Employers, Are You Ready for 2018?

News headlines in 2017 had employers sitting up and taking notice. From #MeToo, to changes in minimum wage, to restrictions on unpredictable workers’ schedules—a startling list of new regulations and legislation means there’s a lot to get your head around, whether you own a small business or are a manager in a large corporation.

At the most recent Though Leaders in Business, Kerrie R. Heslin walked the audience through some of the most recent changes from the employers’ perspective, pointing out potholes, pitfalls and oft-neglected areas.

Heslin, of employment law firm Nukk-Freeman & Cerra, P.C., which represents employers, noted that layers of statutes affect employers, with the federal government, state government and even municipalities getting in on the act of regulating employers.

The audiences’ hands flew in the air with questions for each topic. Heslin tackled some tough questions and gave the audience specific advice about their existing procedures.

Some highlights from Heslin’s talk:

  • The NYC Salary History Ban prohibits employers from asking prospective employees’ salary histories. The fines can be steep – with a civil penalty of up to $125,000 and $250,000 if the violation was willful. Hint: Some companies are making sure interviewers adhere to the policy by putting a reminder—”No salary history questions!”—right in the Outlook invitation.
  • The Ban-the-Box law in New York State means no more check box asking potential employees if they’ve been convicted of a crime.
  • The threshold salary at which employers must pay overtime has gone way up, sometimes ranging up to $48,000. This number also can also vary by location and even county.
  • The “affirmative defense”—in which an employer must simply prove adequate training to prevent sexual harassment—is no longer a sufficient defense in New York State when an employee alleges wrongdoing.
  • The Family and Medical Leave Act of New York applies even if you have one employee. And the time off does not have to be taken consecutively.
  • All the new legislation means updating forms and processes.
    – Employment applications
    – Employee handbooks
    – Training material
    – Interview scripts
    – Acceptance letters
    – Contracts

A good employer needs to have a solid action plan in place to meet complaints and allegations with clear and documented procedures. Waiting until you’re faced with an allegation or complaint is dropping the ball – and both you and your employees deserve better than that.

Rather than be overwhelmed, Heslin suggested some concrete steps to take:

  • Perform a self-audit with your legal firm. Because it’s privileged, companies don’t have to wring their hands over what might surface.
  • Sign up for Heslin’s alert email—to stay on top of the shifting regulatory environment.
  • Make sure you have procedures in place to capture and respond to employee complaints; turning a blind eye puts your company at risk.
  • Start training programs that catch your employees up on the new policies and procedures you’re enacting.

It was an honor to have Kerrie R. Heslin with us for this Thought Leaders in Business presentation. Her talk couldn’t have been more informative, and left the audience all better equipped to face employment challenges head on and become part of the solution to a better workplace environment.

Review of Thought Leader in Business Award Ceremony with Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney

On July 20th, we were honored to present Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney with our annual Thought Leaders in Business Award.

Congresswoman Maloney was first elected to congress in 1992, and she has been the frontrunner who has pushed for a long list of progressive accomplishments. Among which is her current push for government to prioritize cybersecurity. The recent cybersecurity attacks being carried out by nation states such as North Korea and Russia have put cybersecurity at the forefront of many high level discussions – both in government and in business.

We’re thrilled that Congresswoman Maloney has been repeatedly emphasizing the importance of this discussion – and that she’s emphasized the need for it to be ongoing. After the presentation of the award, the congresswoman gave a brief talk. In her speech, she emphasized not only the government’s role in prioritizing cybersecurity, but our role as individuals, as well.

Specifically, Rep. Maloney stated that individuals in the private sector need to put more pressure on those working in the public sector to acknowledge cybersecurity as a matter of importance. When citizens show that they want to personally learn more about cybersecurity and that they hold their government accountable to use better technology, the end result will be improved ability to mitigate risk.

In her talk, Congresswoman Maloney said that cybersecurity needs to become a policy focus within all government bodies. She believes firmly that any situation where customer privacy is being compromised is one that we need to focus on and work toward improvement. Currently, the Congresswoman is working on a bill that would require all companies who deal with sensitive information to comply with data security standards that many banks already adhere to.

Because these standards are already being used in Banking, Rep. Maloney sees no reason that they couldn’t be applied to all companies that provide financial services. The standards are scalable for both small and large businesses, and they’re intended to protect customers (individuals, businesses, and governments) from hackers.

Congresswoman Maloney is absolutely correct when she says that we as a country can’t afford to be at the mercy of hackers. There must be more communication between the private and public sector so that we can move forward together as a unified front against cybersecurity threats.

It was our honor to award Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney with this year’s Thought Leader in Business Award. Watch her video here to see the full ceremony and her Q&A session.

Thought Leaders in Business Discussion: 3 Surprising Lessons in Service Design

When we think about the traditional rules of business, general platitudes come to mind like “Go above and beyond,” or “The customer is always right.” However, service design is changing the way we do business. With these changes creating leaner business models and more streamlined sales, we should accept that there are new lessons to learn and new ways of interacting with customers. This quarter’s Thought Leaders in Business featured Tom Steward and Patricia O’Connell, authors of Woo, Wow, and Win! Service Design, Strategy, and the Art of Customer Delight. Tom and Patricia explored some of these lessons in our most recent Thought Leaders in Business, and some of them may surprise you.

Forget What You Learned from Manufacturing

Almost every business “rule” that we’ve learned is tailored to fit a manufacturing business model, but many of these rules don’t fit anywhere in a service design business. Service design is much more flexible because when the product we sell is a service we’re incorporating the human element. Service design customers are incredibly hands-on throughout the selling process. This real-time customer engagement with the service you’re selling leaves room for instant feedback and can cause some hiccups as no interaction is identical. However, this unique flexibility also allows you to maintain a much closer connection with your customers and provide them with a better, more tailored service – for both you and them.

No Heroics

When a customer purchases a manufactured product, it’s finished. The expectation is that that product will be fine-tuned, excellent, and consistent. This heroic sense of excellence has been lauded as the necessary but difficult-to-achieve goal for many organizations. However, when you apply this lesson from manufacturing to service design, it doesn’t translate well. Service design professionals attempt to meet this goal of excellence by going “above and beyond.” The problem is that you cannot maintain any sense of consistency with your customers when you work to exceed their expectations. Service design focuses on lean production and lean consumption – any extra “above and beyond” heroics creates confusion, and adds additional steps to what should be a streamlined, and most importantly, consistent process.

Don’t Surprise Your Customer

Related to this idea of maintaining consistency in your service design business is the concept of surprising your customer. The idea that businesses need to “surprise and delight” their customers is completely wrong for the service design business model. Nobody likes to be surprised when they’re expecting a specific service. Surprises create inconsistency in the expectations of your customers. Have you ever heard of a hair stylist surprising their customer with a new color or style they didn’t ask for? If you have, I doubt the “surprise” story had a happy ending.

Additionally, a customer shouldn’t be surprised when you complete the services they expect from you. In general, surprises don’t go over well in service design. Instead of surprising your customers, focus on delighting them by meeting their expectations. Let the quality of your work speak for itself – no surprises necessary.

Final Thoughts

The rules of business that have been drilled into the minds of business owners through countless seminars, articles, and white papers the world over make sense…for traditional product-based manufacturing businesses. Service design is its own unique business model, and should be treated as such. Whether your service business is B2C or B2B, you deserve to follow “rules” that don’t limit you and your business’s growth potential. The different set of expectations for both service providers and customers in service design are necessary. Tom Stewart and Patricia O’Connell gave an amazing presentation at Thought Leaders in Business. Stay tuned for the video to follow.

Stay tuned for the video capturing this event, and check out the slide show presentation here. 


Woo, Wow, and Win! Service Design, Strategy, and the Art of Customer Delight

Join us at the re-launch of Thought Leaders In Business
at the Yale Club, Thursday, March 9th, 6:00pm
featuring best-selling authors:

Tom Stewart & Patricia O’Connell

discussing their latest book:

Tom and Patricia will reveal the importance of service design for your company and offer executives in services businesses clear, practical strategies for designing and delivering great customer experiences, from beginning to end—the kind of experiences that build loyalty and lasting relationships. The connection between company and customer is very different in services—which represent 80% of the economy—than it is when customers are buying a product. In these businesses, customers aren’t waiting at the loading dock for a product to be delivered; they’re part of the process. You may think you’re selling a service, but what you are really selling is an experience, one you design but your customer helps create and shape.

Service Design links strategy and operations to the actual experience of your customers.

Following the talk, please join us, engage, and discuss
at our wine and hors d’oeuvres reception!

Space is limited! Please click here to RSVP!


Tom Stewart is the Executive Director of the National Center for the Middle Market, the leading source for knowledge, leadership, and research about mid-sized companies, at The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business. Tom is an influential thought leader on management issues and ideas and an authority on intellectual capital and knowledge management.

Before joining the National Center for the Middle Market, Tom served as Chief Marketing and Knowledge Officer for international consulting firm Booz & Company (now called Strategy&). Prior to that, he was for six years the Editor and Managing Director of Harvard Business Review, and earlier served as a member of the Board of Editors of Fortune magazine.

He is the author of two other books, Intellectual Capital: The New Wealth of Organizations and The Wealth of Knowledge: Intellectual Capital and the Twenty-first Century Organization. He has published articles in Harvard Business Review, strategy + business, Fortune, Business 2.0, Financial Times, and elsewhere.

Tom is a graduate of Harvard College and holds an honorary doctorate from Cass Business School, City University London.


Patricia O’Connell is president of Aerten Consulting, a New York City–based firm that works with companies to devise content strategies and develop thought leadership for top management. Her interest in service design expresses a lifelong pursuit of the idea that “there’s got to be a better way.” She is the writer, with author Neil Smith, of the New York Times bestseller How Excellent Companies Avoid Dumb Things: Breaking the Eight Hidden Barriers that Plague Even the Best Businesses.

Patricia is twelve-year veteran of BloombergBusinessweek.com, where she served as news editor and subsequently as the management editor. There she worked with writers and thought leaders like John Byrne, Marshall Goldsmith, Dov Seidman, Bill George, Ben Heineman, Don Tapscott, Bruce Weinstein, and others, while overseeing the design and launch of new channels and services.

A graduate of Boston College, Patricia has worked with such organizations as the Project Management Institute, the Association of Management Consulting Firms, Strategy&, Boston Consulting Group, Hay Group (now part of Korn Ferry), Stephens Inc., Savannah College of Art and Design, and T. Rowe Price.


Brought to you by:



Copyright © 2017 Thought Leaders In Business, Inc., All rights reserved.

Thought Leaders In Business, Inc.
274 Madison Avenue, Suite 1202
New York, NY 10016

Holiday Improv Celebration

David Armstrong
Jason Perez

Tuesday, December 6, 2016
6:00 pm

Baker Hostetler
45 Rockefeller Plaza
Our Host: Dennis Cohen


It’s holiday time and so we will celebrate the holidays as only Thought Leaders can… with a comedy party.

That’s right, a time to laugh.

Join us on December 6 at 6.00 pm as the leaders of improv comedy from Improv (In)Corporation show us how our inner comedians can enable us to relax, have fun and work together in an esprit de corps.

They will start out with some fundamentals about the theories, valuable outcomes, inner challenges, personal skills, cosmic intellectual underpinnings of how improv works. All that. But enough about the fundamentals. What about the fun?

Yes, fun is on the agenda. Come and play with your Thought Leaders brethren. It’s the holidays and we’ve been through a lot recently.

Time to laugh a little, are you in?

Our comedic leaders:

David Armstrong

David has been performing and teaching improvisation for 12 years. In addition to classes from The Groundlings and Second City, he has worked at the National Comedy Theatre, serving as a performer, instructor, coach, and corporate facilitator for its team building and engagement workshops. He works with people in various industries seeking improved interpersonal skills, stimulation in creativity, or overcoming fears of public speaking.

Jason Perez

Jason, originally from Southern California, has been teaching and performing improvisation for 12 years. Jason has taught improvisation academically at Cal State San Marcos and CU Boulder as well as 8 different high schools throughout the San Diego area. He has trained and performed with the Upright Citizens Brigade, Second City, National Comedy Theater, Improv Olympic, and Peoples Improv Theater.

Cyber Security: An Issue that Keeps on Growing

Tuesday, February 2, 2016
6:00 pm

Baker Hostetler
45 Rockefeller Plaza

Our Host: Dennis Cohen

Cyber security is an issue that only grows in every corner of our global garden.  Some would say it is an invasive weed with no herbicide in sight.

Every day, we face headlines in the media, from government agencies, our corporate governance departments and companies that tell us they have software to stop the problems. At every turn, there is an atmosphere of apprehension and trepidation.

What can a company do to guard itself and its clients? Can we stop the malicious organizations that steal our data, listen and gain access to our conversations and compromise the integrity of our business operations?

A panel of experts from various cyber related industry sectors will offer their perspectives and knowledge on this vital issue:

  • Chris Moschovitis, tmg-emedia, strategies and practices
  • Galya Datskovsky, Vapor Stream, products
  • Shawn Bernabeu, HUB International, insurance
  • Jerry Ferguson, Baker Hostetler, law

Our moderator will be Anna Murray of tmg-emedia, who specializes in software development.

This is an opportunity for attendees to listen to industry leaders who have a deep understanding of the ways in which business managers can defend and protect their organizations in the continual struggle with cyber security issues.

We look forward to seeing you at our new venue.

Please reply to this email or to RSVP@TMGR.COM to let us know you plan to attend.

Please check in with the security desk in the lobby when you arrive.

The Democratization of the Media: PR for the Rest of Us

Jess Todtfeld

Tuesday, January 5, 2016
6:00 pm

Baker Hostetler, 45 Rockefeller Plaza
Our Host: Dennis Cohen

Jess Todtfeld PicWhat if public relations were not the exclusive domain of the largest firms with large PR agencies? What if the power of the media was available to everyone?

With the plethora of outlets now available, there has never been a better time to harness and leverage the power of the media.

Jess Todtfeld, President of Success in Media is a television producer, media/PR consultant, bestselling author and Guinness record setter for being interviewed 112 times in 24 hours.

He will lead an interactive conversation about the range of PR options and tools that support corporate messaging and delivery.

Jess will demonstrate how to get media and PR exposure and describe easy-to-implement strategies and tools to create your own media campaign.

He will answer these relevant, timely questions:

  • What would it mean if your prospects and clients could experience what you do before you ever talk to them?
  • How would it help if your most satisfied clients spoke about your work (instead of you) on videos others could see?
  • Are there ways internet media can help you get traditional press?

Jess provides an insider’s perspective on the new opportunities and strategies at our finger tips.

We look forward to seeing you at our new venue.

Please email RSVP@TMGR.COM to let us know you plan to attend.

Please check in with the security desk in the lobby when you arrive.


The Changing Face of Sales in an Information-Heavy Society

Jill S - 1

Jill Schiefelbein

Monday, November 2, 2015
6:00 pm

Phillips Nizer LLP
666 Fifth Avenue at 52nd Street
28th floor

Information about businesses is being produced at an unprecedented rate, but not all of it is accurate, nor is it being consumed. This is the era of information overload.

Statistics show that 81% of potential clients are doing at least one cursory search on a supplier before taking the first meeting.

But with so much information being presented, how does a company get accurate, compelling information into the hands of their intended audience and increase its consumption?

How do you rise above the noise? How do you help spread knowledge and empower your prospective clients? Is there a clutter cutter in the offing?

Jill Schiefelbein, owner of The Dynamic Communicator and contributor to Entrepreneur, has a unique take on the changing face of sales that involves the intersection of communication, education, and technology.

A former business communication professor, Schiefelbein’s talk presents the facts on our present information economy and provides strategies for navigating the clutter.

We look forward to seeing you at our new venue.
Please reply to this email or to RSVP@TMGR.COM 
to let us know you plan to attend. 

You will need to check with security at the front desk when you arrive.

Thank you to Bruce Turkle of Phillips Nizer for hosting us!

New York Architecture 2.0 What Urban Planning and Design is Possible for a Livable City

with Kent Johnson

October 6, 6:00 pm, Yale Club

Kent Johnson PicNew York is experiencing significant growth in the real estate sector with a number of competing entities seeking to live and work here.

Some may argue that this trend is a spur to the continued viability of the city as a desirable economic marketplace.

Others would say that the quality of life is at risk, with development run amok, placing the desires of a few ahead of the life style interests of the many.

All can likely agree that the long term architectural planning and design of the built environment has been largely ignored for the sake of the short term building goals.

Kent Johnson, Principal of milktrout, an architectural firm, has a unique take on the future of New York real estate that weighs the demands of real estate developers with the goals of environmental and human interests.

His talk is an inquiry into the viability of current architectural ideas and their impact on a livable urban environment.

Milktrout designs for residential and commercial spaces and has as one of its goals the re-purposing of buildings to effect sustainability of the built environment.

We look forward to seeing you at the Yale Club. 

Please check with the front desk on the exact meeting location when you arrive. 

Creation of Abundance as Daily Reality

with Charles Biderman

September 1, 6:00 pm

Charles Biderman - photoAbundance grants us freedom, security and the energy. The on-going question remains: How to create abundance as a daily reality when worries, anxieties and concerns from the past and present intrude.

Charles Biderman has developed Abundance as a Daily Reality, a practice based on ontology, the science of being present in the areas of life that are important to us. Charles shows us how to be fully and consciously engaged to create the abundance we seek.

As part of this process, we will examine any and/or all unwanted practices based upon self beliefs that we have created. We will learn how to master our past conditioning and adopt practices that lead us to reaching our abundance goals.

Since 2009 Charles has created and led a Money & Success seminar for Landmark Worldwide to some 700 people. In addition, Charles uses this methodology to transform the lives of former foster youth through a special program, Biderman’s Practices of Success, most recently presented at Los Angeles City College.

Charles is the Chief Executive Officer of Trim Tabs Asset Management, portfolio manager of TrimTabs Float Shrink Exchange Traded Fund (TTFS-NYSE) and TrimTabs International Free Cash Flow ETF (FCFI- NYSE).

We look forward to seeing you at the Yale Club. 

Please check with the front desk on the exact meeting location when you arrive.