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Leading Through Change: How to Motivate and inspire Teams into 2021

Across the course of 2020, a multitude of articles have been released sharing leadership strategies to help us navigate through uncertain and trying times. Leaders across organizations have devoured this guidance as they found there to be no playbook for 2020 and craved expert insights. But now, as we turn into 2021, leaders are asking themselves, how can I do more than just progress into the new year; how can I bring a renewed sense of motivation and inspiration to my team?

We asked Kim Sharan, former CMO and President of Financial Planning and Wealth Strategies at Ameriprise Financial, current board director, and consultant, to join an intimate roundtable discussion with senior financial services leaders to explore exactly that. What strategies can we bring with us into 2021 to break free from leadership fatigue and burst into 2021 revitalized.

To start, Sharan suggests we shift our mindset around work/life balance and move towards the concept of designing a work/life integration. Especially in times when there is no clear break or boundary between these two worlds, it’s necessary to reframe our approach and adjust our viewpoint. For example, as these two worlds meld into one, it is critical that we take intentional breaks. As we all lose control of our own calendars and impromptu conversations have morphed into scheduled calendar invites, it’s important to pay special attention to time management, plan your day, and be intentional about it. Schedule time blocks for activities that would naturally be happening as you commuted or walked from the bathroom back to your desk. Schedule walk breaks, nourishment breaks, and especially time to think. Science shows that some of our best work comes when we’re unintentional, and we need to create white space to ignite our best creative.

Sharan also proposed that to succeed in this new environment, we don’t need to create a completely new leadership playbook, but should consider revisiting the basics and reframe them in today’s world. Referencing Covey’s ‘Big Rocks’ paradigm shift, Sharan encouraged attendees to focus on the big rocks and get ultra clear on the most critical priorities. Only when you have a clear line of sight to, and alignment on, priorities can you truly differentiate between productivity and busyness.

Aligning on priorities is just the start of the battle. Accompanying those priorities with a strong project plan and project management is crucial to success in a remote work dynamic. Sharan emphasized the importance of taking the time to develop a clear, clean, accessible project plan including tasks, owners, milestones, timelines, and goals and metrics. Bringing together the right cross-functional team, creating a reasonable recurring meeting cadence, and keeping a maniacal focus on consistent communication are all critical components of bringing the plan to life.

So, give yourself permission to take a beat, go for a walk, find a way to connect with your team members on a more personal level, and reset for 2021. Leaders will need to continue to strike a delicate balance of moving the business forward and supporting our teams – and we need a clear head to hit the ground running.

What I learned by converting a physical conference to a virtual one in just five weeks!

The pandemic shut down the Bay Area on March 17; our event was on April 21st. Find out how we quickly pivoted and pulled off a successful virtual event!

While I was, by no means, the first person to host a virtual event, I was one of the first in my network to pivot from a physical event to an interactive virtual event, due to the pandemic. While there are always lessons learned, I would say we nailed it! I have spent the last month post-event responding to clients, partners and industry colleagues about what platform I used and what worked for us, as they begin to transition their own events to virtual. Consider me your guinea pig.

Our event was supposed to be April 21-22, 2020 in San Francisco and, at five weeks out, the decision was made to go virtual rather than reschedule. I needed to select a technology vendor right away, and through my LinkedIn network, I found Dahlia+ Agency.

While there are plenty of virtual event and webinar platforms out there, what separates Soliman Productions (under the Dahlia+ umbrella) from the others is that, while with most you are just paying for access to their technology and platform, Soliman not only built-out the livestream site, they also produced the event. We planned it, but they managed the technology the day of the event and ran the virtual green room where speakers waited to go on. They were like our AV booth (sound and video switchers), help desk (a human was behind the help button on the site) and site developer in one! This was a lifesaver for me.

We condensed a 1.5 day event into two days for 3 hours each, to avoid losing guest’s attention and being aware that they have other obligations. With no true breaks, and slightly shorter sessions, we still accommodated all of our planned topics and speakers we had committed to. We did host our panels simultaneously to tighten time as well.

We didn’t want it to feel like a regular webinar where speakers talk at you, and I think it boils down to the nuances and small details you add to create engagement and interactivity. At the time, the small details felt painstaking, adding to an already challenging workload, but post event, we could see clearly how each of them truly enhanced the overall event experience. Some of the details that were successful:

  • The Summit Supply Drop box we sent was a total win! We asked guests for their shelter-in-place address during registration and shipped them a box full of goodies, an agenda and a letter with ways they could participate in the event. The call to action to hashtag and tag us with the message lightboards we sent or to show us their WFH set-up with #fromwhereisummit was a hit! Guests could not have been more appreciative and excited to receive these boxes.
  • Virtual Bingo – This encouraged guests to really engage and listen for buzz words, to post on social, participate in a breakout or visit the sponsor’s virtual booth in order to win a set of wireless Beats by Dre. The learning here was to make it harder to get BINGO, and probably have a prize for anyone who completes the whole card.
  • Hearsay team members from throughout the organization recorded intro videos introducing themselves, their role and the upcoming speaker. This offered a more human, and broader, view of our organization.
  • Assigned chat motivators that kept the chat box active and fun.
  • Virtual Sponsor Booths allowed our partners to shine.
  • Our transitions between speakers were not just a holding screen. In order to help the guests feel “seen” we incorporated several slideshows into the transitions between sessions. One featured guests at past events, one had current and past award winners, and another showed all the amazing social media posts by attendees.
  • Guests loved being able to get more curated content by selecting which simultaneous breakout panel best suited them to attend.
  • We organized small group Think Tanks. They were pre-assigned and a facilitator reached out in advance to create a sense of accountability and excitement. They were able to see and speak with industry colleagues and discuss best practices, successes and practical applications of lessons learned.
  • We created virtual backgrounds for our speakers so they could have some privacy in their home, and also feel more like a studio set. We gave them all several branded options.
  • Our designer also created a custom coloring sheet with some branding, to distract kids at home or for doodling while listening.
  • We still held our annual awards as a part of the event, highlighting photos of the winners and examples of their work. We asked the guests to join us in toasting the winners with the branded prosecco bottles and branded insulated champagne tumblers we included in their gift boxes!


  • Reach is greater with virtual. We went from a mid-sized in-person conference to a virtual one that reached nearly 5x as many people. Many commented that they would not have been able to attend the physical one and were so excited to be able to participate now that it was virtual.
  • Content is king. We had amazing and diverse speakers, offering many different perspectives.
  • While you have a more captive audience at a physical event, you get more engagement with virtual. Our active chat box provided real-time feedback and comments on the speaker and event, as well as friendly banter with the other attendees.
  • People miss the physical networking, so anything you can do to emulate this in your virtual event will go a long way with attendees.
  • Creative ideas came from throughout the organization. Brainstorming was fun and essential!
  • You need a partner. Perhaps your team is large enough and you only need the technology, but for me, a production partner was like hiring AV, essential.

Were things perfect? No. Were they epic? Yes.

There were a few minor bumps with various vendors, but attendees were very complimentary about how professional and engaging the event was and they loved the touch of sending them the swag box. The big take-away was that they were truly appreciative that we still held the event virtually, rather than canceling or putting it off.

Hearsay auf dem AMC-Meeting am 18. Mai in Neuss

Unser Solutions Consultant Guerson Meyer wird heute, am Donnerstag den 18. Mai um 14:30 Uhr auf dem AMC-Meeting Frühjahr 2017 in Neuss zur Zukunft von Social Media im Vertrieb sprechen. Wer beim Frühjahrsmeeting dabei sein will, wird auf der Seite des AMC-Forums fündig, wir wollen hier aber allen – sowohl Teilnehmern als auch Interessenten – einen kleinen Vorgeschmack auf Guersons Präsentation geben:

Früher und heute – wie sieht eigentlich die Kommunikation zwischen Berater und Kunden in der Praxis aus?

Vier von fünf Beratern sehen Social Media als geschäftskritisch an. Guerson erklärt, warum das so ist. Weitere Topics beinhalten: Wie definieren wir heute eigentlich Erfolg? Und was ist „Der Berater meines Vertrauens“? Guerson präsentiert die Zukunftstrends – so wird Social zum Erfolg im Vertrieb.
Sollten Sie jetzt neugierig geworden sein, besuchen Sie entweder Guersons Vortrag am heute um 14:30 Uhr in Neuss im Projektforum 1, oder schauen Sie danach wieder hier vorbei – wir werden das Thema und seinen Vortrag auch hier im deutschsprachigen Hearsay-Blog begleiten!
Schauen Sie sich weiter um auf unserem Blog
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All About Technology at SIFMA Annual 2016

The SIFMA Capital Markets Annual meeting in Washington D.C. last week provided industry executives an opportunity to hear expert insights on the state of capital markets from some of the top influencers, including Twitter CEO and Square founder Jack Dorsey, Congressman Jeb Hensarling and SEC Chair Mary Jo White.

Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter and Square
Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO and Square founder

Overall, the majority of the conference focused on the challenges in securing capital for growth and investment amid increasing regulation and security concerns. Given the evolving landscape of the industry that continues to recover from the recessionary effects of the housing market, my primary focus was to understand the impact that technology will make to assist with the slow growth recovery.
In the opening evening interview, Jack Dorsey shared how his upbringing around small business in his hometown of St. Louis shaped his entrepreneurship and understanding of the customer relationship. The lessons learned have helped shape his approach in running Twitter and the creation of Square.
In one revealing story on the impact of technology, he shared how a local florist he was helping lost a sale because she refused to accept credit cards and would only accept cash. Dorsey, who at the time was trying to convince the florist to adapt Square to process credit card payments, quickly realized she’d have to adapt to the customer’s preferred form of payment if she was to survive in the digital age. Throughout the conference and in the sessions that followed, digital adoption and use of technology to adapt to customer preference came up from multiple speakers and panelists.
In her one-to-one interview with SIFMA President and CEO Kenneth Bentsen Jr., Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Mary Jo White said the agency is throwing a bigger spotlight on fintech, including robo advisors, and that “fintech has the potential to transform the securities industry.”
White said the SEC needs to strike a balance between providing proper regulatory oversight while ensuring advisors and the industry can continue to provide the products and services in the best interests of clients. As evidenced by their commitment to fintech, the SEC is planning on having its first fintech forum in its history on November 14, 2016.
SIFMA Annual panelIn a breakout session focused on the new private wealth manager moderated by HD Vest President and CEO Roger Ochs, technology took center stage. Panelists representing Charles Schwab, DA. Davidson Companies and United Capital discussed the impact the DOL ruling is making to advisor succession planning and the need to draw fresh talent into the business with a focus on millennials. The panelists agreed that technology expectations from customers and employees alike will revolutionize the industry, and that firms that invest in innovation will thrive.
For more details on the conference, visit the SIFMA Annual website.

#HSonAir Podcast: Kicking off Dreamforce 2016 with's Chief Digital Evangelist Vala Afshar #DF16

Dreamforce (#DF16) has officially landed here in San Francisco this week, and with it we’re honored to share the Hearsay on Air mic with Vala Afshar (@valaafshar), Chief Digital Evangelist.
Clara Shih of Hearsay and Vala Afshar of SalesforceAs one of the most social media-savvy C-level execs out there, Vala is someone who truly embodies the “practice what you preach” philosophy. In addition to his work at Salesforce, he co-hosts a weekly TV show, DisrupTV, and writes for The Huffington Post about digital marketing and information technology, and the changing role of CIOs, CMOs and CDOs. And to say that he’s a Twitter power user is an understatement.
In #HSonAir episode 90, Hearsay CEO and founder Clara Shih (@clarashih) interviews Vala about his role at Salesforce, how he got bitten by the social media bug, and what the future of social and digital holds for both consumers and businesses. Among many other insights, Vala shares:

  • What has changed in the way companies view social media since the publication of his book, The Pursuit of Social Business Excellence
  • Why relevancy is the currency of today’s hyper-connected economy
  • What success looks like for a company pursuing social business excellence
  • Why the future of marketing is customer service
  • Where data analytics is going, from descriptive (based on past behavior) to predictive (forecasting future behavior) to prescriptive (suggested next best actions)
  • Where he goes to stay on top of the latest innovations and to find inspiration

Listen to the podcast here:

Will you be among the 171,000 people expected to attend Dreamforce this week? Be sure to add Clara’s keynote, “Leadership Equality: Women in the Boardroom” (Thursday, Oct. 6, 9:30-10:30am PT, Moscone West Level 2) to your Dreamforce schedule!
Be part of the conversation with @victorgaxiola and @alissadossantos on Twitter using hashtag #HSonAir. If you have a question, comment or suggestion, please send an email to We also invite you to “like” our podcast page on Facebook where we share posts about the podcast, our guests and other fun stuff.
(Editor’s note: Check out our full Dreamforce coverage here!)

Hearsay Social Named One of Gramercy Institute's Most Valuable Partners in Financial Marketing

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 3.21.50 PMThe Gramercy Institute, a leading global network for senior marketers from the world’s leading financial institutions, recently released its 2016 list of 20 Most Valuable Partners in Financial Marketing and Hearsay Social is honored to be included.
“In 2016, financial marketers must engage with true strategic partners in order to effectively compete,” explains Bill Wreaks, CEO and Chief Analyst of the Gramercy Institute in a press release. “Understanding which partners provide real value through true partnership can make a tremendous difference to the achievement of marketing success.”
Members of the 2016 judging panel included senior executives from several Fortune 100 firms including:
Renee Baker, Sr. Manager, Marketing & Investor Relations, Aberdeen Asset Management
Jeffrey Kochie, Vice President, Marketing, Blackrock
Jacqueline Quasney, Senior Brand Manager, Personal Capital
Erin Meijer, Director, Thought Leadership and Content Strategy, Guardian Life
Amy Jackson, SVP, Content Marketing, Bank of America
Amy Sokotch, SVP, Media, Citibank
Francie Staub, Director, Digital Marketing, TD Ameritrade
Bryan VanDyke, Managing Director and Head of Digital, Morgan Stanley
Phillip Wang, SVP, Brand & Advertising, Wells Fargo Bank
Unlike many awards programs that allow companies to nominate themselves, the Gramercy Institute program requires submissions from clients at a financial brand who either currently or had at one time worked with the nominated company. Nominators provided an assessment of each nominee’s value to the financial firm’s marketing success, its innovation, its customer support levels, and its ability to delivery on expectations.
At Hearsay Social, one of our core team values is to put our customers above all else, and we’re both proud and humbled that our 130-plus enterprise customers consider us to be critical partners to their long-term success and growth.
For more information, check out the Gramercy Institute’s announcement.

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#HSonAir Podcast: Preview of the LIMRA/LOMA Social Business Conference for Financial Services

erikqualman.blogIn Episode 84, Carolyn Clement (@singingcarolyn) and Norah Denley (@ndenley) preview the upcoming LIMRA/LOMA Social Business Conference for Financial Services, and join me in a special interview with Technology and Social Media Expert, author, and speaker Erik Qualman (@equalman).  As a pioneer on the use of social media for business, Erik shares insights from his presentation entitled  “Disruptive Innovation,” and the evolving changes our industry has experienced in its adoption of social and digital technology.
There is still time to register for the Social Business Conference (#LLSBC) in Boston on August 17-19th and it is not to be missed.  This year Hearsay Social On the Air will record an all new episode in front of a LIVE audience as well as participate in the annual presentation of the Silverbowl Awards. On Friday, our CEO and co-founder Clara Shih (@clarashih) kick off the final day with a presentation on the Omnichannel Advisor and Client.  We hope you will join us in Boston for this always popular event.
Be part of the conversation with @victorgaxiola and @alissadossantos on Twitter using hashtag #HSonAir.  If you have a question, comment or suggestion, please send an  e-mail to   We also invite you to “like” our podcast page on Facebook where we share posts about the podcast, our guests, and other fun stuff.


Hearsay Social Appoints Peter Vellenzer to Lead Efforts in DACH Region

Peter Vellenzer_2We’re thrilled to announce that Peter Vellenzer has joined Hearsay Social as head of sales to grow our leadership presence in the DACH region, including Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Peter is responsible for driving sales and marketing, as well as educating financial services firms on why they must activate their advisors and agents on social and digital or risk irrelevancy. With more than 20 years of successfully launching new products into new markets and achieving double digit revenue growth, Peter has held sales and account management positions at Oracle, Deutsche Telekom AG and IBM, among many other leading firms.
Hearsay Social’s presence and team in Europe continues to grow exponentially. Most recently, we announced our newest customer in France, Credit Agricole, which received impressive press coverage. For more information on job opportunities in Europe, visit the Hearsay Social careers page.

Clara Shih to Discuss the Impact of Automation at Fortune Brainstorm Tech 2016 (#FortuneTech)

Artificial Intelligence HeadshotsHearsay Social CEO and founder Clara Shih (@ClaraShih) will join Adam Nash (@AdamNash), president/CEO of Wealthfront; Sallie Krawcheck (@SallieKrawcheck), CEO/co-founder of Ellevest; and Aydin Senkut (@ASenkut), founder/managing director of Felicis Ventures, for a lively discussion on the impact of artificial intelligence at 2016 Fortune Brainstorm Tech (@BrainstormTech) this week in Aspen, Colo.
Other scheduled conference speakers include Robert Iger, chairman/CEO of The Walt Disney Company, Chuck Robbins, CEO of Cisco, and Reshma Saujani, CEO of Girls Who Code.
Clara’s panel, titled “Artificial Intelligence: Can a Machine Make You Millions?” and moderated by Fortune assistant managing editor Adam Lashinsky (@AdamLashinsky), will address the current and future influence of automation on the workforce. Are machines better than humans when it comes to work? Why not both? Cognitive systems are bringing new levels of automation and productivity to a broad range of fields, from financial services to manufacturing. The panelists will discuss how these emerging technologies will change how consumers buy, businesses operate and investors fund companies.
As witnesses to how technology and big data are changing workplace fundamentals at lightning speed, the topic of automation and robots versus (or co-existing with) humans is a hot one, with sweeping cultural and social implications for both the current and future generations. Most recently, global consulting firm McKinsey & Company published initial conclusions from research on the degree to which automation will replace work activities performed by humans across a multitude of industries. Check out the full article from McKinsey, “Where machines could replace humans – and where they can’t (yet),” and a summary published in Fortune.
Follow the Brainstorm Tech feed for live coverage of the event and #fortunetech on Twitter!
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#HSonAir Podcast: Summer Jam 2016

Untitled design (3)In Episode 83, we take a short summer break in our schedule to reflect on the first half of the year and our content contributions and industry conference participation during the the 1st and 2nd Quarter.  We also explore some of the upcoming events in the 3rd quarter with a specific emphasis on our participation at the LIMRA/LOMA Social Business Conference for Financial Services (#LLSBC) taking place in Boston on August 17-19th, that will include a recording of Hearsay Social On the Air in front of a live audience.  We hope you are all enjoying your summer and look forward to providing new programming soon.
Be part of the conversation with @victorgaxiola and @alissadossantos on Twitter using hashtag #HSonAir.  If you have a question, comment or suggestion, please send an  e-mail to   We also invite you to “like” our podcast page on Facebook where we share posts about the podcast, our guests, and other fun stuff.
Episode Links