Strategic planning is the foundation for business success. 

We help clients with strategic thinking to explore their future, the vision and options that make sense and the best means to acheive a successful, sustainable organization. 

Time together as a management team is precious. We ensure you make the most of it. 

One day is all we ask

Call us to learn more about what a difference a day can make! 



Help a Woman You Know

It is especially great when a client teaches us something important that can make a difference for people.

Dr. Sophia Yen, Associate Professor in Pediatrics at Stanford Hospital did just that.

Her reseach show a significant correlation between cancer and frequency of menstrual cyles.

In time of yore, women did much more physical labor, bore infants and fed them, which created lifestyles with an average span of 100-ish periods.

Times changed and women's work and lifestyles changed. The average number of periods is more than tripled (350+). 

Women have been taught this is "natural" and "normal."

It's not. It's sociological. 

The important news is that we can solve this. We can take a simple prescription to stop periods.

Dr. Yen's mantra is:
"Periods are optional."

When research teaches us we can help ourselves, we OPT-IN to do the right thing. 

We hope you do, too.

For more information, check out Pandia Health, Dr. Yen's organization working to solve this for women. 


Here's a Thought

This era is full of data analytics and big data pattern detection solutions. 

Our concern is when those approaches are used as a way to understand the voice or our customers and prospects. 

When analysts use this data and infer what customers think, it is a weak and error-ridden substitute for what works:


There is no better way to resonate and hold allegience to your brand and what you promise. 


Randy Rumpf's creative illustrations help our clients visual work stand above the crowd in this era so otherwise used to clip art. 

Contact us if you seek original ways to communicate. 

 Meet Marilyn Nagel

We are proud to address client efforts to create healthy work cultures with the thoughtful, creative work of Marilyn. 

In addition to her current work with numerous startups, Marilyn also consults with fortune 500 and multinational companies on developing and implementing diversity strategies. She is an internationally recognized speaker and workshop facilitator on topics such as Building Intentional Connections, Building a Culture of Inclusion, Inclusive Leadership, Executive Presence, Creating Influence, as well as Women’s Leadership.She is a regular blogger for the Huffington Post and frequently contributes to Forbes, Inc, Fast Company, and numerous publications. 

           hh reports...
          March. 2019


Employees As Brand Ambassadors:
Are You Making Them Great?

by Marilyn Nagel
HH Senior Associate


 No matter what your product or service, your employees are powerful representatives of your brand.


We have all dealt with the customer service representative who either builds or breaks loyalty based on our experience. The service representative to customer touchpoint defines a brand experience.

These consumers share stories about their interactions with businesses on social channels, becoming word-of-mouth marketers. Marketing professionals spend more time on current customers by revamping what customer service means, investing more in customer relationship management (CRM) systems and building teams to improve communication with customers.

Investment in employees as brand ambassadors is also a key factor. Employees are social networkers and sources of information about the company. If your company has 20,000 employees, you have that many spokespeople as well. Sites like Glassdoor are not only looked at by prospective employees, but also by current and future customers. Rating systems such as the Corporate Equality Index are reviewed by both employees and customers to evaluate companies’ practices toward its employees. This can directly affect whether these groups buy or apply. For example, the Corporate Equality Index -- launched to highlight corporate practices toward GLBT employees -- resulted in a directory of companies whic have GLBT-supportive practices and policies, and those are the companies from which this community buys.


Engaged employees who feel supported by their company provide more robust CRM systems for customers because they care about the customer experience in the same way their company cares about them. Customer service employees interact with customers by phone and email, building or destroying the brand. Developers create products that reflect the brand and -by extension-  impact on the customer experience through the employees who provide customer support.

Since employees are marketers of a company and its brand, engaged employees are the best advocates for acquiring and retaining customers.

While I was the Head of Training at American Express, where the brand is the product, the mantra was  “Happy employees make happy customers.” Subsequently, American Express placed a huge emphasis on employee satisfaction surveys, with a particular focus on the aspects that engage employees. Management bonuses and career advancement were tightly tied to employee engagement effectiveness.

Know What Matters to Your Employees

Not all employees have the same passions. Some care about learning and professional development, some about big, new experiences. Others seek balance between work and personal life while others care about community service. It’s important to know what makes your employees both tick and thrive. Our firm helps clients to discover and understand the unique values and passions of their employees so to deepen engagement in the most unique ways that will matter to them.

While at Cisco as the Chief Diversity Officer, the top factor for employee engagement - year in and year out - was workplace flexibility: the ability for the employee to choose how and when she or he gets to work, (regardless of gender, ethnicity or age.)

The Value of Offering Flexibility

The earliest pioneers of workplace flexibility focused on freedom to work as well as choice in how to work. The notion was: creating new ways of working would, on a broader scale, change the landscape of employment. According to the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College: “Workplace flexibility has a dramatic positive impact on employee commitment and is one of the most powerful components of the business case for flexibility. Commitment is higher and burnout is lower for employees who have access to flexibility compared with those who do not have it. In fact, the dramatic effect of flexibility on employee commitment is one of the most powerful components of the business case for flexibility.”

Engaged employees are concerned with producing quality work and believe they have a stake in the organization. This “ownership” is more valuable than stock options, resulting in the best brand ambassadors for a company. Even if employees do not articulate marketing slogans, they speak from their hearts about the company, its products and services.


Significant research supports these claims. Research by the Corporate Leadership Council suggests every ten percent improvement in commitment can increase an employee’s level of discretionary effort by six percent and performance by two percent. Highly committed employees perform at a twenty percent higher level than non-committed employees.

Research by Hewitt Associates finds double-digit growth companies have 39 percent more highly-engaged employees and 45 percent fewer highly-disengaged employees than single-digit growth companies.

In a Deloitte survey, employees were asked whether their managers granted them enough flexibility to meet personal and/or family responsibilities.  Employees who had access to flexibility scored a dramatic 32 percent higher in their commitment to the company than those without flexibility.

We implemented flexible work practices at Cisco, although we found it challenging to get more traditional leaders to accept the program because they were concerned about productivity, despite the statistics presented. While we had not quite two percent of employees enroll --as was the norm for other companies implementing similar programs at the time -  the boost to engagement was huge. As one female engineer said, “Just knowing this is an option makes me want to stay at Cisco.”

Employees can build or destroy a brand and we know engagement is a top indicator of employees’ effectiveness as brand ambassadors. Logically, this suggests companies should implement flexibility practices that build engagement, and ultimately, increase customer loyalty and sales. This seems even more obvious, considering implementing flexibility programs is low cost.

Why don’t more companies invest in employee engagement?

The Role of Marketing

While many companies recognize employee engagement is important, most put few resources behind it. Engagement is more often considered a metric HR evaluates and discusses with managers, who should address it within work teams. Managers, weighing it relative to productivity, often fall short.

A smart, focused way to address this is with Marketing leadership. Since  employees are essential contributors to brand and reputation,  and employee engagement is a way to build the brand, then marketers can build employee roles, competencies and understanding about their vital contribution to brand value. Support engagement programs, marketing can set a new standard for employee and brand value.

If attracting and retaining customers is the goal, employees are the key.

For creative and effective ideas for bringing this to life, call us.