Charlotte Snapshot: International Business & Foreign Direct Investment

As the world’s athletes gather in Tokyo for the 2020 Summer Olympics, we are placing a #FreshStart spotlight this week on the roles of international business and foreign direct investment across the greater Charlotte region.

Did you know?…

  • More than 1,000 international companies representing 40 countries call the Charlotte region home.
  • More than 250,000 foreign-born individuals and families are located across the region.
  • North and South Carolina are 2 of only 9 US states where employment in international business exceeds 7% of total employment.
  • Almost 50% of international companies in the Charlotte region are in manufacturing.
  • The Charlotte region recorded a nearly 16% increase in exports between 2016 and 2019.

Thanks to the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance for providing these statistics.  Learn more about international business and foreign direct investment across the Charlotte region here.


Personal Branding

41 Day Challenge:  Refresh Your Personal Brand

“It’s a new brand world.”

So began an article published in Fast Company magazine in August 1997 whereby the concept of personal branding was introduced by business author, management guru, and speaker Tom Peters.  Tom’s compelling premise was that all of us are CEOs of our companies:  Me Inc.  He promoted that to be in business in today’s world, our most important job is to be the head marketer for the brand called You.

Fast Company published this article during the time when resumes dominated the world of personal branding, and LinkedIn’s launch in May of 2003 was still almost 6 years away.  As every astute business professional understands, managing your personal brand is an essential responsibility in managing your career. 

As we approach the 24th anniversary of Tom Peters’ article, the Croixstone team is launching a 41 Day Challenge to encourage all of our #FreshStart readers to take the time between now and August 31 to refresh your personal brand.  Follow the below action plan to get started.

Action Plan to Refresh Your Personal Brand

  • Step 2:  Write down 3 qualities that you aspire to in order to differentiate your personal brand.
  • Step 3:  Ask 5 people you know well and another 5 people you know less well to write down 3 adjectives about you.
  • Step 4:  Analyze the similarities and differences between the lists to understand where your personal brand is strong…and where there are disconnects to focus.

Personal Brand Factoids

  • Everyone has a personal brand.  You don’t have a say in the matter.  Accept this as a fact and manage it well.
  • Your personal brand is not permanent.  You have to work hard to build a powerful personal brand, and you have to keep working to maintain its power and grow it.
  • Your personal brand is not what you say about yourself.  Your personal brand is what others say about you when you are not in the room.  It is an assessment the marketplace makes about who you are and what you bring to the table.
  • Your personal brand is not an extension of your employer’s brand.
  • Your personal brand is not your social media presence. Rather, social media amplifies your personal brand.


Dunbar’s Number and Conscious Networking

According to British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, there are well-defined limits to the number of friends and acquaintances the average person can retain.  The anthropologist has a theory known as “Dunbar’s Number” whereby she believes that we can only really maintain about 150 connections at once.

Dunbar further believes that other numbers are nested with the social brain hypothesis.  She believes our tightest social circle has only five people (loved ones), following by successive layers of 15 (good friends), 50 (friends), 150 (meaningful contacts) and 1,500 (people you can recognize).

With Dunbar’s number as a backdrop, we read with interest this morning an online Fast Company article published by Brendan Keegan, the CEO of Merchants Fleet.  Brendan suggests there is power in the concept of “conscious networking” whereby you consciously choose and go all-in with a deliberately selected circle of connections that count.  

Keegan advocates that investing in the right relationships can have amazing payoffs for both your professional and personal lives.  He suggests that the number of connections might represent a smaller circle than what you may initially believe is needed, but that the circle is going to prove incredibly solid and beneficial to your life.

Read the article here.


Flashback to 2016 / 2017 – Croixstone’s First Year in Business

Remembering Our First Year with Gratitude

As we shared in last week’s issue of #FreshStart, Croixstone Consulting celebrates its fifth business anniversary this month. The first year of operations in any start-up is only made possible through the extraordinary efforts of many partners, friends and supporters.  We are delighted to recognize several partners whose contributions were particularly impactful during the first year of Croixstone’s start-up journey back in 2016 and 2017.

  • Brand Identity:  We owe a HUGE thanks to Wendy Accetta of W. Accetta Design for bringing life to our brand vision.  W. Accetta Design is a boutique design studio that helps clients achieve their goals through smart design.
  • Start-Up Home:  Day #1 of operations for Croixstone began in The Lofts at Factory South in Charlotte’s South End neighborhood.  Thank you to Tommy McCart for allowing us to call Loft 309 our home during our first year in business.
  • Photos:  Any new business requires fresh leadership headshots and website photos.  Many thanks to Charlotte-based photographer Jeff Cravotta of Cravotta Photography for working your magic behind the lens.
  • Legal Incorporation:  We still remember the thrill of being formally and legally incorporated as a North Carolina business.  Thank you Jameson (Jamie) Wells for your legal assistance in welcoming Croixstone to the world.


Croixstone Consulting Turns “5”

We are celebrating!  Founded by Patti Weber and Mark Weber in 2016, Croixstone Consulting celebrates its fifth business anniversary this month.  Launched in a loft in Charlotte’s South End neighborhood with the aspiration to provide a highly-differentiated business model in management consulting, Croixstone has grown rapidly thanks to the deep expertise, talents and support of our consulting team, internal staff and partners/supporters.

As all entrepreneurs understand, the art of the start-up is filled with times of both great exhilaration and sleepless nights (hello global pandemic)!  We are fortunate in that our five-year ride at Croixstone has been one of tremendous positivity. 

Here are some of our favorite special moments over the past 5 years. 

  • Launch:  Croixstone began operations in June 2016 in Loft 309 in the former Lance Crackers building on South Boulevard in Charlotte’s booming South End neighborhood.
  • Hello Uptown:  Croixstone relocated from the start-up loft to the new Industrious Charlotte Uptown co-working community in the Bank of America Plaza tower at Trade & Tryon in December 2017.
  • TABL:  Croixstone introduced TABL, the firm’s unique culinary team building experience, with a playful social media launch in January 2018.
  • New Practice Area:  Croixstone announced the launch of its new human capital solutions practice and a new executive search offering in June 2019.
  • FORTUNE Magazine:  Croixstone announced in May 2020 that Patti Weber (CEO) had been accepted as part of a competitive application process into FORTUNE magazine’s Rebuild Program that was inspired in response to the global pandemic.
  • Hello NoDa:  Croixstone relocated into larger offices in the newly-opened Industrious Charlotte NoDa co-working community in June 2020.
  • Supplier Diversity Certification:  Croixstone received national certification in July 2020 as a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) by the Greater Women’s Business Council, a regional certifying partner of the Women’s Enterprise National Council (WBENC).
  • Accelerated Growth:  Croixstone announced in January 2021 that Patti Weber (CEO) was one of 25 women across the USA accepted in the NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners) Accelerated Growth Program sponsored by Wells Fargo.
  • Forty Over 40:  Croixstone’s CEO Patti Weber was named as a “Forty Over 40” award recipient by The Charlotte Ledger in May 2021.

Consulting Industry Insights: Restructurings & Turnarounds

The global pandemic has fueled an increase in consulting engagements focused on restructurings and turnarounds over the past 15 months.  In its May 2021 newsletter, BDO Consulting Group published the below informative chart highlighting U.S. corporate bankruptcies with debt greater than $10MM by industry.  Interestingly, approximately 40% of the 302 bankruptcies filings were in two industries:  1)  Oil & Gas and 2) Retail & Consumer Products.

Source:  BDO Consulting Group, LLC, Debtwire Restructuring Database
* Includes companies with at least $10 million in funded debt

So what are the common restructuring and turnaround services that consulting firms like Croixstone offer?  As published in a recent article by Consultancy.eu, these services include: 

  • Diagnosing the problem:  Identifying drivers for the crisis, stage & severity of crisis
  • Stabilizing operations:  Managing short-term liquidity & working capital concerns
  • Cost efficiency & austerity strategies:  Evaluating business needs for cost-cutting measures; designing & implementing austerity plans
  • Procurement cost reduction:  Analyzing contracted spend & redesigning & renegotiating contracts
  • Business model innovation:  Rethinking operating & core business models, value creation & enhancement
  • Divestiture strategies:  Offloading non-performing business units, distressed segments, portfolios, etc.
  • Organizational effectiveness:  Streamlining resources; revamping processes & business segments; interim C-level deployment
  • Change management:  Developing change implementation plans to ensure minimal people disruption

We Have News!

We are excited to announce that our very own CEO and Co-Founder, Patti Weber, has been named a “Forty Over 40” award recipient by The Charlotte Ledger.  The awards, revealed in a special online presentation last evening, celebrate local unsung heroes aged 40+ who are doing great things in the Charlotte community.

This year’s group, representing the second-ever group of award recipients, was chosen by a distinguished panel of under-40 judges who reviewed many impressive nominations. 

Patti, who has long-term passion for STEAM, was recognized for driving outcomes in business, healthcare and social innovation.  In addition to serving as Croixstone’s CEO, Patti is a co-founder with the Charlotte Pancreatic Cancer Alliance (a community group that increases awareness for pancreatic cancer) and a Partner with Social Venture Partners Charlotte (a nonprofit group that passionately attacks social and economic inequality and promotes social innovation across the Charlotte region through venture philanthropy).

Learn more here.


The Rise in Cyberattacks

Those of us who live in the Charlotte region and other locations up and down the East Coast are dealing with the high-impact aftermath of the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack.  Here are some fast facts about the rise in cyberattacks to digest while you wait in line for that critical tank of gasoline.

Read to learn more about top cybersecurity facts, figures and statistics from CSO magazine.


We’re Serving Up Consulting BUZZ!

Our leaders at Croixstone spend time each week speaking at length with clients, prospects and consultants across the greater Charlotte region and beyond. We’re often asked the following questions by those in our professional networks.

What’s the buzz out there?
What is top of mind for companies in 2021?
What are you hearing from consultants?

Here’s a bulleted list, in no particular order, of the things we are hearing and seeing from clients, prospects and consultants.

  • Hiring is difficult.  The economy is rebounding, hiring is up, and it is increasingly difficult to fill roles with top-tier talent.  The latest Workforce Report from LinkedIn provides insights into the hiring boom.
  • SPACs are hot, hot, hot.  Special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) IPOs were more active in Q1 2021 than through all of 2020.
  • ERP implementation activity is robust.  Many of our clients are planning ERP implementations to go live in 2022.  The global ERP software market size stood at USD 38.15 billion in 2018 and is projected to reach USD 71.63 billion by 2026, exhibiting a CAGR of 8.55.
  • COVID-19 trauma is an ongoing issue.  Employers are dealing with employee pandemic stress that is inevitably spilling over into at-work life.

Improve Your LinkedIn InMail Game

Tips to Optimize LinkedIn InMail

Fast Company magazine recently published an informative article with tips on how to drive outcomes with InMail (LinkedIn’s messaging platform).  The article shared insights based on an analysis LinkedIn completed of tens of millions of InMails sent by recruiters globally between April 2020 and February 2021.  Interestingly, the study revealed which InMails were likely to get a fast response.

Here’s a recap of the key findings:

  • Shorter is better.  Those that delivered their InMail messages between 201-400 characters got a 16% higher than average response rate and 41% better than InMails with more than 1,400 characters.
  • Monday is the best day.  Monday gets a 2% higher response rate while Saturday accounts for 13% fewer responses.
  • Personalization matters.   Personalized InMails perform 20% better.

Learn more here.