The Encore – IBM on Redefining Competition: Insights from the Global C-suite Study – The CEO Perspective

CEOs say we are at a watershed moment. Technological advances are creating massive upheavals, with industries converging and new ecosystems emerging as never before. So how are the trailblazers guiding their organizations through this turmoil?

In the first installment of our latest C-suite Study, we interviewed 5,247 top executives to find out what they think the future will bring and how they’re positioning their organizations to prosper in the “age of disruption.” This report probes more deeply into the perspectives of the 818 CEOs who contributed to our research. We’ve also focused on what the CEOs of the world’s most successful enterprises in this study do differently.

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Advantage Media|Forbes Books Joins Forces With WPO To Reach Successful Women Entrepreneurs

The Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) has announced Advantage Media Group|Forbes Books is a new corporate sponsor. Specializing in Authority Marketing™ for entrepreneurs, business leaders and professionals who want to grow their business, Advantage offers turnkey publishing and marketing systems to position individuals and brands as leaders in their field. Last year the company published The WPO 50 Fastest Growing Women-Owned/Led Guide to Growth, sponsored by American Express Global Commercial Payments. This year the company will print a new coffee table book for WPO, with a pictorial essay chronicling the growth of the organization over two decades, to commemorate WPO’s 20th anniversary. The book will be distributed at WPO’s annual conference at the Ritz Carlton Grande Lakes in Orlando, Florida, May 4-6.

Advantage|ForbesBooks recognizes the need to amplify women’s voices in business through the power of storytelling. The partnership with WPO helps support the company’s passion for leveraging entrepreneurship as part of its mission to grow great businesses. The goal is to help authors share their stories, passion, and knowledge to help others learn and grow.

Utilizing the Forbes multi-platform media network, ForbesBooks offers an unrivaled branding, visibility, and marketing platform to business authors. “We are privileged to welcome Advantage Media Group|Forbes Books to the WPO family as our newest corporate sponsor. Many of our members are respected authorities in their fields. Our partnership with Advantage will help them leverage their stories of success to build their brands as book authors,” said Dr. Marsha Firestone, President & Founder, Women Presidents’ Organization.

“The opportunity to partner with the Women Presidents’ Organization is truly exciting, as Advantage Media Group|ForbesBooks recognizes the need to amplify women’s voices, especially in business. We’re on a mission to grow great companies, like the ones its members lead every single day. We’re so honored to be able to help share member’s stories, passion, and knowledge to the masses,” said Bea Wray, VP of Corporate Marketing and newest WPO Board Member.

Bea Wray will also be conducting a pre-conference workshop at the WPO annual conference on May 4th, based on an article she wrote for entitled, “3 Lessons Harvard Taught Me but My Kids Made Me Learn.”

About Advantage Media Group|ForbesBooks

Advantage Media Group|ForbesBooks is The Business Growth Company™. Advantage specializes in Authority Marketing™ for entrepreneurs, business leaders and professionals who want to grow their business. They offer turnkey publishing and marketing systems to position individuals and brands as leaders in their field. Advantage|ForbesBooks’ mission is to help their Members share their Stories, Passion, and Knowledge to help others Learn & Grow. They have been featured on the Inc. 5000 List of America’s Fastest-Growing Companies four out of the last five years. Utilizing the Forbes multi-platform media network, ForbesBooks offers a branding, visibility, and marketing platform to business authors that is absolutely unrivaled. For more information, visit or

The New York Times: Women Do Like to Compete — Against Themselves

By Gray Matter

About 10 years ago, when we were both Ph.D. students at Harvard, we were invited to participate in an unofficial and largely secret wrestling tournament organized by a fellow student. The idea was to showcase a handful of competitive wrestling matches between graduate students in different departments to an invitation-only audience. Space and gym mats were rented, a referee and a master of ceremonies were appointed, and monetary bets were placed on individual matches. Each wrestler had his or her own costume, entrance song and fan base. Alcohol flowed freely among the spectators.

Neither of us remembers why we agreed to participate — we had never wrestled anyone before — but somehow we ended up there that night, and because of our similar height and weight we were paired to fight each other. One of us wore a sparkly gold leotard, and the other made her entrance to the “Rocky” theme song.

We were only acquaintances back then, and would have never guessed that all these years later, we would be professors collaborating on research about competitiveness in women. A recent study of ours, which will be published in May in the Papers and Proceedings issue of the American Economic Review, found that there are certain situations in which women can be just as competitive as men. This finding, we hope, will help alter some longstanding assumptions about women in the workplace.

For all the remarkable progress that has been made in increasing gender equality, women still earn significantly less money than men and remain markedly underrepresented in high-status, powerful positions. One of the reasons offered by economists and psychologists for why these disparities still exist is a gender difference in the willingness to compete.

Years of research suggest that men are more competitive than women. Imagine there is a task you must complete — a series of math problems, for instance — and you have to choose to be paid for your performance in one of two ways. One option is to be compensated for each individual math problem you solve (say, $1 per problem). The other option is that you enter a tournament in which you compete against another person; only the person who solves the most problems receives payment for the number of problems solved — but it’s double payment ($2 per problem). Even when men and women perform similarly on the task, studies show, women are less likely to choose to enter the tournament.

This sort of finding has been replicated in children and in people across a diverse range of societies. One of us works with one of the last remaining populations of hunter-gatherers on the planet — the Hadza people of Tanzania — and even in their society, which departs greatly from ours in many ways, men tend to be more competitive than women. These results suggest that this sex difference may be a universal feature of our psychology and was, perhaps, even present in our early human ancestors.

Our research is concerned with understanding why women shy away from competition, as this may lead to potential solutions for increasing gender equality in the workplace. In our recent study, for which we recruited about 1,200 men and women and which was conducted with a graduate student, Elif Demiral of George Mason University, we wanted to see if women were just as competitive as men when choosing to compete against their own past performance. This is akin to shaving time off your last five-mile run or beating your last score in a video game.

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PwC: What Decisions Private Companies Are Making

Today’s advancements in technology and data and analytics techniques have changed the decision making game for private companies across the globe. Companies who lag behind are put at risk of being surpassed by their more data-driven competitors. With the game set to change over the next few years, we shifted gears to uncover what strategic or operational decisions are top of mind for corporate leaders. By 2020, these are the decisions executives expect to be facing:

  1. Develop a new product or service 31%
  2. Enter new markets with existing products or services 15%
  3. Make strategic investments in IT 14%
  4. Develop partnerships 11%
  5. Change business operations 10%
  6. Enter a new industry 7%

The motivations behind these decisions align with those uncovered in our 2014 Family Business Survey. With growth over the next 5 years being top of mind for 85% of the family businesses surveyed, it’s no surprise that the main motivation across the board for these decisions was said to be to maintain or gain leadership in the market. Others cited a need to survive or to disrupt their own or another industry as their main motivation.

But in a world of disruption, where the time to make decisions has shortened and the amount of data available has grown, how can companies lead and survive if they don’t equip themselves with the right decision making tools?  The riskier of the big decisions, developing new products/services and entering new industries, require the use of data analytics more so than the others. With these being the top 2 decisions and only a third of companies surveyed being highly data driven – it will be interesting to see how this unfolds.

Will companies adapt to a more data-driven approach in time to address these decisions? Or will they be surpassed in the marketplace by those that have.

Learn more about our findings in our Global Data and Analytics Survey 2016, Big Decisions.

WPO would like to thank PricewaterhouseCoopers for providing this week’s sponsor blog content. 

Forbes: Three Growth Lessons Large Companies Should Learn From Smaller Organizations

Congratulations to our WPO members that were mentioned in this article. 

Business strategy is broken. More than 50 percent of senior executives don’t believe they have a winning strategy according to research from PwC’s Strategy&, the firm’s strategy consulting business. Running a large organization today can be daunting – facing new competitive threats, trying to make quarterly targets and struggling to differentiate in the market. It’s not that companies don’t have strategies; most do. It’s that they struggle to execute against them, an all-too-common challenge many refer to as the strategy to execution gap.

The most successful companies find unconventional ways to bridge that gap, and while there is much to learn from the large companies that do this best, there is also a wealth of knowledge to be uncovered by taking notice of the strategies and practices of smaller companies. Why? Lack of resources, one of the greatest challenges many small businesses face, also provides an opportunity to work on the things that are most important for their success and survival.

For example, it is common for large companies to rely on reorganizations to drive change, assuming that moving people and processes around will eventually yield success. Yet strong, positive culture – even more than operating models and incentives – can push organizations to identify and build unique capabilities that are true to an organization’s identity.

“There is a huge correlation between culture and brand,” said Sandy Marsico, founder and CEO of marketing firm Sandstorm. “You can’t have a brand saying they’re an innovator and a culture of fearing to fail.”

At Sandstorm, the company’s “warrior spirit” culture promotes the idea that no colleague or client is ever left alone when solving a problem. It naturally encourages employees to be collaborators and champions of each other as well as the firm’s clients, while in turn establishing the firm’s response time and dedication to each other as one of the company’s unique capabilities.

“We too often think of strategy and execution as two different topics,” said Paul Leinwand, author of Strategy That Works and global managing director of capabilities-driven strategy and growth for PwC’s Strategy&. “Companies need to make sure strategies are executable in order to grow and create sustainable competitive advantage.”

The Strategy That Works book is the culmination of years of research exploring how companies such as Amazon, Apple, CEMEX, Danaher, Frito-Lay and others are able to continuously build winning strategies. These companies take an unconventional approach to growth, leadership and strategy that sets them apart from other organizations.

In many ways, they are able to operate more like small and mid-size companies, which allows them to avoid common growth and strategy pitfalls. They take control of their own destiny by committing to an identity, translating the strategic into the everyday, putting their culture to work and cutting costs to grow stronger.

Click here to read more.

Entrepreneur: Why Gender Diversity In Tech Matters

By Aaron Price

Looking down the pipeline for the next generation of women in tech, the picture isn’t rosy. Of the STEM disciplines, tech is the only one where the participation of women has actually decreased in the last 20 years, explained Judith Spitz, a former Verizon CIO of 10 years, during the 2016 Propeller Innovation Festival in Hoboken, NJ.

Low levels of female employment and leadership in tech should signal alarm bells, and not just for women. Gender diversity is increasingly becoming an economic argument, not merely an ethical one. So why does gender diversity even matter, anyway? What’s wrong with having an 80% male dominated profession?

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If anyone is qualified to explain the nuances of this complex issue, it’s Spitz. As the Founding Program Director of the WiTNY Initiative, she’s a recognized leader in facilitating the participation of young girls and women in technology careers. If you’re looking to get a concise understanding of why gender diversity matters – particularly on a macro level – watch this three-minute video.

Spitz is quick to demonstrate how gender diversity is not merely an opportunity for women, but creates opportunity on a larger scale for companies, the tech industry, the economy, and humankind. To recap, here are four major areas she identifies that are impacted by gender diversity.

Revenue & Profitability

Scores of recent studies have linked companies with increased gender diversity with increased ROI. Take for instance the findings of a recent study by Morgan Stanley that shows more diverse workplaces deliver better returns and less volatility.  McKinsey also reports that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to outperform against industry medians. The research increasingly shows that if you care about revenue and profitability, you’re going want a more gender diverse team.

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Meeting Workforce Needs

With the tech industry accounting for 7.1 percent of U.S. GDP, employment in the industry surged to more than 6.7 million people in 2015. As tech continues to grow, so will the number of new hires needed to keep up with the pace. “There are 500,000 open tech jobs today, and that number is expected to double in the next five years,” Spitz says. “It’s pure math. It’s very difficult to see how we can meet the technology workforce needs if we’re literally leaving more than half of the available talent pool sitting on the bench.”

Economic Fairness

Seeing more women into technology leadership roles could help level the economic playing field, in an industry where females typically hold the lower-paying positions. Currently the highest-paying tech job in the New York market is an application developer, and 80% of these jobs are held by men. The lowest paying job in the tech field is as a medical lab technician, and more than 60% of those jobs are held by women. “We can’t afford to have women sitting on the sidelines of the opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty and into the middle class,” says Spitz.

The Human Race

There’s a more existential reason we need more women in technology leadership roles. Take for example, the observation by futurist Ray Kurzweil that technology is the evolution of human biology.

“Just think about that for a second,” Spitz challenged the crowd. “We are hurtling towards a time when our biology will be equal parts technology and physiology. Think about the implications for the human race, if technology is destined to be the essence of who we are as a species, if it’s developed largely under the leadership and guidance of a single gender.”

The Bottom Line

Gender diversity and leadership in tech is an urgent issue to address, not merely to offer balance to a male-dominated industry, but because of the strength and impact of its ripple effect.

How are you – as an entrepreneur, company, or individual – encouraging gender diversity in tech? What other factors should be considered? Let us know via @letsPropel. For more learnings from the Propelify Innovation Festival visit


Advantage|Forbes Books: Climbing Up and Giving Back

How Successful Women are Building Their Businesses And  Making a Difference


Jen Coffel lost her mother, father and best friend to cancer in less than two years. In 2010, she partnered with her long-time friend and cancer survivor Kim Bavilacqua to create Handing H.O.P.E., a nonprofit supporting children with cancer. She is responsible for the vision, strategy, and national fundraising efforts for Handing H.O.P.E. and the Lollipop Tree Project as it grows and expands across the country.

Handing H.O.P.E.’s mission is to bring smiles to children battling cancer nationwide. They provide sugar-free lollipop trees to children’s cancer clinics, hospitals, and camps across the country in the hope of brightening a child’s day.

“I have four children and I saw the cancer stats for kids and I wanted to make a difference,” Coffel remembers. “I know that the treatment makes their mouths taste bad. I remember talking with a woman one day. She and her son both had cancer and that’s how the idea came about, so Kim and I filled out the 503 application.”

In 2011, they got approved as a 503(c), then Coffel received some shocking news.

“My best friend called me and told me they found tumors in her head,” says Coffel. “We were in the battle together. I went to all her appointments with her. Then my dad got cancer, fought for 6 months and died, and then my mom got cancer and died 8 months later. My best friend, stayed with me through all of that, and then she died three months later.”

On December 31, 2015, Jen Coffel made her first call to a hospital and started getting her lollipop trees distributed.

Her book, Be Well Assured: At The Heart of Cancer There Is H.O.P.E., was released in October 2016 and helps Coffel and Bavilacqua spread their message. Her publisher, Advantage Media Group|ForbesBooks, absorbed a majority of the costs as Coffel and Bavilacqua were the winners of the Advantage Impact program.

“I love the fact that we have a tool to give people,” says Coffel. “People often give our book as a gift. It’s so good to know that we are putting hope in the hands of people who are in the battle. I love knowing that.”

Advantage Impact is a program at Advantage Media Group|ForbesBooks dedicated to helping worth nonprofits share their stories with the world. The program was created based on two strong beliefs of the Advantage Family. First, the right book, in the right hands, at the right time, can change a person’s life forever. Second, publishing your own book can be a powerful marketing tool that is used directly to promote your cause, raise community awareness, and garner support. Since 2005, Advantage has helped over 1,000 business professionals around the globe write, publish, and market a book to grow their business.

“I saw an opportunity to help someone who was passionate about fighting cancer,” says Keith Kopcsak, VP of Authority Marketing at Advantage Media Group|ForbesBooks. “She had a good message to share and she was a great fit for our Advantage Impact Program.”

However, Coffel has channelled her passion for life into even more than a nonprofit organization and a book. She has used her struggle and passion to create the Courageous Woman Movement. Her goal is to empower and equip one million female entrepreneurs around the world to live out their dreams in business and in life.

“Having lost my mom, dad, and best friend to cancer at young ages, I don’t take a minute of my life for granted. I think BIG,” says Coffel. “I want to leave a memorable legacy. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well. I want to live my life so that my children can tell their children that I not only stood for something wonderful — I acted on it! I want to encourage one million women to do the same.”

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*WPO would like to thank Advantage|Forbes Books for providing this week’s sponsor blog content.