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"Invest in the people who work in your organization, then Success follows", says Sharon Daniels, a world-renowned Learning professional and former CEO of AchieveGlobal (notzero)


“The luckiest thing that happened to me is that I got into banking when banking was investing in people.”

Sharon Daniels cites the role of luck but there is no question that her drive and talent were the keys to her career success. One does not become CEO of a multinational consulting and coaching firm (operating in over 40 countries) simply through luck!

Like several other women we have profiled, Sharon intended to have a career as a teacher. However, when a teaching position didn’t materialize and a banking one did (she had worked part-time and summer-times as a bank-teller) she jumped at the opportunity.

At the bank Sharon benefitted from both formal and informal training and development. Mentoring was not something that was accidental or by happenstance. Individuals were assigned to mentors to hone specific skills. This deliberate approach of having “this person as your mentor to learn these (specific) things” helped Sharon grow into the role of manager.

She recounted the extensive role-playing that a mentor engaged her in to prepare her for the first time that she would have to deliver negative feedback to a “woman who was my mother’s age.” Other managers became her mentor as her career progressed. And of course Sharon began mentoring others.

Sharon believes that most people don’t sufficiently leverage a mentor/mentee relationship; regardless of whether it is an “assigned” or self-selected relationship.

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"Become the 'Go to' person, then your company will value your flexible work-place needs", says Tracy Dodd, an inimitable problem solver at CA Technologies (#notzero)


Get promoted to a Vice President role while pregnant and moving from a full time to a part time, job share role? It takes an incredibly talented and focused woman AND an incredibly progressive and flexible organization. Tracy (De Angelis) Dodd is that woman and JP Morgan Chase(JPMC) was that organization.

Tracy’s career story doesn’t begin or end with this promotion, but as I reviewed our conversation this moment kept leaping out at me. It really says a lot about both Tracy and her (then) employer. So how did it happen? First of all, Tracy had a strong track record with the bank. She had risen from a young college student (she finished college while working at the bank) hired as a temp for a back office help desk role to a highly respected human resources professional.

Tracy was initially placed at the bank through a temp agency. She quickly learned the systems and was soon the “go to person” for the team. Her first boss recognized her skills and abilities and she was promoted to “problem manager” essentially a job coach for others. Ironically, Tracy had once considered a career as a high school English teacher and here she was designing training aids and teaching adults!

Tracy’s manager advocated for her and gave her opportunity after opportunity. As Tracy noted

“he championed me…it was an informal sponsorship, he put his neck on the line for me and gave me the tools to be successful.”

He connected her with the bank’s human resources organization and ensured that she had the formal and on the job training she needed to advance. Each time Tracy rose to the occasion. Both Tracy and the bank grew and developed.

By the time Tracy was pregnant with her first child she had risen to the level of Assistant Vice President. She and her husband had determined that her working part time would be the best option, at least initially, for their family. Tracy noted that there was

“no stigma associated with part time work” and the bank was “very progressive and understood that to keep top talent, especially women” that flexibility was essential.

This progressive approach made her “more loyal” to the bank and allowed her to feel safe in advocating for what she needed.

Within a very short time of announcing her desire to work part time Tracy had identified, applied for and was selected for a Vice President role. The position was “posted as eligible for job share” an almost unheard of possibility for a senior management position in most organizations, particularly at that time (15 years ago). Upon her return from maternity leave Tracy and a colleague “shared” the job; each working three days a week (with one day overlap).

This “amazing experience” where they jointly managed a large team of professionals solidified Tracy’s commitment to diversity and flexibility. She had experienced, first hand, the loyalty and dedication that the flexible work arrangements engendered. The bank made it

“easy. There was a belief that people could best focus on work productivity if they were not worried about home.”

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Do what you love. Love what you do.

Here are some of the things I hear.

“I love my co-workers; we are like a family.”

“I love knowing I improved our processes.”

“I love doing better than last year.”

“I love having happy clients.”

“I love making decisions faster.”

“I love taking calculated risks even if I don’t know it will pan out.”

“I love the income I earn that allows me/my family to enjoy life.”

“I love the thrill of selling and knowing I beat out the competition.”

“I love learning.”

“I love analyzing problems.”

“I love knowing that my students understand the world better.”

“I love the flexibility I have for: what I want to do, when I want to do, how I want to do.”

“I love data.”

“I love my autonomy and being my own boss.”

“I love inspiring the team I lead.”

“I love designing new products.”

“I love the creative side of my work.”

“I love being part of a group that solves tough problems”.

“I love working outside.”

“I love returning people to health.”

“I love writing.”

“I love eliminating waste.”

“I love making order out of chaos.”

“I love doing things that haven’t been done before.”

“I love listening to new ideas.”

“I love mentoring the next generation and paying it forward.”

Many of the women I have interviewed and/or read about talk a lot about work and love.

What do YOU love about your work?

Our Valentine’s Day posting isn’t an interview.  We are asking YOU to join the conversation.


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"If your customer is successful, then you are successful", says Christine Gattenio, a transformative change leader from IBM (#notzero)

The word passion isn’t usually associated with finance, procurement and accounting (FP&A), benchmarking or shared services. But passion is precisely what has propelled Christine Gattenio from an accounting auditor at PWC to a Vice President at IBM (with some interesting stops along the way).

First you have to determine what you are passionate about.  Chris is quite clear about her passions.  She wants to work for and with people who combine the ability to create a compelling vision with the ability to execute that strategy.

She ALWAYS puts the customer first.  And she insists on knowing the facts and being prepared. These passions, combined with keen analysis and a willingness to take calculated risks, have guided Chris’s career.

Each time that Chris "took things to the next level", these themes were evident.

Chris’s first big jump might not have looked like a step up to the next level but it undeniably was.  She moved from the relative security of being a Fortune 500 VP & Corporate Controller to becoming consultant in a small, boutique-consulting firm (and trading the warmth of Southern California for Cleveland Ohio in the process).  Why?

Because the opportunity had her golden trifecta; an organization with a visionary leader who could execute; a focus on the client and a data driven culture.

So she moved to the “other side of the desk.”

The vision of The Hackett Group was to change the role of accounting and finance from a transactional back office function to strategic business partner through benchmarking, transformation and automation of the end-to-end processes. In 2014, this seems like a no- brainer but 25 years ago, the idea of applying industrial organization concepts to staff functions was innovative.

At The Hackett Group, Chris provided benchmarking assessments to well over a thousand clients across most industries around the world. The benchmarking results that The Hackett Group shared with clients should have triggered organizational change. Some organizations changed, but many did not.

As everyone who has tried to change their diet or exercise routines (in the spirit of New Year’s resolutions) knows, change is hard. And it is even harder when one is talking about both organizational rather than individual changes! Not only are organizations comprised of individuals but cultures and processes help cement behaviors and expectations.

Organizational change requires effective leaders committed to making that change happen and willing to invest in the change process.

"Data alone cannot drive change."

Committed to helping the finance function change from a transaction focused one to a strategic business partner, Chris began contemplating her options. As the business process outsourcing (BPO) market started to bloom, new options were becoming available to help organizations accelerate change. Chris determined that this was becoming an effective transformation approach for finance and accounting functions.

Chris’ next carefully calculated, but nonetheless risky move, was resigning from The Hackett Group (as a single mother no less) in order to pursue outsourcing options. Although she was prepared to take six months to explore the best way to facilitate transformation through outsourcing, Chris was employed within a month. There is no question that Chris’ carefully cultivated network (of both men and women) was a significant factor. Additionally, Chris was extraordinarily clear in where she wanted to go.

Once again Chris was drawn to an organization headed by a strong leader with both vision and the ability to execute. What might be surprising was that Chris, who by her own admission had never taken a marketing course, was hired to lead the marketing and strategy function of Equitant, a leader in Order-to-Cash process outsourcing.

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Good-bye 2013. Hello 2014.


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Gobsmacked™ Queens Christine Sutherland and Rini Das discuss how to commune with valuable connections: A secret diary Gobsmacked™ YouTube Video

In this edition of Gobsmacked™TV: Christine Sutherland and Rini Das, Gobsmacked Queens, donned in our PJs, discuss best practices of how to engage with our prospects.

Click for video here:

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"Being agile is what made me a successful sales leader", says Jill Konrath, a Sales strategist and a consummate sponsor of opportunities (#notzero)

Jill Konrath wrote the books that she wanted to read because nobody else had. jillkonrath

It’s that kind of agility, energy and seemingly insatiable curiosity that has propelled Jill Konrath from home economics to the corporate arena and then to the life of “a quiet consultant in Minneapolis” and finally to blaze a trail as a widely followed author, speaker and sales guru. Fortune Magazine declared her first book, Selling to Big Companies, a “must read” for sales professionals. Her second book Snap Selling is the top ranked sales book on Book number three, The Agile Seller will be published in 2014 and book number four, Snapping Back is on the drawing board!

Like many of the women I have spoken with, it is not the path that Jill envisioned for herself or initially embarked upon. Her professional career began as a home economics teacher but it quickly became clear to Jill that this was not the best path for her. However, Jill continues to teach and guide others. Now the life skills that she helps others learn are not sewing and cooking but rather agility, resilience and a sales process that gets results.

Another way that Jill is like the other women I have interviewed is her willingness to take calculated risks. Unable to find a job after she left teaching she decided to start her own business with some other twenty something’s who were also searching for careers that were a better fit. Following a year of methodical research they had a plan which they shared with a SCORE member, a retired General Mills executive.

He declared the idea fabulous but then asked “but who is going to sell it?”

As Jill put it “I thought a great idea didn’t need to be sold but I drew the short straw,” she would be the organization’s sales person.

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How can we increase user adoption of CRMs and Social Apps by learning from Viking Stoves?

Question: "Do you expect your customer relationship management (CRM) tools and Social Apps to enable you to do your job better?"

Answer: "Yes!  Of course!"

This past September, we determined that CRM tools and Social Apps used to acquire and retain our customers were not enabling us to do our work better.

The word enabling means it should optimize value-added (VA) activities and minimize non-value-added (NVA) activities. Lean methodology defines a VA activity as a work activity where the following characteristics all hold true:


If any of the above is violated, then by definition the activity is a NVA. For example, cutting and pasting, clicking several times to get what you need, reviewing, and rework are all NVAs.

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Gobsmacked™ Queens Christine Sutherland and Rini Das discuss how to find prospects and valuable connections: A secret diary Gobsmacked™ YouTube Video

In this edition of Gobsmacked™TV:

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Process Cycle Time Metrics such as Sales Cycle, Handle Time and Time to resolve issues are Operational KPIs that matter most

To learn more about our success stories, visit our store.

Cycle Time is a very important operational metric.

1. Process Cycle Time is the duration from when the first step for the process starts to when the last step ends; i.e. = Queue Time + Processing Touch Time + In-between Steps Wait Time.

2. Sales Cycle is the duration of time from when the prospect is first contacted (or contacts the company) to when the prospect makes the decision to buy/purchase (sometimes measured to the moment of completion of the purchase).

3. Handle Time is the duration from when customer is contacted (or contacts) to the end of interaction with the customer. In call centers = IVR Time + Hold Time + Talk/Chat Time + Call Notes/Closing Time.

4. Resolution Time is the duration from when customer first contacts with an issue to when the issue is considered resolved from customer's perspective.

There are 3 major concepts in Lean. Those are:

1. Learning to See: teaches us how to observe the ways as how people do work or interact with customers and then map and use that observational knowledge to identify opportunities for improvement.

2. Little's Law: indicates the usefulness of Process Cycle Time of processes (such as Sales Cycle, Customer Service processes), as a measure of efficiency.

3. Continuous improvement via removing waste or 7 types of waste quantified by Rolled throughput yield and concept of defects.

The above 3 concepts help us understand Average Handle Time (AHT) or Sales Cycle Time.

Also, Cycle time metrics are correlated with other outcome metrics such as Resolution metrics (FCR), Loyalty metrics (Customer Satisfaction - CSAT and Net Promoter Score® - NPS), Win/Loss, and Customer retention.

Y = Process Cycle Time = f(X), where X’s are:

Process: Flow, Sequence of steps (parallel versus sequential), Queue demand, Set-up or creating new content/product/changes, Change-over between product types or upgrades, Waits, Muda, Handoffs, Escalation, Messaging, Approvals and reviews and other non value-added steps, Decision-making, Redundancies, etc.

People: Skills such as solutioning, demeanor, ability to overcome objections, troubleshooting, Opportunity to do Cross-selling, Accountability, Hiring, Incentives, Training, Coaching, Development Knowledge, Search ability, Critical-thinking skills, Fiefdoms and Silos, Culture, etc.

Technology: Too many legacy systems, Channels, Network connectivity, Data quality, Manual entries, etc.

It is very important for managers to understand the relationship of each of these X variables with Y and the correlation between the X’s.

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"If you see an opportunity for growth, first say, Yes! I will take it", says Harlina Sodhi, learning executive and employee advocate exemplar (#notzero)

It takes guts.Harlina_Sodhi

It takes guts to cross Himalayan Mountains in India by trapeze and it takes guts to leave the region you grew up in to take a “big” job in a “big” city with one of the biggest companies in the country.

Harlina Sodhi has guts! Harlina Sodhi is now the Senior Vice President and Head of Employee Engagement, Communication and Diversity at Reliance Industries, India’s largest private company. Despite its size, it is somewhat unlikely that you are familiar with Reliance, unless you are from India and/or are familiar with the oil and gas industry. Harlina is going to change that! For the past five months she has had a portfolio that includes Leadership development, training, communication, both internal and external as well as employee engagement.

Her ambitious goal is to make people

“as aware of Reliance as they are of Apple or Google…to make them drool to get a job with us.”

If anybody can make a conglomerate with a strong petrochemical and energy component become an enticing and exciting place to work I have no doubt that it is Harlina!

So how did this energetic and passionate woman transform herself from a Xerox copier sales person from a small town to a respected member of the senior leadership team in one of India’s largest organizations headquartered in India’s financial and corporate capital Mumbai? I think that a big part of the answer relates to energy and attitude. More than once during our hour-long conversation Harlina reiterated

“I always say yes, Sherry. I say yes then I can figure out the rest.”

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Alois Bělaška, CEO of Friendsplus.Me discusses Google+ as CRM: A Gobsmacked™ YouTube Video

In this edition of Gobsmacked™TV:

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Can you measure the ability to de-escalate? De-escalation is a required skill for sales and customer service reps

To learn more about our success stories, visit our store.

Think about the time when you interacted with a sales or customer-service rep. Let's say, you have a question about your airline reservation and reward points.

* You dislike being put on hold for more than 10 minutes, so you go to their website and try to find an answer on their FAQ.

* You use their web-form and email them.

* After 48 hours, you receive an auto-generated message filled with gibberish.

* You google to determine if others have an answer or if others had similar issues, but find nothing that relates to your account.

* You start a web-chat. It takes 5 minutes for someone to join but they ask you to call a 1800number as it is 9 pm and these agents do not address the set of questions you have.

* Now you take a deep breath and call the 1800number. Even though it is 9:30 pm where you are, you are put on hold for 15 minutes and then the rep comes on.

* The rep does not quite "get" your frustration and at the end, does not give an answer that is satisfactory.

* You take to Twitter and express your frsutration.

* You go to Facebook and express your frustration on the airline's Facebook page.

* .....

And the story goes on.

Customers and Prospects initiate an interaction via voice/phone, web, email, chat, face-to-face or social-media because they have a concern or they are encountering a problem or they simply have a question. Typically, they are not calling because they want to express their "awe" with the product or service.

The most important skill that a rep "must have" is the ability to identify the degree of your frustration and anxiety and then to de-escalate the situation adequately, such that they can engage you in a discussion and lead you to a satisfactory resolution.

When they are able to use this de-escalation skill, they can impact "first issues resolution" (FCR) and they can engage you in "solutioning" discussion. These in turn impact the "trusted adviser" score (in case of sales processes) and the "customer satisfaction" (CSAT) (in case of customer service processes).

If they are unable to use the skill well, it further escalates the situation that can lead to losing you as a customer. Also, in this day and age, the loss might not be only that one customer, but you can amplify the concern via any social-media channels (by tweeting with #fail that goes to your followers, by posting on Google+ and making it searchable everywhere and forever or by kvetching on facebook and getting your friends' attention) leading to a permanent and more severe damage to the brand equity.

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Gobsmacked™ Queens Christine Sutherland and Rini Das discuss how to target: A secret diary Gobsmacked™ YouTube Video

In this edition of Gobsmacked™TV:

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"Sponsoring produces better outcomes, when helping women to succeed", says Julie Holt, a nurse executive superstar (#notzero)

Julie Holt is a Nurse Executive,julie_holt with a superstar record of transforming patient services in hospitals in the Greater Cincinnati metropolitan area. She achieved this with compassion and constant desire to innovate and experiment. She is currently the Assistant Vice President (AVP) of Patient Services and Center for Professional Excellence at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC).
In the past, she was the Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) at Mercy Hospital, Anderson and at West Chester Hospital and was VP of Patient Services at Drake Hospital and Director of Patient Services at the Jewish Hospital of Cincinnati.

I started our discussion by asking Julie, when she joined CCMCH where she seemingly took a step-down from a CNO title to her current position title of AVP. Julie laughed and said,

“Actually that observation is true on paper but it does not fully tell the story. All my career moves had reasons, though it would be different in each case. Here I had two reasons, why I took the job.

First, I see myself later in life, doing more teaching and research, and so I decided to do a Ph.D. in Nursing. That requires that I had to find the time to do it. Also, as you know CCHMC being third in the country for pediatric hospitals, there was an opportunity where I can lead innovation with a much bigger team reporting to me and with more resources than I had before and be able to make the difference, even though I allocate less work-hours than I did in the past. This idea of being in an environment that encourages research and innovation was very appealing. In that sense, it was a no-brainer. I see it as more opportunities for success while investing in my future career.”

Looking at her career path, you can see that Julie is on the fast track of senior leadership. She earned positions of senior to executive positions that are notoriously difficult to get hired into it. Julie had no such difficulty! Why?

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Announcing the Women in Leadership Blog Series #NotZero Campaign

For too many years, women leaders and managers did not want to discuss or even acknowledge our femaleness; we wanted to focus solely on leadership and management skills and results. It was as if we were supposed to ignore the fact gender exists.

Recent triggers and public discourse about women in leadership and management once again made gender acceptable to discuss out loud. Some of these triggers are:

1. Sheryl Sandberg’s (COO, Facebook) book, Lean In

2. Debora L. Spar’s (7th president of Barnard College) book, Wonder Women: Sex, Power and the Quest for Perfection

3. Sallie Krawcheck starting the #investinwomen campaign by buying

4. More women CEO appointments in Fortune 1000 companies

5. Recent discussions and public discourse following Dick Costolo (CEO of Twitter), tweeting about his board composition: “You’re not seeing my point. You give people an easy out by just checking a box. The issues are much bigger than checking any 1 box.”

There are many myths and truths about how leadership styles, gender bias and culture (nature or nurture) affect “access” to education/capital/opportunities and career growth (AKA, glass ceiling) for women. We believe inclusion or exclusion of women affects performance of companies and organizations, as reflected in financial statements, operational success, reputation and brand. There is research about this (see references below), but the best summary came from Sallie Krawcheck in a tweet: “We can’t prove correlation or causation but it’s a hell of a coincidence: When we have diverse teams, returns are higher.”

We set out to continue this conversation by interviewing women leaders from around the globe, from various market verticals and with various organizational goals (corporate, not-for-profit), and asking them questions about how and why they:

1. Make career choices

2. Manage risk

3. Mentor or sponsor

4. Leverage networks

5. Hire

6. Make decisions

7. Manage teams

8. Influence outcomes of organizations

9. Remove group-think of corporate boards

10. Face and overcome hurdles

To help us do this, I invited Professor Sharon (“Sherry”) Peck to ask the important questions and write about it. Sherry is an associate professor of business in Capital University’s School of Management and Leadership (her bio is given below). She and I spend many hours discussing these issues. I think you will enjoy her style of asking questions and eliciting responses that will help all of us gain a better understanding of the role of gender in leadership and how it drives outcomes.

When I was telling people I was planning to use the real-estate of PAKRA blog pages for this issue, they asked me why. Here is why:

1.  Women are buyers for our products and services as much as men are.

2.  Women are a larger percentage of users of our products.

3. Behaviors such as critical thinking (“what one does with what one knows”), risk-taking, competitive drive and communication are some of our game-scoring mechanisms. These behaviors, in turn, drive business-process KPIs or outcomes and how people learn. We cannot claim we understand the behaviors better by ignoring gender. It might not play a role in how we build learning adoption, but maybe it does. We will learn something.

4.  PAKRA's founders are deeply passionate about this issue.

The first interview will be published later this week. We plan to publish one-two interviews per month. Come back and read, share and comment.

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Gobsmacked Queen Christine Sutherland discusses the importance of Google+ profile: A secret diary Gobsmacked™ YouTube Video

In this edition of Gobsmacked™TV:

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Garry Shultz finds that Google+ has the potential to revolutionize customer-care platforms: A Gobsmacked™ YouTube Video

In this edition of Gobsmacked™TV:

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Professor Ross Wirth finds that Google+ potentially can provide an API that helps collaboration: A Gobsmacked™ YouTube Video

In this edition of Gobsmacked™TV:

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Advantages of Google+ over other social media platforms: A Gobsmacked™ YouTube Video


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