Warning:  Our hackles have been raised.

Those hairs on our neck shifted upwards when we read of not-so-secret one-on-one meetings between money managers, hedge funds, and the like and public company CEOs.

Not that there’s anything wrong or illegal with the practice.  [After all, the SEC calls it “corporate access” and, though there’s some monitoring, it doesn’t breach the Regulation Fair Disclosure rule of 2000.]

Yet survey after survey of these fairly regular occasions – about 99 on average each year for public businesses, says Ipreo – demonstrates that this kind of face time allows analysts and investors to make better trading decisions and more accurate earnings forecasts.

So be it.  It’s obvious these kinds of conversations help persuade the monied occupations that a company’s stock is a worthwhile investment. 

At the same time, it allows other, external observers to gauge the tone and confidence level and body language of the CEO (or CFO).

So what we object to is not the need to present to the investment community, face to face.  No, what causes our discomfort is the not-so-equal access of the C-suite to his/her employees, the rank and file who need to understand the strategies, the changes, and, yes, the financials. 

Okay, we get it:  Executive time is precious.  But don’t employees relish and deserve regular face-to-face communications in small groups with key senior leaders?


Not every leader and corporation can afford voice coaches like Adam Levin and Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams.

On the other hand, they have us – communicators and marketers and branding gurus.

We’re serious.  Because guiding our executives through the process of defining words and actions of value for themselves and for the business – a/k/a the voice – is a commitment based on experience, intuition, and no small amount of tears and sweat.

It goes beyond the tried and true message platform, to the heart of what’s believed and what’s been accomplished.  The voice integrates values, vision, and purpose.  And the process never stops.

Where to start?  With an examination of self (and of company).  Begin by asking some standards:

  • What gets you up in the morning?
  • What do you and the business stand for?
  • What motivates others to do their best – for you and for the company?
  • Who are you/the company when both are at your best?
  • What attitudes and beliefs move you forward … or hold you back?
  • How would you define success now, and in the future?

Balance those responses and the initial voice with the leader’s style and personality, a combination of presence, attentiveness, bedside manner, decisiveness, and, oddly, the traits of humility and confidence.  Most of all, the final voice must be a comfortable one, one that connects well with the leader/company.

There’s no audition.  No contest.  And probably no recording contract.  But it’s one of the most rewarding contributions we make.