Alliance Cases

The implicit understanding among Alliance members is that, in exchange for their willingness to share their own experience and knowledge, they gain access to the extraordinary collective wisdom of the Alliance community of CEOs. Our members do amazing things and we've been collecting some of their "lessons learned" in Case Studies that preserve and highlight the wealth of knowledge in our membership. We also interview our members from time to time on matters of interest, and you'll find their thoughts here as well.

To see only cases for a certain category, choose one from the following list:

Peter Koshland

How To Avoid Throttling Your Startup’s Growth And The Burnout That Comes Next
July 24, 2017

New businesses that tap into large and severely under-met needs are destined to grow rapidly. But if the founders starve the company of capital, their conservativism eventually will kill growth. Even more important, it will burn out the founders. It is also avoidable. The story of Koshland Pharm and its Founder, Alliance member Peter Koshland, illustrates this well. In this Forbes article from Alliance Director and Founding Principal of CEO to CEO, Robert Sher, learn how the key to stability and long-term sustainability for growing, profitable businesses is increasing throughput.

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Case categories include: Executive Development   Leadership   Operations   Strategy & Planning   

Who Will Lead the Robot Revolution?
June 01, 2017

Automation will soon reshape the way we work in very profound ways, and present enormous economic and societal benefits. According to Alliance members Steve Cousins of Savioke, Irit Eizips of CSM Practice, Lisa Im of Performant Financial, Mike Jellen of Velodyne LiDAR, Jane Macfarlane of the Sustainable Transportation Initiative at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, John Pavlidis of Vytronus, Lizz Vilardo of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, and Christy Wyatt of Dtex Systems, embracing innovative technology may be the best way to not only survive tomorrow’s robot revolution, but actually lead it.

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Case categories include: Entrepreneurship   Leadership   Technology   

In Pursuit of Smarter, Better Leadership
May 30, 2017

Every successful CEO strives to be more effective, make better decisions and become more productive, which are key reasons why we bring leaders together at the Alliance of CEOs. Learned through Charles Duhigg’s new book, Smarter Faster Better: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity, Alliance Founder & CEO Paul Witkay shares three valuable concepts for improving individual productivity,

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Case categories include: Executive Development   Leadership   

In Pursuit of Growth in a Gig Economy
January 30, 2017

Alliance leaders know that today’s labor force is experiencing fundamental, permanent change. Alliance members Laura Bergheim of Wordsmithie, Andy Berkenfield of Duncan Channon, Nathan Collins of SRI International, Ross Fernandes of Q Analysts, Glo Gordon of Cisco-Jasper, Kathy Zwickert of NetSuite, and Alliance Director Marion McGovern, share their strategies for growth in the gig economy. This transformation will create critical questions for today’s leaders, and their solutions will be customized for each unique situation. Given the track record of Bay Area innovation, we think it’s not a matter of if the answers will come, but when.

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Case categories include: Human Resources   Leadership   Operations   Strategy & Planning   Trends   

Todd Johnson

The Foundation of Trust and Transparency: Essential Executive and Internal Communications Topics
January 04, 2017

If trust is the foundation of all strong, positive inter-company relationships, then transparency is the primary path to achieving that trust. This article by Alliance member Todd Johnson, President of Kollective, identifies and describes the essential categories of content that form the foundation for best practices in employee engagement; content that builds trust and positively influences company culture long-term. Keep these ideas in mind as you build and fine-tune your own blueprint for internal communications success.

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Case categories include: Leadership   Operations   Strategy & Planning   Trends   

Alyson Watson

Selling the Company? How Relaxing Control During the Sales Process Can Increase Value
January 02, 2017

Stories of company sales are riddled with strife. The staff that is asked to weather the transition often experiences wage cuts, department rollbacks and painful non-alignment among competing business units. Alyson Watson, former President of RMC Water and Environment, survived to tell the tale of her company’s acquisition. Better yet, the story is one of harmonious success, a triumph that began with letting go of control.

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Case categories include: Ethics   Leadership   M&A   Strategy & Planning   

Preparing for Tomorrow’s Customers Today
October 28, 2016

In a fast-changing world, Alliance members Joe Budelli of ABBYY USA, Bill Grosso of Scientific Revenue, Arwed Niestroj of Mercedes-Benz R&D North America, Barb Paldus of Finesse Solutions, Glen Shu of Bay View Funding and Antoine Villata of Planisware USA share their strategies for preparing to meet future market needs.

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Case categories include: Entrepreneurship   Leadership   Strategy & Planning   Trends   

Sid Nandi

Stop (Frequently) and Think About the Big Picture
September 27, 2016

With so many demands on their time, CEOs often struggle to take pause and give unfettered thought to the long-term plan. In a recent Alliance meeting, the gathered CEOs were inspired by the approach of Alliance member Sid Nandi, Founder & CEO of TeqTron. This case study focuses on his successful steps to set aside time, think about goals, plan for the long-term, and keep on track for success, all while maintaining transparency and accountability to his greatest assets – his employees.

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Case categories include: Entrepreneurship   Executive Development   Leadership   Marketing   Operations   Sales   Strategy & Planning   Technology   

How I Became a CEO
August 10, 2016

In this feature story, Alliance members Kirsten Bay of Cyber adAPT, Rachel Haurwitz of Caribou Biosciences, Nadim Maluf of Qnovo, Sameer Padhye of FixStream Networks, Chris Rivielle of Plant Construction and Timothy Robertson of Vium, talk about the expectations and challenges that came with sitting in the top chair.

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Case categories include: Entrepreneurship   Executive Development   Leadership   Strategy & Planning   

An Innovation Straight From the Heart
July 01, 2016

Ebbe Altberg, CEO of the virtual reality pioneer Linden Lab, recently shared a curious facet of his company’s culture at an Alliance meeting. Called the “Love Machine,” this innovation sparked instant curiosity and captured the imaginations of the CEOs in the room. Just what is the Love Machine?

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Case categories include: Human Resources   Leadership   Operations   Trends   

Technology’s Fast-Forward Future
May 06, 2016

Alliance members ponder the accelerating pace of technological change and its future impact on their industries, organizations, and leadership

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Case categories include: Entrepreneurship   Leadership   Technology   

Rajesh C. Subramaniam

Scaling Up Starts with Looking In
October 21, 2015

Businesses are run by people. When people liberate themselves from indecision resulting from insecurity, their businesses benefit and are more suited to scaling up. This case study features Alliance member, Rajesh C. Subramaniam, CEO & Founder of embedUR systems, who made good use of an Alliance presentation designed to identify and present the obstacles of his business' growth, and questioned whether Rajesh was a contributing factor.

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Case categories include: Executive Development   Finance   Leadership   

An Unexpected Offer
August 11, 2015

Marco Marini and Bart Schaefer, both executives in the email marketing industry, were fellow Alliance group members for years, and built a solid rapport of delivering straightforward feedback and comparing notes on their industry. But, when Bart decided it might be time to sell his company, Marco had much more to offer him than his opinion.

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Case categories include: Leadership   M&A   Strategy & Planning   

Craig Sardella

Want to Upgrade Your Business? Upgrade Your Leadership Team.
February 17, 2015

A maturing industry requires its leaders to act differently. As industry players grow larger to manage compliance burdens and to gain access to capital, leadership styles that worked in the past can become dysfunctional. For midsized mortgage businesses to continue growing, they will need to upgrade their leadership teams through coaching, mentoring, and recruitment. Learn how Alliance member, Craig Sardella of Comstock Mortgage grew its volume to $750 million during a downturn in the industry, even while competition continued to be a drag on growth and profitability.

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Case categories include: Entrepreneurship   Leadership   M&A   Strategy & Planning   

Lori Bush

Tinkering is Fine in R&D, but Not in the Boardroom
November 26, 2014

As a CEO, restrain yourself from tinkering with your core strategy. Instead, funnel those great ideas through a process that helps vet the ideas without distracting your team from executing the current strategy. Once your winning ideas are confirmed and proven, then adjust the business plan to incorporate them. Read how Rodan + Fields grew 10-fold by avoiding top-level tinkering.

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Case categories include: Entrepreneurship   Leadership   Strategy & Planning   

Andrew Giacomini

Proactively Building Leadership Infrastructure Keeps the 7 Silent Growth Killers at Bay
November 07, 2014

Knowing about the seven growth killers certainly is a good start to defending against them. When each rears its ugly head, you can spot it sooner and whack it into submission. But playing whack-a-mole every day is both exhausting and unrewarding. And while you’re whacking, you’re not growing. Midsized company leaders should look at their company’s needs for leadership infrastructure holistically to try to picture what the company will need in one or two years. Then tackle the work in phases.

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Case categories include: Leadership   Strategy & Planning   

Rick Martig

CFO: Need to Know
October 24, 2014

Today’s CFO faces more challenges than ever. Staying ahead of vital business trends is one of those challenges. Hear from a panel of Ernst & Young professionals and CFOs, include Alliance member, Rick Martig, as they discuss what every CFO needs to know about digital.

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Case categories include: Executive Development   M&A   Technology   Trends   

Laura Stark

Preparing to Plant your Acquisition
August 06, 2014

Growing through acquisition is an enticing prospect for many mid-market companies, but many deals fail to reach their potential. In this article, several Alliance members and alumni illustrate how to "prepare the soil" for M&A success by building the proper bandwidth to handle due diligence and integration.

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Case categories include: M&A   Strategy & Planning   

Tony Lavia

Defying Gravity: Preparing for the Inevitable Downturn in Your Core Business
May 21, 2014

Nearly every successful middle-market company eventually faces a swarm of competition. When their core business contracts, single-product companies can find themselves fighting for their lives. But the companies which plan highly-related diversifications before such downturns grow in good times and bad.

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Case categories include: Strategy & Planning   

Getting Ready for the Exit Day
February 17, 2014

CEOs underinvest in preparing themselves and their firms for an exit, and in building business acumen for exiting. When the event is upon us, many seek to turn it over to investment bankers, and while they play a critical part in many exits, there is much that they cannot do, or where their incentives are not perfectly aligned with the seller. 

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Case categories include: M&A