Doug Smith

Providing CFO services in the DC Metro Area

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About Doug

Doug Smith

Annandale, VA CFO

38 Years of Experience

Direct Contact

dougsmith@b2bcfo.com

703-927-9823

Universities:

Harvard Business School, MBA


Princeton University, BS, Engineering

Certificates & Licenses:

Certified Business Transition ExpertTM


Project Management Professional

Organizations:

Exit Planning Exchange (XPX), DC Metro Chapter (President)


HBS Club of Washington DC


Financial Executives Networking Group (FENG)

Contact Doug Smith and receive a free Discovery Analysis™

  • A confidential meeting with the business owner(s), then interview company staff.
  • Look at the company’s financial information and computer systems.
  • Benchmark financial information against industry averages.
  • Create a confidential report of our findings in The Strategy Gameplan™








Doug’s Bio

Are you a company owner or CEO? Doug Smith can help you improve your organization’s profitability, and strengthen your operational and financial performance. You'll be able to focus your attention on customers and growth. Doug can also help you begin thinking about options for exiting your business, and can work with you to maximize the value of your company when it's time for that exit.

Doug’s B2B CFO® engagements tap over 30 years of hands-on business experience, including:

  • P&L responsibility in a variety of industries, including information technology, healthcare, and Federal contracting 18 years’ experience as a Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and Chief Administrative Officer Merger & Acquisition experience, both as seller and buyer Qualified as a Certified Business Exit ConsultantTM
  • Work in both commercial companies and non-profit organizations
  • Expertise in all the functions that make an organization successful: business operations, finance, human resources, information technology, marketing, contracts, and facilities and security
  • Strong project management skills, including
  • Project Management Professional (PMP) certification
  • Managing groups ranging from 20 to 1,000+ employees

Doug’s B2B CFO® clients include government contractors, health care organizations, engineering firms, private equity groups, software developers, video streaming providers, wealth managers, and telemarketing companies. Prior to joining B2B CFO®, Doug was COO at Professional Healthcare Resources, the largest independent home healthcare and hospice firm in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Doug doubled revenues in less than 5 years, and improved the profit margin by over 50%. As CFO of AlphaInsight Corporation, he helped sell the company to CACI International.

At the MITRE Corporation, Doug led a group managing system engineering and IT projects for six large Federal agencies, growing revenues at 50% annually. Doug began his career at American Management Systems, growing over a 20+ year career from business and technology consultant to project manager, to practice area manager, to business area CFO, to head of all AMS’ internal IT, HR, facilities, and marketing functions.

Doug has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BS in Engineering from Princeton University. Doug and his wife Jeannette have been married for 29 years, and have three sons.

Contact Doug (703) 927-9823

 

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Recent Articles

Aug 31Doug Smith

That is So Gross! | Tips For a Healthy Gross Margin

Aug 31Doug Smith
Gross Margin

Metrics Make the Difference In business, we talk a lot about “the bottom line,” but have you ever wondered how deep that bottom goes? While a company’s profit, or net margin, is the net amount left over at the end of business day, the amount of that net margin is affected by factors much higher up on the income statement. In my B2B CFO® work, I often work with clients to reduce their indirect costs (e.g., selling, marketing, distribution, warehousing,

Jul 6Doug Smith

How to Predict if a New Business Idea is Any Good

Jul 6Doug Smith
Good Business Idea

In 2008, entrepreneur Brian Chesky and his two San Francisco roommates made the rounds of Silicon Valley VC firms with what they thought was a great idea. Five VC firms rejected the start-up’s pitch outright, and two didn’t even bother to reply. Fortunately, they were able to get some funding, and eight years later AirBnB is worth billions of dollars This is one of the most difficult questions in the business world: How can you tell if a new business

Jun 6Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Baby Bills

Jun 6Doug Smith
Baby Bills

I remember when the old AT&T was broken up in the 1980s, so I was familiar with the Baby Bells that came out of that breakup. I was browsing on the Investopedia site recently, and saw the term “Baby Bills,” which at first I thought was a misspelling. Instead, I found that the term was a hypothetical nickname for the smaller companies that would have been formed if Microsoft had been broken up for violation of antitrust rules in 2000.

May 6Doug Smith

Can Applied Economics Save Homeless Puppies?

May 6Doug Smith
Economics and homeless puppies

There’s a tendency to think of businesses as cold-hearted. That’s why I was so glad to read a recent blog entry in HBS Working Knowledge about an organization that wants to do good using business principals. In 2012, Christine L. Exley and Elena Battles launched a startup called Wagaroo in pursuit of a noble market design: finding homes for dogs and vice versa. The Wagaroo website describes the company as “a team of fun humans with years of dog experience

Apr 6Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Odious Debt

Apr 6Doug Smith
Odious debt

When I first came upon this term on the Investopedia site, I thought maybe it was referring to bonds that had been sitting in safe so long they’d developed mildew. But I was wrong, Instead, “Odious Debt” refers to money borrowed by one country from another country, which is then misappropriated by national rulers. A nation’s debt becomes odious debt when government leaders use borrowed funds in ways that don’t benefit or even oppress citizens. Some legal scholars argue that

Mar 6Doug Smith

When Negotiating a Price, Never Bid with a Round Number

Mar 6Doug Smith
Price Negotiation

Here’s a negotiating tip I found recently from the HBS Working Knowledge blog site. When you make an initial offer, don’t bid with a round number like $10,000 or $1 million or $15 per share. Rather, bid with a more precise number, like $9,800 or $1.03 million or $14.80 per share. According to a recent study of mergers and acquisitions, investors who offer “precise” bids for company shares yield better market outcomes than those who offer round-numbered bids. The blog

Feb 6Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Fakeout

Feb 6Doug Smith
Fakeout

I love browsing through the Dictionary on the Investopedia website. I am forever running into financial terms I’d not heard of before. While browsing recently, I came on the term “Fakeout.” It turns out that Fakeout is a term used in technical analysis to refer to a situation in which a trader enters into a position in anticipation of a future transaction signal or price movement, but the signal or movement never develops and the asset moves in the opposite

Jun 23Doug Smith

Brand Lessons from the Nobel Prize

Jun 23Doug Smith

I always look forward to the announcement of the Nobel Prize winners each year. The awards are front page news. But why is that. According to a recent posting in the HBS Working Knowledge blog, two renowned branding professors, Stephen Greyser (who as a professor of mine at HBS) and Mats Urde, recently completed a study on what makes everyone cover the prize in the first place. Here’s the article. “In a real sense, everybody knows what the Nobel Prize

May 19Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Old Lady

May 19Doug Smith
Old Lady Smoking A Cigarette

I would never be able to get away using this week’s buzzword with my wife or my mom. But, never fear, the term Old Lady has a different meaning in the financial world, according to our friends at Investopedia. According to them, Old Lady is an eighteenth century nickname for the Bank of England. The full name is the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street, which refers to the bank’s location. The Bank of England is located in the middle of

Apr 21Doug Smith

Managing the Family Business: Are Optimists or Pessimists Better Leaders?

Apr 21Doug Smith
Glass Cup Of Water

A few of my B2B CFO clients are family-owned businesses. Usually, at least one family member is working in the business. Sometimes, multiple family members are. Not all family members are alike (I can confirm that just through my experiences with my own kids). So, in running the business, which family member is the best suited. The one with the glass-half-full attitude, or the one with the glass-half-empty attitude. A recent article in the HBS Working Knowledge blog, written by

Mar 24Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Falling Knife

Mar 24Doug Smith
Knives Stuck In a Wooden Board

When I first ran across this week’s buzzword, I thought it was about jumping out of the way in your kitchen to avoid some serious injury But I was wrong. According to our friends at Investopedia, a “falling knife” is a slang phrase for a security or industry in which the current price or value has dropped significantly in a short period of time. A falling knife security can rebound, or it can lose all of its value, such as

Feb 17Doug Smith

Deconstructing the Price Tag

Feb 17Doug Smith
Marked Down Price Tag

I love a good bargain. But how do I really know I’m getting one? When I walk into a store, there are claims about savings from the “regular price.” But how can I learn how that original price – or the discounted one – were arrived at. A new study, highlighted in a recent issue of the HBS Working Knowledge blog, shows that explaining what it costs to produce a product can potentially increase its sales. Here’s the article: “When

Jan 24Doug Smith

Managing the Family Business: Lessons about Buyouts

Jan 24Doug Smith
Stacked Columns of Golden Coins

During my career, I’ve worked for a couple of family-owned businesses, and I’ve had family-owned businesses as B2B CFO clients. One of the features of a family-owned business is the expectation that the business will pass to the next generation. But that may not be the best solution for the family – or the business. That’s why I was fascinated by an article in the HBS Working Knowledge blog that highlighted the case of Market Basket, a family owned grocery

Dec 30Doug Smith

The Strategic Way to Hire a Sales Team

Dec 30Doug Smith
Business Stick Men Marching In Single File

At my last W-2 job (before joining B2B CFO), I ran a health care firm. We had a sales force of 25 people, helping us acquire patients. Building and managing successful sales teams is a challenging task. That’s what interested me about a recent article in the HBS Working Knowledge blog. “The equivalent of an entire sales force is replaced at many firms every four years, so it’s critical that go-to-market initiatives remain tied to strategic goals. Frank Cespedes explains

Dec 9Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: The Handle

Dec 9Doug Smith
Zoomed In Metal Door Knocker

When I first saw the link for this week’s buzzword, I thought we were back in the time of CB radios, when everyone had a “handle.” According to our friends at Investopedia, however, the term has a different use in the financial markets. There a handle is “The whole number part of a price quote. In a quote the handle could be $56, while the price quote for stock might be $56.25. The quote’s handle eliminates the part of the

Nov 18Doug Smith

Why Companies Fail, and How Their Founders Can Bounce Back

Nov 18Doug Smith
Boy In Superman Pose In Midair

Starting a new business is inherently risky. Some are successful, but many fail. Even among my B2B CFO clients (companies ranging in age from startup to 50 years), some may not make it in the long term. I took heart, therefore, when I read a recent post in the HBS Working Knowledge Blog about the positive effects that business failures can have on founders’ future prospects: “Most companies fail. It’s an unsettling fact for bright-eyed entrepreneurs, but old news to

Oct 28Doug Smith

Apple Pay’s Technology Adoption Problem

Oct 28Doug Smith
DC Metro Apple Pay will be supported by several leading retailers,

I was due for a new phone recently, and as a devoted Apple fan I got an iPhone 6 (the 6 Plus was just too huge for me). While it has all the phone, photography, internet, messaging, and apps functionality I’ve come to know and love, it also comes with something new – the ability to pay vendors through my phone. Apple Pay is rolling out in October 2014. That’s why I was interested to find an article about potential

Oct 10Doug Smith

Secrets to a Successful Social Media Strategy

Oct 10Doug Smith
Tablet With White Background

Why are people so drawn to social media? The question long haunted Mikolaj “Misiek” Piskorski and eventually led to his new book, A Social Strategy: How We Profit from Social Media. I read about this book recently in an HBS Working Knowledge blog post, and it interested me because even though I’m active on Twitter and LinkedIn, it’s unclear how much (if at all) that contributes to the success of my business. Here are some excerpts from the article: “Drawing from

Sep 20Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Undated Issue

Sep 20Doug Smith
Wire Tied In An Infiniti Knot

When I first ran into this term, I assumed it had something to do with my son when he was between girlfriends. However, trusting to my “go-to” source, Investopedia, here’s what I found it actually refers to: “A government bond that has no maturity date, and pays interest in perpetuity. While the government can redeem an undated issue if it so chooses, since most existing undated issues have very low coupons, there is little or no incentive for redemption. Undated

Aug 31Doug Smith

Venture Investors Prefer Funding Handsome Men

Aug 31Doug Smith
Male Model Wearing A Tie 2

I’ve never thought of myself as a hunk – far from it. Despite my ordindary looks, I’ve managed to be reasonably successful in my career, and in getting business owners to take me on as their CFO Advisor. That’s why I was interested to see, in a recent HBS Working Knowledge blog, that studies by Alison Wood Brooks and colleagues reveal that investors prefer pitches from male entrepreneurs over those from female entrepreneurs, even when the content of the pitches

Aug 10Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Uberrimae Fidei Contract

Aug 10Doug Smith
The Word Contract Spelled Out Using Magnets

In browsing through Investopedia.com recently, I came on a term that was certainly new to me: An Uberrimae Fidei contract. Here’s what I found: It’s a “legal agreement requiring the highest standard good faith. “Uberrimae fidei” or “uberrima fides” is Latin for “utmost good faith.” Insurance contracts are the most common type of uberrimae fidei contract. Because the insurance company agrees to share the risk of loss with the policyholder, it is imperative that the policyholder act in good faith

Jul 20Doug Smith

The Role of Emotions in Effective Negotiations

Jul 20Doug Smith
Display Of Many Facial Expressions

In both my work and home life, negotiations happen all the time. I’ve studied negotiation theory and read a number of books on negotiation. Thus, I was drawn to a recent article in the HBS Working Knowledge blog from Harvard Business School. Here’s a summary: “A simple view of negotiation presents a cold transaction between what one person has and what the other person is willing to pay for it. If the price is right, the deal gets done. As

May 7Doug Smith

At B2B CFO®, Why We Do What We Do

May 7Doug Smith
B2B CFO logo_with registration_8-24-10

Click on the title for this post. You’ll see the video on the next screen.

May 5Doug Smith

My Video about Being a B2B CFO Partner

May 5Doug Smith
B2B CFO Gameplan Logo

Click the title above to go to the full Blog entry. You’ll see the video on that page.

Apr 10Doug Smith

My Video on “The Right Time to Exit”

Apr 10Doug Smith
Green Exit Sign On Ceiling

Click the title of this blog entry. You’ll see the video on the next page. photo credit: Escape via photopin (license)

Apr 8Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Haircut

Apr 8Doug Smith
Barber Cutting Someone's Hair

If you look up at my picture, you’ll see that my hair is on the thin side, although I have more than my fellow partners Jeff Whipple and Paul Zambrotta. That’s why I was fascinated when I ran across a reference to a “financial haircut.” Going to my ever-trusty source, Investopedia, here’s what I found as an explanation: A haircut is used to describe either: 1. The difference between prices at which a market maker can buy and sell a

Mar 25Doug Smith

The Power of Rituals in Life, Death, and Business

Mar 25Doug Smith
Native American Performing A Ritual

Whenever I am about to meet a new business owner, or potential referral partner, as I walk in the door or go up the elevator, I take a deep breath and say to myself, “It’s showtime,” then relax and put a smile on my face. It’s a ritual. But it’s a ritual that works for me, and makes the subsequent meeting go much better. This was reinforced for me in a recent article I found in the HBS Working Knowledge blog:

Mar 11Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Obligor

Mar 11Doug Smith
Scrabble Word For Bills And Dollars

I’m forever discovering new financial buzzwords, and thanks to the website Investopedia, I’m able to figure out what they mean. This week’s word was a new one on me, for sure: Obligor. Investopedia explains that an obligor is a person or entity who is legally, or contractually, obliged to provide some benefit or payment to another. In the financial context, the term obligor refers to a bond issuer, who is contractually bound to make all principal repayments and interest payments

Feb 24Doug Smith

How to Spot a Liar

Feb 24Doug Smith

As you know, I’m a big fan of the Harvard Business School Working Knowledge blog, which highlights some of the interesting research at HBS. I recently came across a very interesting post highlighting work of 3 HBS researchers: “Want to know if someone’s lying to you? Telltale signs may include running of the mouth, an excessive use of third-person pronouns, and an increase in profanity. These are among the findings of a recent experimental study that delves into the language

Jan 12Doug Smith

Jerry Mills a Top 5 Finalist for Middle Market Thought Leader Award

Jan 12Doug Smith

Jerry L. Mills, founder and CEO of B2B CFO® and B2B Exit was named among the five finalists for the Middle Market Thought Leader Award, an annual honor bestowed by the Alliance of Merger & Acquisition Advisors® (AM&AA), the leading association and credentialing body for middle market M&A professionals. This annual award was designed to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions and impact on the middle market M&A space during the past year. Mills was recognized for research and

Nov 26Doug Smith

Neuroeconomics: Eyes, Brain, Business

Nov 26Doug Smith

Business theory can sometimes seem cut and dried. However, all two often human emotions and human reactions can have a major impact. This was highlighted in a recent article in the HBS Working Knowledge business blog. At first glance, a neuroscientist and a business school might seem an odd fit. But in fact economists have been paying increasing attention to how the brain works. Christine Looser discusses her research on how the brain detects aliveness and the possible implications for

Nov 19Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: “Invest, Then Investigate”

Nov 19Doug Smith

You’ve all heard the maxim of “Ready, Fire, Aim.” There’s a financial analog, according to Investopedia. “Invest, then Investigate” is an investment strategy where investors purchase a stock first and do research and due diligence second. Invest, then investigate – or investing first and researching next – is a risky and speculative approach to making investment decisions. This method is often used by individuals who have either an unfounded hunch that a security’s price will move in a particular direction,

Nov 12Doug Smith

5 Weight Loss Tips from Behavioral Economists

Nov 12Doug Smith

This year, I’ve embarked on a weight loss program and (at this writing) have lost more than 30 pounds toward my 50 pound goal. I’ve been using Weight Watchers successfully. However, I’m always interested in “what works?” I found a recent article in the HBS Working Knowledge blog that discusses Business scholars, particularly behavioral economists, studying what motivates people to buy, save, donate, and any other number of actions that build society. In helping organizations run better, this research can

Nov 5Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Glocalization

Nov 5Doug Smith

Looking through the Investopedia diction, I found that Glocaliszation is a combination of the words “globalization” and “localization” used to describe a product or service that is developed and distributed globally, but is also fashioned to accommodate the user or consumer in a local market. This means that the product or service may be tailored to conform with local laws, customs or consumer preferences. Products or services that are effectively “glocalized” are, by definition, going to be of much greater

Oct 29Doug Smith

Are the “Big Four” Audit Firms Too Big to Fail?

Oct 29Doug Smith

October 29 is a good day for this blog entry. Finally, the economy seems to be [mostly] back on its feet. However, the “Too Big To Fail”experience from the 2008 recession still scares me. It seems, according to a recent article in the HBS Working Knowledge newsletter, that banks are not the only institutions we need to worry about. Although the number of audit firms has decreased over the past few decades, concerns that the “Big Four” survivors have become

Oct 22Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Gazump

Oct 22Doug Smith

When I first hear this week’s buzzword, I thought someone was being blessed after sneezing. I was wrong. According to the Investopedia dictionary, a gazump is the practice of raising the price of a previously agreed-upon real estate transaction. A gazump refers to a situation where a seller and buyer of a piece of real estate (such as a parcel of land or a house) have in place a verbal agreement regarding price, but where the price is suddenly raised

Oct 15Doug Smith

Altruistic Capital: Harnessing Your Employee’s Intrinsic Goodwill

Oct 15Doug Smith

Everyone comes to the table with some amount of “altruistic capital,” a stock of intrinsic desire to serve, says Harvard Business School Professor Nava Ashraf. Her research, highlighted in a recent issue of the HBS Working Knowledge newsletter, includes a study of what best motivates hairdressers in Zambia to provide HIV/AIDS education in their salons. “Work done in the spirit of service is the highest form of worship.” —Abdu’l-Bahá The field of economics is rife with the concept of “capital.”

Oct 8Doug Smith

Northern Virginia Communities: Tysons Galleria Mall

Oct 8Doug Smith

I do a lot of networking meetings, and have spent untold hours at Starbucks, Panera, and other establishments. One of my favorite places to meet people is the Tysons Galleria mall. It’s right off the Beltway, and I can get there from my home for a meeting in less than 15 minutes. Tysons Galleria is an upscale three-level super-regional mall owned by General Growth Properties located at 2001 International Drive, McLean, Virginia, in Tysons Corner. The mall opened in 1988

Oct 1Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Back Up

Oct 1Doug Smith

Perhaps I’m being too forward in my thinking. Investopedia tells us this week about Back Up, a slang term for the movement in spread, price or yield of a security, which makes it more expensive to issue. Back up is characterized by an increase in bond yields and a decrease in price. The price of a security “backs up” when a company finds the security more costly to issue when raising funds. When a back up occurs, the fund raising

Sep 24Doug Smith

Managing High-Impact Entrepreneurs

Sep 24Doug Smith

Coursework at Harvard Business School continues to evolve, and certainly seems more interesting these days than when I was a student there 35 years ago. Here’s a course described in a recent issue of the HBS Working Knowledge blog: In her new Harvard Business School course, Creative High-Impact Ventures: Entrepreneurs Who Changed the World, professor Mukti Khaire looks at ways managers can team with creative talent in six “culture industries”: publishing, fashion, art-design, film, music, and food. Professor Mukti Khaire’s

Sep 10Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Anti-Fragility

Sep 10Doug Smith

Time to toughen up, according to this week’s buzzword from the Investopedia Lexicon. We all know what it means to be fragile. But what about anti-fragile? Investopedia tells us that Anti-Fragility is a postulated antithesis to fragility where high-impact events or shocks can be beneficial. Anti-fragility is a concept developed by professor, former trader and former hedge fund manager Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Taleb coined the term “anti-fragility” because he thought the existing words used to describe the opposite of “fragility,”

Sep 3Doug Smith

Northern Virginia Communities: Green Spring Gardens Park

Sep 3Doug Smith

Our youngest son Sawyer has been doing some volunteer work this summer in lieu of getting a paid summer job. He’s been helping out a few days a week at Green Spring Gardens Park, a historic and horticultural park that is part of the extensive Fairfax County Parks system. The historic house, set amid the gardens at Green Spring, was built in 1784. John Moss built a brick house on 540 acres of farmland in Alexandria. The reclaimed tobacco fields that

Aug 27Doug Smith

Teaming in the Twenty-First Century

Aug 27Doug Smith

Today’s teams are not well designed for getting work done in the twenty-first century, argues Professor Amy C. Edmondson in a recent issue of the HBS Working Knowledge newsletter. One starting point: learn the skill of “teaming.” Even as academic journals and business sections of bookstores fill up with titles devoted to teams, teamwork, and team players, Harvard Business School Professor Amy C. Edmondson wonders if many might be barking up the wrong tree. “I’ve begun to think that teams

Aug 20Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Aspirin Count Theory

Aug 20Doug Smith

This week’s buzzword made my head hurt. According to Investopedia, Aspirin County Theory is a market theory that states stock prices and aspirin production are inversely related. The Aspirin count theory is a lagging indicator and actually hasn’t been formally tested, so it is more a humorous hypothesis than a theory. As stock prices fall, more and more people need pain relievers to get through the day. For example the Aspirin count theory would predict that as aspirin sales increase,

Aug 13Doug Smith

Northern Virginia Communities: Mosaic District

Aug 13Doug Smith

I have lived in Northern Virginia for 35 years. Right outside the infamous Beltway is the unincorporated town of Merrifield. Merrifield used to be an area of mostly seedy warehouses, but in the last couple of years, major transformation has taken place. One of the most exciting of these has been the opening of the Mosaic District, a mixed-use development including shopping, restaurants, a great independent cinema movie theater, townhomes, and restaurants. We’re over there at least 2-3 times a

Aug 6Doug Smith

How to be Extremely Productive

Aug 6Doug Smith

If you’re a regular visitor to my blog, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of HBS Working Knowledge, a newsletter highlighting research and other tidbits from Harvard Business School. This week, I want to highlight a recent article where Professor Robert Pozen discusses his new book, Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours. In the book, he shares performance-enhancing tips on everything from better sleep on overnight business flights to dealing with employees’ mistakes. HBS senior lecturer Robert

Jul 30Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Yupcap

Jul 30Doug Smith

I always used to hear about Boomerang Kids, who came back to live at home after college. However, there’s a new term, according to Investopedia: Yupcap A Yupcap is… “A slang term for a young urban professional who cannot afford property. Yupcaps are individuals in their late twenties or early thirties with post secondary educations and a well-paying jobs who are unable to purchase a property due to factors such as high real estate prices, limited personal savings and limited credit

Jul 23Doug Smith

Northern Virginia: Diversity Personified

Jul 23Doug Smith

Washington DC is an international town, and Northern Virginia is just as much so. According to Wikipedia: Northern Virginia is home to people from diverse backgrounds, with significant numbers of Arab Americans, Afghan Americans, Ethiopian Americans, Korean Americans, Indian Americans, Iranian Americans, American Jews, Pakistani Americans, and Vietnamese Americans, along with other Americans of Asian descent, especially a growing Chinese American and Filipino American population concentrated in the eastern part of Fairfax County. Annandale, Chantilly, and Fairfax County have large

Jul 16Doug Smith

Building Better Corporate Boards

Jul 16Doug Smith

Corporate Board meetings, both private and public, involve a lot more time and effort than they did 10 or 15 years ago, according to a posting on the Harvard Business School Working Knowledge website, which publicizes faculty research at HBS. While quarterly board meetings used to last half a day, meetings now last a day-and-a-half and happen up to six times per year. Reviewing materials for the meeting used to mean flipping through the annual report on the plane ride

Jul 9Doug Smith

Why We Blab Our Intimate Secrets on Facebook

Jul 9Doug Smith

I have a Facebook page. You probably do as well. I’m not sure I blab all my secrets, but I do share many things I would not ordinarily share in a business setting, despite the fact that a few of my business contacts are Facebook friends as well. Why is this? The answer may lie in some recent research profiled in a recent issue of the Harvard Business School Working Knowledge blog, assessing the reasons behind a common discrepancy: While

Jul 2Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Raintaker

Jul 2Doug Smith

Most financial and services firms value having a Rainmaker, an employee who is able to bring a lot of new business to the firm. But things can cut both ways. I learned in Investopedia this week of a Raintaker. That’s a former employee of a brokerage firm who takes high-value clientelle from his or her previous employer to his or her new brokerage. The term raintaker is taken from rainmaker, which is used to describe a brokerage employee who brings

Jun 25Doug Smith

What Health Care Managers Need to Know, and How to Teach Them

Jun 25Doug Smith

Regina Herzlinger was the first woman to be promoted to full Professor at Harvard Business School. I took classes from her when I was a student there, although she was only an Associate Professor at that time. A recent article in the HBS Working Knowledge blog profiles some of her thinking on one of the areas where she is a recognized expert: health care. Global health care is entering its most challenging era, with increasing demand for services from consumers

Jun 24Doug Smith

Jun 18Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Easement in Gross

Jun 18Doug Smith

Easement in Gross. It sounds disgusting, but according to Investopedia it’s a legitimate financial concept. It’s n easement that attaches a particular right to an individual rather than to the property itself. The easement in gross is often considered irrevocable for the life of the individual, but can be revoked if the individual sells the property that grants him or her that easement. For example, a homeowner may have an easement in gross with a neighbor allowing the homeowner to

Jun 13Doug Smith

Jun 11Doug Smith

Pay Workers More So They Steal Less

Jun 11Doug Smith

I read an interesting article recently in the HBS Working Knowledge blog. New research by Harvard Business School Professor Tatiana Sandino confirms what many top companies have long believed: Good wages and benefits are linked to a company’s low turnover and to happier, more honest workers. Bigger paychecks for retail employees could generate significant payoffs for employers by reducing worker theft and raising the level of moral behavior in the workforce, a new study shows. Tatiana Sandino, an associate professor

Jun 4Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Offline Debit Card

Jun 4Doug Smith

I’ve heard of credit cards, and I’ve heard of debit cards, but until I read about them in Investopedia this week, I’d never heard of an Offline Debit Card. This is a card that combines characteristics of both a traditional (online) debit card and a credit card, allowing the cardholder to pay for goods and services directly from his or her bank account. As with a traditional debit card, a transaction using the offline debit card creates a debit against

May 28Doug Smith

Are You Paying a Tip, or a Bribe?

May 28Doug Smith

Both tips and bribes are rewards for service, so why is one considered outside the boundaries of ethical behavior? Harvard Business School Professor Magnus Thor Torfason has investigated this thin line. His research was recently written up in an issue of the HBS Working Knowledge blog. Few people see a relationship between tipping and bribing. But consider this: In places where people tip heavily, bribes are more likely to exchange hands as well. New research shows that there’s actually a

May 21Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Obamanomics

May 21Doug Smith

I always try to be politically correct (or at least politically topical) in my blog posts. Now that President Obama has finally embraced the name for Obamacare, I’d like to introduce Obamanomics, which I found at the Investopedia website. Obamanomics is buzzword that describes the economic philosophy of U.S President Barack Obama. Obamanomics calls for lower tax rates for companies that meet certain criteria, such as providing decent healthcare and maintaining a U.S. workforce and headquarters. Obama’s economic platform also

May 14Doug Smith

Want People to Save More? Send a Text.

May 14Doug Smith

What’s the most effective way to encourage people to save their money? The answer lies in a combination of peer pressure and text messages, according to new research by Harvard Business School Assistant Professor Dina D. Pomeranz. Professor Pomeranz’ research was profiled in a recent issue of the HBS Working Knowledge blog. Dina Pomeranz’s interest in helping people build a savings cushion for difficult economic times emerged during a summer internship in Cameroon, where a woman she lived with shared

May 7Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Head and Shoulders Pattern

May 7Doug Smith

Here’s a buzzword (courtesy of Investopedia) that I had not heard before, a Head and Shoulders Pattern. That is a technical analysis term used to describe a chart formation in which a stock’s price: Rises to a peak and subsequently declines. Then, the price rises above the former peak and again declines. And finally, rises again, but not to the second peak, and declines once more. The first and third peaks are shoulders, and the second peak forms the head.

May 3Doug Smith

B2B CFO Has Just Published “The Exit Strategy Handbook”

May 3Doug Smith

Check out this YouTube video to learn more: Then visit http://www.TheExitStrategyHandbook.com to learn even more than that!

Apr 30Doug Smith

How Weather Affects Productivity

Apr 30Doug Smith

New studies show that workers are more productive on rainy days than on sunny ones. Does your office take advantage? Let’s explore further in this interesting research paper I found on the HBS Working Knowledge blog. Autumn has sprung, and the cold, dreary days of winter are around the corner. But take heart, wistful sun lovers. It turns out that lousy weather is actually good for business operations. A new research paper reports that a decrease in sunny weather is

Apr 23Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Hacktivism

Apr 23Doug Smith

This week’s buzzword comes, again, from the good folks at Investopedia. Hacktivism is a social or political activist plan that is carried out by breaking into and wreaking havoc on a secure computer system. Hacktivism may be directed at corporate or government targets. Examples of hacktivism include denial of service attacks, which shut down a system to prevent customer access, software that enables users to access censored web pages, and the leaking of sensitive information. The methods hacktivists use are

Apr 16Doug Smith

Better by the Bundle

Apr 16Doug Smith

This week, I’d like to share a very interesting analysis I found on a recent issue of the Harvard Business School Working Knowledge blog. Sales can soar when companies bundle products together into one cheaper package—Happy Meal, anyone? Yet a buyer’s affinity for such deals comes with a big caveat, according to new research: These groupings are often successful only if the consumer is given the option of buying the same products separately. “Bundling is pervasive in several markets, and

Apr 11Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Yearly Probability of Dying

Apr 11Doug Smith

Not to be morbid or anything, but I recently ran across this term while looking through the Investopedia website. The Yearly Probably of Dying is a numerical figure that depicts the likelihood of someone dying per year. The yearly probability of dying is determined by looking at a mortality table which shows the rate of death at each age in terms of the number of deaths per thousand. The data in the chart is determined by dividing the number of

Apr 2Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Veblen Good

Apr 2Doug Smith

Here’s a term from Investopedia that I’d never heard of before. Veblen goods are perceived to be exclusive as long as prices remain high or increase. Veblen goods get their name from economist Thorstein Veblen, who was one of the first to look into and write about conspicuous consumption and the concept of seeking status through consumption. Veblen goods are often referred to as “status symbols.” High-status items such as luxury cars, expensive shoes or pricey watches remain appealing to

Mar 26Doug Smith

Employee Suggestion Programs That Work

Mar 26Doug Smith

The ol’ suggestion box is a fixture of a number of offices. Does anything ever get put in there, I wondered? Are any of the suggestions useful? Do any of them get implemented? Well, thanks to a recent post in the HBS Working Knowledge blog, I don’t have to wonder any longer: Bumping up against accepted theories in process improvement, a new research paper from Harvard Business School questions the value of prioritizing problems identified by frontline employees. Citing a

Mar 21Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Ultimogeniture

Mar 21Doug Smith

We’ve been watching some BBC costume dramas weekly, and the first born son usually inherits all the goodies. But according to Investopedia, there’s another system of inheritance – called ultimagenture – whereby the youngest son gains possession of his deceased father’s estate. Ultimogeniture was popular in many rural areas of medieval England, as well as parts of France, but it is rare today. Much more common is the tradition of primogeniture, or inheritance by the firstborn son. Ultimogeniture, primogeniture and

Mar 14Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Abacus

Mar 14Doug Smith

An oldie by goodie from the Investopedia archives provides this week’s buzzword. An abacus is a calculation tool used by sliding counters along rods or grooves, used to perform mathematical functions. In addition to calculating the basic functions of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, the abacus can calculate roots up to the cubic degree . It is believed that the abacus was first used by the Babylonians, as early as 2,400 B.C. Since that time, the physical structure of abaci

Mar 7Doug Smith

How to Sink A Startup

Mar 7Doug Smith

I work with small businesses, including some startups. They typically have a number of challenges (e.g., meeting payroll). Sometimes, however, the behavior of the entrepreneur that began the startup can cause fatal problems. Thus, this Q&A interview in a recent issue of the Harvard Business School Working Knowledge blog really resonated the me: When Noam Wasserman (HBS MBA 1999) spent his MBA summer internship working for a VC firm, he observed important universalities in the decisions that founders faced. He

Mar 5Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Mount Gox

Mar 5Doug Smith

If you are up-to-date on Internet purchasing, you may know about bitcoins. Bitcoins are a digital currency created in 2009, which allow users of Bitcoin exchanges to make payments and trades at a very low cost. Bitcoin circulation and expansion is governed by Bitcoin software and is programmed to expand as a geometric series, thus limiting the effects of monetary inflation on the virtual currency. Bitcoins are one of many virtual currencies that can be traded online by users. Mount Gox

Feb 26Doug Smith

Madison Avenue Today vs. “Mad Men”

Feb 26Doug Smith

My wife and I are huge Mad Men fans – we’re waiting for the 5th season to make it to Netflix so we can catch up. It resonates in particular for us since we grew up in the 50s and 60s. But is advertising still like that, we wonder? Fortunately, the HBS Working Knowledge Blog has the answer for us: Fans of the television show Mad Men are well acquainted with the mystique of the advertising business, circa 1960s, where

Feb 21Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Graveyard Market

Feb 21Doug Smith

How about a little gallow humore for this week’s buzzword, found on the Investopedia website? A Graveyard Market marks the period near the end of a prolonged bear market . In a graveyard market, long-time investors have taken large losses, while new investors prefer to stay liquid by sitting on the sidelines and keeping their money in cash or cash-equivalent securities until market conditions improve. The term graveyard market is an apt description of this market phenomenon: the investors in

Feb 19Doug Smith

How Technology Adoption Affects Global Economies

Feb 19Doug Smith

It’s not often that a best seller inspires academic research. If anything, it’s usually the other way around. But, as highlighted in a recent edition of the HBS Working Knowledge Blog, Harvard Business School Associate Professor Diego A. Comin was motivated by reading Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond’s 1998 Pulitzer Prize-winning book that explores the historical hegemony of Western Europe through the lens of technology and geography. “It was a nice story, but the evidence was mostly anecdotal,” Comin says.

Feb 14Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Love Money

Feb 14Doug Smith

To celebrate Valentines Day, I thought I’d pick a nice romantic term from the Investopedia lexicon this week. Love Money is seed money or capital given by family or friends to an entrepreneur to start a business. The decision to lend money and the terms of the agreement are usually based on qualitative factors and the relationship between the two parties, rather than on a formulaic risk analysis. Love money is usually given to entrepreneurs who have proved their responsibility

Feb 7Doug Smith

Why Bad Weather Means Good Productivity

Feb 7Doug Smith

Rain got you down? I know that I feel that way sometimes. However, any interesting post in the HBS Working Knowledge blog highlights some recent research that shows just the opposite. Most people believe that bad weather conditions reduce productivity. In this research the authors predict and find just the opposite. Using empirical data from laboratory experiments as well as from a mid-sized Japanese bank, the research demonstrates that weather conditions influence one’s own cognition and focus. For indoor work

Jan 31Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Godfather Offer

Jan 31Doug Smith

This week’s buzzword, courtesy of our friends at Investopedia, is Godfather Offer. A Godfarther Offer is an irrefutable takeover offer made to a target company by an acquiring company. Typically, the acquisition price’s premium is extemely generous compared to the prevailing market price. Therefore, if the target company’s management refuses the offer, shareholders may initiate lawsuits or other forms of revolt against the target company for not performing their fidiciary duty of looking out for the best interests of the

Jan 24Doug Smith

The Power of Conversational Leadership

Jan 24Doug Smith

As many of you know, I’m a graduate of Harvard Business School. I always like to stay on top of new reserach at HBS, and the school’s Working Knowledge blog is a great way to do that. I thought I’d highlight a recent article that talked about the challenges of communications, especially in multinational corporations, and the best way to overcome them: When a company is small, communication among employees is as simple as rolling a desk chair around the

Jan 22Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Anatolian Tigers

Jan 22Doug Smith

There are a lot of terms in the Investopedia zoo. Take, for instance, Anatolian Tiger. This is a colloquial term that refers to a number of cities in central Turkey whose industrial prowess since the 1980s has resulted in impressive growth rates for the region and nation. Anatolian tigers include prominent cities such as Gaziantep, Kayseri and Konya, which have the most number of firms among Turkey’s 500 biggest companies. The term is also used to refer to the many

Jan 12Doug Smith

Northern Virginia Businesses: HireStrategy

Jan 12Doug Smith

Here’s another great Northern Virginia business that I’ve come to know through my membership in the Northern Virginia Business Development Group (NVBDG). I’m profiling my friend Hector Velez, one of the founders of HireStrategy, a great recruiting and placement firm located in Reston. HireStrategy is a full-service professional staffing firm providing contract, direct hire and executive search solutions for employers in the Washington DC area. Their diverse client base represents a wide range of industries, including technology and media, financial

Jan 3Doug Smith

Northern Virginia Businesses: WSI Internet Marketing

Jan 3Doug Smith

This week, I’m profiling another member of my lead share group Northern Virginia Business Development Group. Gary Levine is a Principal with WSI WebMark Internet Marketing. WSI provides Internet marketing, incorporating website design and development, search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) and banner advertising, blogging, social media participation, and local directory optimization. WSI best customers are small to medium sized business owners and executives who need help with their Internet strategy and implementation. They can rely on WSI to apply

Dec 20Doug Smith

Northern Virginia Businesses: Renaissance Executive Forums

Dec 20Doug Smith

We’re getting toward the end of 2012, but I’m still covering many of the friends and colleagues I’ve met through some lead generation groups I belong to, including the Northern Virginia Business Development Group (NVBDG). This week I want to introduce Lee Self, who runs Renaissance Executive Forums. Renaissance is celebrating eight years of learning and business success in Northern Virginia under Lee Self’s leadership. Since 2003, Lee has brought together over 50 Northern Virginia business owners, CEOs, and presidents

Dec 13Doug Smith

Northern Virginia Businesses: New World Apps

Dec 13Doug Smith

Here’s another one of my posts highlighting Northern Virginia business and members of the Northern Virginia Business Development Group (NVBDG). This week I’d like to introduce my friend Teri Erickson, Senior Director of Cloud Services at New World Apps. New World Apps provide secure cloud solutions to the Public Sector. An ideal client for New World sees their software solution to the federal government, wants to have a cloud offering, and needs to be FISMA/FedRamp compliant. New World has been

Nov 27Doug Smith

Northern Virginia Businesses: BEI Networks

Nov 27Doug Smith

This week I’m highlighting another friend from the Northern Virginia Business Development Group. Mike Jennings is President of BEI Networks.  BEI provides IT network services (design, install, hardware/software sourcing, support/managed services, offsite data, business continuity) to small/medium sized businesses and associations/nonprofits. They are typically the IT department for organizations that don’t need to or want to hire an internal IT resource. They also provide speicalized skill augmentation, usually as a project, to a 1-2 person internal IT department. Their clients

Nov 22Doug Smith

Do Companies Benefit from Corporate Social Responsibility Policies When Bad Times Come?

Nov 22Doug Smith

Do companies with reputations for acting in socially responsible ways receive public goodwill when unpleasant news hits? The question of how much (or even if) corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies benefit companies beyond the knowledge that they are good corporate citizens is much debated. According to a recent article in the HBS Working Knowledge blog, there is next to no evidence that CSR positively adds to a company’s bottom line, according to Felix Oberholzer-Gee, the Andreas Andresen Professor of Business

Nov 20Doug Smith

Northern Virginia Businesses: Leach Travell Britt

Nov 20Doug Smith

My business highlight for this week is my friend Steve Britt, another member of the Northern Virginia Business Development Group (NVBDG). Steve is a partner with Leach Travell Britt pc, a boutique law firm located in Tysons Corner. Steve and his associates provide corporate, technology, investment, M&A litigation, real estate and bankruptcy law services for cleints lookinf for experienced attorneys without the high billing rates and overhead of a large firm. Steve provides responsive, practical and efficient legal support at a

Nov 15Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: TARP Bonus

Nov 15Doug Smith

Remember the Troubled Asset Relief Program that grew up in the financial crisis of 2008? That’s the origin of this week’s buzzword from Investopedia, TARP Bonus. This buzzword was coined by the financial media during the financial crisis to describe bonuses paid to employees and executives of banks and other financial firms that received Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds. TARP bonuses were controversial because employees were receiving additional pay even as their companies required bailout funds. Companies argued that

Nov 13Doug Smith

Northern Virginia Businesses: TriNet

Nov 13Doug Smith

This week I’d like to highlight another friend from the Northern Virginia Business Development Group, one of the lead sharing groups I belong to. Doug Bailey is with TriNet, a Total HR Services provider. TriNet delivers HR outsourcing services that allow organizations from 5 to 1,000 employees to stay focused on what they do best. Over 6,000 companies in all 50 states and 14 countries abroad have turn to TriNet for human resources, benefits, payroll, workers compensation, and strategic HR

Nov 8Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Dogs of the Dow

Nov 8Doug Smith

This week, Investopedia’s buzzword talks about an old strategy for making money, buying the Dogs of the Dow each year. This is an investing strategy that consists of buying the 10 DJIA stocks with the highest dividend yield at the beginning of the year. The portfolio should be adjusted at the beginning of each year to include the 10 highest yielding stocks. The strategy was formulated in 1972 and has proven to be successful. In fact, as Dog of the

Nov 6Doug Smith

The Secrets of Cross-Cultural Collaboration

Nov 6Doug Smith

Most of my experience has been domestic U.S., rather than international. However, I have a number of business associates who have worked overseas. As the business world has become increasingly global, the ability to work successfully in multi-cultural environments has become increasingly critical. A recent article in the HBS Working Knowledge blog comments on this phenomenon. I’ve excerpted the blog article below. Working on a $30 million historical epic about the Tang Dynasty to be set in China, Hollywood screenwriter

Nov 1Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Toehold Purchase

Nov 1Doug Smith

Investopedia’s buzzword this week is about getting into a new stock with a Toehold Purchase. This is A purchase of less than 5% of a target company’s outstanding stock made by an acquiring company. A toehold purchase of just under 5%, while not a significant stake in a firm, allows the shareholders a “toe-holds” grip on the company and its decision making. In the instance of a shareholder vote, toehold shareholders hold a significant place in such votes. Companies are

Oct 30Doug Smith

Northern Virginia Businesses: Kesem Technology

Oct 30Doug Smith

Here’s another profile of folks from the Accelerated Business Connections lead sharing group. We meet the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Tuesday of each month. This week’s blog post is about my friend Marty Block, President of Kesem Technology. Marty started his computer career in 1980, when ten megabytes was more disk space than anyone would ever use, and 64 megabytes of ram was more than enough memory to launch a manned trip into outer space. Marty has always worked on

Oct 25Doug Smith

Can Business Competition Hurt Society?

Oct 25Doug Smith

In highly competitive markets, many firms are likely to bend the rules if doing so will keep their customers from leaving for a rival, according to new research by Harvard Business School professor Michael W. Toffel in a recent issue of the HBS Working Knowledge blog. Case in point: service stations that cheat on auto emissions testing. Key concepts from the blog entry include: Vehicle owners are less likely to return to a service facility that has failed their vehicle

Oct 23Doug Smith

Northern Virginia Business: DIAMOND Marketing

Oct 23Doug Smith

There’s a second lead sharing group I belong to, called the Northern Virginia Business Development Group (NVBDG). Like Accelerated Business Connections, NVBDG has great service providers, and a lot of business referrals pass through the group. This week, I’d like to highlight Fred Diamond, the chair of the NVBDG and the head of DIAMOND Marketing. DIAMOND Marketing provides strategic marketing consulting and outsourced marketing leadership. Fred’s best customers are CEOs or Sales Leaders at fast growing IT or professional services

Oct 18Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: White-Shoe Firm

Oct 18Doug Smith

Summer is over, but Investopedia recalls it with this week’s buzzword: White-Shoe Firm. White-shoe firms are the most prestigious firms in professions such as law, investment banking and management consulting. White-shoe firms typically have a blue-chip clientele, acquired over the several decades that they have been in existence. The term is believed to have been derived from the “white buck” suede oxford shoes that were popular among certain sections of the student population at Yale and other Ivy League colleges

Oct 16Doug Smith

Sleeping with your Smartphone

Oct 16Doug Smith

I find myself looking at my iPhone a lot, but I don’t feel quite addicted… yet. Does being “always connected” make one a better worker? According to a recent post in the HBS Working Knowledge blog, it seems not. Here’s an excerpt: Check out the crowd at a concert, a movie, a school play, a beach—heck, even a funeral—and you’ll likely see several people sneaking prolonged peeks at their smartphones. They just can’t help themselves. Ringtones and message alerts are

Oct 11Doug Smith

Northern Virginia Business: Case Design & Remodeling

Oct 11Doug Smith

I’m continuing my series of profiles of local businesses with members in Accelerated Business Connections, a great lead sharing group I’m part of. This week I’d like to profile my friend Steve Scholl, with Case Design & Remodeling. Steve Scholl has spent his entire career in the residential remodeling industry with over 20 years in business for himself before joining Case in April of 2003. Steve has held management, training and project designer roles in his tenure at Case and

Oct 9Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Yellow Knight

Oct 9Doug Smith

Chess, anyone? This week’s buzzword from the Investopedia mine is Yellow Knight. A yellow knight is a company that was once making a takeover attempt but ends up discussing a merger with the target company. Yellow knights have various reasons for backing out of the takeover attempt, but frequently are attributable to the target company’s ability to fend off takeover. The “yellow” in “yellow knight” may refer to the color’s association with cowardice. Since a yellow knight backs down from

Oct 4Doug Smith

The Art of Haggling

Oct 4Doug Smith

Over my 30+ years in the business world, I’ve learned through trial and error how to get the outcome I want. Much of this involves finding mutual interests that can both be served by the solution, and then selling that to others. When I was studying for my MBA at Harvard Business School, I learned about the Getting to Yes approach advocated by William Ury and others, and adopted that as my approach. A recent HBS Working Knowledge Blog article,

Oct 2Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Stuckholder

Oct 2Doug Smith

Here’s an interesting term I came upon recently while browsing through Investopedia: A Stuckholder (vs. stockholder) is the owner of a stock that can’t be sold. The term stuckholder has a negative connotation, usually because the value of the stock is dropping and circumstances prevent the owner from liquidating the position. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) can suspend trading on a stock to protect investors or the public. For example, if a company does not file the correct reports

Sep 27Doug Smith

How Will You Measure Your Life?

Sep 27Doug Smith

The HBS Working Knowledge Blog has articles on a wide-range of business topics. Recently, I found a very interesting article that extended business thinking to the personal realm. Every year, HBS Professor Clayton Christensen teaches students that well-tested academic theories can help them succeed not just in business, but in life. He expounds upon those lessons in his forthcoming book, How Will You Measure Your Life? Co-authored with James Allworth (MBA 2010) and Karen Dillon, the book uses meaningful corporate

Sep 25Doug Smith

Northern Virginia Businesses: Access National Mortgage

Sep 25Doug Smith

I’m continuing my series of profiles for members of my Accelerated Business Connections lead sharing group. This week I want to highlight my friend Laurie Tugberk. Laurie is a Senior Loan Officer and Top Producer with Access National Mortgage, a direct lender serving ALL 50 STATES! She has been in the industry for 10 years providing Conventional, FHA and VA mortgages for residential home purchases and refinances. Laurie is result-oriented! Her compassion for people and excellent knowledge of mortgage guidelines

Sep 20Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Shark Repellent

Sep 20Doug Smith

When I found my buzzword Killer Bees on Investopedia a week or so ago, related to measures a company can use to fend over a hostile takeover bid, I also found another animal metaphor for another set of measures: Shark Repellent. Shark Repellent is a slang term for any one of a number of measures taken by a company to fend off an unwanted or hostile takeover attempt. In many cases, a company will make special amendments to its charter

Sep 18Doug Smith

Northern Virginia Businesses: Bank of Georgetown

Sep 18Doug Smith

I’m in a lead sharing group called Accelerated Business Connections. I joined for two reasons: (1) the members are terrific business providers; and (2) there’s a LOT of lead sharing that goes on within the group. I’m planning on highlighting someof the members and their businesses in my blog this fall. The first entry is on my friend Paul Buitrago, a banker with Bank of Georgetown. Paul is a small business lender in the metropolitan DC area. He is always

Sep 11Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Killer Bees

Sep 11Doug Smith

I remember when rumors of a new strain of deadly bees coming north from Central America first surface 20-30 years ago. That phenomenon may have had an impact on the name of this week’s Investopedia buzzword. Killer Bees are individuals or firms that helps a company fend off a takeover attempt. A killer bee uses defensive strategies to keep an attempted hostile takeover from occurring. Companies can a variety of anti-takeover measures, sometimes referred to as shark repellents, to discourage

Sep 7Doug Smith

Morgan Stanley Smith Barney Announces Alliance with B2B CFO

Sep 7Doug Smith

Morgan Stanley Smith Barney has announced a new national alliance with B2B CFO, the largest CFO services firm in the United States. This agreement provides an innovative blueprint for a coordinated effort to meet both the corporate and personal wealth management needs of privately held businesses and their owners. The relationship, formalized through Morgan Stanley Smith Barney’s Professional Alliance Group, allows B2B CFO to refer clients to Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and is the exclusive alliance of its kind for

Sep 6Doug Smith

The Importance of Teaming

Sep 6Doug Smith

Managers need to stop thinking of teams as static groups of individuals who have ample time to practice interacting successfully and efficiently. So says Amy Edmondson in her new book, Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate, and Compete in the Knowledge Economy. The reason: Today’s corporate teams band and disband by the minute, requiring a more dynamic approach to how teams absorb knowledge. A recent issue of the HBS Working Knowledge Blog profiled Professor Edmondson’s book. Key concepts include: Previous literature

Sep 4Doug Smith

Uniquely Identifying Over a Billion People

Sep 4Doug Smith

The Unique Identification Authority of India has been charged with implementing a nationwide program to register and assign a unique 12-digit ID to every Indian resident—some 1.2 billion people—by 2020. In a new case developed by Harvard Business School, Professor Tarun Khanna and HBS India Research Center Executive Director Anjali Raina discuss the complexities of this massive data management project. Key concepts include: Many Indian residents have no identifying documents at all, and yet multiple documents are required to access

Aug 30Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Golden Hello

Aug 30Doug Smith

We’ve all heard of the Golden Parachute, which some executives are able to wangle from their employer and which leaves them quite wealthy if they are terminated from their position. Well, according to Investopedia, there’s a related term for executives who are lured away from their company to work for a rival. It’s called the Golden Hello. Unlike a typical signing bonus, a golden hello is specifically designed to entice employees of competing firms to leave. A golden hello is

Aug 28Doug Smith

B2B CFO Website Wins Interactive Media Award

Aug 28Doug Smith

Our firm recently received an award for Outstanding Achievement from the Interactive Media Awards 2012. We have very skilled web and search engine optimization staff in B2B CFO, and this award was well deserved. Click here to visit the B2B CFO website. Here’s a copy of our award:

Aug 23Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Garbatrage

Aug 23Doug Smith

Our youngest child just left home for school, so now, for the first time in over 20 years, it becomes my responsibility to take the garbage out each evening. Seeking solace in Investopedia’s long list of buzzwords, I’ve decided to rename what I do as Garbatrage. Garbatrage is an increase in price and trading volume in a particular sector of the economy that occurs as a result of a recent takeover, which initiates a change in sentiment toward the sector.

Aug 9Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Lipstick Effect

Aug 9Doug Smith

Kisses anyone? According to Investopedia, the Lipstick Effect is a theory that states that during periods of recession or economic downturn, consumers will eschew purchases of big-ticket luxury items and seek material solace in smaller indulgences, such as premium lipstick. This is also known as the “leading lipstick indicator”. The lipstick effect is one of the reasons that the restaurant and entertainment industries typically do well amid recessions. Cash-strapped consumers want to treat themselves to something that will allow them

Aug 7Doug Smith

Headquarters vs. Line Staff: Who’s Better Connected?

Aug 7Doug Smith

I love it when business research is empirical, and a recent article on the HBS Working Knowledge blog confirmed that for me. Analyzing the e-mails of some 30,000 workers, Professor Toby E. Stuart and colleague Adam M. Kleinbaum dissected the communication networks of HQ staffers at a large, multidivisional company to get a better understanding of what a corporate headquarters does, and why it does it. Key concepts include: Theoretically, headquarters staffers coordinate the activities of the various arms of

Jul 31Doug Smith

The Dilemmas of “Friends and Family” Funding for Start-up Businesses

Jul 31Doug Smith

Since the 2008 financial meltdown, it has been difficult for small business startups to get bank loans. More businesses have turned to “friends and family” investment for funding to cover early expenses and kickstart growth. However, according to a recent article in the HBS Working Knowledge blog, such funding can either be a blessing or a curse. In his new book, The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup, Harvard Business School Associate Professor Noam

Jul 21Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Pick-and-Shovel Play

Jul 21Doug Smith

Dig this. According to Investopedia, a Pick-and-Shovel Play is a strategy where investments are made in companies that are providers of necessary equipment for an industry, rather than in the industry’s end product. A pick-and-shovel play, in practice, could be within the oil industry; an investor would purchase stock in a company that manufactures seismic data equipment that exploration and production (E&P) companies need to find new oil and gas deposits, rather than on the E&P company itself. The expression

Jul 19Doug Smith

Do Online Dating Platforms Help Those Who Need Them the Most?

Jul 19Doug Smith

I met my wife a couple of decades before the Internet came into being. We had to meet the old fashioned way: an in-person encounter. Now you can meet the love of your life (at least that’s the promise) digitally first. The $2 billion online dating industry promises the possibility of a priceless product: romantic love. Harvard Business School Associate Professor Mikolaj Piskorski investigates whether these sites are helping the lonely — or just making life easier for young singles

Jul 12Doug Smith

The Brain and Consumer Desire

Jul 12Doug Smith

Consumer marketing is omnipresent: advertising of all forms surrounds us. Companies spend billions of dollars marketing to consumers. It must work, or they wouldn’t spend all the money. But WHY does it work. A recent article in the HBS Working Knowledge blog highlights the new field of “neuromarketing,” which uses the tools of neuroscience to determine why we prefer some products over others. Uma R. Karmarkar explains how raw brain data is helping researchers unlock the mysteries of consumer choice.

Jul 5Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Magnet Employer

Jul 5Doug Smith

Did you ever have a company you really wanted to work for? According to Investopedia, that’s a magnet company. A Magnet Employer is a popular business or businessperson to whom job candidates naturally gravitate. Magnet employers often have brand name recognition behind them, and they typically offer higher pay or better benefits than their competitors, thus making them a “magnet” for job seekers looking for superior compensation. Unfortunately, magnet employers are not terribly common. Some companies offer lower pay and

Jul 3Doug Smith

Overcoming the Stress of “Englishnization”

Jul 3Doug Smith

English is my first language. I have a smattering of French and German, but just enough not to get lost when I’m traveling in Europe. Over the past few decades, English has grown into the world’s business language. For Americans, that’s not a problem. For the rest of the world, the challenges can be considerable. A recent article in the HBS Working Knowledge blog shared lessons from a recent HBS case. CEOs of global companies increasingly mandate that their employees

Jun 28Doug Smith

Northern Virginia Communities: Ballston

Jun 28Doug Smith

When I first moved to the DC area in 1978, Ballston was an area of homes, seedy shops, and an aging mall. Now, 30+ years later, it’s a teeming business area of Arlington, Virginia. I thought I’d find out a little about it’s background and growth, and this is what showed up in Wikipedia. Named after the Ball family (relatives of George Washington), whose family cemetery lies in the neighborhood at N. Stafford Street and N. Fairfax Dr. Ballston began

Jun 26Doug Smith

It’s Less Lonely At the Top: The Rise of the Functional Manager

Jun 26Doug Smith

I read an interesting article in a recent HBS Working Knowledge blog that talks about crowding in the C-Suite. According to the article, today’s CEO has an average of 10 direct reports, according to new research by Julie M. Wulf, Maria Guadalupe, and Hongyi Li. Thank a dramatic increase in the number of “functional” managers in the C-suite. Key concepts include: The number of managers reporting directly to the CEO has doubled, from an average of 5 direct reports in

Jun 21Doug Smith

Workers’ Comp Does Not Cover Sexual Harassment by Supervisors

Jun 21Doug Smith

As both a CFO and a COO, I’ve had to address cases of large workers compensation claims. If unresolved, they can result in payments totally hundreds of thousands of dollars. Businesses’ insurance rates can increase rapidly from such claims. One of my sons attends Guilford College in North Carolina. I have a Google Alert set to notify me about information about the college. I was surprised recently when the following news item showed up in the Business Management Daily. When

Jun 19Doug Smith

Occupy Wall Street and Business Leaders Actually Agree

Jun 19Doug Smith

The Occupy Wall Street Movement is still out there, but has quieted down in the last few months. I recently read an interesting article in the HBS Working Knowledge blog that concluded the concerns of Occupy Wall Street are not far different from what business leaders have told professors Joseph L. Bower, Herman B. Leonard, and Lynn S. Paine. Here’s an excerpt from the article: It’s been easy to dismiss the Occupy Wall Street-and-beyond protesters. To many, they seem disorganized,

Jun 14Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Sunrise Industry

Jun 14Doug Smith

Good morning! Investopedia tells us that a Sunrise Industry is a colloquial term for a sector or business that is in its infancy, but is growing at a rapid pace. A sunrise industry is typically characterized by high growth rates, numerous start-ups and an abundance of venture capital funding. Sunrise industries generally have plenty of “buzz” surrounding them as public awareness about the sector increases and investors get attracted to its long-term growth prospects. Examples of sunrise industries include alternative energy

Jun 12Doug Smith

When Researchers Cheat (Just a Little)

Jun 12Doug Smith

Although cases of clear scientific misconduct have received media attention, less flagrant transgressions of research norms may be more prevalent and, in the long run, more damaging to the academic enterprise, reports Assistant Professor Leslie K. John. Described in the HBS Working Knowledge blog, John’s study concludes that: Many of the surveyed research psychologists admitted to bending scientific norms in their work, but most transgressions were innocuous. Over a third of those surveyed said they doubted the integrity of their

Jun 7Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Saturday Night Special

Jun 7Doug Smith

Investopedia is a good place to understand some financial history. For example, it defines a Saturday Night Special as an obsolete takeover strategy where one company attempted a takeover of another company by making a sudden public tender offer, usually over the weekend. This merger and acquisition (M&A) technique was popular in the early 1970s when the Williams Act required only seven calendar days between the time that a tender was publicly announced and its deadline. Catching the target company

Jun 5Doug Smith

Unplugged: What Happened to the Smart Grid?

Jun 5Doug Smith

Replacing the antiquated electrical system in the United States with a super-efficient smart grid always seemed a surefire opportunity for entrepreneurs. So what went wrong? An article in a recent issue of the Harvard Business School Working Knowledge blog highlight’s research by HBS Professor Rebecca Henderson. Replacing the antiquated electrical system in the United States with a super-efficient smart grid always seemed a surefire way to strengthen the economy, improve society, and provide endless opportunities for entrepreneurs. Big opportunities. But

May 31Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: The Razor-Razorblade Model

May 31Doug Smith

According to Investopedia, The Razor-Razorblade Model is a business tactic involving the sale of dependent goods for different prices – one good is sold at a discount, while the second dependent good is sold at a considerably higher price. If you’ve ever purchased razors and their replacement blades, you know this business method well. The razors are practically free, but the replacement blades are extremely expensive. The video game industry is another user of this pricing strategy. They sell the game

May 29Doug Smith

Sharpening Your Skills: Online Marketing

May 29Doug Smith

Every week I get at least two or three invitations to attend events about social media and business. It’s certainly a hot topic. The HBS Working Knowledge blog recently excerpted some articles from its archive that touched on online marketing effectiveness. I thought I’d share it here: Questions answered: What’s the strategy for managing consumer reviews on my site? Do people watch online video ads?. How can I get more out of my customer loyalty campaign? Are online coupon programs

May 24Doug Smith

Northern Virginia Communities: Green Spring Gardens

May 24Doug Smith

We’re fortunate, here in Fairfax County, to have a number of great parks. Some of them have historical significance. Green Spring Farm and Gardens is one of them. It is an outdoor classroom for children and their families to learn about plants and wildlife. It’s also a museum, a national historic site that offers glimpses into a long, rich history with colonial origins. There’s something here for everyone: a wooded stream valley with ponds, a naturalistic native plant garden, over

May 22Doug Smith

Kodak: A Followup

May 22Doug Smith

Last week, I published an article in my blog about Kodak, drawn from an article in the HBS Working Knowledge Blog. I thought I would share an interesting comment on the HBS blog article from Walter Blass, a Visiting Professor of Management at the Grenoble Graduate School of Business. “Perhaps because of loyalty to his former employer, Professor Shih has not spoken of the elephant in the middle of this competitiveness issue: Corporate Leadership. I’ve been teaching the HBS Kodak

May 17Doug Smith

Kodak: A Parable of American Competitiveness

May 17Doug Smith

When I first moved to the Washington, DC area, I took a whole slew of photography courses through Northern Virginia Community College. I even had a home darkroom in one of the bathrooms of my townhouse – until I got married and my wife made me turn the room back into a usable bathroom for guests. Sigh… While taking these courses, and for many years after, Kodak was a company I looked up to. Basically, it had created the consumer

May 15Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Alimony Substitution Trust

May 15Doug Smith

I’m fortunate to have met the right woman the first time around, and have just celebrated my 28th wedding anniversary. Some people are not so lucky. Divorce can be messy, both from an emotional and a financial viewpoint. Our buzzword website Investopedia has an answer for everything, even the divorce situation. When faced with a divorce, you can try establishing an Alimony Substitution Trust. This is a trust agreement in which a divorced person agrees to pay spousal support from

May 10Doug Smith

Northern Virginia Communities: Tysons Corner Center

May 10Doug Smith

The Tysons Corner Center is a place I try to avoid entirely during November and December, when the crush of holiday shoppers makes it difficult to enter and exit the mall area and find a parking place. However, it is arguably the premier shopping mall in our area, and the test group among high-end retailers for bringing their stores to the East Coast. Wikipedia helps fill in the details: Tysons Corner Center, located in the Tysons Corner unincorporated area in

May 8Doug Smith

Business Influence in Washington, DC

May 8Doug Smith

New research by Harvard Business School Associate Professor William R. Kerr suggests the number of companies affecting government policy through lobbying may be smaller —but more powerful — than previously thought. This conclusion was highlighted in an interesting article in the HBS Working Knowledge blog. Key concepts from the a working paper called “The Dynamics of Firm Lobbrying” include: Relatively few companies lobby, larger firms are more likely to lobby than smaller ones, and firms that do lobby are likely

May 3Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Bag Holder

May 3Doug Smith

Have you ever been left holding the bag? What was in that bag? A friend of mine used to say that the hopeful person, when handed a bag of manure, would root around with his hand saying “I know there’s a pony in here somewhere!” According to our friends at Investopedia, a Bag Holder is an informal investment term used to describe an investor who holds a position in a stock which decreases in value until it is worthless. Typically,

May 1Doug Smith

When “Green” Corporate Ratings Fail

May 1Doug Smith

“Going Green” is a big business topic these days. Younger employees and consumers are very environmentally conscious, and by claiming to go green, companies seek a competitive advantage. However, as the HBS Working Knowledge Blog informs us, reality may differ from hype. The following is excerpted from a recent article by Michael Toffel and Auden Schendler. News Corporation—a multinational media conglomerate that includes BSKYB, Dow Jones, Fox News, 20th Century Fox and Star, among other units—announced earlier this year that

Apr 27Doug Smith

Another Radio Interview

Apr 27Doug Smith

A few months back, I was interviewed on Federal News Radio. In March, I had another interview, this time with a program called Executive Leaders Radio. If you’d like to hear my interview, just click on the radio. Once the show starts, drag forward to minute 28:00. My interview starts there. Let me know what you think!

Apr 26Doug Smith

Northern Virginia Neighborhoods: The Beltway

Apr 26Doug Smith

My house is about 3,000 feet from the DC Beltway, and the white noise of Beltway traffic is ever present, even in the middle of the night. The Beltway was already in place when I moved to the DC area in 1978, so I was curious about its history. Fortunately, Wikipedia came to the rescue. Interstate 495 (abbreviated I-495) is a 64-mile (103 km) Interstate Highway that surrounds the United States’ capital of Washington, D.C., and its inner suburbs in

Apr 24Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: A Ton of Money

Apr 24Doug Smith

I’ve always wished I could have a ton of money. According to Investopedia, A Ton of Money is a slang term used to describe a significant amount of money. The amount implied typically depends on the person, company or situation. We may all have a different idea of what constitutes a “ton of money”, but according to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, a ton of $1 bills amounts to $908,000 – nearly $1 million! If you’re talking about a ton

Mar 29Doug Smith

The Future of Mobile, Part 4

Mar 29Doug Smith

A recent press release from Cisco provided a startling statistic: Mobile data volumes will increase sixteen-fold between 2011 and 2016! That’s an amazing increase, especially when we consider ourselves heavy data mobile users now. I’ve provided some excerpts from the press release below. I also commend to you a YouTube video that Cisco posted. A Digital Love Story (http://www.youtube.com/embed/R0LX1RzhwO8) Here’s the press release: SAN JOSE, Calif. and LONDON – Feb. 14, 2012 – According to the Cisco® Visual Networking Index

Mar 27Doug Smith

Signs That Your Co-Workers are Dating

Mar 27Doug Smith

I’m fortunate to have been happily married for almost 28 years. When I first moved to the DC area in 1978, though, and joined AMS, most of the people in the company were young, and there was a lot of workplace romance. I came upon the blog entry below on Payscale.com recently, and it doesn’t seem like the basics have changed very much over the decades. * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Mar 22Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Problem Child

Mar 22Doug Smith

Investopedia tells us that a Problem Child is one of the four categories (quadrants) in the (Boston Consulting Group (BCG) growth-share matrix that represents the division within a company that has a small market share within a rapidly expanding industry. A problem child or question mark requires investment capital in order to expand and grow. However, uncertainty exists in this division’s profitability because success is not guaranteed.

Mar 20Doug Smith

The Future of Mobile, Part 3

Mar 20Doug Smith

At the Bisnow “Future of Mobility” seminar (see my earlier posts), I asked whether the panelists thought we were in a mobile “bubble” already. The panelists didn’t think so. One said that the amount of money being thrown at companies in the mobile space is nowhere near what was happening before the dotcom meltdown. Another said that it is much less costly in today’s mobile world to prove out a concept (he mentioned the relatively low cost of developing apps),

Mar 15Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Mr. Copper

Mar 15Doug Smith

Here’s a great personal story from Investopedia. Otherwise known as Yasuo Hamanaka, Mr. Copper was a trader in the copper market who lost over $2.5 Billion for his employer, Sumitomo Corporation (in Japan). The losses amassed from unauthorized trading in secret accounts between 1985 and 1996. He was also referred to as “Mr. 5%” because at one point he controlled 5% of the world copper market. Hamanaka’s scandalous activities represent the greatest unauthorized trading loss in history.

Mar 13Doug Smith

The Future of Mobile, Part 2

Mar 13Doug Smith

This blog posts continues my discussion for a recent Bisnow seminar I attended called “The Future of Mobility.” After the government panel spoke, a panel of commercial investors, app developers, and communications companies spoke. One of the “hot trends” in mobile computing can be described by the acronym “SoLoMo” (social, local, mobile). Phone geolocation technology allows smartphone users to get information on attributes of their local environment (places, shopping, eating, people near them). They can then easily share this with

Mar 8Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Ankle Biter

Mar 8Doug Smith

According to Investopedia, an Ankle Biter is a stock issue with a market capitalization of less than $500 million. These stocks are also known as “small cap” stocks. These stock issues can appear to be more speculative than stocks with high market capitalization. However, smaller issues often have great growth potential and tend to outperform larger market capitalization stocks. Small cap stocks are often biting at the ankles of the larger cap stocks and will one day – through capitalization

Mar 6Doug Smith

The Future of Mobile, Part 1

Mar 6Doug Smith

Recently, I attended a seminar presented by Bisnow called “The Future of Mobility.” There were two presentations: one by a panel of Government experts involved in mobile, and the other a panel of entrepreneurs in mobile communications. The first panel talked about government efforts to facilitate mobile computing (think smartphones and tablet computers) in the Government. Many government workers have been lobbying for “anywhere, any device” access, and the government sees the advantage of moving people to mobile platforms, in

Mar 1Doug Smith

Northern Virginia Communities: Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce

Mar 1Doug Smith

I recently joined the Fairfax Chamber, both to continue to develop my network of referral sources for my as-needed CFO work, and to give back to the community. People who had recommended the Chamber to me also said I should get involved in committee or other work, so I signed up for the Chamber’s Ambassador Program. As a Chamber Ambassador, I will reach out to new and existing members of the Chamber to ensure they get the maximum benefit from

Feb 28Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Aspirin Count Theory

Feb 28Doug Smith

Investopedia tells us that Aspirin County Theory is a market theory that states stock prices and aspirin production are inversely related. The Aspirin count theory is a lagging indicator and actually hasn’t been formally tested, so it is more a humorous hypothesis than a theory. As stock prices fall, more and more people need pain relievers to get through the day. For  example the Aspirin count theory would predict that as aspirin sales  increase, the stock market’s value decreases and vice

Feb 23Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Mad Hatter

Feb 23Doug Smith

According to Investopedia, a Mad Hatter is a CEO or managerial team whose ability to lead a company is highly suspect. A mad hatter CEO will often make puzzling decisions which many, inside and outside the firm, may question. These types of CEOs are also known for making spontaneous decisions with little thought for the consequences. Sometimes these decisions are driven by personal incentives rather than the motivation to improve the overall performance of the company. Mad Hatter refers to one

Feb 21Doug Smith

Rethinking the Fairness of Organ Transplants

Feb 21Doug Smith

For 5 years, I was the Chief Operating Officer of a home healthcare and hospice company, providing services primarily to older patients. One of the things that happens as we grow older is that our internal organs begin to fail. Because of an organ shortage, hundreds or even thousands of people miss out on needed organ transplants each year. A proposal out of Harvard and MIT to rethink how kidney transplants are allocated could result in a fairer system, giving

Feb 16Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Boiling the Ocean

Feb 16Doug Smith

For much of my career, I’ve been a project manager in addition to whatever title I might have held in my company. This week’s buzzword is about one of the dangers people can face when trying to complete a project in an efficient fashion. According to Investopedia, Boiling the Ocean means undertaking an impossible task or project or to make a task or project unnecessarily difficult. Boiling the ocean generally means to go overboard. For example, a manager might be

Feb 14Doug Smith

Are Creative People More Dishonest?

Feb 14Doug Smith

This is an interesting question posed recently in the HBS Working Knowledge blog. The answer, it appears, is “yes.” In a series of studies, Francesca Gino and Dan Ariely found that inherently creative people tend to cheat more than noncreative people. Furthermore, they showed that inducing creative behavior tends to induce unethical behavior. It’s a sobering thought in a corporate culture that champions out-of-the-box thinking. Key concepts include: • In a series of experiments, the researchers found links between creativity

Feb 9Doug Smith

B2B CFO’s “Smart 25 Awards” – Seeking Nominations

Feb 9Doug Smith

B2B CFO, the nation’s largest CFO services firm, is accepting nominations for the first annual “Smart 25 Awards” through March 20, 2012. The award program recognizes outstanding companies and individuals for driving smart business growth in one of the toughest economies. Honorees and finalists will be celebrated during the awards ceremony on May 4th, 2012, at the Aria Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada, during B2B CFO’s annual National Partners Conference. The Smart 25 Awards were launched to coincide with B2B

Feb 7Doug Smith

Northern Virginia Communities: Virginia Railway Express

Feb 7Doug Smith

In my last Northern Virginia Communities post, I talked about Burke, Virginia. Railroads played an important part in the history of Burke, so this week I thought I would highlight one of the successors of that legacy: the Virginia Railway Express (VRE). The Virginia Railway Express (VRE) (reporting mark VREX) is a regional/ commuter rail service that connects the Northern Virginia suburbs to Union Station in Washington, D.C., via two lines: the Fredericksburg Line from Fredericksburg, Virginia, and the Manassas

Feb 2Doug Smith

The Most Common Strategy Mistakes

Feb 2Doug Smith

When I was a student in the MBA program at Harvard Business School, Michael Porter was an assistant professor, and not yet famous. In the intervening years, of course, he has become one of the best known business professors in the country, reknowned for his work in the field of strategy. Porter was the subject of a recent article in HBS Working Knowledge, which highlights a new book from Joan Magretta, titled Understanding Michael Porter: The Essential Guide to Competition

Jan 31Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Cutting a Melon

Jan 31Doug Smith

According to Investopedia, Cutting a Melon is a slang term used to describe when a board of directors declares an additional dividend in addition to the regular distribution. The additional dividend can be in the form of cash, stock or property. The board of directors is responsible for deciding how it will share the company’s earnings with shareholders in the form of dividends. In most cases, dividends are issued in accordance to a set policy and are paid on preset schedule,

Jan 24Doug Smith

Northern Virginia Communities: Burke

Jan 24Doug Smith

This week, I thought I’d highlight another of Northern Virginia’s “bedroom communities,” Burke. Burke is a census-designated place (CDP) in Fairfax County, Virginia, United States. As of the 2000 census, Burke had a total population of 57,737. As of the 2010 census, it had shrunken to 41,055, mainly because much of it was broken off to form Burke Centre CDP. The area of Fairfax County known as Burke is named for Silas Burke (1796–1854), a 19th century farmer, merchant, and

Jan 19Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Chinese Wall

Jan 19Doug Smith

[This is starting to look like China week on my blog] Over the years, I’ve heard the term in business to “erect a Chinese wall.” I thought it had to do with avoiding potential conflicts of interest and, according to Investopedia, I was correct. A Chinese Wall is the ethical barrier between different divisions of a financial (or other) institution to avoid conflict of interest. A Chinese Wall is said to exist, for example, between the corporate-advisory area and the

Jan 17Doug Smith

Climbing the Great Wall of Trust

Jan 17Doug Smith

A recent issue of Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge blog highlighted research on how western businesses can overcome some of the challenges of doing business in China. Some of the key concepts of research include: Foreign businesspeople must learn their way around Chinese cultural customs and the importance of personal relationships and trust in order to be successful in that country. For companies doing business in China, one solution might be to consciously hire executives ofChinese ancestry in key roles

Jan 12Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Diworsification

Jan 12Doug Smith

Investopedia tells us that Diworsification is the process of adding investments to one’s portfolio in such a way that the risk/return trade-off is worsened. Diworsification is investing in too many assets with similar correlations that will result in an averaging effect. It occurs where risk is at its lowest level and additional assets reduce potential portfolio returns, as well as the chances of outperforming a benchmark. The term was coined by legendary investor Peter Lynch in his book, “One Up

Jan 10Doug Smith

Northern Virginia Communities: Ashburn, VA

Jan 10Doug Smith

A few months ago, I wrote in my blog about the Data Center Boom, i.e., the rapid growth of data centers to support the movement of data and applications to “The Cloud.” Ashburn, Virginia, located between Washington Dulles International Airport and Leesburg, Virginia, is DC Metro location that has benefitted most from this boom. Ashburn is located in Loudoun County, Virginia, 30 miles northwest of Washington, D.C., and is part of the Washington Metropolitan Area. The Ashburn was originally called

Jan 5Doug Smith

Job Dissatisfaction at Non-Profits

Jan 5Doug Smith

We have a lot of associations and other not-for-profit organizations in the DC Metro area. You might think that the people that work at those non-profits are happy with their lot, but an interesting research study from the non-profit staffing firm Professionals for NonProfits tells a different story. Seven in ten non-profit employees in DC and New York categorize their jobs as either disappointing or only mildly. The research find differences in the what non-profit staff find most essential and

Jan 3Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Aunt Millie

Jan 3Doug Smith

Here’s an interesting buzzword I found in the Investopedia dictionary. Personally, I don’t have an aunt named Millie, but in conversations with friends and acquaintances over the years about investing for retirement, it turns out I know some Aunt Millies. According to Investopedia, Aunt Millie is a slang term for an uneducated or unsophisticated investor. The term is considered a derogatory remark in the financial sector, often used to refer to poor investment choices. Financial professionals might recommend an Aunt Millie

Dec 29Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Elves

Dec 29Doug Smith

I’m still in the Christmas spirit, so I thought I’d pull another holiday-related buzzword for the archives of Investopedia. Madames et Messieurs, I present: Elves. “Elves” was a slang term for the technical analysts who appeared on the PBS television show “Wall Street Week”, which aired from 1970 to 2005. The elves attempted to predict the direction of the market in the coming months, and gained popularity due to their inability to make accurate predictions. The show’s host, Louis Rukeyser,

Dec 27Doug Smith

Great New HBS Business Case on Lady Gaga

Dec 27Doug Smith

I thought we might have a little holiday fun with a different kind of business analysis from Harvard Business School. At HBS, all teaching is done through the “case method,” where real business situations are described up to a decision point, then discussed in the classroom where the focus is on thinking through what the next steps might be. A recent issue of HBS Working Knowledge detailed the first of two cases on Lady Gaga. Here’s the article’s Executive Summary: What

Dec 22Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Santa Claus Rally

Dec 22Doug Smith

Tis the season… and with this year’s economic ups and downs, I thought we’d profile a hopeful buzzword for the end of the year. A Santa Claus Rally, according to Investopedia, is a surge in the price of stocks that often occurs in the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. There are numerous explanations for the Santa Claus Rally phenomenon, including tax considerations, happiness around Wall Street, people investing their Christmas bonuses and the fact that the pessimists are

Dec 20Doug Smith

Great NYT Article: When Should a Small Business Hire a Finance Chief?

Dec 20Doug Smith

Recently the New York Times had a great article on the benefits to small business owners of hiring an experienced CFO. I’m often asked why a small business needs a CFO, or how what I do is different than the small business’ accountant. I don’t think I could say it better than this article does. At the end of the article, the reporter says to “hire a CFO as soon as you can afford one.” Business owners can afford one right

Dec 15Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Seigniorage

Dec 15Doug Smith

When I first found this buzzword in Investopedia, I thought it might refer to the European debt crisis in Spain. I was wrong. Instead, I found it was a real word. Seigniorage is the difference between the value of money and the cost to produce it – in other words, the economic cost of producing a currency within a given economy or country. If the seigniorage is positive, then the government will make an economic profit; a negative seigniorage will

Dec 13Doug Smith

Do Only Older People Care About Privacy?

Dec 13Doug Smith

At the annual Davos meeting of world leaders, Reid Hoffman, one of the founders of LinkedIn, let an interesting comment slip about privacy. He said “all these concerns about privacy tend to be old people issues.” Old people issues? In my September B2B CFO newsletter, I let my readers know about some of the unfortunate impacts of changes LinkedIn had made their privacy settings, and how to adjust their settings to maintain their privacy. I got a number of thank

Dec 8Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Mondustrial Policy

Dec 8Doug Smith

Some of the buzzwords I’ve highlighted in my blog are made up of familiar words, combined into a new purpose. Others are compound works (like my last buzzword, mancession). Here’s another: mondustrial policy. A fusion of “monetary policy” and “industrial policy,” mondustrial policy describes the Fed’s creation of new money during the 2008-2009 financial crisis in order to rescue certain firms, such as Bear Stearns and AIG, and certain markets, such as commercial paper and money-market mutual funds, at the

Dec 6Doug Smith

Northern Virginia Communities: Dulles International Airport

Dec 6Doug Smith

So far, I’ve looked mostly at cities and towns in Northern Virginia. Here’s another part of our community that’s as big as a town. Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) is a public airport in Dulles, Virginia, 26 miles west of downtown Washington, D.C. The airport serves the Baltimore-Washington-Northern Virginia metropolitan area centered on the District of Columbia. It is named after John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State under Dwight D. Eisenhower. The Dulles main terminal is a well-known landmark designed

Dec 1Doug Smith

Should We Let The Cheese Be Moved?

Dec 1Doug Smith

People are often reluctant to mess around with classics. But not always, according to a September 6th article in Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge blog. The classic being skewered is Spencer Johnson’s Who Moved My Cheese (WMMC for short). Here are some excerpts: With more than 23 million copies in print, Spencer Johnson’s allegorical tale Who Moved My Cheese? is one of the best-selling business books of all time. Even 13 years after its initial publication, the book, whose characters

Nov 29Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Ponzimonium

Nov 29Doug Smith

This week’s buzzword is another of those great compound words from Investopedia: Ponzimonium. After Bernard Madoff’s $65 billion Ponzi scheme was revealed, many new (smaller-scale) Ponzi schemers became exposed. Ponzimonium refers to the tremendous growth rate in the number of people under investigation by the Securities Exchange Commission for suspected similar fraudulent behaviors. Possibly due to the heavy exposure of the event concerning Mr. Madoff’s business practices or the downturn in the economy, the use of Ponzi schemes appears to

Nov 23Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Rule of 78

Nov 23Doug Smith

Many of my buzzwords have been sarcastic or funny. I thought we’d try a more standard, albeit “insider” term from the Investopedia dictionary: the Rule of 78. The Rule of 78 is a method of allocating the interest charge on a loan across its payment periods. Under the Rule of 78, periods are weighted by comparing their numerical values to the sum of all the digits of the periods. The weights are applied in reverse, applying large weights to early

Nov 21Doug Smith

Northern Virginia Communities: Herndon

Nov 21Doug Smith

Most recently, I profiled the Northern Virginia community of Reston. Let’s go next door now, to Herndon. Herndon’s 2000 population was 21,655 making it the largest of three towns in the county. Herndon was named for Commander William Lewis Herndon, American naval explorer. The settlement was named Herndon in 1858. Originally part of the rural surroundings of the Washington, D.C. area, the town of Herndon developed into a hub of dairy farming and vacationing for area residents, aided by its

Nov 17Doug Smith

B2B CFO’s Record Growth Surpasses 200 Partners and Shapes New Leadership Team

Nov 17Doug Smith

[Blogger’s Note: I’m very excited about the press release below. Joe Worth is my B2B CFO “coach” and has been working with me as a new partner.] B2B CFO Appoints Joseph C. Worth to Vice President of Operations and Expands In-House Digital Media Team PHOENIX–(BUSINESS WIRE)–B2B CFO’s record growth is pushing the firm to become the world’s largest CFO services firm with more than 200 Partners across 39 states and more than 800 clients across North America. B2B CFO surpassed

Nov 15Doug Smith

Secrets of Old School Chums

Nov 15Doug Smith

Does “the old school tie” have a big impact in business and other organizations? According to an August article in Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge blog, it seems that they do. Associate Professors Lauren H. Cohen and Christopher J. Malloy studied how social connections affect important decisions and, ultimately, how those connections help shape the economy. Their research shows that it’s possible to make better stock picks simply by knowing whether two industry players went to the same college or

Nov 10Doug Smith

Northern Virginia Communities: Reston

Nov 10Doug Smith

Many of the Northern Virginia communities I’ve profiled today have long histories, going back two hundred years or more. Not so Reston, one of our thriving communities which has been in place for less than 50 years. Reston’s population was 58,404, according to the 2010 Census. An internationally-known planned community, it was built with the goal of revolutionizing post-World War II concepts of land use and residential/corporate development in American suburbia. Reston was conceived as a planned community by Robert

Nov 8Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Mancession

Nov 8Doug Smith

Manly terms are on the rise in our language. Think “bromance.” That’s why I was interested to find one on Investopedia. A mancession is an economic instance in which the unemployment rate is substantially higher among men than it is among women. The term “mancession” was coined during the financial crisis of 2008-2009, during which men bore the brunt of the job losses in the United States, at rates close to 50% higher than those of women. Analysts have tried

Nov 7Doug Smith

Hear My Radio Interview

Nov 7Doug Smith

Last weekend (Saturday, November 5), I was interviewed on the Blueprint for Wealth program on Federal News Radio (AM 1500). I hope you’ll take a listen and let me know what you think! After you click the link (the picture of the radio at left), you may need to wait for a few moments for the file to load. Be patient. And thanks for listening!  

Nov 3Doug Smith

Latest Cloud Trends, Part 2

Nov 3Doug Smith

In a recent blog post, I described some of the trends I learned at a seminar entitled “Entrepreneurs in the Clouds” sponsored by Bisnow. Let’s continue. In terms of storage, the panelists differentiated between primary storage (i.e., the data is located only in the cloud), backup storage (in case of primary storage failure), and archive storage. One of the challenges of current cloud computing models is that they rely on networks to provide access, and wide area access, even broadband,

Nov 2Doug Smith

An Interesting Perspective on Steve Jobs

Nov 2Doug Smith

A number of Harvard Business School professors recently weighed in on the legacy of Steve Jobs. One of the more interesting commentaries came from Professor Regina Herzlinger. Reggie was one of my professors when I was in the HBS MBA program. Here’s what she had to stay about Apple’s late and lamented CEO: The life of Steve Jobs is like a biblical saga. A mighty prophet emerges, visionary and charismatic, but he is imperfect. He deserts early allies (Steve Wozniak)

Nov 1Doug Smith

Latest Cloud Trends, Part 1

Nov 1Doug Smith

I recently attended a seminar sponsored by Bisnow called “Entrepreneurs in the Clouds,” describing recent trends in the use of “cloud” computing. All the panelists agree that, whether it’s called “cloud” or some other new buzzword, this type of computing will be the mainstream for at least the next few years. It’s estimated that, by 2015, the cloud computing market will represent somewhere between $35B (at the low end) and $225B (at the high end) in annual revenue. How is

Oct 27Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Zombie Bank

Oct 27Doug Smith

Just in time for Halloween, this week’s buzzword comes again from the treasure trove at Investopedia: Zombie Bank. A zombie bank is a bank or financial institution with negative net worth. Although zombie banks typically have a net worth below zero, they continue to operate as a result of government backings or bailouts that allow these banks to meet debt obligations and avoid bankruptcy. Zombie banks often have a large amount of nonperforming assets on their balance sheets which make

Oct 25Doug Smith

Northern Virginia Communities: Arlington

Oct 25Doug Smith

Today I would like to profile another Northern Virginia community, the county (and municipality) of Arlington. Much of the information for today’s blog entry comes courtesy of Wikipedia. The land that became Arlington was originally donated by Virginia to the United States government to form part of the new federal capital district. On February 27, 1801, the United States Congress organized the area as a subdivision of the District of Columbia named Alexandria County. Due to issues involving Congressional representation,

Oct 18Doug Smith

The Power of Leadership Groups

Oct 18Doug Smith

Professor Bill George of Harvard Business School is very inspirational. As a successful businessman (e.g., CEO of Medtronix), Professor George has studied values-centered leadership and written several books. In a recent issue of Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge blog, Professor George wrote about one of the ways organizations can implement some of the ideas in his recent book True North. I’ve copied that article below: “Author’s Note: Why Leaders Lose Their Way, my article in the June 6, 2011, edition

Oct 13Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Twinternship

Oct 13Doug Smith

I have two kids in college presently, and as summertime approaches we often have conversations about internships. Here’s a unique kind of internship I recently learned about on Investopedia, the twinternship. A twinternship is an internship in which the intern is charged with using social media such as Twitter and Facebook to drive attention to a company and its products. A twinternship is usually an unpaid (although paid positions are not uncommon), temporary position in which a “twintern” will use

Oct 11Doug Smith

Northern Virginia Communities: Alexandria

Oct 11Doug Smith

Alexandria is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of 2009, the city had a total population of 139,966. Located along the Western bank of the Potomac River, Alexandria is approximately six miles south of downtown Washington, D.C. According to a 2007 estimate, the median income for a household in the city was $80,806, and the median income for a family was $102,435. The historic center of Alexandria is known as Old Town. With its concentration of boutiques,

Oct 6Doug Smith

Lessons for Business from the Non-Profit World: Museum Curation Practices

Oct 6Doug Smith

I want to share a thought-provoking analysis I came upon in the Harvard Business School Working Knowledge blog. It suggests that the processes a museum goes through in curating an exhibit, controlling and defining the visitor experience, can benefit businesses that offer services through the Web. Looking for a new model to think about business? “Look no further than your local art museum,” says Assistant Professor Ray Weaver. Some of the most profitable Web businesses and retailers such as Apple

Oct 4Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Affluenza

Oct 4Doug Smith

The flu season will be on us soon. One similar disease to be wary of is Affluenza. According to Investopedia, affluenza is a social condition arising from the desire to be more wealthy, successful or to “keep up with the Joneses.” Affluenza is symptomatic of a culture that holds up financial success as one of the highest achievements. People said to be affected by affluenza typically find that the very economic success they have been so vigorously chasing ends up

Sep 29Doug Smith

Non-Competes Push Talent Away

Sep 29Doug Smith

A recent article in the Harvard Business School Working Knowledge blog made the case that forcing employees to sign non-compete agreements may hurt more than help. State law varies widely in the ability to enforce non-competes. California is among several states where non-compete agreements are substantially restricted by law, along with Alaska, Connecticut, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Washington, and West Virginia. So, even if someone signs a non-compete agreement in Massachusetts, for instance, a judge in California is

Sep 27Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Chasing Nickels Around Dollar Bills

Sep 27Doug Smith

OK, so this week we have another “buzzphrase” rather than “buzzword.” This was a new one on me. According to Investopedia, Chasing Nickles Around Dollar Bills is a slang phrase describing what a company’s management does when it decides to trim small, trivial costs instead of cutting larger, more serious costs. All too often, managers will cut the difficult costs as a last resort, when in fact the company would be much better off if the larger costs had been

Sep 22Doug Smith

Northern Virginia Communities: Fairfax City

Sep 22Doug Smith

The City of Fairfax is an independent city forming an enclave within the confines of Fairfax County, in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Although politically independent of the surrounding county, the City is nevertheless the county seat. While the city is the county seat, a small unincorporated portion of the County comprising the courthouse complex, the jail, and a small area nearby is itself an enclave within the city. The Bureau of Economic Analysis combines Fairfax and the city of Falls

Sep 20Doug Smith

To Groupon or Not to Groupon: The Profitability of Deep Discounts

Sep 20Doug Smith

Groupon’s deal site is wildly popular. I know that I’ve bought my share of deals from Groupon and its cousin Living Social. It’s a great deal for me as a consumer, but is it any good for the businesses that offer discounts through Groupon? Recent research, highlighted in Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge, sheds some interesting light on the topic. The paper is highly analytical, with lots of mathematical formulas. Here’s a “Readers Digest-style” summary for the masses: For consumers, online

Sep 18Doug Smith

News Flash: B2B CFO Once Again Selected for Inc 500/5000

Sep 18Doug Smith

B2B CFO® was selected as one of the nation’s fastest growing small companies for a second year in a row. The selection is a tribute to the value provided by our 200 partners nationwide. Between us, we have over 5,800 years of experience. We have worked in every industry, and have seen (and solved) every business problem you can think of. Our founder, Jerry Mills, will be in Washington, DC this week to accept this year’s award.

Sep 15Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Painting the Tape

Sep 15Doug Smith

This week’s buzzword is again from Investopedia. According to the website, Painting The Tape means an illegal action by a group of market manipulators buying and/or selling a security among themselves to create artificial trading activity, which, when reported on the ticker tape, lures in unsuspecting investors as they perceive an unusual volume. After causing a movement in the security, the manipulators hope to sell at a profit.

Sep 13Doug Smith

Northern Virginia Communities: Falls Church

Sep 13Doug Smith

Falls Church is an independent city in Virginia. The city population was 11,711 in 2009. Taking its name from The Falls Church, an 18th-century Anglican parish, Falls Church gained township status within Fairfax County in 1875. In 1948, it was incorporated as the City of Falls Church, an independent city with county-level governance status. It is also referred to as Falls Church City. The city’s corporate boundaries do not include all of the area historically known as Falls Church; these

Sep 8Doug Smith

Entrepreneurs Without Sales Backgrounds Struggle to “Pitch” Their Products

Sep 8Doug Smith

Entrepreneurs may be great innovators, but not necessarily great presenters. A recent article in Harvard Business School Working Knowledge related how Associate Professor Thomas Steenburgh teaches students the fine art of product pitching. Key concepts include: Crafting a compelling product pitch can be a difficult process for entrepreneurs who have a technical, engineering, or non-sales background, or another non-sales discipline. They are not used to having to convince anyone of the merits of their projects, and can be downright hostile

Sep 6Doug Smith

An Innovative Way of Helping the Homeless

Sep 6Doug Smith
One Way of Helping the Homeless

I came upon the article below in a recently newsletter from Bisnow, a local published and event organizer whose self-proclaimed goal is to be the People Magazine of DC business. Want to make a few extra bucks? Richard Kreimer happens to have hit upon a tactic (An Innovative Way of Helping the Homeless). He’s a homeless man who sues entities that throw him out or bar him from entering. So far, the nearly 20 suits based on First Amendment and

Sep 1Doug Smith

Leadership: Knowing the Right Answers, or Asking the Right Questions?

Sep 1Doug Smith

The Harvard Business School blog Working Knowledge recently discussed a new book by HBS Professor Robert Steven Kaplan, What to Ask the Person in the Mirror. He suggests that CEOs that want to know what’s going on in their business be sure they are asking the correct questions. “Show me a company, nonprofit, or a government leader that is struggling, and almost invariably you’ll see someone who isn’t sufficiently focused on asking the right questions,” says Kaplan, a Professor of

Aug 30Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: TANSTAAFL

Aug 30Doug Smith

TANSTAAFL is an acronym that attempts to describe the cost of decision making and consumption. It stands for “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” TANSTAAFL expresses the idea that even if something seems like it is free, there is always a cost, no matter how indirect or hidden. As explained by Investopedia, in financial circles TANSTAAFL refers to the opportunity cost paid to make a decision. The decision to consume one product usually comes with the trade-off

Aug 25Doug Smith

Northern Virginia Communities: Springfield

Aug 25Doug Smith

Springfield was founded as a station of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad in 1847. The station was named for Springfield, the estate of Henry Daingerfield on whose land it had been built. Daingerfield was an Alexandria businessman and sat on the board of directors of the railroad. In 1877, Richard Moore petitioned for a post office, which he named Moor, located about a little over a mile south of the station. The post office name was changed in 1881 to

Aug 23Doug Smith

Data Center Boom, Part 2

Aug 23Doug Smith

In a recent blog entry, I talked about a Bisnow seminar I attended on the current boom in data centers. Where are such centers located, and what factors affect how location decisions are made? It turns out, by the way, that Northern Virginia is right in the middle of this data center boom. There are currently 8 million square feet of data center space in Northern Virginia, with a vacancy rate of only 4.7%. This is much lower than the

Aug 22Doug Smith

B2B CFO’ s Founder is a 2011 Small Business Influencer Champions

Aug 22Doug Smith

Jerry Mills, founder and CEO of B2B CFO®, was just awarded the distinction of being a Small Business Influencer Champion. He’s in some outstanding company, including the Wall Street Journal, Google, US Chamber, Microsoft, UPS, Inc. Magazine, New York Times, and Verizon. We’re very proud of Jerry and his achievements! Here’s some of the details from today’s press release: Small Business Influencer recognition was established to honor companies, organizations and people who have made a significant impact on the North

Aug 18Doug Smith

Data Center Boom, Part 1

Aug 18Doug Smith

I recently attended a seminar sponsored by Bisnow called “Data Center Boom.” There was obviously great interest in the topic, with well over 600 people in attendance. The movement of applications and data to The Cloud (i.e., hosted and stored in a central facility, accessible by the Internet) has indeed caused a boom in data center investment and construction. There have been other drivers as well, including: A realization that many in-house servers and PCs are not fully utilized. People

Aug 16Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Leprechaun Leader

Aug 16Doug Smith

It’s not St. Patrick’s Day, but this seemed like a good posting nonetheless. According to Investopedia, a Leprechaun Leader is a corporate manager or an executive who, like the fabled Irish elf, is a mischievous and elusive creature said to possess buried treasures of money and gold. According to Irish folklore, the location of hidden treasure is revealed only when the leprechaun is caught. In the case of a leprechaun leader, the “buried treasure” is not usually buried, but protected

Aug 11Doug Smith

Northern Virginia Communities: McLean

Aug 11Doug Smith

Over the next several months, I thought I would profile some of the cities and towns here in Northern Virginia (my home). The first area I decided to highlight is McLean, Virginia. According to the McLean Chamber of Commerce, McLean is located a few miles west of our Nation’s capital in the heart of northwest Fairfax County. This friendly, established community, comprised of a population of over 60,000 combines beautiful tree-lined residential areas of well-maintained homes with a bustling downtown

Aug 9Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Financial Porn

Aug 9Doug Smith

Generally, I try to keep this blog G-Rated. However, I had difficultly passing up this particularly lurid buzzword, found in the Investopedia dictionary. Financial Porn is a slang term used to describe sensationalist reports of financial news and products causing irrational buying that can be detrimental to investors’ financial health. Short-term focus by the media on a financial topic can create excitement that does little to help investors make smart, long-term financial decisions, and in many cases clouds investors’ decision-making

Aug 4Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Frugalista

Aug 4Doug Smith

This week’s buzzword is a turn on fashionista, people who are continuously seeking and wearing the latest fashions. The sub-species Frugalista refers to people who keep up with fashion trends without spending a lot of money. Investopedia tells us that Frugalistas stay fashionable by shopping through alternative outlets, such as online auctions, secondhand stores, and classified ads. They also reduce the amount of money spent in other areas of their lives, such as by growing their own food and reducing

Aug 2Doug Smith

Worms From Hell

Aug 2Doug Smith

I thought we’d try something a little different this week. It’s not really a financial topic, but I read an interesting article recently in Princeton University’s (one of my alma maters) online news. Professor and geoscientist Tullis Onstott recently published an article in Nature outlining a remarkable discovery: microscopic roundworms know as nematodes living nearly two-and-a-half miles between the Earth’s surface in South African gold mines. Nematodes usually live within 20 feet of the surface. No one believed they would be found

Jul 28Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Eat Your Own Dog Food

Jul 28Doug Smith

This week’s buzzword is actually a buzzphrase . According to Investopedia, Eat Your Own Dog Food describes the act of a company using its own products for day-to-day operations. A company that eats its own dog food sends the message that it considers its own products the best on the market. This slang was popularized during the dotcom craze when some companies did not use their own products and thus could “not even eat their own dog food.” An example

Jul 26Doug Smith

Northern Virginia HOT Lanes: The Vision

Jul 26Doug Smith

If you live in Northern Virginia, you know that we’re in the middle of a five year project that has the famous “Washington Beltway” torn up and under continuous construction and re-routing. It’s been underway so long that it’s hard to envision what the end result will be like once the work is completed in 2013. I happened upon an online description and some videos that paint a clearer picture of what we’re in for. I recommend visiting the website at:

Jul 21Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: The Harry Potter Stock Index

Jul 21Doug Smith

Given that the latest movie in the Harry Potter franchise just came out, I had a hard time resisting this one from the Investopedia dictionary of buzzwords. The Harry Potter Stock Index is a collection of stocks from companies related to the “Harry Potter” series franchise. Created by StockPickr, this index seeks to capture some of Harry Potter’s success by investing in selected movie producers, merchandisers and advertisers currently associated with the franchise. The success of the Harry Potter franchise

Jul 19Doug Smith

Flying Without a Net

Jul 19Doug Smith

A recent issue of Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge blog highlighted a new book by Professor Thomas DeLong, Flying Without a Net: Turn Fear of Change into Fuel for Success. The book profiles high-need-for-achievement (HNAP) professionals. Here’s how the Working Knowledge article profiles HNAPs: “He’s the guy who leaves his coat on his chair so his boss thinks he works all night. He boasts loudly about how much time he spends zigzagging the planet for work. He pretends to listen

Jul 14Doug Smith

Why Jobs Lag Stocks in a Recovery

Jul 14Doug Smith

One of my commuting pleasures as I drive from client to client is listening to podcasts from the Planet Money team at National Public Radio (www.npr.org/money). Each week, the intrepid reporters do an outstanding job of exploring and explaining, in laymen’s term, a wide range of economic topics. While listening to a recent Planet Money podcast (available through iTunes), I heard the first explanation that really made sense for me about why the stock market seems to improve early in

Jul 12Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Men’s Underwear Index

Jul 12Doug Smith

According to Investopedia, the Men’s Underwear Index is an unconventional measure of how well the economy is doing, based on sales of men’s underwear. The reasoning behind this measure assumes that men view underwear as a necessity (not a luxury item), so sales of this product should be steady – except during severe economic downturns, when men will wait longer to buy new underwear. The notable decrease in underwear sales is said to reflect the poor overall state of the

Jul 6Doug Smith

Hot Trends in Entrepreneurship, Part 2

Jul 6Doug Smith

In a previous post, I discussed several “hot” trends in entrepreneurial companies, according to Peter Barris, General Managing Partner of venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates. These were: Social Cloud Mobile Local The mobile element refers to the movement of computing and Internet access to smartphones and tablet computers. Barris said that the number of minutes consumers spend accessing Internet services on mobile devices now exceeds the number of minutes they spend accessing Internet services on desktop and laptop computers.

Jun 30Doug Smith

Hot Trends in Entrepreneurship, Part 1

Jun 30Doug Smith

I attended a recent presentation on Entrepreneurship sponsored by Bisnow, a local media company who, according to their founder, is trying to position themselves as the People magazine of business. One of the presenters was Peter Barris, General Managing Partner of venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates (one of their investments is GroupOn). He talked about hot trends in entrepreneurship, and characterized these into four areas (sometimes interacting): Social Cloud Mobile Local

Jun 28Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Bagel Land

Jun 28Doug Smith

This one is definitely a buzzword I had not come across before. According to Investopedia, Bagel Land is a slang term that represents a stock or other security that is approaching $0 in price. Arriving in Bagel Land is usually the result of one or more major business problems that may not be resolvable. This term is typically used to describe an asset that has fallen from grace, as opposed to a penny stock or other historically cheap security. Why

Jun 23Doug Smith

Mobile Banking for the Unbanked

Jun 23Doug Smith

Harvard Business School recently published a case about providing mobile banking services in the third world. In developing countries, many people have cell phones; fewer have relationships with a bank. The case profiles two companies that tried to offer mobile banking services to this population. One was a bank, the other a cell phone provider. The bank group, WIZZIT, entered the South African mobile banking market in 2004, when they realized that the cell phone penetration rate exceeded 100 percent

Jun 20Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Alligator Spread

Jun 20Doug Smith

Beware the excessive commission. According to Investopedia, an alligator spread is “an unprofitable spread that occurs as a result of large commissions charged on the transaction, regardless of favorable market movements. An alligator spread is usually used in the options market to describe a collection of put and call options that may not be profitable. “Pricing models and a more efficient market can help reduce the traditional spread on a security, but it is commissions that create the alligator spread,

Jun 17Doug Smith

Northern Virginia: Follow the Money

Jun 17Doug Smith

In a past post, I talked about how diverse and international Northern Virginia was. It’s also highly educated and quite well off. Wikipedia tells us that: Northern Virginia is highly educated, with 55.5% of its population 25 years or older holding a bachelor’s degree or higher. This is comparable to Seattle, the most educated large city in the U.S., with 53.4% of residents having at least a bachelor’s degree. The number of graduate/professional degree holders in Arlington County is relatively

Jun 15Doug Smith

Buzzword of the Week: Pip-Squeak Pop

Jun 15Doug Smith

This one is for those of you who traffic in penny stocks. According to Investopedia, pip-squeak pop is “a slang term used to describe a moderate price increase in a stock. A pip-squeak pop is generally used to describe a situation where a stock appreciates a sizable amount in a short period of time, but does not double or triple in value. Traders of penny stocks often use the term when a holding climbs 25-50%, which would in most cases be

Jun 12Doug Smith

Are You Drowning in Receipts?

Jun 12Doug Smith

If you’re a small business person, how good are you at taking all your receipts and entering them into your accounting software right away? Many of us struggle with this – I know that I sometimes wait till my wallet is crammed full of coffee, meal, parking, and other receipts, then finally empty it out. Getting these expenses into the right place in Quickbooks (which I use for my own accounting needs) can be challenging, and it can take me

Jun 6Doug Smith

It’s Not Nagging: Redundant Communication Works

Jun 6Doug Smith

In a paper forthcoming in Organization Science, Harvard Business School professor Tsedal B. Neeley and Northwestern University’s Paul M. Leonardi and Elizabeth M. Gerber delve into why many managers tend to send the same message, over and over, via multiple media to team members. At first blush, this strategy may sound like nagging or a waste of time. But as it turns out, asking multiple times gets results. An excerpt of their research was recently previewed on the HBS Working

Jun 2Doug Smith

Staying on Top of E-Mail, Final Thoughts

Jun 2Doug Smith

My last two blog posts described a monthly review process I’ve followed for 20 years or more to ensure I keep up with e-mail, tasks I’ve delegated, and the other details of managing a business that can get lost in the day-to-day crunch of everyday office life. In a nutshell, I set aside and slavishly protect a monthly Integration Day where I hang out in a hidden location with no distractions (usually the local library) and focus on all the

May 31Doug Smith

Staying on Top of E-Mail, Part Deux

May 31Doug Smith

In my last blog post, I spoke of how I’ve taken one work day a month, which I call my Integration Day, and use it to catch up on my e-mail. In the last few companies where I’ve worked, e-mail is as important a communication and task assignment method as meetings are, and much more important than voice mail; I needed to stay up with the volume. I also talked about how monthly I clear out and dispose of many (probably

May 27Doug Smith

Staying on Top of E-Mail, Part 1

May 27Doug Smith

Do you feel like you’re ever “caught up” with your e-mail? Most people don’t. And it often stresses them out big time. I had a VP who worked for me at a previous employer who was incredibly dedicated, working 12-14 hours each day and putting in time on the weekends as well. Even with all these hours, though, she was always behind on her e-mail. She would try to catch up at night, get through some e-mails, then give up

May 26Doug Smith

Northern Virginia: The Skinny

May 26Doug Smith

My B2B CFO® base of operations is “Northern Virginia” (although I have clients in Washington DC and Maryland as well). If you live around here, you know what Northern Virginia is, although you’d be hard-pressed to find something on a map that says Northern Virginia. Here’s how Wikipedia defines it: “Northern Virginia” is more of a functional name than a rigidly defined area. Much like Virginia’s second largest region, Hampton Roads, there is no single entity which clearly defines the

May 25Doug Smith

Sticking My Head in the Cloud

May 25Doug Smith

Cloud computing. It just seems like another case of computer hype. Isn’t this just like the old days where you had a dumb terminal and all your processing power and data was somewhere else (like a huge room in the basement with rows of tape drives and flashing lights)? Or even the not-quite-so-old days when we talked about client-server computing. Or the not-even-as-old-as-that days where we talking about thin-clients and web services. Well, there is some truth that what goes

May 23Doug Smith

Buzz Word-opoly

May 23Doug Smith

This morning I was listening to an audio program about improving your elevator speech. For those who don’t know what an elevator speech is, it’s a short (30-60 seconds) speech where you introduce yourself and what you do at a networking or business function. It’s called an elevator speech because you’re supposed to imagine stepping into an elevator with a stranger, and you only have the ride to the 12th floor to tell them about yourself. Anyway, this particular audio

May 20Doug Smith

Private Equity Interest in Government Contractors

May 20Doug Smith

I attended an interesting seminar this week on Private Equity investment in Federal contractors. For those of you who don’t live in DC, Federal contractors are the “town industry” around here. There were speakers from three private equity funds: one invests in larger firms where the owner/founder is looking for an exit, one specializes in taking partial equity positions in minority business (i.e., those who take advantage of Government provisions setting aside some contracts for small and small-disadvantaged businesses), and

May 18Doug Smith

What’s the Lifetime Value of a Customer?

May 18Doug Smith

Do you find yourself isolating your view of your company’s customers, thinking of some as high yield and others as just breaking even? That may be true in a particular month. However, over longer periods of time, the comparison becomes more complex, and sometimes even counter-intuitive. From 2006-2011, I was the Chief Operating Officer of a company that provided home healthcare to help patients complete their healing, personal care aides in the home to help with daily living activities, and

May 13Doug Smith

Health Insurance and Small Businesses: Easy to Swallow?

May 13Doug Smith

Last week I attended a conference on health care reform sponsored jointly by the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and the Harvard Business School Health Industry Association. One of the presentations was on the upcoming “state exchanges” which are supposed to be in place by 2014 – some states (Massachusetts, Utah) have exchanges up and running, others are working hard to put their program in place, and a number of others seem to be procrastinating to the last minute. Also in