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Savvy business leaders are participating in strategy sessions – here’s what they’re all about.

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Every small business owner knows there is a fine line between working “on” your business and working “in” your business. Michael Gerber described the tug and pull between strategy and operations in his 1986 classic, The EMyth. The struggle remains relevant more than 30 years later as Gerber’s work is frequently quoted in publications like Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc, Huffington Post, and The New York Times

However, being aware of the tension between the strategy and operations is vastly different from doing something about it. It is not uncommon for business leaders to find themselves in the weeds, acting as technicians working on the day-to-day instead of strategists working on business growth. 

Enter: the strategy session. 

What is a strategy session?

“Small business owners and non-profit leaders approach us with questions about what to do next in their business to sustain growth and profitability,” Taylor Tricarico, Managing Partner, Open-i Advisors, shares. Oftentimes, leaders are so close to their business’s operations that they miss opportunities to think and act strategically. 

“We invite small business owners to a free strategy session where, pre-COVID, we’d gather key stakeholders in a room alongside a few consultants from our team. Over the course of 60 to 120 minutes, we’d lead them through an exercise that started with gaining a clear understanding of their ‘WHY’: why they exist, what their values are, and how they define success for their business.” 

The strategy sessions were so beneficial to the client that Open-i started facilitating them at the beginning of every new client engagement. 

However, when COVID-19 made in-person meetings impossible in early 2020, it was time to rethink the structure of these sessions. 

Christian Dawson, Open-i Advisors’ Co-founder & Senior Partner, states, “At the onset of COVID-19, we had a great stable of consultants and some big projects in the pipeline that ended up being put on pause. We wanted to keep our team working and engaged with our communities, meanwhile, we knew that our communities were in need. It didn’t seem reasonable to ask businesses in need to pay, so we decided to offer the workshops for free.” 

Open-i Advisors got right to work on how to replicate the strategy session model and value online. Our team came up with a screen-share format that delivers comparable value in just 60 minutes.

A strategy session is the first step towards answering your most pressing questions.

The new reality posed by COVID-19 presented business owners worldwide with unprecedented questions. 

“Pre-COVID, clients came to us with questions about strategies for achieving or managing growth. Now, their questions are all about survival. For instance, one client’s business model revolves around recording videos inside busy restaurants. His issue was one of survival: ‘How do I keep the lights on and not lose momentum with my product/brand when people are no longer gathering in restaurants?’” Tricarico shares. 

Strategy sessions give business owners space to breathe. Setting aside time to focus on why they are in business allows them to reconnect to their purpose and goals. 

“By the time business leaders get to us, they are so close to the problem that it’s all muddled up in their mind,” Tricarico says. “The strategy session offers them clarity; it becomes plain to see what they need to focus attention on (i.e., this, not that). Armed with this information, they have the confidence to go out and start chipping away at their goals.” 

Beyond offering clarity and confidence, the collaborative nature of the strategy session demonstrates something else, too: compassion. 

“We genuinely care about the companies in our community, and the well-being of their leaders. It’s a hard time to run a business- we sincerely want to support them.” 

What happens during a strategy session?

Before each session, Open-i Advisors sends the client a questionnaire with the aim of getting the client thinking in advance of the session. There is space for the client to provide their definition of success, their mission statement, and to identify their core values. 

“Some companies have a clear understanding of all three; others need help firming these up. This is how we prepare clients to think strategically while at the same time providing us with a baseline understanding of where they’re coming from and where they’re headed.”, Tricarico shares. 

The questionnaire also provides clients with an opportunity to discern who from their team they want to participate in the session. 

At the onset of the session, Open-i Advisors affirms the organization’s mission and values. “Then,” Tricarico states, “we take their ‘why’ and derive goals from it.” 

During the moderated discussion time, business leaders share their ambition while members of the Open-i Advisors’ team drafts an action plan in pursuit of those goals. 

One of the benefits of the free session is the opportunity for courses of action to be both supported and challenged. The Open-i Advisors team acts as a rudder, steering clients towards goals that are in alignment with their mission and values while steering them away from distracting activities. 

Is the strategy session appropriate for certain industry sectors and early stage businesses only?

“We are industry agnostic,” Tricarico states. “Start-ups, non-profit organizations, Certified B-Corps, and more have all participated in these sessions. What’s also interesting is that we see everyone from solopreneurs at the ideation stage to founders of small businesses struggling with losing 80% of their revenue due to COVID. All have walked away from these sessions having gained clarity and confidence about their next steps.” 

Read our blog post on ‘Feet to the Fire,’ one of our strategy session clients who successfully pivoted her business online during the pandemic.

What do people walk away with after a strategy session?

Strategy sessions are not fluff, pie-in-the-sky gatherings. Rather, they are opportunities to establish plans that advance the organization’s mission. 

“We ask the question: If you came back here in 12 months, how would you know if you were successful? What would your business look like/feel like? How would you be able to communicate to me that you were successful?” Tricarico shares. 

Not satisfied with vague statements such as, “Sales will be up”, Tricarico challenges leaders to establish specific, measurable goals that will alleviate pain points. By digging deep into leaders’ motivations for their goals, Tricarico is able to gain a better understanding of the obstacles standing in a business’s way. 

“Ultimately, the client leaves the session with both clarity and confidence: they know what they need to accomplish and how they’re going to achieve their definition of success.” Tricarico states. 

What happens after the strategy session?

Strategy session clients often feel a sense of relief once the session wraps up. They have taken the time to work on their business and have gained an ally in Open-i Advisors on their road to success. However, the work is just beginning. 

“We spend a day or two with the information we gathered during the session and compile it into a one-page plan.” Tricarico states. “The plan is short and actionable: one page plots out their mission, values, and the goals we’ve defined together. Under each goal, we list the activities necessary to work towards those goals. 

“We try to include any resources we think might help them based on their very unique situation – books to read, online learning opportunities, introductions to our network, etc. We try to give as much value as possible in the short deliverable.”

The sessions appear to be effective. 

“We have heard of some strategy session participants laminating the one-pager and putting it on everyone’s desk to maintain the team’s focus.” 

To learn more about or to book a free strategy session with Open-i Advisors, visit https://openiadvisors.com/covid-19-pro-bono-offer/.

Leaders Who Inspire Us Through Change – Angela Burton, Feet to the Fire

By Uncategorized

We’re so excited to kick off our leaders who inspire us through change series, highlighting business leaders and entrepreneurs we’ve worked with, who continue to lean into change and innovate! 

Angela Burton

First up is Angela Burton, founder of Feet to the Fire Writer’s Workshop®. Our consultant Stacey Servo, also founding member of Wild Accelerator, worked with Angela in the first Wild cohort to help build awareness, identify funding opportunities, and develop marketing strategies. Our team continues to serve on an advisory level as FTTF evolves and launches new products and services. 

Why did you create Feet to the Fire and who do you serve?

Since 2015, Feet to the Fire Writers’ Workshops® (Feet to the Fire), a woman-owned small business, has provided a licensed expressive writing program designed to improve life purpose in senior/assisted-living communities and wellness organizations in seven states covering the west, midwest, and south regions of the U.S. The program currently serves 31 senior living sites and nonprofit organizations, designed for older adults to engage in writing thousands of personal stories. These stories provide people with the chance to capture their own lives authentically, and also leave behind a lasting legacy for their families.

What business challenges are you facing post-COVID? 

With the onset of COVID, Feet to the Fire’s ability to grow its offerings in senior living communities was directly impacted, due to restrictions within those communities (residents cannot typically congregate in groups and must maintain social distancing, etc.). Additionally, the senior living industry’s revenues are impacted by COVID, as resident care and safety is top of mind. Care staff are also stressed in additional responsibilities related to safety requirements. Much of senior living programming and activities have been curtailed, which directly affects programs like Feet to the Fire. 

What led you to decide to launch the podcast? What inspired you? 

In June 2020, Feet to the Fire launched its podcast, Feet to the Fire Writers’ Workshops® OUTLOUD, to give voice to those people within the program with a simple goal –  allow them to share their stories and help people feel valued, cherished, heard, and connected. Because COVID has affected an already invisible population – aging adults – we knew that their voices needed to be uplifted!  We also realized the podcast would offer us a valuable brand extension for our company as well as our existing clients. 

Change and launching new products is scary. What drives you to continue to take risks and innovate?

Angela Burton gives a group prompts to use as they write stories for upcoming classes

We are driven by our social mission – to provide a meaningful program for people to express themselves through writing. The research tells us that writing is a useful tool for improving social/emotional and cognitive wellbeing. With the tragedy of a global pandemic, we know that people need resources such as ours to help them feel connected and heard, to bring them self-awareness and purpose, and to support their mental wellbeing. We simply could not give up, we had to move forward especially at this time of need.

Who inspires you? 

Just one? I am inspired by many of the companies in the senior living industry who have not given up, yet pivoted to provide valuable relief to both caregivers and our most valuable asset – our older generation. 

How can people learn more about Feet to the Fire and your new podcast?

Website: https://feettothefirewriters.com/ and podcast link: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1162559. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

What’s next?

Feet to the Fire is readying a consumer-facing product that will continue to inspire people to author their life stories, and a virtual platform to connect writers in organized groups to share their meaningful stories, thereby decreasing social isolation brought upon by the global pandemic. More details to come…

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About Open-i

Since 2015, Open-i has been collaborating with passionate entrepreneurs and business leaders like you to positively navigate change. More than lending a hand over this turbulent period, we want to help in the best way we know how, by providing you with clarity, confidence and concrete tools to embrace the seasons ahead.

If you are experiencing challenges and need help navigating changes, Open-i is offering FREE 60-minute strategy sessions with our senior consultants. Simply click on the link below to schedule your session.

COVID-19 Effort: Free 60-min Strategy Session

Louisville Expansion

Open-i Welcomes Ellie Puckett & Stacey Servo To Our New Louisville, Kentucky Location!

By Uncategorized

This expansion positions us to serve not only established organizations around the globe, but start-ups and younger companies who are ready to take on their next big challenge!

Open-i Advisors (OiA) is settling into the new year with a keen eye on our expansion. Last September, we established a new office in the lively and welcoming city of Louisville, Kentucky. One of many reasons we decided to expand to Louisville was the opportunity to help grow the city’s business and entrepreneur community. 

 “Serving innovative communities and helping them grow is at the heart of what Open-i Advisors is! We started in Washington, D.C. and Toronto, ON, and have gone on to contribute to communities in Montreal, QC and Richmond, VA. Since opening in Louisville we have come to love its spirit. We believe in Louisville and can’t wait to help it build to its potential!”

Christian Dawson, Co-founder & Senior Partner

“Once we hired Taylor as our Managing Partner, and she told us how Louisville is becoming a start-up hub and that there would be lots of opportunity to work with small businesses who want to grow; to me it made perfect sense to have one of our offices there.  We’re thrilled to be part of the community!”

Hilary B. Osborne, Co-founder & Senior Partner

A key part of our expansion is hiring experts who truly embody the spirit of our company and our desire to help businesses grow and achieve their goals. With that mission in mind, we are thrilled to welcome Ellie Puckett and Stacey Servo to our Louisville team. With nearly 20 years of collective experience working in corporate and start-up environments, both women will play an important role in further connecting Open-i Advisors to the Louisville business community. 

A native of Louisville, Ellie formerly worked for Greater Louisville Inc. (GLI), where she coached tech start-ups and helped them achieve desired growth. Ellie will put her experience to work for Open-i Advisor’s clients through operations consulting from an innovative perspective. As Ellie puts it, “you can either be an already innovative company that needs to grow, or you can be a legacy company looking to benefit from the way in which new companies start. Either way, I can help you implement agility-style methods into your existing processes, so that you’re able to grow and scale your business.”

“Ellie helps us fill a gap that the local business ecosystem continues to have around one-on-one services, and targeted resources for entrepreneurs,” says Managing Partner Taylor Tricarico, who serves as the head of Open-i Advisor’s Louisville office. 

Stacey’s work will center on marketing and growth strategy for companies in Louisville and around the world. She will use her experience building companies and advising both start-ups and entrepreneurs to help businesses develop strategies to meet their goals. “Stacey has both the ability to operate on a strategic level, as well as execute on the ground. This allows her to quickly help clients gain the clarity and focus they need, to get them from where they are now, to where they want to be,” says Taylor Tricarico.

Both women agree that they are expert connectors and are happiest when they are helping to connect people with resources to build solutions. “Sometimes all you need is a new connection, or very specific tactics to help move your company forward,” says Stacey. 

We are excited that these two experts decided to connect with us, and become a part of the Open-i Advisors team. We look forward to the work we will do together and how we will help Louisville businesses, old and new, achieve their goals.

Story Louisville

New Case Study on the Entrepreneurial Hub of Louisville, KY

By Uncategorized

Open-i Advisors (OiA) recently opened our first office in Louisville, KY, home of the Kentucky Derby, and a growing hub of entrepreneurship across the state and the region. One of the pillars contributing to the growth of entrepreneurship is Story Louisville, one of the city’s first coworking spaces for independent, remote, and creative workers. 

Story founder and Chief of Happiness Natalia Bishop met Taylor Tricarico, OiA’s Managing Partner, when Natalia was still a solo entrepreneur sharing a small studio space with like-minded creatives. “We connected on the mission of Story and Story Labs. Taylor started asking about needs, pain points” said Natalia. Natalia’s big-picture thinking helped Story expand from her first shared studio space, to their first location on the second floor of a building on Market Street; but, Natalia had even bigger plans and she knew she needed help to reach the next level.

Taylor balanced out Natalia’s big vision and idealistic thinking, with practical solutions and next steps to help her meet her goals. Taylor and OiA were able to take Natalia’s dreams for Story, and translate them into a concrete plan. Taylor was also able to bring in the expertise of the full OiA team, as Story needed them.

Natalia felt like Taylor was in the trenches with her every step of the way. Taylor became an honorary team member and her contributions were invaluable, as Story moved into their second location:  a three-story, 30,000 square foot, mostly booked, downtown coworking space sponsored by Microsoft.

If you know of a small business with big dreams, it is worth reading about Story’s inspiring growth and the difference outside advice can make. Reflecting on Story’s growth and its engagement with OiA, Natalia said, “I wish I would have recognized the value of the investment earlier, so I wouldn’t have had to struggle as long. It is obviously an investment, but it also pays off. I wish I hadn’t hesitated as long.” 

Download the case study here.

Kiran

Getting to Know our Consultants: Kiran Malancharuvil

By Get to Know our Consultants

We’ve all come to Open-i Advisors from diverse backgrounds. What unique career and personal interests do you bring to Open-i Advisors? 

My favorite projects are always the ones where I believe in the outcome.  One of the primary focuses of my career has been to contribute to the positive experience of businesses and consumers on the internet.  Trust & Safety initiatives are always so incredibly satisfying because there are so many benefits, and they bring together a diverse group of stakeholders to work toward achieving a free, open and safe Internet.  

I also really enjoy projects where I can empower clients, employees and customers to learn more about the “why” behind the “what”.  For example, I worked on a years-long project to educate internet consumers on the dangers of counterfeit goods, and was able to leverage the resources of some top internet-facing brands, industry groups and platforms to help spread the message. It was so satisfying to know that we contributed to keeping people safe, and helped stop the flow of money to terrorist organizations, child traffickers and other nefarious groups who we know benefit from the sale of seemingly harmless counterfeit goods online.  

In my personal life, I have such a weird mix of interests and achievements.  I am a classically trained opera singer, I can bake a pie from scratch, I have run races, I was a tap dancer.  The thing I’m most proud of is being a solo parent to my five-year-old daughter Lily, who is the most amazing person and my greatest teacher.  

Outside feedback is enormously important for businesses. What’s some feedback that you’ve received personally that helped you grow?

“Be yourself.”  It took me an embarrassingly long time to learn how to be myself, and when I did, I flourished in my career and in my life overall.  I think women in particular get a lot of “advice” from people when they are young and coming up in their career, and while it’s mostly given in a helpful well-meaning spirit, I found that I was twisting myself into knots to follow that advice and present myself and my ideas in a way that didn’t always feel authentic or genuine.  I eventually learned that educating myself fully on an issue and following my intuition gave me the confidence and credibility I needed to establish myself as a unique and valuable voice in the industry.  

We all try to bring a lot to the table at Open-i Advisors. On the Open-i Advisors team, what’s your superpower?

My superpower is surrounding myself with all the smartest, coolest people, and being a sponge for everything they are willing to teach me!  I love making new friends and professional contacts. There is so much to learn from the different experiences of people I come across in my work and travels.  Connecting clients with my network to help them achieve their goals and expand their own perspective and understanding of a particular topic is my favorite way to use my “superpower”. 

We’re fond of the saying, “If you can not measure it, you can not improve it.” What’s one thing you think an organization should immediately start measuring that they likely aren’t?

The impact of diversity on the working experience.  I have been so inspired by organizations that are leading the way on understanding how gender, race, geography and socioeconomic factors affect how employees excel and advance in the workplace.  Measuring this can help organizations ensure a diverse workforce and develop a flexible environment to accommodate the unique needs of different groups. I think that this is the single most important step to achieving equality and ensuring that employees can individually achieve balance, wellness and happiness. 

What do you love doing in your spare time?

My favorite things are reading, playing with my daughter, and cooking for family and friends.  I cherish the memories of big dinners with people I love. My mom and grandma taught me how to cook and bake.  Putting a meal on the table fills me with nostalgia and a sense of history, belonging and community. My happy place is stirring a pot of something with one hand and reading a paperback novel with the other. 

Finding Profit and Purpose Through Cloud Marketing Insights

By Insights

Last week, the web hosting community gathered for the first-ever Webpros Summit. This highly technical conference brought together some of the top experts in the field of web hosting, including Open-i Advisors Co-founder and Senior Partner, Christian Dawson.

At the event, Christian led a session covering the latest facts and figures on cloud hosting. He cited data from some of the most influential sources, especially data from our partners at Structure Research, explaining why the cloud should be the focus in today’s hosting economy. 

If you weren’t able to attend the session, you will have the opportunity to access Christian’s presentation, to find and utilize the facts and figures most relevant to the Internet infrastructure ecosystem today. This data is essential for identifying market opportunities, uncovering market threats, and discovering ways to differentiate your business in a complex landscape. 

The slides Christian put together for the presentation, and links to the resources he finds most helpful for recognizing market opportunities within the cloud industry, are located here

Some of the major takeaways from the presentation spoke to the projected growth of the industry. The cloud infrastructure industry is projected to grow at an exponential pace, according to Structure Research. As this industry continues to grow in the coming years, there are some potential threats to the competitive landscape.

The major threats include cybersecurity, platformification, and consolidation. In terms of cybersecurity, the success of the cloud infrastructure market in the long term relies largely on customers using the services and resources they purchase responsibly, rather than for spam or phishing. Platformification has a number of benefits, but also comes with the issues of lack of prioritization, among others. Consolidation of hypervisor and broadband markets also poses a major threat, and is putting pressure on small businesses to compete on price and scale.

When companies know the numbers surrounding their industry and their business, they are better able to defend against these threats, while continuing to take advantage of new market opportunities. Staying on top of cybersecurity and threat mitigation in this space can positively affect your bottom line, while increasing trust in the industry as a whole. In order to combat platformification, use data to get to know your customers better, especially small and medium-sized businesses. To compete against consolidation, it is important to know what your company excels at, before advertising to the specific audiences who can benefit most from your service and expertise. Having strong data about the success of your past client engagements can be a significant help. 

This is only a glimpse into the immense amount of data-driven insight available on cloud infrastructure. To find more industry data, look to the reports produced by some of the thought leaders in the cloud infrastructure space including:

While this information is helpful to understand the broader industry, understanding your company’s individual purpose in the market is the quickest path to success. Please reach out to our team, if you need assistance analyzing the market from your unique perspective. 

Bree

Get to Know our Consultants: Bree Dodd

By Get to Know our Consultants
Consultant Q&A

Commitment to personal and professional growth and makes for a well-balanced project manager

Bree Dodd brings extensive experience and expertise in the field of technical and operational project management for many notable organizations across multiple industries. When not guiding projects towards successful completion, Bree teaches yoga in Richmond, VA, and dotes on her Bernese Mountain Dog.

This Q&A will help you get to know what experiences Bree Dodd brings to the Open-i Advisors team.

We’ve all come to Open-i Advisors from diverse backgrounds. What are some of your career or personal highlights to date?

Bree Dodd: My greatest highlight to date was my jump into entrepreneurship. Over a year ago I moved to Richmond, Virginia and promptly opened a yoga studio. Experiencing the different roles of being an entrepreneur and owner in the yoga industry was thrilling (and equally as terrifying!). I recently decided to close the studio and shift the yoga concept/brand, however, the experience of owning a brick and mortar business was invaluable for my personal and professional growth. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to build an inclusive and kind community; a community that has outlasted the physical studio space.

Outside feedback is enormously important for businesses. What’s some feedback that you’ve received personally that helped you grow?

BD: “If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not making decisions.” I think a shared human experience is fear of failure, and that fear becoming a barrier to making decisions and taking risks. This is something I have struggled with in the past, but with the help of mentors + personal experience, it is just that, a thing of the past. Being willing to make mistakes is what will elevate your work and your life.

We all try to bring a lot to the table at Open-i Advisors. On the Open-i Advisors team, what’s your superpower?

BD: I always joke with people that my job as a project manager is herding cats, but what that really means is I have a knack for balancing the emotions and needs of a diverse team.  

We’re fond of the saying, “If you can not measure it, you can not improve it.” What’s one thing you think an organization should immediately start measuring that they likely aren’t?

BD: Wellness! Most American adults spend half or more of their waking hours working. Where we work, how long we work, the conditions of our work and who we work with all impact our health. A wellness-focused culture makes a difference in improving productivity, eliminating burnout and decreasing turnover. 

What do you love doing in your spare time?

BD: I teach yoga and love being active myself. Whether it’s a spin class, CrossFit, or hiking, I try to get a good sweat in once a day. I also have a Bernese Mountain Dog that I’m a little (ok, a lot) obsessed with. I spend a decent amount of time with her making sure she gets plenty of screen time on Instagram stories.

Get to Know our Consultants: Nicole Howley

By Get to Know our Consultants
Consultant Q&A

Turning Data Into Fresh Insights

You might know Nicole Howley as our resident data and policy nerd who loves to make data accessible for decision makers to find new connections and insights.

Nicole has built Business Intelligence dashboards for organizations ranging from homeless service providers to rock climbing companies to ecommerce retailers. She also has extensive expertise in qualitative and quantitative research practices that she has put to use measuring the impact of business decisions and tracking grant progress for nonprofits. Additionally, she has published over 100 magazine articles and blog posts, planned multiple large scale events, and helped companies develop policies and programs to make long term improvements to organizational efficiency. She has a Master of Science Degree in Science, Technology and Public Policy from Rochester Institute of Technology.

This Q&A will help you get to know what experiences Nicole Howley brings to the Open-i Advisors team.

We’ve all come to Open-i Advisors from diverse backgrounds. What are some of your career or personal highlights to date?

Nicole Howley: Career-wise, one of the accomplishments I am most proud of is completing a year of service through AmeriCorps VISTA. In my role, I worked with the Office of Homelessness in Lexington, KY to help coordinate the response to homelessness throughout the city. While I did not work directly with clients, I worked with an amazing team of service providers to develop sustainable solutions to some of the barriers that were preventing people from obtaining housing and staying housed.

I’m incredibly proud of the work I accomplished there from organizing a city-wide count of people experiencing homelessness, establishing the first ID card scanning program at the second largest shelter in the city, to developing forms that helped people document their experience of homelessness so they could access housing resources more quickly. In this role, I felt incredibly motivated by the common goal of ending homelessness through housing and incredibly fulfilled from using my skills in data anlaysis and policy development to make a difference in people’s day to day lives. I am incredibly grateful for the experience and all that I learned professionally and on a personal level.

An additional personal highlight: winning first place in a women’s rock climbing competition in Louisville, KY last year!!

We all try to bring a lot to the table at Open-i Advisors. On the Open-i Advisors team, what’s your superpower?

NH: I wish it was flying. But really, I rock an Excel spreadsheet. I also build business intelligence dashboards that give people the power to make data driven decisions about their business. My goal is to help companies access their data to make better business decisions long term. Is there a cool super hero name for that power?

Outside feedback is enormously important for businesses. What’s some feedback that you’ve received personally that helped you grow?

NH: “If there is no right answer, there’s nothing left to do but decide.” As someone who loves data, reserach, and backing up my decisions, it is really easy for me to get caught up in trying to find the correct next step before moving forward, but in a lot of business, especially those that are incredibly innovative, there is no “right” answer – or at lease no known “right” answer.

Sometimes it can be tough for me to overcome by determination to find the right answer and to just jump into a project when I am not 100% confident in what I am doing. The friend who told me the quote above was encouraging me to get over that decision making hump and to dive in, try, and learn until I got it right by doing instead of getting caught in analysis paralysis. It was advice I really needed at the time and still think back to regularly.

We’re fond of the saying, “If you can not measure it, you can not improve it.” What’s one thing you think an organization should immediately start measuring that they likely aren’t?

NH: I am very interested in measuring anything related to an organization’s goals, and I think those goals can vary greatly from organization to organization. However, I would encourage everyone to keep an eye out for the outliers and look into those instances more.

When I was working to address homelessness in Lexington, we would work day in and day out on creating policies and programs addressing the needs of as many people as we could as efficiently as possible and we knew from our numbers that we were making progress in reaching our goals.  But then we would look out the window of our office and see the same person day after day, month after month, still experiencing homelessness. We had our spreadsheets, our numbers, and our strategies that worked for the majority of our clients, but we got some of the best insight into how we could improve our system overall from noticing the people who’s needs weren’t being met.

I think finding outliers can help organizations find the nuggets of valuable feedback that might otherwise be overlooked. They can also help organizations determine their unique strengths and the areas that set them appart, as well as some of the areas they can improve efficiency that might otherwise go under the radar.

What do you love doing in your spare time?

NH: Rock climbing – I would rock climb everyday, all the time if my arms would physically let me. Biking – I used to bike everywhere and it’s actually incredibly fun to bike in the snow. Reading – I read more books than Bill Gates last year and it is still one of my favorite accomplishments.

Get to Know our Consultants: Stacey Servo

By Get to Know our Consultants

Open-i Advisors relies on the amazing talent of our consultants, whose experience and capabilities span the globe and a variety of industries. This blog post series is about helping you get to know a bit more about our consultants and where they come from.

Stacey Servo is the Founder of New2Lou, a social resource for newcomers and founding member of Wild Accelerator, a micro-accelerator and idea & early-stage startup initiative geared towards female entrepreneurs. She is an engineer by trade and natural problem solver specializing in marketing & growth strategy, community & brand engagement, thought leadership, social impact optimization, stakeholder engagement and partnership strategy. Never afraid of a new challenge, she dives deep into her work to discover not only solutions for her client’s toughest challenges, but also new opportunities.

This Q&A will help you get to know what experiences Stacey Servo brings to the Open-i Advisors team.

OiA: We’ve all come to Open-i Advisors from diverse backgrounds. What are some of your career or personal highlights to date?

Stacey Servo: One of the highlights on my engineering career was working on Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, who’s goal was to be the world’s first zero carbon, zero waste city. I worked on a team who built a custom application to track and analyze city-wide resources and predict future demand.

My second career highlight was as an entrepreneur. I built a social-driven startup called New2Lou to help and engage newcomers and expanded to multiple markets. In Louisville alone, we built up a network of over 15,000 active and engaged young professionals within 5 years. I always tell aspiring entrepreneurs to find a need and fill it, especially if it aligns with your personal experience and passion.

OiA: Outside feedback is enormously important for businesses. What’s some feedback that you’ve received personally that helped you grow?

Servo: Build a network of people with similar goals and aspirations and find mentors to help you achieve your goals. Work with companies that inspire you and are aligned with your goals and passions. Actively engage with your community. It not only builds long term relationships, but also feels great and helps connect you to your community – a win-win.

OiA: We all try to bring a lot to the table at Open-i Advisors. On the Open-i Advisors team, what’s your superpower?

Servo: I’m a super connector. I build long term relationships with people around the world and love making connections to help build teams, partnerships and products. I’m also great at identify gaps and coming up with creative solutions.

OiA: We’re fond of the saying, “If you can not measure it, you can not improve it.” What’s one thing you think an organization should immediately start measuring that they likely aren’t?

Servo: Community engagement and social impact. These can be difficult to measure which is why many companies are struggle, but once you establish your goals and metrics and align these to your overall company goals, you quickly can see the impact.

OiA: What do you love doing in your spare time?

Servo: I grew up in Northwestern Montana just outside of Glacier Park, so love spending time outdoors. I enjoy hiking, paddle boarding, skiing, yoga, camping and reading a good book in a hammock in the trees.