In 2015, companies spent a record-setting $2 trillion on acquisitions, a majority of it in the technology, health care, insurance, and banking industries. In 2016, we’ve already seen two market-shaking deals go through: Charter Communications’ $55 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable and Comcast’s recent $3.8 billion purchase of DreamWorks Animation. 2015 was notable for the DuPont-Dow Chemical announcement and brewing giant Anheuser-Busch’s bid to take over SABMiller.

Mergers and acquisitions are enticing, especially to organizations looking to expand during uncertain economic times. They hold the promise of an expanded customer base, a larger global footprint, instant product diversification and an easy route into new markets. However, M&A is usually anything but smooth for the employees on the ground floor, and can wreak havoc on engagement by besetting them with worries about job security, relocation, retraining, and sweeping policy changes.

The problem with change

Although human beings are hardwired to go out and make change, we are, by nature, resistant to change. (read more…)

When I founded CaseFleet in early 2015, I wasn’t a first-time entrepreneur. While we continue building CaseFleet software to help litigation attorneys prepare their cases for trial more effectively, I previously started a law firm in 2011 with one of my law school colleagues.

We succeeded in growing the firm from just two attorneys to a respected employment-litigation firm with associate attorneys, staff and a substantial profit margin. Starting a law firm straight out of law school was brutal and required working a lot of nights and weekends to make it a success, but that challenge pales in comparison to the challenge of founding and running an early-stage SaaS startup. CaseFleet is now a year old, has a strong product and is acquiring new paying customers each month.

I’ve learned a tremendous amount in the past year about business and myself, and I’d like to share a few lessons that could prove extremely helpful to other entrepreneurs and founders. (read more…)

Sometimes I wonder whether all the leadership advice we put out here at SmartBrief is for naught.

By that, I mean, is it true that empathy, and communication, and striving to serve others as a path to success for all, actually wins out over the selfish and brash? Especially if those selfish and brash people already have power, money, or both? Look around the world and you’ll find plenty to discourage you.

recite-184e8v0Then again, sometimes you come across data — yes, actual data — that suggests hope. Most recently, this was in the form of LRN’s “The HOW Report.” Simply put, LRN’s business is in helping large organizations build a culture of trust, of values and of doing the right thing based on the former — and because doing the right thing is also the right business decision.

The gist of this argument: We’ve collected and examined the data. The best companies pursue excellence, yes, but not without boundaries. (read more…)

Each month, When Growth Stalls examines why businesses and brands struggle and how they can overcome their obstacles and resume growth. Steve McKee is the president of McKee Wallwork + Co., an advertising agency that specializes in working with stalled, stuck and stale brands. The company was recognized by Advertising Age as 2015 Southwest Small Agency of the Year. McKee is also the author of “When Growth Stalls” and “Power Branding.”

SmartBrief offers more than 200 newsletters, including SmartBrief on Leadership and newsletters for small businesses and marketers and advertisers.

Parenting profit

Profit isn’t an option. Not only is it management’s obligation to shareholders, it’s what enables reinvestment, retooling and continued growth. And some say it’s the ultimate scorecard of how well a company pleases its customers. The trick, of course, is “parenting” that profit. Like an unruly child, profit isn’t easy to raise.

Believe it or not, the key to parenting — companies as well as kids — is by focusing on the heart. (read more…)

This is the second in a series of articles by Alaina Love that examine the evolution in leaderships thinking necessary for success in the next decade. Read the first article.

“No kicking, no biting, no scratching!” I admonished, as I watched six senior leaders (all men) duke it out during a three-day strategy session held in a secluded hotel conference room far from their corporate offices.

Things were getting pretty heated and the exchanges were progressively brutal during a meeting in which these top leaders were supposed to be defining the steps that their company needed to take to regain dominance in the industry.

“We can’t do what you’re suggesting,” the head of sales shouted at one of his colleagues. “Product development will never deliver on time and we will be stuck with a financial target that there is no way we can meet! They screwed us over last year and we’ve been racing to close the gap for the last 10 months. (read more…)