Paul Witkay

A Message to Alliance Members from Paul Witkay

October 14, 2008

Case categories include: Founder’s Insights   Strategy & Planning   

As head of the Alliance of Chief Executives, I have the opportunity to speak with CEOs in virtually every sector of the economy and learn what they are experiencing.  The implicit understanding among Alliance members has always been that in exchange for your willingness to share your knowledge and experience, you gain access to the extraordinary collective wisdom of the entire community of CEOs.  I believe that during volatile times, it is even more critical to share our experiences, knowledge and ideas with each other.  Here are my recommendations as to how to best use the unique resources within the Alliance community of CEOs:

• Seek first to understand the new reality by talking with not only your customers, vendors, partners and investors, but CEOs in different industries.
• Make sure to attend your Alliance group meetings if at all possible (the collective wisdom is very powerful)
• Be candid with your fellow CEOs about what your business is experiencing and also what you are feeling and doing about it
• Prepare to put your biggest challenge on the table when you meet with your fellow CEOs
• Don’t hesitate to communicate with your fellow group members, your Alliance Director and/or myself to discuss your situation.  There are very few situations that some other Alliance CEO has not dealt with before.  If we can help in any way, please let us know.

A number of Alliance members have forwarded me their insights and I have attached links below to three documents which you might find interesting.  When you reach our website, click on “Download PDF” to see the document.  The recommendations in the Sequoia Capital document are quite controversial and clearly do not apply to every situation, but they are intended to make you think.

1. Sequoia Capital's advice to their portfolio CEOs; and
2. An article by Tatum LLC on the "Five Mistakes to Avoid in a Volatile Economy."
3. An article by Alliance Director Robert Sher titled “Outlasting Hard Times”.

Six months ago the Alliance brought CEOs together to discuss how they were preparing for an eventual downturn and they generated a lot of great ideas.  We would be happy to coordinate another CEO Roundtable to enable you to discuss how other CEOs are dealing with the current economic conditions.  Please let me know if you would like us to schedule such a meeting.

Although it is extremely important to focus on your core businesses and eliminate unnecessary expenses, experience has shown that the best companies find ways to take advantage of volatile markets.  During these fast-changing market conditions, it is more important than ever to talk candidly about your current challenges with your fellow Alliance CEOs.  Please let me know if you have any suggestions or if we can be of any assistance.  By working together, we can all weather the storm and be positioned to prosper when the market recovers.