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Visiting CEO

Hands-on Executive Support When You Need It

"There is at least one point in the history of any company when you have to change dramatically to rise to the next level of performance. Miss that moment and you start to decline."

Andy Grove, Hungarian-born
American businessman, engineer, and
Science pioneer in the semiconductor industry

Visiting CEO - hands-on executive support

According to Harvard Business Review:

“Understanding that there are different viewpoints on issues is step one in realizing the need for new perspectives.  It has been said that what keeps senior leaders awake at night is not what they know, but rather what they do not know.  Knowing the limits of your own knowledge is important."

Harvard Business Review article "Find a Fresh Perspective in a Comfortable Gig", by John Baldoni (July 2011)

Visiting CEO™, a division of Top-Notch CEO™, offer hands-on executive support to companies that are in one or more of the following four situations:

vceo
When Biz needs us most - visiting CEO

At the Foundation of Our Success Track Record - The Transforming Expertise Into Success™ System

Visiting CEO™ uses our propriety Transforming Expertise Into Success The program was developed by Top-Notch CEO's founder, Dr. Stephie Althouse, to ensure successful company turnarounds and to grow successful companies to the next level.

 

Overcoming the Geek's dilemma with the "Transforming Talent into Wealth" system

What Visiting CEO ™ Offers

Fresh Eyes Assessment™ - Gain a Fresh Perspective of Your Challenges and Opportunities

The Fresh Eyes Assessment™

Our Fresh Eyes Assessment™ evaluates all aspects of your business.  The assessment uncovers both opportunities and hidden issues that are in your blind spots and blocking your potential profits!

The advantage of such assessment is that we have no prior beliefs about your business, your people, your market positioning and what is or is not possible for your company to achieve.

This assessment with truly fresh eyes makes all the difference in the world.  Imagine yourself sitting in the driver seat of an 18-wheeler.  Studies have shown that one can easily place as many as 4 full-size cars in the blind spots of the driver in that truck. Wow! That is what we find in corporations and businesses we assess:  The decision makers are often too close to their own business and – in many ways – know too much about their own businesses to realize where the blocks are that once removed open the floodgates to more profits. much productivity and enhanced team culture.

 

Interim CEO/ Executive - Fill a Temporary Need With a Top Executive

Interim CEO/ Executive: Visiting CEO™

If you need an interim CEO or Executive, you have come to the right place.  Here are some of the scenarios that cause businesses to bring us in:

  • The CEO or another executive has experienced an emergency, such as illness, even death, or illness or death in the family.
  • The CEO or another executive in the company needs temporary support in handling a specific circumstance or project (see also the other tabs here).
  • A funded company or start-up is still too small to hire a full-time executive of the experience and caliber they need.  A common example is a rapidly growing company with a founder who is a strong visionary. Such visionaries are often too busy to "run the business" and guide the team consistently. A Visiting CEO/ Executive can fill this position in a more affordable manner, on a part-time basis until the company is ready to hire a full-time replacement onto their permanent staff.

Contact us to discuss your situation.

Boost Your Profits: Foster Growth or Embark on a Turnaround

Boost Your Profits:  Foster Growth or Embark on a Turnaround

At Visiting CEO™, we provide highly experienced consultants and specialized interim CEOs who focus on working with high-talent businesses and ESOP companies. Either type of company has a core area of expertise they are really good at.

These companies often miss out on much of the profits they deserve because they are not as effective in converting their talents into wealth as they are in the talent area itself.  

Our success record includes

  • High-tech companies (innovation based on physics, engineering, chemistry, microelectronics, instrumentation, etc.)
  • Other forms of high-talent companies (e.g., construction, insurance, and many others).
  • Employee-owned/ ESOP companies.

Read some of our case studies here.

 

Leading Hypergrowth Into Sustainable Success

Leading Hypergrowth Into Sustainable Success

Your company is poised for rapid growth or already in the midst of it.  Now is the time to strengthen its foundation to support its growth now and long-term because experience shows that if you don't you risk

  • Loss of profit
  • Damaging your hard earned reputation with customers, vendors and staff; even potentially legal conflicts
  • Burnout because of ever increasing demands on your time without sufficient rest
  • Imploding while your business expands rapidly (some of the businesses even became cases for turnaround because of this!)

Rapid growth or hypergrowth is exciting.  It also requires that you strengthen your company's foundation in order for this step to be successful.  Establishing a strong leadership and accountability structure for your growing company is a vital step. This step often makes the difference between success and failure of highly talented companies such as yours (read case study 2).

Furthermore, it is critical to identify and effectively unite the respective strengths of the team members to foster maximum productivity, profit, and positive company culture.

We also highly recommend applying our proven Fresh Eyes Assessment™ (FEA) t to take a fresh and unbiased look at eight critical aspects of your company. Our company has used this trademarked process with great success in growing high-talent companies. The FEA is especially critical when a company is about to grow or already growing rapidly.  You will receive two substantial benefits: identify the biggest opportunities to achieve company improvements, growth, and profits and eliminate potentially harmful blind spots.

Read more case studies here.

Your Team, Your Asset: Advancing and Retaining Top Talent

Your Team, Your Asset: Advancing and Retaining Top Talent

Without your team, you have no leverage.  Especially for a company doing business in a complex field advancing and retaining talent is vital for the success of your business.

Solutions:

Talent Positioning™
• Make sure each team member works in his or her top talent area.
• Assemble a united team that maximizes company growth and profit.
• Foster your company’s culture.

Training

Your best team members don't just stay with your company for their monetary compensation.  Help them grow or see them go.

We offer systematic leadership and business training for your top and emerging leaders within the Top-Notch CEO Academy.

We also offer custom workshops (see that tab), retreats and keynotes (there is a tab for that).

Contact us to discuss which solution is the best fit for your company.

From Succession Planning to Exit Strategy & Legacy

From Succession Planning to Exit Strategy & Legacy

You have grown a business you are proud of.  You might even be its founder.  Sooner or later it is time to lean back a bit or pass on the business altogether.  There are many ways to do that:

  1. Pass on/ sell the business to one or several family members
  2. Sell the business to your employees - possibly through an Employee Stock Purchase Plan (ESOP)
  3. Sell the business to a third party
  4. Or, in some cases, simply shut down the business.

Assuming that you are not interested in the fourth scenario, we can help.

Here is a process that illustrates how we go about supporting business owners in planning for their own succession, allowing them to exit the business profitably and leaving a legacy that can keep on growing for decades (or much longer) to come.

You may or may not need to take all of these steps.  Let's talk about what you want to accomplish and we can jointly create a road map with doable action steps.

 

Employee Owner Mentoring - Think like an Owner and Get Rewarded As One

Employee Owner Mentoring -  Think like an Owner and Get Rewarded As One.

ESOP companies are a special breed of companies. It is a proven fact that when you decide to share ownership with your employees you have the opportunity to create profit margins that beat the average margins in your industry!  What is needed is a leadership structure that fosters bringing forth ideas, input and innovation. To tap into this potential you need to provide your employees with training that guides them to think like an owner.

However, without such training most employees will remain in the traditional employee mindset, i.e., focused on pay checks, bonuses and other benefits, with a sense of entitlement and without regard or even knowledge of the company’s bottom line results. Without training most employees simply do not know how to evaluate the financial status of their company, and they do not know how they personally can impact profits in a positive way.

The good news is that employees can be mentored towards making a positive and permanent change. The result is that employee ownership becomes a great vehicle not only for liquidating assets of major stockholders but for enhancing company profits, fostering leadership and creating a profitable and sustainable culture that carries forth the legacy for generations to come.

We offer proven leadership training and coaching to top ESOP leaders (C-suite) and emerging ESOP leaders.  

Check out our Top-Notch CEO Academy and inquire about our custom programs.

Proven Solutions for Growing Your ESOP Company

Proven Solutions for Growing Your ESOP Company

We feel strongly that employee ownership can be an excellent vehicle to creating wealth (profit, making a difference and creating a freat quality of life).

  • Are you considering to implement an Employee Stock Purchase Plan (ESOP) or another form of employee ownership?
  • Would you like a Fresh Eyes Assessment™ to gain a fresh perspective on opportunities and challenges that might have been in your blind spot? What you will find, is likely critical to the sustainable growth and prosperous future of your company.
  • Are you looking for EFFECTIVE training for emerging ESOP leaders and employee owners?
  • Are you in need of help with succession planning or perhaps you need help with effective training, recruiting, and retention strategies?
  • Are you planning a special event, celebrating ESOP month, a company anniversary or a major milestone, and you want an excellent speaker who engages your employee owners in improving themselves and the company even further, in an entertaining and memorable way?

Contact us and we will help you identify the right solutions for achieving your goals.

Save Yourself Time, Frustration & Money

Come learn practical, fun, easily applied success tools with guidance from Dr. Stephie and her team of top talent business coaches.

Dr. Stephie Althouse — known as "Dr. Stephie" to her clients — is an experienced business growth advisor and coach who is an innovator herself.  Her background is a rare combination of science, innovation, business growth experience, and proven leadership.

She's successfully turned around — and then grown high-tech/high-talent companies.  It's her wide-spectrum expertise and ongoing studies — from hard science to interpersonal chemistry and group dynamics that uniquely positions her to work well with innovators, entrepreneurs, visionaries and their teams.

Stephie Altohuse, Ph.D. offers leadership trainign and executive coachiing for geeks
Part of the curriculum for leadership training
101 Quick Tips for ESOP Leaders

Case Studies

Our mission as Visiting CEO™ is to work with you on a peer-to-peer level to take your expertise to  the next level of success. We restore and increase profitability in your company.  Here are a few examples.  See also testimonials on our testimonials page.

Case Study 1: Turnaround of a High-Tech Company

Case Study 1: Turnaround of A High-Tech Company

This high-tech company, filled with highly skilled engineers doing work very few others can do, was in a severe financial hardship when we arrived. Declaring bankruptcy was an option that was discussed more than once.  Working with the company's team, we jointly got the company not only to survive but we significantly increased revenues and profits during an economic time when many of their competitors went out of business.

Here are some highlights:

  • Increased revenues by 41% during a catastrophic economic year.
  • Streamlined operations.
  • Established pricing SYSTEM for complex engineering driven work.
  • Assessed which clients are most profitable and established an ideal client profile.
  • Established sales & marketing FOCUS and STRATEGY.
  • Coached highly technical staff in selling their expertise, focusing on BENEFITS, not just features.
  • Coached for improved team communications and culture.
Case Study 2: Saving The Innovator’s Company and Its Revolutionary Mission

Case Study 2: Saving The Innovator’s Company and Its Revolutionary Mission

A world-class innovator with a 50/50 partner and a small team of high-tech staff was creating revolutionary software.  The market for this technology is large and worldwide.  The opportunities are great!

However, there was a pressing question on who should lead the company as CEO going forward.

Previously, the innovator had started another software company. His partner brought in a famous scientist as their CEO, in part in the hopes that this person would fulfill their promise of raising substantial investments for the company.  However, eventually, the CEO decided to fire the innovator out of his own company! The company could not be successful without the vision and technical expertise of the innovator and went out of business.  Many of millions of dollars were lost, and the innovation did not make it to market.

This disaster was caused by multiple factors:

  • The CEO was not properly vetted.  Expectations for what he was supposed to accomplish were not clearly articulated.
  • There was no definition of which roles the company needed, and what responsibilities each role entailed.

In the new company, Visiting CEO™ was able to help the innovator not to repeat this costly mistake.  At the point of time when we were asked for help, an unfavorable and potentially devastating situation was already unfolding.  A person who had been hired into a business development role had been considered as a candidate for becoming the CEO.  As time went on, the person was expecting to get this post - all the while, it became increasingly obvious that the person was not a compelling face of the company.  He could not tell the vision of the company - rather he would twist the vision to what he thought the particular potential investor wanted to hear.  The founder didn't know what to do - he didn't want to lose the person as team member altogether.  He also was not sure whether he himself was a suitable CEO.

The solution:

We did two months of confidential 1-on-1 coaching with the CEO to work through the issues. He gained clarity on what he wanted and needed to happen.  Then, the team went through a Fresh Eyes Assessment™.  We also assessed the top talents of each team member, using a 20-minute online  Talent Positioning™ tool.

Following the assessment, the team underwent a process called "Ideal Company Structure".  During this facilitated process, the team itself designed which roles with which functions the company really needed. Importantly, this process was done from a “blank slate” perspective.  As a result, the team communicated about their company, the roles and all they entailed on a much deeper level than ever before.  There was no question that the founder was the visionary of the company. It was decided that the visionary's seat should carry the title of "CEO" - he was best suited to be the face of his innovative company.  The other person was found to be suitable as "conductor" - the person who functions as "glue" between all team members and between the visionary and the team.

The innovator also graduated from the Top-Notch CEO Coaching Circle.  It helped him tremendously to grow into the role as CEO.

The Result:

The company functions very well now and has gained markedly increased business in multiple countries. Importantly, the immense talent of this innovator and his team is now benefitting people around the world.

The Return-on-Investment (ROI):

The ROI was staggering. We saved the company, preventing a loss of millions of dollars.

Talk to us about how affordable it is to get your company onto an optimized track like we are describing here.  Ask yourself: Can you afford not to do this?

Case Study 3: Realizing Employee Ownership At Its Best

Case Study 3: Realizing Employee Ownership At Its Best

This high-end construction company had grown by a huge factor over the course of 23 years, yet two large setbacks created severe financial hardship.  The company had implemented an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan).  However, many of the employees didn’t understand yet what employee ownership really meant to them and which opportunities it offers them.

The owner set several goals:

  • Return the company to profitability and regrow the value of the company
  • Implement an employee owner mindset
  • Retire in two years
  • Identify a successor (which was tied to the question whether the new leader would come from within the company or be recruited from the outside)

Within only 6 months of part-time effort, we were able to successfully address all four of these goals.

  • Regained and enhanced profitability within less than 6 months.
  • Uncovered overlooked, yet readily implemented opportunities to convert problems to profits via our Fresh Eyes Assessment™.
  • Created a system for consistently estimating job costs, preventing profit losses of millions of dollars.
  • Improved hiring practices and created awareness around the need to train even experienced new staff in the company’s practices.
  • Restructured and refined the sales & marketing strategy, focused on attracting the ideal clients while avoiding wasting time on others with little or no return (often even with negative return).
  • Increased sales closing ratio. Identified that job estimators are not necessarily the best sales people and vice versa.
  • Implemented a productive ESOP culture and shifted mindset from an attitude of entitlement to a mindset of being responsible, self-initiating and more owner-like.
  • Eliminated company conflicts through resolving confusion in the leadership structure and accountability issues.
  • Developed new leadership skills within the company and coached employee owners to take on more responsibility and initiative.
  • Enhanced profitability and even work-life balance (and hence reduced employee turnover) through training on how to conduct effective meetings.
  • Created and conducted critical training customized to the client company and the style of their employees.

"My business had stopped growing at the rate I thought it could, and I knew that I needed some help. Dr. Stephie did an incredible job at identifying what makes my business special and helped me to maximize that uniqueness to help grow business.  My business is running much smoother and more efficiently, and my stress level has dropped considerably."

Bill Walsh, District Manager, Farmers Insurance, District Carlsbad, CA

“Thank you for your strategic guidance and the “Fresh Eyes Assessment.  Through your leadership, and in a short time, we exceeded our expectations in revenue and profitability, and Giroux Glass has emerged as a stronger, independent employee ownership managed company.”
 
Anne-Merelie Murrell, CEO, Giroux Glass, Inc.
 

Wow, I honestly did not expect to get so much value from Dr. Stephie’s “Top-Notch CEO Coaching Circle.”  In the beginning, I thought I already knew the tips we were discussing.  Then, as we got deeper into it, I realized that — to reach my goals faster and with greater ease — I needed to reflect more on many of the tips.  I am fleshing out my ideas in more detail and, more importantly, I now write them down instead of carrying them only in my head.  Many times when I’ve been promised tremendous business improvements through one program or the other and I have felt ripped off afterwards.  Dr. Stephie, however, is the real deal and delivers way more value than you would ever expect.

Ted Przybylek, President, Rancho Ted Real Estate Loans & Investments

"Dr. Stephie has shown herself to be an effective strategist and leader, with a feel for employee attitudes and motivation. She has taken companies to winning awards for their success in generating top financial performance by building employee commitment and dedication. She gets results!"

Martin Staubus, Executive Director, The Beyster Institute

"Dr. Stephie Althouse excels in the corporate world as a Visiting CEO. She developed a "Fresh Eyes Assessment" and does a turn around with troubled companies. She has pulled them from near bankruptcy to profit in a relatively short time. One of her specialties is working with ESOP companies."

June Davidson, Ph.D., President of American Seminar Leaders Association and Coaching Firm International, Asla.com

Dr. Stephie’s CEO coaching program is right on the mark. It is pragmatic — no fuss — and gets you on point quickly. I appreciate the teleconference format as it makes it very easy to participate. It is obvious she has a lot of experience and has spent a lot of time researching and developing the program to get the maximum results. I highly recommend it for anyone that is driven to be successful and wants to further improve strategies and tools needed need to get there.

Karen Taggart, President, Shades of Light, San Diego

“Working with Stephie has been life changing and eye opening. Through Stephie’s guidance, my team is now maximizing their strengths, creating a much more efficient and productive business. More importantly, we are all excited to come to work every day! With Stephie’s coaching, I am now a much happier boss, wife and mother. I am not only reaching my vision, but I am also meeting and exceeding my goals.”

Jill Harris, Farmers Insurance, Lic#0F70123, JHFARMERS.com

“Dr. Stephie is a driven and highly energetic executive. She has kept the team focused, and the company growing, even during the recent economic cycle. Last year’s revenues increased 41%. Stephie has expanded the company’s portfolio of products and skills into new technology areas. Client satisfaction is very high.”

Jim Waring, Executive Chairman, CleanTECH San Diego

Our session with you today is so valuable it will more than pay for your compensation for the whole year! While we thought about doing the analysis you did with us today, we would have never done it. For sure, we could not have done it so well. Coaching with you by far exceeds all of our expectations. THANK YOU!"

Ted Przybylek, President, RanchoTed Real Estate Loans & Investments

The Top-Notch CEO Coaching Circle and “101 Quick Tips for high-Talent Companies” book are very helpful.  They force me to step back, pause and reflect on what I want to accomplish, as well as review Hi-Z with a fresh perspective.  Beyond that, the peer group provides an outside viewpoint from other business leaders unrelated to Hi-Z.  Having this type of forum as a sounding board is invaluable.  Thank you, Dr. Stephie!

Jill Elsner, CEO / CFO, Hi-Z Technology, Inc.

Fantastic CEO!!  Couldn’t ask for a better person to steer the ship of my company.  Great advisor, problem solver, people person, and system analyst.

Joy Megas, CEO, Simply Pay Yourself First

"Dr. Stephie Althouse is an insightful and creative consultant and executive coach. Her Fresh Eyes Assessment has been integral to positioning the company for higher profits. She has displayed tireless dedication, tremendous skill and beyond-the-call-of-duty commitment in guiding us in our efforts to create our family legacy."

Eddie Moreno, Vice-President, Sales at The Arrowhead Leasing Company, Inc.

Top Notch CEO testimonials for executive coaching , consulting and leadership training

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  • Get help thinking through a situation you are dealing with
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Top Notch CEO testimonials for executive coaching , consulting and leadership training

Client Feedback

Wow, I honestly did not expect to get so much value from Dr. Stephie’s “Top-Notch CEO Coaching Circle.”  In the beginning, I thought I already knew the tips we were discussing.  Then, as we got deeper into it, I realized that — to reach my goals faster and with greater ease — I needed to reflect more on many of the tips.  I am fleshing out my ideas in more detail and, more importantly, I now write them down instead of carrying them only in my head.  Many times when I’ve been promised tremendous business improvements through one program or the other and I have felt ripped off afterwards.  Dr. Stephie, however, is the real deal and delivers way more value than you would ever expect.

Ted Przybylek, President, Rancho Ted Real Estate Loans & Investments

Dr. Stephie’s CEO coaching program is right on the mark. It is pragmatic — no fuss — and gets you on point quickly. I appreciate the teleconference format as it makes it very easy to participate. It is obvious she has a lot of experience and has spent a lot of time researching and developing the program to get the maximum results. I highly recommend it for anyone that is driven to be successful and wants to further improve strategies and tools needed need to get there.

Karen Taggart, President, Shades of Light, San Diego

“Dr. Stephie is a driven and highly energetic executive. She has kept the team focused, and the company growing, even during the recent economic cycle. Last year’s revenues increased 41%. Stephie has expanded the company’s portfolio of products and skills into new technology areas. Client satisfaction is very high.”

Jim Waring, Executive Chairman, CleanTECH San Diego

My experience with Dr. Stephie was that she was very professional and she offered great insight into how a company should be run AND the tough decisions which need to be made.

Andy Gull, Project Manager, Giroux Glass

For the past 6 months I have had the pleasure of working with Dr. Stephie on a weekly basis. I must say, when I began, I did not think I was going to need the help of an executive coach for my business. I could not have been more wrong! She has been an invaluable asset, providing me with frequent feedback and coaching that has allowed me to go above and beyond at work and in my life. I highly recommend Dr. Stephie to anyone looking to grow their business and empower everyone around them. She is a dedicated asset and I look forward to continuing to work with her in the future.

Madison Meyer, Director for Business Development, Holonis Inc.

Dr. Stephie is an experienced business woman — with experience in diverse companies — including work with skills assessment, marketing, team building, sales, and leadership.  I highly recommend her!

Maureen Mason-Cover, Physical Therapist, Comprehensive Therapy

“Working with Stephie has been life changing and eye opening. Through Stephie’s guidance, my team is now maximizing their strengths, creating a much more efficient and productive business. More importantly, we are all excited to come to work every day! With Stephie’s coaching, I am now a much happier boss, wife and mother. I am not only reaching my vision, but I am also meeting and exceeding my goals.”

Jill Harris, Farmers Insurance, Lic#0F70123, www.JHFARMERS.com

“Thank you for your strategic guidance and the “Fresh Eyes Assessment.  Through your leadership, and in a short time, we exceeded our expectations in revenue and profitability, and Giroux Glass has emerged as a stronger, independent employee ownership managed company.”

Anne-Merelie Murrell, CEO, Giroux Glass, Inc., Girouxglass.com

The Top-Notch CEO Coaching Circle and “101 Quick Tips for high-Talent Companies” book are very helpful.  They force me to step back, pause and reflect on what I want to accomplish, as well as review Hi-Z with a fresh perspective.  Beyond that, the peer group provides an outside viewpoint from other business leaders unrelated to Hi-Z.  Having this type of forum as a sounding board is invaluable.  Thank you, Dr. Stephie!

Jill Elsner, CEO / CFO, Hi-Z Technology, Inc.

What impressed me most about Dr. Stephie is her ability to motivate me to confidently tackle challenging tasks.  She truly cares about getting measurable results for her client and this is obvious from the initial consultation through the actual coaching program.  I would highly recommend her for anyone tackling a new quest or needing to be more effective in the current one.

Mark Baldwin, Founder and Principle, Urban Farm Opportunist

Fantastic CEO!!  Couldn’t ask for a better person to steer the ship of my company.  Great advisor, problem solver, people person, and system analyst.

Joy Megas, CEO, Simply Pay Yourself First