathy. From the size of his hands to the size of his first “State of the Union” TV audience,  President Donald Trump has spent the two-and-a-half years of his candidacy and presidency getting caught in outright lies, maligning everyone from American immigrants and Red Star families to a former Miss Universe, and taking credit for successes over which he had little control.

“President Trump has, so far, tarnished the reputation of business experience in public service, but good business skills are about sound leadership, which is consistent with good politics, and a quality that is badly needed in American government,” Dan Glickman, vice president of the Aspen Institute, and a former Congressmen and U.S. secretary of agriculture, recently opined. 

■ Teaching our Kids to Talk to People in Today's Screen Driven World: Practice

Lack of human connection now cuts across just about every aspect of our lives—from receiving health care to buying everything from groceries to gas. And the implications can be especially unsettling for our children, who are growing up with fewer opportunities to practice and master the art of face-to-face interaction.  Read more about what WPNT Ltd. managing partner Stephanie Nora Whitesays are everyday opportunities for kids to get practice for these life dress rehearsals.

■ Don't Count On An NFL Defense; Free Speech Rights Aren't Guaranteed In The Workplace

ESPN host Jemele Hill, Goldman Sachs president-turned presidential economic advisor Gary Cohn and fired Google engineer James Damore have all learned the same painful lesson in the past few months. Despite what many Americans may believe — and what unfolded at the start of a number of NFL games this past weekend — there are few, if any, freedom of speech rights in the workplace.