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BRAINIACS: Listen to Michael Brainard on Critical Mass Radio

Oct 26th, 2016Comments Off on BRAINIACS: Listen to Michael Brainard on Critical Mass Radio

On October 25, 2016, Michael Brainard joined Ric Franzi on his 951st(!!!) episode of the Critical Mass for Business radio program, part of the OCTalkRadio network.

In a 20-minute conversation, the two shared stories and insight on many pertinent and important topics in today’s leadership landscape, including emerging new metrics in leadership development, full-lifecycle career insight, unconscious bias and more. Here’s a snippet of the exchange, to give you a sense of the candor and quality of the discussion. This starts around 3:45:

FRANZI: It’s hard to get people to change their behavior, isn’t it?

BRAINARD: Particularly mid-career moderately successful executives.

FRANZI: Right. “What got me here worked.”

Michael then goes on to explain that it’s important to tie learning to new and urgent events or business challenges that are pertinent to that particular leader or industry. 

BRAINARD: The second thing we try to do is create a learning gap. It’s very, very important that we don’t develop people to be “nice.” We don’t develop people to be “caring.” We have to realize that successful adults are usually pretty righteous. They might not say it that way. We create a learning gap by using assessments, by using feedback, by using objective third parties intervention, 360s, things like this. I believe that without creating a learning gap, the uptake on any behavior change goes down.

FRANZI: When you say “learning gap,” that is in the eyes of the person that you’re looking to help and improve and change their behavior? So they have to realize, “I have a gap.” Uh… Paul, can you hit the gong please?

We hear the sound effect of a gong, or maybe an actual gong.

FRANZI: I think Michael Brainard just gave us a teachable moment here at Critical Mass. I think that’s true across the spectrum. People have to feel comfortable with the fact that we’ve identified a gap and we’re here to help you cross that gap.

BRAINARD: Without that gap, where’s the urgency or the need to change?

10/25: Michael Brainard Live on

Oct 19th, 2016Comments Off on 10/25: Michael Brainard Live on

Tune in live at

Michael Brainard, CEO of Brainard Stratetgy, will be talking live online with host Richard Franzi, MBA. Tune in from 4:25-4:50 on October 25, 2016!

If you can’t catch the conversation live, it will be available for streaming here!

Austin! EXCELerate Forum is Coming Your Way

Oct 18th, 2016Comments Off on Austin! EXCELerate Forum is Coming Your Way

What is EXCELerate?

We know leaders because we are leaders.

We designed EXCELerateSM to meet the needs of seasoned executives. We offer “Leaders of Leaders” a curriculum that combines the latest thinking and technology in executive development with applied-learning projects aligned to your company’s organizational objectives.Six one-day modules over six months of deep executive development

Our peer-to-peer cohorts consist of executives from other organizations, connecting executives across different industries and regional locations.


10/11 Bias Trifecta at San Antonio HRMA

Oct 5th, 2016Comments Off on 10/11 Bias Trifecta at San Antonio HRMA
 Photo via Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License, Boston Public Library via Flickr

Tuesday, October 11 from 11:20am to 1:15pm

Hilton San Antonio Airport, 611 NW Loop 410, San Antonio, TX 78216

The bias trifecta refers to three specific biases that the human brain lens causes us to possess. These biases occur at three distinct areas in our brain. They are largely a part of the human condition and have little to do with being an affliction of the majority class. This talk explores how these biases interact to systemically affect leadership decision-making in many ways, including hiring, performance management, succession planning, team formation, innovation and change. It is important to acknowledge the fact that these biases exist within all of us and that, with appropriate training and operating mechanisms, we can effectively mitigate the impact of this bias trifecta from driving our thinking and behaviors.

1) Understand how the human brain works
2) Gain clarity on how the brain tricks us into making decisions – often unconsciously
3) Gain insight into how unconscious bias can be mitigated through adjustment in individual leader behavior and organizational systems and practices.

This program is Approved for 1 HR (General) recertification credit hours toward PHR/SPHR/GPHR recertification through HR Certification Institute and Approved for Professional Development Credit (PDC) toward SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP recertification from SHRM

Michael Brainard (MA, MS, PhD) brings over 20 years experience as a management consultant, senior executive, executive coach, entrepreneur and researcher. Michael has worked with many executives and organizations across industries blending a strategic, behavioral, and experiential learning approach. His somewhat edgy, humorous presentation style challenges participants to view traditional HR issues through a new lens. He has contributed to publications and presented his research findings on leadership development, change management and unconscious bias at a variety of professional organizations and corporations across the country.

Michael received a BA in Psychology at the University of Delaware, an MS and his Ph.D. in Industrial Psychology at Alliant International University.

For more information, click here.

10/5 at LMU: HR Professionals Mixer

Oct 4th, 2016Comments Off on 10/5 at LMU: HR Professionals Mixer
Photo via Creative Commons 3.0 License, User:Mishigaki at English Wikipedia Photo via Creative Commons 3.0 License, User:Mishigaki at English Wikipedia

Wednesday, October 5 at 6:00pm to 8:30pm

UH – University Hall, McIntosh Center 1 LMU Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90045

Michael Brainard, founder & CEO of Brainard Strategy, will present “Unconscious Bias: Impact on Talent and Business Performance.” Unconscious bias can have adverse effects on hiring, performance management, succession planning and diversity initiatives. This presentation will cover the origins and meaning of unconscious bias, consider its implications and discuss ways to manage your biases.

Free for students! RSVP here
$25 for alumni and HR professionals. RSVP here

Sponsored by the HR Society, LM-UMatch and CBA.

For more information, click here.

8/30-9/1: Our Masters Series at the AZ SHRM Conference

Aug 26th, 2016Comments Off on 8/30-9/1: Our Masters Series at the AZ SHRM Conference

We are excited to announce our curated Master’s Series

Brainard is hosting a Master’s Series Lounge with a complimentary coffee bar and a free gift for Master’s Series participants.

Mindi Cox

Mindi Cox

Cultural Strategist, MKC Consulting

Tuesday, Aug. 30th
7:30 am – 9:15 am

Work Environments that Work:
The connection between strategy, results and workspace

Jose Cong

Jose Cong

Founder, Start-up in Stealth Mode

Tuesday, Aug. 30th
1:45 pm – 5:00 pm

Culture & Effective Engaging Feedback

Jim Link

Jim Link

Founder, Start-up in Stealth Mode

Wednesday, Aug. 31st
10:30 am – 11:30 am

Engaging the Workforce of the Future: the Emergence of Generation Z

Nancy Lyons

Nancy Lyons

CEO, Clockwork

Wednesday, Aug. 31st
1:45 pm – 5:00 pm

 Culture = Business Strategy

Dotcy Isom

Dotcy Isom

VP Human Resources, T-Mobile

Thursday, Sept. 1st
10:00 am – 11:15 am

Revolutionizing HR: How T-Mobile’s HR Team Transformed How It Supports Its Business

Tamara Christensen

Tamara Christensen

Founder, Idea Farm

Thursday, Sept. 1st
1:45 pm – 5:00 pm

Meeting in the Middle: Transform Tension into Innovation

San Francisco! Here’s Your Key to Uncovering Unconscous Bias

Jun 20th, 2016Comments Off on San Francisco! Here’s Your Key to Uncovering Unconscous Bias
July 20, 2016 • 8:00-11:00 AM
JW Marriott • San Francisco Union Square
500 Post Street • San Francisco • CA • 94102 (MAP)

For any last-minute questions about the event, please contact Jason Lopez
at 408-607-8000 or

Unconscious Bias in San Franciscox

Phoenix! We’re Coming for Unconscious Bias on 5/19!

Apr 8th, 2016Comments Off on Phoenix! We’re Coming for Unconscious Bias on 5/19!


May 19, 2016 • 8:30-11:30 AM
Fairmont Scottsdale Princess
7575 East Princess Drive (MAP)


NEW VIDEO: Why Develop Leaders?

Mar 9th, 2016Comments Off on NEW VIDEO: Why Develop Leaders?
Executive Performance is a simple equation. Productivity and Engagement aren’t just buzz words, it comes down to inspiring a workforce that is driven by a culture of cooperation and teamwork.

Lead your industry with innovation in every sphere with strategies from Brainard Strategy!

Silicon Valley: Fight Your Unconscious Bias on February 17th

Feb 9th, 2016Comments Off on Silicon Valley: Fight Your Unconscious Bias on February 17th

Event Details for Unlocking Unconscious Bias

February 17, 2016 • 8-11 AM
Silicon Valley Capitol Club
50 West Fernando, Suite 1700 (MAP)


Unconscious Bias is a neurobiological mechanism that is a form of social categorization which occurs outside of one’s awareness. This talk will discuss the origins and implications of unconscious bias and its impact on hiring, performance management and succession planning.

What an Epic 2015: The End of the Year Recap!

Dec 29th, 2015Comments Off on What an Epic 2015: The End of the Year Recap!

New Video: Why Interviews Are a HUGE Waste of Time

Oct 20th, 2015Comments Off on New Video: Why Interviews Are a HUGE Waste of Time
What if, instead of wasting nine or more hours of your candidate and your organization’s time, you could find a better way?

Lead your industry with innovation in every sphere with strategies from Brainard.

Join us at PIHRA 2015 and WIN BIG

Aug 25th, 2015Comments Off on Join us at PIHRA 2015 and WIN BIG
Southern California Brainiacs please join us at the PIHRA conference at the Anaheim Convention Center 8/31 to 9/1. We will be raffling GREAT prizes!!

Business Card Drawing

4/16/15 in San Jose: Executive Development Panel w/ HRCI Credit!

Mar 9th, 2015Comments Off on 4/16/15 in San Jose: Executive Development Panel w/ HRCI Credit!

Executive Development Programs: Unique Perspectives

Nov 10th, 2014Comments Off on Executive Development Programs: Unique Perspectives
This article was recently published in’s monthly publication, Talent Management Excellence Essentials, and was written by Michael Brainard, CEO of Brainard Strategy, and James Hin, Client Management Consultant.

Effective executive development programs allow executives to develop a sense of introspectiveness and instill a “self-coaching” component to their own processes. Ultimately, this will allow these executives to consistently engage in genuine self-critique and self-development.

These initiatives are competency-based with an application focus. Although many leadership programs commonly focus on instructor led sessions, an equally important factor is peer/cohort engagement in sharing of best practices, experiential exercises, simulations, and online social learning.

Through obtaining the perfect “blend” of these practices, one is able to develop the “secret sauce.” This article examines best practices, explores new thinking in design and implementation, and discusses the return on investment of meaningful and measureable executive development initiatives

Executive dev article1

Best Practices

Many executive development initiatives focus only on “closing” developmental opportunities, which is not a thorough approach to true executive development. Executives are often complex thinkers who have some level of experience in the world of “practiced leadership.” Despite the angles of some best-selling books, one has to be willing to face all elements of oneself to truly gain the ability to self-coach and develop. While I understand the popularity of the 70-20-10 model (Lombardo 4), taking it further, in all parts of that “pie-chart” one must learn to identify “triggers”, or external and internal cues, that lead to a given behavior or thought pattern. Once that cue is identified the leader can develop “choices” to behave, or what Collins referred to as “disciplined thought” (1). From there the leader can sense the impact, intended and unintended, of his or her leadership action(s). The leader can then be self-correcting, and/or “double back” to win or recover a given situation.

We as designers need to resist the urge to believe “it must be built here.” We must not only help executives integrate competencies that have been developed internally to an organization but we must also help them integrate competencies that have an industry or social impact. A full functioning executive is often a “boundary spanner”- meaning they have many internal and external stakeholders and that their actions often impact an entire industry, not just the organization. The key is to develop executives as leaders within the organization, leaders within the industry and leaders among their peers. For a deeper look at executive competencies, I direct you to one of the best recent articles on the topic, “Return on Leadership” (Zender et al. 3). In their article, the authors consolidate many interviews and assert a very robust competency model for executive performance.


Executive dev article2The ideal executive development process involves learning through multiple modalities, a combination of executive assessments, social and action learning and instructor led sessions.

Executive assessments are used to identify growth opportunities and take a data-oriented approach to self-awareness. Specific, constructive feedback is critical to individual success and to the company’s ability to achieve its goals for the future. When managers receive feedback from others, they expect to use this information to change or improve. Because these assessments and feedback are comprehensive, clear, and relevant to managers’ jobs, results are readily translated into actions towards improved effectiveness. In addition, individual development plans enable each executive to target specific strengths to leverage and specific weaknesses to address. These plans act as a roadmap for their leadership journey and provide a framework for them to be coached to success.

In addition to assessments and individual development plans, the powerful combination of social learning, action learning assignments, and instructor led modules creates awareness of strengths and skill gaps while simultaneously developing a social network that sustains growth and allows for application of new leadership techniques in daily practice. Instructor led sessions take the executives through a series of modules drawing on material that is based off of theory, research and years of experience, delivered by an expert facilitator and tailored specifically to the executive audience.

Social learning is promoted through the use of an online learning portal. Between instructor led modules participants access the portal and develop a community through online discussions, Q&A with their facilitator, pre and post homework assignments, activities and access to resources, including white papers, articles, recommended books and videos on related topics for “fast facts.”

Finally, action-learning projects not only promote individual and cohort growth, but organizational growth as well. These projects are mission specific strategic initiatives developed in conjunction with the company’s senior executives that leaders work together in peer groups to accomplish. Their skills are stretched individually and as a team as they work to achieve these highly visible and strategic goals. At the culmination of the development program, each team presents the results of their projects to other executives and/or board members as appropriate.

This innovative approach to executive development is anticipated to drive growth at three levels within the organization:

• Individual Growth: Develop executive presence and leadership acumen while increasing leverage and scale of the leaders throughout the company.

• Cohort Growth: Greater networked peer learning and shared learning experience where leaders can draw from each other’s knowledge and experience.

• Organizational Growth: Create a culture of consistent language and practices around leadership and apply leadership techniques to strategic objectives to drive execution

Return on Investment (ROI)

Executives impact performance, engagement and culture in all cases, good and bad. For this reason, ROI in terms of executive development actually becomes relatively easy. Following the 3 Kirkpatrick model (2) as well as simple ROI calculations, the HR leader is able to demonstrate impact when providing custom, thoughtful, innovative, and integrated development. We work together with HR leaders and their companies to define organizational performance metrics that ought to be impacted by both negative and positive executive leadership behaviors, such as throughput metrics, financial metrics, and customer metrics.

Engagement has consistently been shown to positively correlate with organizational performance (Kruse 5). When calculating ROI we are able to measure the level of engagement of those employees following certain leaders. That engagement is yet another indicator of effective executive leadership performance. Additionally, when a cohort of developing executives begin to practice better decision making, more inclusivity, more coaching and development and better relationships one can begin to measure the impact on a culture over time. Return on leadership development is handled analytically and impact variables are to be defined in the specific language of the organization. When these things are accomplished measuring ROI becomes easy.

“Behr EXCELerate, through Brainard Strategy, has enabled our executives across the continent to work closer together and connect at a much deeper level. In working collaboratively on the final action learning projects, our leaders are operating at an even higher level in bringing bring innovation and new business ideas to further advance our business. I am very proud of the change that continues to take place at Behr.” Wynnie Phipps, Sr. Director, People Services Behr Process Corp


Effective executive development is not only about building strengths or development opportunities. Effective executive development is about crafting self-coaching capability. The most effective executive development comes from a combination of development modalities in the form of instructor led sessions, multi-rater and introspective assessments, social learning and action learning. This approach drives growth among the individual, the cohort and the organization while bringing the organization a positive return on investment that can not only be felt financially, but has long term effects on an organization’s culture and performance. PM-ITM

Click here to download a PDF of this article! Executive Coaches Ease Leadership Transitions

Oct 8th, 2014Comments Off on Executive Coaches Ease Leadership Transitions

Join Us At Our Open House – October 2, 2014

Oct 8th, 2014Comments Off on Join Us At Our Open House – October 2, 2014

NEW White Paper | Unique Perspectives on Executive Development

Sep 16th, 2014Comments Off on NEW White Paper | Unique Perspectives on Executive Development
3LearningModelsEffective executive development programs allow executives to develop a sense of introspectiveness and instill a “self-coaching” component totheir own processes. Ultimately, this will allow these executives toconsistently engage in genuine self-critique and self-development. These initiatives are competency-based with an application focus.

Although many leadership programs commonly focus oninstructor led sessions, an equally important factor ispeer/cohort engagement in sharing of best practices,experiential exercises, simulations, and online social learning. Through obtaining the perfect “blend” of these practices, one isable to develop the “secret sauce.” This article examines bestpractices, explores new thinking in design and implementation,and discusses the return on investment of meaningful andmeasureable executive development initiatives.

Click here to download the rest of the PDF…

On-Demand: Michael Brainard Interviewed for Talent Talk Radio

Sep 2nd, 2014Comments Off on On-Demand: Michael Brainard Interviewed for Talent Talk Radio
Michael Brainard and Rod Feuer hit the digital airwaves recently to talk about talent, leadership, culture and more. Plug in your headphones, hit play and set yourself up for a boost in productivity and positivity in your workweek!

Click here to listen!

Q&A with Brainard Coach, Jack Farnan

Jul 5th, 2014Comments Off on Q&A with Brainard Coach, Jack Farnan

the experienced mountaineer inspires executives to bring passion into their career and personal development

Having scaled 7,000-meter peaks around the globe, Brainard Strategy coach Jack Farnan challenges leaders to bring the same passion for teamwork, preparation and excellence that is required for survival in high altitude mountains, into the workplace, in order to achieve personal and corporate goals.

BRAINARD STRATEGY: Why is coaching so important for leadership development?
JACK FARNAN: Coaching is so important for leadership development because it is an integral component for contributing to the growth and development of a leader. Leaders can and do learn a great deal from training programs, reading, observing others, and modeling best practices in their company’s leadership ranks. However, such development is incomplete without the final piece or the cornerstone of leadership development and that is the coaching piece. Only through coaching does one see long lasting change.

Developments in neuroscience have shown that when individuals discover ideas, strategies, tactics on their own, the changes that they implement are longer lasting. And this is what good coaches do – they assist the client, through a finely honed questioning process, in self discovery. This is extremely difficult to do on one’s own, but very doable through the coaching process.

BRAINARD: What separates a Brainard Strategy coach from other coaching that you have seen?
FARNAN: I think it’s the process. While each Brainard coach is unique and different, bringing with her or him their own coaching DNA, they nonetheless all use the same coaching process that Michael Brainard has developed and believes so firmly in. It’s that rigor wrapped in flexibility that I think appeals to clients and enables a Brainard coach to be successful in assisting their clients.

BRAINARD: Who is your ideal client?
FARNAN: My ideal clients are those who want to change their current situation and optimize their potential. I like clients who are internally motivated and who want to work at solutions to improve their leadership skills and their lives. As coaches, we are motivated by clients who successfully implement change in their lives. And motivated clients implement more successful change.

BRAINARD: Where do you see the greatest need for coaching in organizations? Mid level management, executives, or high potentials?
FARNAN: Yes! There is a great need for coaching with all three of these groups. Executives benefit from coaching because they are in the position to impact and affect the greatest number of people in the company. They are role models for corporate behavior and consequently need to reflect the values and culture of their organization each and every day in everything that they do. From their leadership style and management actions, mid level managers learn how to manage, lead, and be role models for first line supervision. It starts at the top and trickles down.

If we want first line and mid level managers to grow to become exemplary leaders, they need role models – hence the need for coaching executives. Mid level managers have a great need for coaching because they are most often squeezed between a rock and a hard place within companies and they need help to cope with their problems and learn new strategies for success. Many times as a group they have some of the lowest engagement scores in the company because so much is expected of them and they receive so little help.

Therefore, there is a strong need for coaching services for this group. The last group, high potentials, have a great need for coaching because these people have been identified as the stars in the company in whom the company is betting. If a company wants to retain these individuals and capitalize on their potential, they need to show them the interest in their development to ensure they maintain a high engagement level and remain with the company.

BRAINARD: When can coaching go wrong?
FARNAN: Coaching can indeed sometimes go wrong. Most often this occurs when the client fails to accept the concept that they have an area to improve upon. Their usual argument is “This is just who I am and I’ve been successful up until now so I don’t see why I need to change.” If there is no compelling reason for an individual to change, then change is very difficult. The other situation where coaching can go wrong is when the client is expecting the coach to tell them exactly what to do. When the client’s expectations include being spoon fed the answers, coaching usually goes awry. Clients need to be responsible for owning their issue as well as thinking through the solutions and implementing them – thus owning them.

8/26/14: Michael Brainard Speaking at PIHRA Conference

Jun 18th, 2014Comments Off on 8/26/14: Michael Brainard Speaking at PIHRA Conference
logoMichael Brainard will be speaking at the PIHRA (Professionals in Human Resources Association) Conference at the Anaheim Convention Center on August 26th, 2014 from 9:45-11:15 AM.

The topic is New Thinking in Executive Development and will cover a wide range of dynamic topics from the Brainard Strategy principal.

There is no doubt learning styles are changing. With new generations entering the management pool, how can organizations better enable evolution and development for high-performing managers and executives? Through agile, intelligent and contemporary learning techniques targeted for the executive mindset, we can become — according to James Burns — transformational leaders.

Michael Brainard’s presentation — New Thinking in Executive Development — presents the emerging paradigm in training and development for business leaders. With 20 years of experience, his methodology transcends the traditional classroom by integrating contemporary learning techniques targeted for the executive mindset. Participants will leave with new insights leading to behavioral change and an impact on ROI, while discovering web-based solutions for ongoing education
Brainard frames traditional models and theories before delving into the differences and responsibilities between leadership and management, Kouzes and Posner’s credibility paradigm, good-to-great leadership, what makes a level 5 leader, and the importance of emotional intelligence.

The group will discuss interpersonal and organizational skills, while learning to represent industry acumen and presence. By utilizing deeper self-awareness and authenticity-building techniques, they will begin to recognize self-deception as they move up the ranks, gain multiple perspectives on executive leadership, and understand the deep impact of relationships.

Brainard Strategy Wins Leadership 500 Award for Best Small Leadership Partner

Jun 18th, 2014Comments Off on Brainard Strategy Wins Leadership 500 Award for Best Small Leadership Partner
Our team was incredibly honored to be recognized in’s Leadership 500 Excellence Awards in the category for Best Small Leadership Partner or Provider. The entirety of Brainard Strategy was recognized, but EXCELerate was specifically called out as an innovative new option in a competitive field. EXCELerate, our solution for leadership development at the executive level, is a brand new initiative spanning multiple modules of digitally interactive content, cohort-based learning and tangible projects to execute within the executive’s own day-to-day workflow.

Watch’s interview below with Andrew Johnson, Vice President of Sales & Marketing:

Q&A with Strategic Coach Ed Tyson

Mar 21st, 2014Comments Off on Q&A with Strategic Coach Ed Tyson

the marine corps veteran and expert facilitator answers questions on strategic planning



Ed Tyson has accumulated more than 20 years of leadership experience in a broad range of non-profit, private and publicly-traded organizations. As both an internal and external consultant, Ed has worked hand-in-hand with boards, leadership teams, C-level leaders, and subsidiary presidents from around the country to assess and solve issues ranging from solvency to strategy. Ed is a master facilitator, tested executive coach, and an individual, group and organizational development expert.

BRAINARD STRATEGY: First of all, what is a strategy?
EDWARD TYSON: Much has been written on just what a strategy is. When it is comes down to it, I believe it is quite simply a schema for resource deployment. Whether you’re talking about a sports team or a business, resources (human and otherwise) are finite and therefore the trick is to deploy yours in such a way as to make and take advantage of opportunities without fully depleting your supply or falling prey to the maneuvers of others or general environmental circumstances.

BRAINARD: What separates a good strategy from a bad strategy?
TYSON: Good strategies are pervasive. They penetrate to the bone. They drive organizational structure, process and technology deployment. They are, like my definition, succinct and easily understood (and repeated). When the rubber hits the road, the actions of thousands of people across an enterprise may very well be complex (particularly to view from the outside) but the truth is it only looks complex because to those who are executing it are able to make dynamic, autonomous decisions based on arising conditions with very little thought and pre-coordination (because the strategy is simple, well understood and therefore easily translated into action). Complex strategies on the other hand, are rarely understood by the people who need to act, placing a high burden on management and communication structures that are rarely designed to be dynamic enough for today’s market conditions.

BRAINARD: Why are mission, vision and values so important when discussing a strategy?
TYSON: For a strategy to make any sense at all, it must be formulated from a deep understand of the purpose of the organization and a clear picture of success – otherwise your strategy may win the wrong game and therefore lose the right one. Consider, for instance, Eastman Kodak. They thought they were in the film business and therefore ignored a technology their own engineers produced. They tried to win the wrong game; and, by the time it was clear what the right game was, they had lost.

Values are important precisely because culture is so important. Values are the signposts of the culture you want/need and culture is the invisible river running through everything and everybody in every organization. Anything you try to execute (including even the best of strategies) must pass through its mighty waters – the only question is whether or not you’re going to be going with or against its mighty current. Organizations that pay attention to culture have determined the characteristics and/or behaviors that will enable success within their unique organizational environment and they formalize these concepts in their values. Organizations that don’t just have values but live their values hedge their bets that come execution time, their team is riding the rapids downstream, rather than exhausting themselves fighting against the raging waters they failed to harness.

BRAINARD: What is the biggest mistake you have seen when implementing a new strategic plan?
TYSON: I’m not sure it’s the biggest; but the most common mistake I see is mistaking tactics for strategy. If you’re running around trying to “socialize” a huge deck of slides, detailing a three-year plan full of beautifully crafted initiatives that will transform every corner of the organization, you’re making the same mistake many of us (including myself) have made at some point in their careers. Before trying to nail down all of the tactics, you need to get really clear on the underlying strategy and then communicate it…maybe even only it. Then, let your business units play with it for a while and develop business plans based on the strategy. When the plans come back, you get to see how deeply the strategy was understood by your leaders and their teams. And, they own it on a whole new level.

It’s worth noting that what keeps most of us from doing this is fear. Can you imagine the sheer horror of presenting a single, albeit well-crafted, sentence the board? In truth, I’ve never had the “stuff” to be quite that extreme; but I’d love to…just once. In reality, we need to think the strategy through enough to help others appreciate what we mean. How will it affect our structure, our process and the technologies we deploy? The trick is stopping at a few and allowing the strategy, not the tactics, to take root within the organization. A wise man once told me, “When you try to cover too much, you cover too much (meaning we obscure it from view).

BRAINARD: Who needs to be involved in the strategic planning process?
TYSON: The key word in this question is “involved.” I am a firm believer that as many people as possible should be involved in the gathering/providing of information about the company and the marketplace. The more people you are able to reach out to, the richer the information and the more ears that are primed to hear what you come up with.
In terms of the actual planning sessions, I am fond of holding multiple sessions where you start with your leadership team and then steadily winnow the group down to just the executive team for final decisions and word-smithing. I believe this strikes the right balance of listening to your people, engaging your leaders and ultimately resting the final responsibility where it belongs – on the shoulders of the executive team.
BRAINARD: How do you ensure the success of your new strategy?
TYSON: I believe firmly that there are no guarantees in life. A perfect strategy does not equate to perfect execution or success. However, the principles I’ve cover here are the concepts and practices that I live by:

  1. Make it simple, make it pervasive.
  2. Get clear about your purpose and your picture of success.
  3. Respect the power of culture to accelerate or thwart your progress.
  4. Let your team define the tactics.
  5. Give a voice to everyone, engage your leaders and then decide.

We’re Hiring: Vice President, Sales for Northern California or Colorado

Mar 13th, 2014Comments Off on We’re Hiring: Vice President, Sales for Northern California or Colorado



Vice President, Sales


Northern California or Denver, Colorado

Reporting Structure

Reports to Marissa Waldman, Senior Vice President of Sales 

Company Information

Brainard Strategy is a business consulting firm specializing in strategic planning and leadership development. We are a regional consulting firm dedicated to delighting our clients via our values of Candor, Responsiveness, Flexibility and a Focus on the Pursuit of Knowledge.

Organizations throughout the United States engage Brainard Strategy to design and implement strategic planning, organizational effectiveness and leadership development initiatives. They do so because Brainard Strategy has a proven track record of successfully combining hard sciences with soft skills. Our expert consultants and broad network of certified coaches allows us to provide both the expertise and geographic reach that our customers require. A recognized thought leader in our areas of specialty, Brainard Strategy’s philosophy and content is informed by our vast business experience and leading edge research.

Since our start in 2005 we have delivered business results for hundreds of corporate clients and inspired tremendous leadership growth in thousands of individuals.

Essential Qualifications

  • A consultative sales professional with 5+ years of experience.
  • Utilizing a complex solution sales methodology.
  • Experience selling Leadership Development and Strategic Planning preferred but open to an individual selling any type of intangible solution.
  • Experience selling into Fortune 1000 clients across verticals.
  • Selling to the senior line.  Selling to heads of HR, Talent, Leadership Development, Training & Development and/or the “C” Suite.
  • Ability to talk intelligently with an appropriate level of business acumen
  • Proven track record achieving and exceeding annual quota assignments of $500K+
  • Used to an average transaction size from $25K to 500K.
  • A strong new business developer with a proven ability to close new business as well as manage and grow existing client relationships
  • Strong relationship building internally.  A collaborative team player.
  • A creative problem-solver; ability to listen to a client’s issue, assess the situation and identify a solution
  • High initiative and self driven sales professional with a strong executive presence
  • Exceptional communication skills; written, verbal and presentation
  • Ability to travel within the region
  • Demonstrated success working from a virtual home office
  • Strong work ethic
  • Bachelor’s Degree required

Benefits of the Opportunity

  • Brainard Strategy is regional consulting firm that is a recognized leader in strategy and organizational development.
  • Join a financially stable firm that grew 40% last year and is poised for strong growth in 2014.
  • Brainard Strategy has a high degree of breadth and depth to our offerings (Strategic Planning, Leadership, Coaching, OD, Culture Transformation, Executive Team Alignment, Succession Planning, Assessments, etc).
  • Work for an organization where a great deal of business comes from client referrals.
  • Brainard Strategy has a collaborative culture and team-oriented environment where your success is a priority.
  • Report directly to Marissa Waldman, SVP, Sales & Marketing and 7+ year employee of the firm
  • Work from a virtual home office.
  • Very light travel.
  • Strong financial upside; no cap on earnings.

How to Apply

E-mail your résumé and cover letter to

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