Category Archives: Inspirational

On Corporate Acquisitions – What About Me?

Coincidentally, 2 people in my inner circle recently asked for insight and advice related to corporate acquisitions. This includes:

  • My oldest son, who works for a high-tech company that just announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by a larger firm.
  • A Chief Information Officer (CIO) friend who joined an organization heavily involved in acquisitions.

Since I’ve worked for firms that have been acquired, and have acquired others, as well as having led numerous post acquisition integration projects on a consulting basis, I have a “bit” of a clue.

In fact, over the years, my company (Customer Centricity) published a number of articles on the topic, which I’ve included at the bottom of this post, for those interested in learning more from a corporate / management perspective.

For those who work for a company being acquired, but don’t play a (huge) role in managing it, this post is for you.

More specifically, I hope to answer the following question / concern:

What is likely to happen “to me” as a result of the acquisition? And, how can I ensure that I come out OK?

The quick answer: That depends.

It depends on a number of things, including, but not necessarily limited to:

  • The nature of the acquisition
  • Your department
  • You

While you may have no control over the first 2 items, you most certainly control the third (you).

More specifically, you control your attitude (keep it GREAT) and performance (keep it HIGH).

If you haven’t noticed already, there are (or soon will be) people absolutely freaking out at the possible outcomes of the acquisition as shared via the water-cooler scuttlebutt.

My advice:

  • Be NOT one of these people
  • Pay no attention to the rumor mill and certainly don’t contribute to it

Bottom-line: There is ONLY one constant in life (personal or professional) and that is change. Realize that change is good! And, things ALWAYS work out for the best!

Prior to discussing possible outcomes, at the individual level, let’s talk about the why. Why do acquisitions take place?

The objective of an acquisition is to create a whole (company) that is greater than the sum of its parts.

This could include the acquiring firm achieving one or more of the following, as a result of the transaction (a.k.a., the nature of the acquisition):

  • Increasing revenue / decreasing costs, since both companies are typically in the same or similar business, performing similar activities, often calling on the very same customer.
  • Bringing together complementary products/services to augment their existing offerings in the marketplace (i.e., providing one-stop shopping for the customer for similar / related needs, integrated solutions, etc.).
  • The larger fish (I mean firm) eating the smaller fish (I mean its competition), thus gaining its customer-base and potentially killing off the acquired firm’s offerings altogether.

Know that, at the time the pending acquisition announcement is made to employees, many weeks (or months) have gone into the up-front negotiations and (hopefully) planning for the transaction. And, these announcements typically go out several weeks prior to the deal actually closing. During this time there will be many closed-door conversations as management from both firms discuss what things will look like (post acquisition) and how they will get there (strategy and execution).

At a top-level, I’ve seen these go a few ways (listed below in the order of frequency). The acquiring firm may:

  1. Aggressively strive to fully integrate the acquired firm to, as quickly as possible, present a seamless (one-company / brand) face to the marketplace. And, achieve the revenue gains/cost efficiencies that the acquisition was based upon.
  2. Pull the acquired firm under its umbrella, while leaving the majority of things (people, organizations, brand) in tact, and methodically integrate where it makes sense, over time.
  3. Continue to let the acquired firm operate “pretty much” independently (for a while…)

Now, back to what this could mean to me.

In ALL cases, there will be some form of redundancy. That is, specific roles being performed in both firms which, when combined, can be performed with fewer people.

Put it this way (and to be perfectly blunt)…“If” you are VERY good at what you do, have a great attitude, work exceedingly well with others and are a key contributor to the products/services offered, then the acquiring firm is “very likely” to keep you around.

And, if you fit the above profile, it is quite possible that you will be given a “stay bonus”, as the firm wants to make sure you hang around through, and for some period of time after, the actual integration.

A great place to be 🙂

That said, the math (cost efficiencies to be gained) may simply not work out with the redundant roles remaining in the firm. In this case you will be let go (typically with a parachute commensurate with your years of service to the firm and potentially an appointment with an outplacement counseling agency).

I should also say that I’ve seen the above scenario go the opposite way. That is, the redundant role is filled by the person in the acquired firm because s/he is a higher performer than the one holding the role in the acquiring firm.

Also, a great place to be 🙂

And, “if” you are VERY good at what you do, you will easily be able to land another (often more rewarding) opportunity at another firm.

Have no fear! You have looked for a job before. And, if you need a refresher on doing so, click here.

That said, I should reinforce the fact that, “many” employees will be in “non-redundant” positions and may very well feel little to no impact during the integration.

While you are (I won’t say “waiting”, but) working as details of the upcoming integration unfold, a few good steps you can take include:

  1. Continue to work your tail off (exceed expectations) at your job!
  2. Manage your LinkedIn presence – Establish connections with EVERYONE you work with (in and outside the company), have a good relationship with and, most importantly, respect.
  3. Take inventory of your contributions as they are good resume builders.

Note: Do NOT do the last 2 items at the expense of impacting your performance “on the job.” Remember, now is NOT the time to be observed as someone who is easily distracted.

Your goal is to have others observe you as a rock-solid performer who is not swayed by the winds of change. On the contrary, you are happy to usher it in!

Why? Because, you KNOW you will survive no matter the outcome!

Again, I’ve been through a few (dozen?) of these, and in many of the seats involved. By being intelligent and aware of the nature of integrations, and remaining a high performer on the job, you will sail smoothly through whatever transition this business “event” takes you.

In closing, if you need more inspiration or strategies to continue to improve your performance or attitude, feel free to scour this blog site. There is plenty of content to serve you!

All the best!

p.s. – As promised, following is a list of articles my company published on acquisitions that you may find helpful.

  1. It’s All About The Customer Base
  2. Growth by Acquisition
  3. Goals and Necessities
  4. Setting the Stage for a Successful Acquisition
  5. Building the Integration Team
  6. Establish Key Assumptions and Planning Parameters
  7. Achieving Success with Post-Merger Integrations
  8. Post-Merger Integrations – The Arrogant Cowboy and the Indecisive Tortoise
  9. Post-Merger Integrations – The Importance of Thorough Planning
  10. Achieving Decisive Execution

Never Say Never

As outlined in a prior post (Want Hypergrowh? Grab a hockey stick!) Cindy and I left Maine, back in 1989, for a lucrative career opportunity. What I didn’t mention was that we (or at least I) said: We are NEVER coming back.

So emphatic was I on this point that we gave away, threw away or otherwise disposed of ALL our winter gear (clothes, shovels and the like) in advance of our trip to Atlanta.

I actually liked the Atlanta area quite well. We lived in the outskirts, not far from Lake Lanier which offers some great camping. Although, the sheriff’s department seriously frowns upon campers who set off fireworks, resulting in our having the opportunity to visit a Gwinnett County court room (right Glen?).

And, I worked just outside of Route 285 which encircles the big city.

Cindy, on the other hand, was homesick not long after we arrived. I did manage to convince her to stay for a few years so that my resume showed stability (vs. bouncing around).

Then, came the snow…In November of 1991, we were watching a Christmas show. The snow was gently falling (on TV). Oh, how peaceful the scene, with family gathered together. I finally said: Enough! We need to get back up North where there is snow and we can be closer to family.

I again engaged the recruiter that placed me in Atlanta, to get his assistance on locating job opportunities in the greater Boston area. Unfortunately, he shared that a large employer (Digital Equipment) had recently executed a bunch of sizable layoffs. As such, there was stiff competition for any job openings. But, he’d see what he could do.

He quickly identified an opportunity that he felt was perfect for me. However, the hiring company was not willing to pay travel expenses for remote candidates, since the local market was flooded with so many prospects to choose from. I basically said: Well then, they can go pound sand…

After a few months of constantly checking in with my recruiter he reinforced that the company he had previously mentioned was STILL looking for a senior project manager – a perfect fit for me.

By this time we were so ready to be back up north that I decided it was time to get that job – at a specifically desired salary. So, I paid for my travel expenses and within days made the trip to Burlington, MA. The interview process went so well that they offered me the specifically desired salary before I left the building. I let them know I’d have to sleep on it 🙂

Little did I know, we were about to be hit by a major snowstorm. I realized this upon leaving the would-be employer’s building for my return trip to the airport. And, shortly thereafter, I learned that my flight home had been cancelled. Oh, the joys of snow. I ended up spending an extra night at a Logan Airport hotel.

Fast forward to present date…We are not only back in New England, but we are back in Maine.

When we first moved into our new home and began meeting neighbors (many of whom stay away for the winter, opting for warmer climates) sharing how we had moved from New Hampshire, they’d comment on how much snow we get here. We’d invariable respond with: We love the snow. They looked at us as if to say: Flatlanders – Obviously inexperienced in “harsh winters.” To that, I’d casually let them know that Cindy grew up in Portland and I in Millinocket (that’s in northern Maine, for any flatlanders), which immediately earned their respect 🙂

I’ve never felt so cool, being from Millinocket!

In the past week alone we’ve experienced a couple of minor dustings (a mere 4-6″ of the white stuff). After I finish my daily client con-calls, Cindy and I team-up for snow removal. And, to be clear, we don’t consider this a chore. It is exercise! The only difference vs. our prior home is that since we now live on a dirt road the plow guy manages to kick-up rocks and other debris that causes my snowblower to gag – violently. I thought I’d lost her a few days ago, but it eventually became unclogged, coughing up a sizable rock. We’ve since decided that it makes more sense to shovel the edge of our driveway, saving the machine for the digestible snow.

During the snow cleanup process, we try not to cover up all the deer tracks scattered across our property. We still haven’t had any repeat sightings as the deer seem only to visit during the wee hours of the night when we are snoozing. To improve the odds, however, we have baited them 🙂 If you look closely at the picture below, you can see where a deer was digging in the ground near the shore, for the food we planted there.

IMG_4065

And, while not clear in the picture above, there is a sole loon out there, diving for fish, just beyond the layer of ice covering our cove.

In closing, it is great (even important) to make emphatic statements and decisions. However, we must remain flexible as things (and attitudes) can change over time.

I cannot fathom what it would be like to have NOT come back to this beautiful environ and proximity to family.

Ah, Maine: The Way Life Should Be!

What if there was NOTHING to worry about?

In my short 51 years on this fine planet I’ve come to learn that worrying is the number one, most useless waste of energy: mentally by unnecessarily consuming brainpower and physically from the resulting stress.

Let’s consider the wisdom of Mark Twain…

I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened. Mark Twain

To combat a habit of worrying, let’s try adopting the philosophy that there is NOTHING to worry about.

Instead of sitting idle and “over” thinking (a.k.a. mentally thrashing through) a concern (what if this, or that happened?) we could instead ask ourselves a question: “Can I do something about this, or not?

If we can do something about it, then let’s get started. If we absolutely, positively cannot do anything about it, then we must drop it and use our energy to focus on what we “can do.”

The good news is that many things that weigh on our mind can be addressed or resolved immediately; by making that call, running that errand, holding that meeting, turning that screw, etc. You will be amazed at how many things fall into this bucket, which simply requires immediate (just do it, right now) action.

Other things take time: months, years even. In these cases, we need to define a plan and relentlessly execute: every single day! And, so long as we are moving forward, by taking steps to address the concern or goal, we need not worry. In fact, we’ll naturally cease to worry because we are busy doing something about it!

Here are 2 more quotes from people who have gone before us…

Action conquers fear. Peter Nivio Zarlenga.

I have no idea who that cat is, but I love the quote!

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit at home and think about it. Go out and get busy. Dale Carnegie.

I know, some will say: “It is not that simple. My story is different.

Really?!?

So, there is no-one else on this planet who has tackled the challenge(s) or setback(s) you are, or potentially could be facing?

Reality check…If we but simply try, we can find NUMEROUS examples of people who have overcome. We need only determine the path they took and adopt similar strategies.

Where does one find this information? It is actually all around us: online, the bookstore, professionals, a church, trusted friend or family member, etc.

The key is, however, that we must discipline ourselves to actually take the counsel offered or prescribed.

Bottom-line: People (just like you and me) avoid or overcome situations by taking action. Not, by worrying.

If someone else can do it, so can we. That being the case, what is there to worry about?

We simply need to decide between:

  • Taking action on those things we can address, or;
  • Letting go of those things that we absolutely, positively can do nothing about. And, keep moving forward in life.

A highly recommended read on this subject is:

download (1)

If you haven’t read this book, make it a top priority Christmas present to yourself. It will make a big / huge difference in your life!

All the best!

p.s. – I’ll be sure to re-read this post the next time the worry bug visits me 🙂