Category Archives: Personal Success

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

Must I Do This For The Rest Of My Life?!?

Returning to work after vacation is typically NOT the most enjoyable transition. It is like re-entering an orbit that we were (hopefully) able to completely escape, for a temporary period of time. It’s not that we don’t enjoy our work (well, some may not). It is more that we have to shift gears to jump back into the cadence of our vocation. And, with any “change” there is some level of pain; be it real or imagined.

I was having a conversation about this with one of my sons today, who mentioned how the experience has caused him to ask: “Do I REALLY want to do this [his current job] for the rest of my life?

The reality is that NO-ONE “has” to do ANYTHING for the rest of their lives: unless they choose to do so (which may be a perfectly good option for some).

He confirmed that he loves what he is currently doing, but would like to earn more and isn’t clear he can do so in his current role.

He is precisely where many of us (with big ambitions) were, early on in our career. We considered our current role, the income it generated, our expenses vs. our dreams of where we wanted to be. And, we’d ask ourselves: “How on earth am I going to bridge the chasm between where I am now and where I want to be – with this income?

The most challenging part of that equation is that we all want it (the fulfillment of our dreams) RIGHT NOW! The reality is, however, it takes time: time every single day putting in place the building blocks to bridge the chasm.

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Doing more than we are paid for at our current job
  • Investing in ourselves via:
    • Training and education paid for by our employer as well as out of our own pocket
    • Listening to positive / instructive audio programs during our daily commute
    • Reading constructive / educational materials at least 30-minutes every day
  • Maintaining a work/life balance
  • Staying healthy by eating right, exercising and getting enough rest (essentially, moderation in all things)
  • Saving and investing wisely

Earlier today I stumbled across a great article titled: 20 Things the Rich Do Every Day. The article reinforces the fact that there is no silver bullet to achieving the success we seek. It is all about disciplined action – on a DAILY basis.

Today’s conversation with my son brought me back to my first full-time job out of college. I had just earned a degree in computer programming, yet my job was that of a data-entry clerk. This was NOT where I wanted to be long-term, but it was a foot in the door.

I’d walk just over a mile to and from work in the rain, sleet and snow frequently asking: Do I REALLY want to do this for the rest of my life? Well, of course not. But, the alternative would have been to quit my job and move back home with my parents. To be clear, I love my parents, but it was time for me to be on my own!

So, I got to work and worked hard.

Before long, more interesting and rewarding rungs on the ladder of my career path began to appear and I ascended: quite rapidly I might add 🙂

This ascension wasn’t a result of dumb luck, or who I knew. It was the result of doing what is outlined above (and elsewhere on this blog). And, as I told my son earlier today, by relentlessly putting in place those building blocks on a daily basis, you will wake-up (before you know it) and be exactly where you always wanted to be.

We must simply never settle, or coast along in our current situation, unless and of course that is all we are striving for in life.

All the best!

Life Is Better At The Lake

It has now been 50 days since we moved into our lake home. And, we couldn’t be happier.

Yes, there was PAIN in the transition. But, we won’t focus on that 🙂

We have been blessed by many family member visits (the 4 boys, my parents, our nephew and his family, my brother and his family) including their help unloading the U-Haul, unpacking, “beginning” to get ourselves organized and tidying up the place.

All we can say, as stated on the set of coasters my brother Roger gave us, is:

I’m reminded daily of what a very good church friend of ours (who owns a home on the water) frequently says: There is ALWAYS something happening at the lake.

To be clear, he isn’t referring to ANY hustle and bustle that can be found in a town or city…

When Cindy and I were on the hunt for our new home we scoped out over 30 lakefront properties inside of 30 days. We had the opportunity to view some beautiful houses with terrible waterfront, some awful cottages with breathtaking waterfront and many properties in between. To be honest, I was prepared to jump on any number of these (projects). Fortunately, Cindy would have none of it 🙂

Finally, we visited what could truly be considered a home. How did we know? Well, after thoroughly viewing the property and being fairly impressed we were struck by what we considered our sign. That is, as we were exiting the basement to the yard, facing the lake, Cindy called our attention to a fox trotting across the property. The way her story goes is that the fox stopped for a moment, looked at her and said, with attitude: “Uh-huh, I’m a fox.” and then continued on its way.

We were sold.

Since moving in we have experienced an abundance of wildlife and natural phenomenon.

During our first night’s stay, Cindy said she spotted a deer drinking from the lake. Unfortunately, she didn’t wake me for this so I had to (jealously) believe her. The next day I was able to confirm her sighting after finding MANY deer tracks clearly planted in the ground along the shore. Since then fresh deer tracks have continued to appear but we’ve yet to experience another sighting.

Until about 2 weeks ago our little cove had been frequented daily by ducks, loons and mergansers.

The ducks show-up quietly by swimming into the cove or by a more pronounced arrival as they come in for a landing, skimming gracefully across the surface of the water. In watching the ducks feed Cindy would comment: Look, a duck. Then, as it plunged its head underwater to feed she would say: Oh no, its a penguin. If you’ve ever seen a duck feeding you might make the same duck/penguin observation 🙂

Our ducks have since flown south.

Surprisingly, even yesterday I heard loons calling in the distance.

And, we are still viewing mergansers, although not up close, as our cove has begun to freeze over.

IMG_3990

To be honest, until we were on the hunt for our lake home, I didn’t know what a merganser was. We had seen them before (at Mooselookmeguntic Lake) but never did the research to confirm the name.

During the viewing of one of the homes we saw a group of them swimming across the surface of the lake and then diving (like loons) for fish. But, unlike loons, they seem to fish in, well, a pack. That is, they dip their heads below the surface in their search of fish. Once spotted the group skims furiously across the water to round up their prey and then they dive to feast. The fish don’t stand a chance 🙂

I asked our realtor if he knew what these birds were called, observing that they were NOT loons. He said: Meganzas in his distinct New England accent. You’ll notice there are no “R’s” in the name…Thinking nothing of this, I later shared the name of these birds with my dad who had (surprisingly) never heard of these (meganzas). However, after he did some research online he was able to make the connection and update my understanding. Mergansers Craig, mergansers 🙂

One of the most beautiful sightings, which we’ve experienced a few times now, is a large bald eagle soaring majestically across our cove. There is nothing like clearly seeing the white head, dark brown body and white tail of our national bird. I would love to get a picture but I dare not take my eyes off of it during its flight for fear I might miss a second of its journey. Our latest sighting was on Christmas day.

Speaking of Christmas…We decided to change things up. You see, our nephew works for a lobster packing company, enabling him to get fresh lobster at “boat price.” So, our Christmas meal was a lobster feast, enjoyed by almost everyone (Cindy, my parents, our nephew and his family and myself). The 4 boys (again) gave this delicacy a try and unanimously decided that they really, really, really don’t like it. No problem! All the more for the rest of us 🙂

After the lobster feast many of us took up the dare of going for a swim. Actually, it really couldn’t be considered swimming. It was more of a leap into the frigid water, feeling the resulting pain and getting out as quickly as possible. Prior to doing so, Ethan was challenging us to swim with him to a rock in the middle of the cove. But, after experiencing the quick plunge he agreed that a longer duration in the water would most certainly result in hypothermia.

Here is a picture of the boys viewing the lake, on Christmas afternoon.

IMG_3977

Now that I’ve shared some of our experiences with the wildlife, I thought I’d share a natural phenomenon that occurred during our first snowstorm since being here.

A few days ago, while the snow was falling, I decided to walk out on the little peninsula jutting out into the lake, from our land. While the lake had not yet begun to freeze over, the heavy snow was creating a layer of slush and ice in the cove. As I looked closer I observed what could only be described as flowers in the ice.

IMG_3989

God’s creation is simply amazing.

Life is good!

Well, it’s time to get started for the day. You see, with ANY home comes maintenance projects to keep one busy. The current one we are undertaking is some minor patching and painting of the interior.

So, gotta go for now.

Happy New Year!