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Discovering what it really takes to “own” your future

Much has been written about entrepreneurs and their indelible mark made on business and history. As someone who created and built a firm, I’ve often thought about – as we’ve scaled the organization – how I can nurture and cultivate the drive and spirit of entrepreneurialism that ignites value creation and growth. The answer hasn’t always been clear or even coherent over the years, but I’ve certainly begun to see a pattern emerge. In effect, what should an entrepreneur look for in talent that signifies an entrepreneurial bent that should be recognized and developed?

Of course, any organization must possess a cacophony of voices and attitudes to succeed. But in today’s incredibly volatile marketplace, which demands a high level of curiosity, quality and analysis, increasing the number of people who think, act and share like owners or entrepreneurs is a priority.

After much observation and years of experience, I’ve discovered that the number one characteristic of an entrepreneur’s entrepreneur rests with one crucial technique: Decision-making. Making decisions decisively and deliberating to produce results.

If there is one thing that entrepreneurs such as myself act on without much debate, it is making decisions. No committees, little debate, strong facts and confidence in making it all work.

Entrepreneurs all share a common mindset. At W2O, that mindset is shaped by the following:

Be the Best – Everything starts with showing up for clients the best we can. Every interaction, deliverable, meeting and idea must deliver results.

Analytics – The core of our firm is based on precision insights off of in-depth analysis. Entrepreneurs capture information to inform decisions.

Agility – Moving with speed, determination and confidence and accelerating decision-make so the firm can move ahead is essential.

Collaboration  Entrepreneurs are often misjudged as being loners in terms of their thoughts. In reality, entrepreneurs relish multiple inputs and ideas to ensure the best approach.

Relentless Optimism  An entrepreneur’s entrepreneur only sees the opportunity and the potential ahead.

Purpose – As with anything worth pursuing, believing in a core purpose or reason to be is essential. At our firm, our mission is to make the world a healthier place through marketing communications.

Picking up Paper  One of the most impressionable experiences in my career was when I found myself picking up paper from the floor at work after a number of colleagues ignored it. This continued through the formative years at W2O and continues today. This became a metaphor for how to act like an owner. There is no task beneath us.

No Walls  Making things happen, which is the mark of a successful entrepreneur, is tantamount to moving seamlessly throughout the organization to deliver results for  clients.

There is something about an entrepreneur that is fundamentally different from anybody else. We play by different rules and never operate in boxes. Our goal is clear: make decisions so the business can move and innovate quickly and with confidence.

As an entrepreneur, I’ve found that this has served me and the firm well as we’ve grown and evolved. Finding that next generation of entrepreneurs working alongside our talented people will determine our forward trajectory.

In summary, we can never forget that performance always counts. Regardless whether you are an entrepreneurial thinker or a highly productive professional, behavior makes it happen.

The entrepreneur’s entrepreneur is actually someone with a heightened sense of responsibility and accountability.

Jim 


If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About and Healthcare pages.

Want to chat? Drop us a line.

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We recently announced that Barbara Pinto, former network news reporter, has joined W2O as Practice Leader of Executive Communications. As a senior communications executive, veteran television journalist, and anchor at some of the world’s leading news outlets, Barbara has significant expertise that she will bring to our clients.

I had the opportunity to pick Barbara’s brain and learn about her career journey, passion for journalism, and vision for expanding and strengthening our Executive Communications practice. Check out our interview below.

What initially piqued your interest in journalism?

I’ve always loved the power of a good story. As a kid, I was the one buried in a book – oblivious to all else. I’m also rabidly curious – my family would say “nosy.” Combine that with a love of words and writing, a keen sense of adventure and not-so-hot grades in math, and journalism was the perfect fit. It’s a front-row-seat to everything, and a great way to learn something new every day.

One of your first journalism jobs was with WFSB-TV in Hartford, Connecticut. How did you land that opportunity? 

I had always wanted to be a foreign correspondent and landed my first journalism job on the Foreign News Desk at the Associated Press. My office was just a few floors above NBC News at 30 Rock, and it was a thrill to work in the same building as NBC News, TODAY and SNL and occasionally catch a glimpse of famous folks in the elevator. At that time, you had to pass a current events test and grammar test to land the position. I was there all of two weeks when my mother, who had been diagnosed with cancer, experienced a pretty significant setback, so I quit my job and moved back home to upstate New York to help care for her. I found a job at a small radio station doing “morning drive” news, which allowed me to care for my mom during the day. The job involved reporting, writing and anchoring local news and reading the school lunch menu – it was “pizza and milk” every Friday. This was a pivotal stage of life in so many ways –as a daughter, caregiver and patient advocate. It also sparked my deep interest in healthcare and medicine.

You have worked for several of the major networks including ABC, PBS and CNBC. With the media landscape changing so dramatically, what does the future look like for major networks?

I wish I knew! The person who can answer that question will rule the news universe. For years, the networks were considered dinosaurs lumbering toward the tar pits. I’m not so sure that’s the case. We’re seeing them morph into content production machines that feed digital, broadcast and OTT (Over The Top) channels, and that transformation is ongoing. This provides a great opportunity for us and our clients as the demand for news and relevant content – by channel –expands.

While you were at PBS, you co-hosted a show called “In the Loop.” Tell us what that experience was like, especially leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

“In the Loop” was a terrific project. My former ABC News Nightline colleague Chris Bury and I helped develop and launch the show. We designed it to be a hybrid of all of the things we loved about journalism – investigative work, politics and quirky feature pieces on something unique to Chicago that folks might not know. It was great to moderate civil and respectful conversations between people of all political persuasions to try to generate understanding and elevate the public discourse.

You have now been coaching/training executives for high-level media opportunities for almost 10 years. What has surprised you the most during this process?

I’m always pleasantly surprised by C-Suite executives at the highest level who are brilliant, yet coachable, and who realize the importance of our work in helping sharpen their performance. It’s wonderful to build those trusted relationships and watch people develop and grow their skills. It’s always a thrill to watch someone “ace” a presentation or interview, knowing how much hard work went into making it happen.

You will be working with fellow rock stars Mike Huckman and Patrick Ryan on the Executive Communications team. What are you most looking forward to?

Mike and I worked together as correspondents at CNBC, and Patrick is a fellow CNBC alum. I’m excited to work alongside them in this new role. I look forward to collaborating with and learning from both of them as we expand and strengthen the practice.

You mention in your Twitter bio that you are a “world traveler.” Where is the coolest place you have ever visited and why?

My favorite place is always somewhere I haven’t been yet! One of the most unusual was an island off the coast of Zanzibar with nothing on it but 12 straw huts, some sand crabs and cute miniature deer roaming around. It was basically a sandy dot in the middle of turquoise sea. We had to carry our bags overhead and wade through waist-high water to get there, since the shoreline was too shallow for boats. As a New York City girl, the thought of a place with no doors or windows was a bit unsettling at first, but it ended up being one of the most peaceful, beautiful and restful trips ever.

Final fun question… you are stranded on a deserted island and can only take one album with you. Which would it be and why?

Right now, I’m whipsawing between Lizzo, The Samples, The Chainsmokers and Maren Morris and Brandi Carlile’s latest collaboration. I’m hoping the deserted island has Wi-Fi so  I can bring them all along on Spotify!

Thank you, Barbara, for your time, I think I can speak for the W2O team when we say we’re looking forward to partnering with you to #BeTheBest.

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With technology reshaping everything, achieving the desired state can often be difficult; the power of a considered mindset

Healthcare. Education. Autos. Energy. Insurance. You name it. These and every other industry segment are being transformed by technology. As with everything that is new, expectations are high that a completely different system and experience will result in greater results.

In Education, for example, the consensus today is that we are not preparing students to succeed in a new global reality. Flexibility, tech savvy, translating data to insight, decision-making, communicating in a digital world, and collaborating are the key skills critical for future success. Getting there involves a complete deconstruction of the current model.

For Autos, it will be important to upend the current fossil fuel-based system with electric vehicles, hybrids and autonomous vehicles that will forever change the driving experience and ownership dynamics, based on economic efficiency and sustainable impact.

In Healthcare, a connected ecosystem of physician, patient, caregiver, pharmacist and insurance provider, fueled by medical records, is the goal. In such a world, preventive care and regenerative medicine is the norm, extending life with medication and warding off disease instead of just treating it. An open, transparent healthcare system with the patient at the center and information flowing freely but confidentially among health professionals with the focus on preventing disease and controlling costs through the use of medical devices, new treatments and customized cures is the future we all seek.

But with that vision comes the stark reality that the journey will be neither smooth nor complete.

With every new evolution in business, there is a tendency to overestimate the value and underestimate the journey. This is where it’s critical to grasp the power of progress in evolving to a future state. As communicators and marketers in a digital world, we must view the new forces driving change and manage expectations along the way while engaging people in creating a new paradigm. Just envisioning the bold vision will only perpetuate a hardened perspective around what is “new,” mitigating the opportunity to fail and learn. Original beliefs and thinking are often barriers to real breakthroughs and more highly receptive processes.

Getting to what’s next in any of these industry segments while avoiding the “new” trap will require the following approaches:

1. Compartmentalizing the Future State – To ensure the new reality you are working toward is digested and people are prepared to change, invest, learn and deal with the risks and challenges ahead, it is important to carve out specific elements along the journey. Doing so provides a chance to look ahead – but not too far – and truly assimilate the future ahead.

2 .Putting Mindset Before Action – Critical to gaining a new reality is a shift in thinking. Thinking evolves over time, prodded by the right content and ability to interact with others.

3. Assimilating Learning – Capturing lessons and recognizing their value is at the core of creating something new. As healthcare evolves, specifically placing the patient at the center, organizations are looking to apply new knowledge to the design, development, infrastructure and system that has been created over the last several years. Both positive and negative experiences will influence the future.

4. Maintaining Perspective Change or ”new” takes time. While the quest to get to a better future drives us to solve the biggest problems in each industry segment, the allure of “new” can also become a barrier to progress without perspective. Perspective brings people along the journey by explaining and exploring the unknowable and applying collective thinking to the next phase of the effort.

5. Becoming a Digital Disrupter– While the digital reality we now find ourselves in is streamlining our personal and professional lives, it is also establishing new expectations and balance of power, which must be respected and applied to develop completely new systems and relationships.

We find ourselves in an incredible place. Every single industry segment is being rewritten. Every single challenge is being addressed. Knowledge can either be a bridge or a barrier. Getting to a new reality and new purpose is incredibly enticing. But perspective, mindset and communications will be the difference. As marketers and communicators, we have the authority to lead, guide, adapt and direct people through the journey to ensure the new system sticks.

It’s an exhilarating future…but only if we ensure the “new” becomes a reality (and not a dream)!

Jim 


If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About and Healthcare pages.

Want to chat? Drop us a line.

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A personal reflection on making a difference in a future-focused, entrepreneurial firm

W2O has been on a hot streak. For 17 years!

I joined the company two years ago, taking a risk after a decade in a firm where I established my position. My decision to join W2O followed a meeting with someone who was ingenious, hilarious, a visionary and an entrepreneur all rolled into one – Jim Weiss.

Jim had envisaged a firm that was part unicorn, part analytic, and all client focused.

I wasn’t sure where my path at W2O would lead, but my gut told me it would be different, fun and, more importantly, give me the opportunity to reach the full potential of my ambition, contribution and leadership potential.

Two years in and the verdict is clear: this is the best professional decision I have ever made.

That’s not to say it has always been easy – sometimes it’s been downright hard. When you exist in a highly entrepreneurial environment that thrives on innovation, a little bit of chaos will inevitably ensue. But the things that define W2O – that anchor our culture and direction – are always crystal clear: people, clients, work and business results. Very purposefully in that order.

As you may have tracked through the news in the past few months, W2O has entered its next wave of innovation and growth. We are optimally serving our clients with the ultimate goal of making the world a healthier place through marketing and communications.

As we do the hard (and exciting!) work of charting our future course, I found myself in discussions with Jim and W2O President Jenn Gottlieb about my continued path at the firm.

Their response (in separate conversations!) was clear and consistent: “Just keep being you!”

Such a simple statement, yet incredibly profound, and the most specific advice and confidence booster I could hope to receive. It means bringing your full authentic self to the workplace, to flourish in “being you” while leading business and delivering commercial success. It also means listening better and pushing yourself to accept new ideas, challenges and situations in an ever-changing environment.

“Just keep being you” is a mantra of sorts for anyone looking to make a difference. It doesn’t get any better in my mind.

W2O is a different kind of firm. Let me know if you want to talk more about how we roll here at W2O. My email is mcorcoran@w2ogroup.com, and we are hiring.

#WhyW2O

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W2O is continuing to strengthen and expand its West Coast team to support a growing roster of clients across the health ecosystem, from biotech to health tech. The most recent addition is Adrianna Hosford, Managing Director in the Los Angeles office. In this blog interview, I’m excited to share insights into what brought Adrianna to W2O and what she sees for the LA team and the future of health communications.

Please note that we are hiring at all levels on the West Coast! Join us in shaping the world of healthcare through marketing and communications.

Mike Nelson: What drew you to W2O?

Adrianna Hosford: I was drawn to W2O by its excellent reputation for being an analytics-driven, digital-first agency. My experience in brand reputation and storytelling, combined with my passion for digital health, fits perfectly at a digital-first agency serving today’s leading health brands.

MN: What is your vision for W2O Los Angeles?

AH: Like the rest of W2O, our team throughout the Los Angeles/Southern California region is filled with phenomenal professionals who are top experts in health communications and marketing. My vision for our Los Angeles office is to achieve double-digit growth in 2019 in terms of new talent and new clients. To date, we’ve doubled the size of the office from a talent point of view and recently relocated to a modern office space in Playa Vista, the heart of Los Angeles’ creative and digital agency community. I am fortunate to be closely working with and learning from W2O’s most senior leaders from across our network and look forward to bringing our collective experience and expertise to new clients in the region.

MN: What insights can you share about the health market in Los Angeles?

AH: Early in my career, when I worked with the design arm of a luxury car company, I learned that big brands tested products in Los Angeles because it’s the least “brand loyal” of the major U.S. markets. This stuck with me. For a brand or organization to compete in L.A., it must stay relevant to earn our hearts and minds.

Additionally, Los Angeles has been at the forefront of health, wellness and popular culture for decades. The city is home to entrepreneurs, artists and dreamers, athletes and those willing to challenge the status quo. We are willing to let go of ideals that no long suit us and/or adopt new ones that do. For all these reasons, coupled with more Silicon Valley companies opening L.A. headquarters, this region is fast becoming a digital health, wellness and technology epicenter. W2O sits at the intersection of health, digital and analytics-driven cultural insights, making it an ideal agency partner in this market and beyond.

MN: Where do you see health marketing/communications heading?

AH:  Health is on the verge of major disruption and, in some places, it’s already started. As we’ve seen across many industries, technology has the potential to reimagine everything. The right technology can influence and improve the entire health journey, from virtual doctor’s visits to personalized medicine and nutrition, to digital tools for managing everyday health. Brands like Amazon, Google and Facebook are using their consumer-centric approach to transform the health and wellness journey, while established healthcare brands are also providing digital health solutions. It’s an exciting time for the health market. Our work revolves more around the patient than ever, and I look forward to supporting those who will ultimately win the hearts and minds of patients and health-minded consumers.

MN: What is the biggest challenge in health communications?

AH: Health communications and marketing is constantly changing. Good agencies are on top of trends. Great agencies predict trends before they happen. W2O’s unmatched analytics approach allows us to see and hear changes before others, so we can help our clients see around the corner.

MN: What does your typical workday look like?

AH: There is no typical day at an agency. Some days, I feel like a warrior, while other days, I definitely don’t. I strive for as many warrior days as possible.

MN: What gets you up in the morning?

AH: I am relentless about delivering an amazing client experience and helping clients solve problems. I love coaching scientists and physicians on making their science digestible, relatable and sharable, and helping clients earn their reputation and stay relevant.

When it comes to talent, I am focused on mentoring next-gen leaders and creating a culture of professional and personal growth. I value work-life integration and want to create an atmosphere where everyone can be their best, authentic self at work.

MN: Who is someone in the industry you admire and why?

AH: I admire Fran Hauser, digital leader, angel investor and author of “The Myth of the Nice Girl,” a refreshing take on how to use “niceness” as your superpower. Fran is a great storyteller who shares the professional successes and failures that shaped her authentic leadership style. I highly recommend reading or listening to her book.

 MN: What are some of your greatest career accomplishments?

AH: My greatest career accomplishments are my professional relationships. I invest in long-term relationships with clients and colleagues. I am proud to have known and worked with many of my closest professional colleagues and clients for a decade or more – in an industry with an average 24-month turnover rate.

In my personal life, I have two great accomplishments: my two sons, whom we are raising as both feminists and gentlemen. They already possess thoughtful minds who see and experience the world in an entirely different way than my childhood generation. They give me hope and confidence in the future.


Key Facts about Adrianna

  • Diverse experience helping healthcare and other brands build reputation by earning permission and trust with media, consumers and other stakeholders
  • Joined W2O from Ketchum, where she spent 13 years in roles of increasing responsibility, including leadership of the West Coast Reputation Practice, and created Ketchum’s “Digestible Science” platform to translate complex information into compelling, shareable stories
  • Began her career at The Brower Group, a boutique integrated marketing agency
  • Graduate of Chapman University
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As LGBTQ pride celebrations in the U.S. reach a crescendo this month, I’ve been reflecting on my life as a gay man—and the fact that this summer marks 20 years since I embarked on a then-unlikely career in healthcare communications. These two strands of my life are absolutely connected: in fact, being out led me to my career path, a journey that I find more exciting than ever.

I came out after arriving for college at the University of Texas from my small hometown in East Texas. In the tolerant environment of Austin, I was able to be unreservedly honest about who I was for the first time.

While attending UT, one of my seminal experiences was working as an intern at an organization now called Equality Texas, where I cut my teeth writing press releases and crafting media strategies for both mainstream media outlets and gay community publications.

Shortly thereafter, I began pursuing entry-level positions at PR agencies in New York. I wasn’t particularly interested in healthcare communications, but while interviewing with a leading agency’s healthcare practice, I was intrigued by the opportunity to work on a client account focused on HIV treatments. And the people with whom I interviewed saw my experience working with the gay press as an asset. They made me an offer, which I didn’t hesitate to accept, and I moved to New York.

I settled in to the job and immediately felt in my element. I was thrilled to support the work of scientists and physicians and by the feeling that we were participating in social conversations that really mattered.

I continue to believe that the advances in HIV treatment demonstrate the best of what is possible when the biopharmaceutical industry focuses on big problems and innovates relentlessly. However, because we’ve been living in a golden era of HIV treatment for over two decades, it’s easy to take such incredible medical progress for granted. But it’s only through the focused efforts of the biopharma industry—together with the trailblazing work of the pioneering HIV activists who created the modern paradigm for patient advocacy—that HIV-positive people now can expect a normal lifespan.

Since the day I started my first job in healthcare communications, I’ve always been open in a matter-of-fact way about my sexuality. I feel lucky that I’ve found a line of work in which I’ve never had to hide who I am, and in three important ways it has facilitated my success:

1) It’s helped me create more authentic connections with people. Business is built on relationships, but nowhere is that more true than in the communications field. When you can forge relationships with colleagues based on a depth of openness and respect, it creates a well of trust that can last the course of a career.

2) I’m able to view healthcare from a place of empathy for people who are vulnerable. Although society has made much social progress when it comes to recognition and rights for gay people, our community still suffers from marginalization and discrimination. As a gay man, I’m able to put myself in the shoes of people who find themselves on the outside looking in.

3) I understand how impactful the patient voice can be. With W2O’s collective work across a wide variety of disease states, I’ve had the opportunity to become invested in many areas beyond HIV/AIDS. I continue to most enjoy working in spaces in which the patient voice is strong and thinking about how to most effectively speak to, and engage patients in, their own care. I’ve helped introduce exciting and life-enabling medical innovations and worked directly with patients in numerous therapeutic categories, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, hepatitis C, and rare diseases—to name a few.

For me, being proud means having an integrated life in which I can be exactly who I am, always. I’m grateful that it’s led me on a career path of which I am similarly proud.

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Key Ways to Gain Advantage in Defeat

So, what can we take away from the Golden State Warriors losing the NBA Finals?  As a die-hard Warriors fan the answer at first was difficult. The immediate aftermath of any loss – sports, business, personal – is to focus on the negatives, including the emotional hurt.  Believe me I was literally spent after this series but in thinking about the loss and balancing the experience with leading W2O, there were a number of lessons that cannot be overlooked.  Lessons that shape character, harden self-confidence, and forge a strategic mindset.

The Warriors were headed for their dynasty-like run when a number of factors (aka injuries) conspired to derail their ambition.  Now, the Raptors certainly earned the title and my hat’s off to them, but for me it’s how the Warriors responded that captured the true essence of this team.  As I look back over the past two weeks, six clear take-aways surfaced that we can learn from and build upon in the course of work and our lives:

  1. Indistinguishable yet distinct – Even with the injuries to key players, the Warriors played in a manner that allowed them to operate seamlessly while maintaining individual uniqueness.  This dual operating model kept poise, stressed confidence, and maintained continuity.
  2. Support your colleagues – Through the difficult times, players backed each other up, motivated each other, and pushed each other to perform.
  3. Stick to your plan but improvise – When adversity strikes, winning cultures don’t stray from the strategy.  Rather, they stick to the plan but improvise accordingly to compensate and gain advantage.
  4. Respect the conditions – Instead of bemoaning the situation, the Warriors dealt with it.  And although the end result was not in their favor, they played with tenacity and dignity.
  5. No excuses – How easy it is to sometimes find reasons why you lost or that things didn’t go your way.  In typical style, the Warriors including the coaches remained professional, respectful, and courteous.
  6. Never give up – In sport and business, challenge is the name of the game. Regardless the odds you must always persevere and operate at the highest level. Watching the Warriors play as they did in this series was a thing of respect and awe.  They were literally in every game.

Losing is always difficult, gut-wrenching, and dark.  It can feel like the end with no return.  It should.  For champions, losing is a motivating force to work harder, think smarter, and perform stronger.

The odds are that you won’t win all the time. Impossible. Assimilating core tenets and lessons even in defeat will go a long way to forging a WINNING mindset and a sustainable soul for ultimate performance.

Here’s to next year, Golden State!

Jim

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June 2019 marks the 15th anniversary of the founding of Pure Communications and my first foray into entrepreneurship. It is amazing to think of all that has happened in that time period and how our partnership with W2O Group- nearly three years ago- dramatically accelerated our business and brought tangible value to our team and clients.

When I started Pure in the spare bedroom of our home with two children under the age of two, I had left an in-house job and culture that frustrated me but inspired in me the desire to return to agency life and build a firm that I would want to hire and that others would want to work for. With the full support of my husband, I took the leap and hung my shingle.

I am so grateful to the many people with whom I had worked in the first decade of my career – both at agencies and in larger pharma companies – because those women and men helped me build Pure; sending me referrals, hiring us when we were unknown and unproven, and believing in me before we had a full team. I am also incredibly grateful to the women and men who joined our team over time and helped us become a respected partner in biotech – many of whom are still with us or have returned in recent years given all we can now offer as part of W2O.

The experience of starting a business from scratch – this combination of entrepreneurship and resilience – the drive to build something great and be the best – this is what attracted me to W2O.  I saw in Jim Weiss the same fire and drive but with a willingness to take more risks and go further. I knew this was the right home for us to develop our people, grow and bring more value to clients through an expanded and integrated capabilities offering. I also knew it would be the right home for me to be challenged, evolve as a leader and continue to learn and enhance our team’s skills and capabilities.

So, here we are, embarking on our next chapter of growth with W2O and New Mountain Capital. I am as excited and motivated as I was 15 years ago starting my own firm and this new journey begins with a fearless team of leaders across W2O, the best talent at all levels in the healthcare marketing communications business, courageous clients changing patients’ lives and the substantial resources of New Mountain Capital backing our efforts. Jim likes to say we are a $200M start-up and you can feel that creative, dynamic energy here. In this next chapter we will further expand our capabilities and geographic reach, invest in data and insights, and partner more deeply with clients, as well as provide the opportunity for our team to learn, grow and accomplish great things with a lot of runway to innovate and build.

This is #whyW2O for me.

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Shedding Your Skin to Reach a New Reality 

The old adage about shedding your skin as you evolve is such an appropriate metaphor for people and organizations finding themselves in a place of learning, maturation, and growth.  In pondering the last several years at W2O Group – 15+ consecutive years of double-digit growth – I find myself seeing our staff continually do just that as they ascend new heights in both personal and collective performance.

At every rung, people become enlightened and more empowered to take chances and push ideas to reach a better outcomes for clients.

In some cases, this evolution appears organic.  People picking up the pace and navigating both internal and external challenges to drive forward to either meet or exceed goals.

But, the reality is much closer to people adopting a mix of variables under their control to create growth.  Together, these variables conspire to see what can be done.  In W2O’s case, what we witnessed (and continue to witness) is a highly motivated talent base intent to “Be the Best” and willing to leave behind old habits, broken methods, and myopic thinking.  In looking deeper at this concept of growth from a W2O perspective, you see a mixture of variables and discipline inherent in the effort.

In my experience, I’ve seen four characteristics (or variables) of growth worth exploring:

  1. Mindset – Or as we like to call it: Headset. How you think about achievement.  Delivering on client needs.  Recognizing new ways to solve problems.  Believing in the task at hand.  When people shift their thinking to creation the organization blocks out adversity and channels achievement.  In our case, we strive to “Be the Best” and the result is growth!
  2. Investment – If an organization is to grow, it must invest ahead of the curve.  That means in Talent. Acquisitions. Facilities. Development.  Growth feeds on itself and investment is the sustenance to keep it real.
  3. Clarity– Every company deals with adversity.  Every market segment is haunted by ambiguity. Clarity of purpose on strategy and direction is a beacon shining a light on confidence and regulating behavior.  In our firm, strategy and direction are reinforced almost daily.
  4. Consistency– This one is vital.  Now that doesn’t mean you don’t adjust as conditions dictate. Having a consistent strategy and game plan reinforced by policies and operating principles accelerate growth.

The outcomes often associated with growth are mostly tied to revenue, profit, and size.  But the benefits from sustainable growth transcend these outcomes:

  • Relevance – If you’re not relevant, you don’t exist in a social and digital world. More than reputation, relevance captures engagement and vitality with stakeholders, which is essential to growth.
  • Risk – Growth companies take more risk and generate more innovation due to the confidence of employees.
  • Stature – Growth provides a position of strength and position in your competitive set resulting in the ability to pivot when necessary.
  • Interest– If there is one critical benefit of growth it’s the level of curiosity and momentum that allows people to pay attention and care.

For us, growth is a commitment.  Each person is encouraged to create an individual 3-5 year growth plan that unlocks one’s inner entrepreneur and helps create repeatable systematic scale.

Over the past three years, W2O embarked on a strategic direction that gave new meaning to “Be the Best!  Taking on a new partner, Mountaingate Capital, we added talent, capabilities, developed our staff, opened offices and introduced new innovations, all aimed at making our clients and staff successful.  Our five-year goals were exceeded by year three.

And now, we have announced a new investment partner, New Mountain Capital.  New Mountain Capital has a strong history in healthcare investment and over $20 billion in assets under management. We are excited about our ability to take us to the next level of growth at a time when business and technology continue to change the game raising expectations and becoming even more complex.

As we move forward, we are very grateful to our Mountaingate colleagues and what we accomplished together and wish them the best!

As clients navigate today’s challenging, complex business climate, good work is not enough.  Having strong partners with critical skills, footprint, and strategic capabilities that mirror their needs at every turn is what achieves unfair competitive advantage.

In this regard, bolstering our financial resources and channeling investments to the areas that grow and strengthen the business is the difference between routine expectations and exceptional “unicorn” like service.

I recently asked the firm one question: Are You Ready to Grow?   This is an important leadership query as well as an essential individual motivation.  It defines the organization and each individual!  We can never settle for mediocrity.  Ever.  We must demand excellence in all we do and ensure quality consistently from idea  to execution.

“To Be the Best” means we must Ascend to greater heights!  It means we must be willing to Grow!  And deliver to our clients, and to each other!

Jim


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