Monday, August 20, 2018

How To Introduce Yourself Quickly

Guest Blogger Gilda Bonanno

Sometimes you have to introduce yourself in 60 seconds or less.  This type of introduction is not your "elevator speech" – it's a brief introduction only long enough to outline the basics.

For example, at some networking events, everyone sits around a large table and then each person stands and gives a 30-second introduction, including name and business.

Or sometimes, when a group of several people is giving a presentation to company executives who might not know them, they start with each person coming forward and doing a quick introduction, including name, department, function and location.

Despite how easy a quick introduction may be, people often stumble over it by forgetting to include something, not making eye contact with the audience, mumbling, speaking too softly or fidgeting while speaking.

Here are guidelines to remember when doing a quick introduction:

·            Prepare.  What will you say? Yes, you could talk about yourself for many minutes, but you only have a few seconds, so you have to be selective about what you present.  Consider what you really what to communicate and what will have the most meaning for that particular audience.

·            Practice. Say your introduction out loud, preferably on camera or audio or in front of a mirror or a trusted friend. Repeat it until you can say it clearly and smoothly.

You don't have to memorize it, but it will help you to have key phrases that you can easily remember and say.  Because otherwise you may end up saying something such as, "I'm, uh, Mary Johnson… I guess I work for the IT department… and that's it.  Oh, and I work at the headquarters office in, uh, Lincoln." And then you've wasted an opportunity to make a good impression.

·            Voice. Speak loudly, slowly and clearly enough to be heard and understood.  Enunciate and speak with energy; while you're familiar with your name and identifying details, it may be the first time the audience has heard them.

·            Make eye contact. In a few seconds, you can't look at everyone, so pick a few people at random spots throughout the room.

·            Stand up straight.  Stand still (no pacing or rocking) with shoulders back, head up and your weight evenly distributed on both feet.

·           Smile.  Smiling will help you look more relaxed and also communicate warmth and sincerity.

·            Communicate self-confidence.  All of these elements together help you demonstrate self-confidence.  If you don't sound confident about the basics of who you are and what you do, then how can you (or the audience) be confident about anything else you might say?

·            Here are some examples of quick introductions:

o   Within a company: "Good morning.  I'm Denise Wallace, the Customer Service Supervisor at the Dallas Call Center."

o   Within a company: "Hello, I'm Glen Boyd.  I'm a sales representative covering Western Canada.  I sell durable medical equipment like canes and wheelchairs."

o   Outside the company: "Good afternoon.  I'm Andrew Milne.  I own and operate Print Plus, a full-service print and copy store in White Plains."

o   Outside the company: "Hi, I'm Lisa Caldwell.  I'm a tax consultant in Brooklyn specializing in small businesses.

Following these guidelines will help you introduce yourself quickly with confidence and clarity so you can have a good start to your presentation and networking.

Gilda Bonanno LLC helps people improve their communication and leadership skills so they have more confidence, influence and success.  Gilda was the Master of Ceremony and lead the Retrain Your Brain: A New Approach to Leadership Develop session at the Women's Leadership Summit Dare to Be Bold on June 14th, 2018.

To view the YouTube video for “How to Introduce Yourself Quickly,” visit (with more than 1 million views!)

To view the slideshow for “How to Introduce Yourself Quickly,” visit

To receive Gilda’s e-newsletter with strategies you can use to improve your networking, presentation and communication skills, visit

Monday, June 18, 2018

Michele Braun: A Primer On Payments For Business

Today in the U.S., we write about 40 percent of the number of checks we wrote in 2000. In 2000, roughly one-third of those checks were written by businesses, compared with about 45 percent today. This statistic suggests that consumers are moving to electronic payments faster than businesses are. Of course, businesses are on the receiving end of most of those consumer electronic payments, so your business may want to make separate decisions when selecting incoming and outgoing payment options.

Our economy is long past the days when most payments were made in cash or even checks. One of the earliest responsibilities of the Federal Reserve System, enacted in 1913, was to create a national system for clearing checks as prerequisite to ensuring a nationwide economy. 

Herewith is a tour of those options.
Wire Transfers
Wire transfers are fast and, once initiated by the sending bank, irreversible.  Generally, it’s not efficient to use wire transfers to pay bills because few businesses are set up to send or receive these in an automated way and banks often charge high per-transaction fees. However, if you are selling something valuable — like a building, a large block of stock or bonds, or the entire company — ask for a wire transfer. Once your bank confirms the money has arrived it cannot be taken back. You’ll want to confirm receipt before you hand over that substantial asset.

Automated Clearing House
ACH transactions are also commonly known as “direct deposit,” “direct debit” and “e-checks.” They are widely used for automated payments from consumers. ACH transactions can flow both directions — to make a payment to someone else’s account (a credit or direct deposit) or to request funds from another account (a debit, e-check, or automated withdrawal). The ACH system was intended to carry a large number of transactions at low cost. Transfers are typically overnight, although new options now permit same-day credit transfers. In general, a business should think carefully before permitting another entity to use an ACH debit against its accounts. Banks can readily block this, so ask. For close business relationships, however, these can be quite efficient. For example, a car dealer may be required to permit the manufacturer to debit its account for the value of cars delivered. Note that money your business collects by issuing an ACH debit can be reversed within a couple of days, so confirm the timing with the bank before you spend the money.  

Credit Cards
Visa and MasterCard credit cards are issued by banks and operate under rules established by those two “network” companies. American Express and Discover issue their own cards and set their own rules, although many topics — such as the technology behind chip and magnetic stripes — are set cooperatively, so that the same card reader can accept all transactions. Business credit cards are useful for managing transactions, such as for travel and authorized purchases. The credit card networks also offer “cardless” services to enable business-to-business payments.  Several federal laws protect consumer credit card transactions, but not cards issued to businesses, so evaluate decisions to accept card payments vs. making card payments separately.  

Debit Cards
Popular with many consumers, a bank-issued debit card transaction withdraws the money directly from the account to which it is connected. If you know any business that pays its bills with a corporate debit card, please let me know so I can learn why. 

SWIFT and Correspondent Bank Accounts
The SWIFT network enables banks to exchange payment instructions internationally. If your business makes or receives payments across borders, the banks involved probably maintain accounts with each other (called correspondent bank accounts) and transfer information via SWIFT. Cross-border funds transfers can be expensive and slow. Sometimes that timing can be justifiable — depending on the country and local rules — but some banks and nonbanks are challenging this model. If your business sends or receives money internationally with any frequency, it’s worth the effort to interview several banks and push back to try to reduce fees and improve timing of receiving those funds.  

Paper checks are still widely used for business-to-business transactions, possibly because companies’ computer systems were built when checks were the dominant method for noncash payments. Improvements in processing and the “Check 21” law mean that you should not count on a “float” delay between when you send a check and it clears your bank account. Money received by check is not final, that is, it can be recalled for a period of time. Therefore, consider carefully if funds have finally cleared before releasing any substantial asset. This uncertainty is one reason retail locations now use scanning services at the cash register.   

Coin and currency transactions are easily understood. Safe and secure handling does carry cost, but once you receive that cash payment, it is complete. Unlike debit and credit card payments, checks or ACH debits, there is no recall mechanism built into the payment transaction. A customer who wants his/her money back has to ask nicely or consider legal action, as well as have a legitimate case.

For our purposes, think of PayPal as an intermediary enabling consumer card and ACH payments. PayPal-provided computer code (APIs) make online payments fairly available to small businesses and nonprofits.

Cyber Currency, Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin
These new, algorithm-based currencies have so reached the public consciousness that the Feb. 25, 2018, New York Times for Kids includes a graphic on “What is Bitcoin?” The graphic ends with one of its most important features:  “Bitcoin transactions can’t be reversed… and if you want your money back, too bad!”

Unless this is your business, you should stay away from this “currency” while markets, regulators, banks, and lawmakers figure it out. 

Michele Braun directs the Institute for Managing Risk at Manhattanville School of Business and is managing executive of The Crossway Group LLC, a consulting and professional training firm. She can be reached at or at

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Role of a Nonprofit Board of Trustees: Taking Risks & Avoiding Risks

Michele moderating a panel at the NFP Summit 5-18

I like to say that for effective programming, management has to “get everyone on board.”  That is, in a successful organization all members (employees & volunteers) know their roles and understand how they contribute.  This particularly applies to effective risk management, as risks are everywhere… as are opportunities to help the organization successfully meet its mission.  On May 7, 2018, the Manhattanville School of Business asked a panel of experts at the NFP Leadership Summit to share their thoughts on “Risk Management Hot Topics for Nonprofit Board Members and Executives” with a room full of not-for-profit executives.

The panelists highlighted a number of current issues and on-going topics that should be discussed with nonprofit board members at least annually.  Nancy May, President and CEO of Board Bench Companies, LLC, emphasized the importance of being clear about the roles and purview of the board vs. those of the executive director and senior management, particularly for organizations that rely on volunteers’ expertise.  Michael Santocki, Managing Director of Crystal & Company, spoke to the need to stay up to date on laws that effect all employers, whether for-profit or not-for-profit.  Current examples include “ban the box” in hiring, compensation rules, and potential ramifications of legalized marijuana.  Liz Gousse, Senior Manager at PKF O’Connor Davies, LLP, addressed succession planning and reputational risk.  I talked about how organizational culture helps manage or increase risks and the importance of updating board members on routine procedures as well as on significant emerging issues.

Panelists contributed the following Successful Strategies and Recommended Practices.  Join our conversation by emailing me your organization’s risk priorities, lessons, and questions ( and I will discuss them and experts’ responses in a future article. 

Michele Braun, Director
Institute for Managing Risk, Manhattanville School of Business

Explicit discussion of risks and risk management will help your organization assess risks that will help it achieve its mission as well as those to avoid. 

Accordingly, three questions for members of nonprofit boards to ask:
What risks does our group face that could derail our mission?
What risks could our group take that would help us accomplish our mission?
What processes do we currently have in place for assessing and managing risks? 

Elizabeth G. Gousse, Consulting Services Senior Manager
PKF O'Connor Davies, LLP    
Conflicts of Interest.    While the majority of Boards have conflict of interest policies, most do not require annual disclosure of these conflicts (88% according to National Council of Nonprofits).  Discuss with the entire Board the types of situations where a conflict can arise and what would happen if one of the board members disclosed that s/he had a conflict of interest.

Whistleblower Protection.      A written policy is critical to managing risk.  And, IRS Form 990 (Part VI, Section B, line 13) requires NFPs to confirm the existence of such a policy.

Self-assessment process.        Annually, the Board should compare its own practices to industry best practices, assess areas where there are “holes” in Board members’ expertise, and use this information when recruiting new members.

Diversity.         The Board should focus on inclusion and sensitivity to the people that the not-for-profit serves.  [In a diversity survey conducted by BoardSource 25% of respondents Boards were all white.]

Nancy A. May, President and CEO
Board Bench Companies, LLC

NFP boards should periodically discuss strategic and enterprise-wide risks, as well as day-to-day operational risks.  Examples for a board to explore include
·         The ramifications of poor program delivery/outcomes that impact the “customer” or constituents served,
·         Risks of not having enough or the right talent on the board to support the mission,
·         How a board’s collective and individual liability is covered, if at all,
·         Financial risks arising from donors’ restrictions on how monies can be used, 
·         Reputational risks such as
o   What happens if a board member is held liable for actions outside the boardroom?
o   What happens if the organization is impacted by political implications? 
o   Unexpected negative publicity following policy or operational actions or decisions, or inaction.

Michael Santocki, Esq., Managing Director
Management and Professional Risk Group, Crystal & Company

Nonprofits face increasingly unpredictable and costly exposure to the growing impact of employment claims, cyber exposures and government scrutiny into NFPs (particularly in NYS). 

These exposures (greed, lust etc.) can be hard to analyze, anticipate, and mitigate.  Other exposures are actively evolving – e.g., Ban the Box, Pay Equity laws, rise in marijuana smokers in the workplace (and legal in some states).

Although risk elimination is impossible, these exposures can be transferred through an insurance product.  Cyber, D&O, Crime, and Employment Practices insurance are all readily available.

Senior NFP staff members should look closely at their insurance policies and at the broker used to procure those policies to ensure that the organization is getting the coverage it needs and wants.

Ads Inside Post