Sage CEOs Predict Profit/Job Growth for 2019

Confidence in reaching profit growth this year is so high for top San Diego-area executives that no layoffs are planned, most plan to hire and their biggest concern is recruiting and retaining talent. At the same time, they express little concern about the controversial immigration and tariff policies of the Trump presidency.

These are key findings of a comprehensive survey of 67 Chief Executive Officers whose companies in San Diego and Orange counties employ more than 8,000 workers and generate more than $5 billion in annual revenue. The survey, which is a key barometer of the health of the Southern California economy, was commissioned by Sage Executive Group, a peer advisory organization for business leaders. The CEOs, who are Sage members, run a wide swath of businesses in technology, real estate, insurance, law, wealth management and hospitality.

“I am pleased to note that Sage member CEOs are focused on profitability as compared to revenue growth, said Sage Executive Group CEO Jerry Rollins. “Too many companies these days think top-line growth is the most important factor, but Thomas J Watson, the founder of IBM, stated, “business is built on net income” and those principles are true nearly 100 years later.

The survey found that two-thirds of the CEOs polled are highly confident of achieving profit growth this year, and the remainder are moderately confident. For eight out of 10, “creating a success-driven company culture” is a top priority, but only half express confidence in being able to achieve this goal.

Ninety percent of the CEOs indicated that increasing profitable sales is still their most important challenge and fewer than half were confident they could achieve profit expectations. They said their major obstacles are recruiting, cultivating, and retaining leadership talent and raising the capital needed for expansion.

Only 12 percent of those polled said the last year’s federal tax overhaul was “extremely” beneficial to their business and a large majority, 70 percent, rated it as “moderately” beneficial.

Two of the least important issues were immigration and new tariffs. Almost three-quarters of the CEOs consider “navigating new immigration regulations” as their least important concern, and almost that many rate “navigating increases in tariffs” as a less-important concern.

Sage Executive Group provides top executives in the San Diego and Orange County areas an opportunity to meet monthly in peer advisory groups to address and solve the most critical issues impacting their business and personal lives.

For more information, contact Sage Executive Group at (800) 648-1063 or visit

Introduction to Augmented AI

Bates Artificial Intelligence
Alex Bates, a ground-breaking entrepreneur in Artificial Intelligence, spoke to Sage Executive Group about the “augmented mind.”

Alex Bates poised a provocative question about the relative value of machine-driven Artificial Intelligence and human-inspired intuition in a Learning Event talk sponsored by Sage Executive Group on June 5.

Bates, a serial Artificial Intelligence entrepreneur who has written a book titled “Augmented Mind,” cited the famous chess match between world champion Garry Kasparov and an IBM supercomputer called Deep Blue in 1996. Almost as expected, the AI machine won. But what was unexpected was the outcome of matches pairing a human-supercomputer team against another AI computer or another grand master.  The augmented team prevailed, and Bates said that is an example of how Artificial Intelligence will augment human performance.

As new AI applications are invented, including the idea of “creating a world that doesn’t break down,” Bates said that bold and brave initiatives will need to be taken. “If fear guides what you build, you will build it with that perspective,” he said, citing construction of the Empire State Building using new techniques employed to this day for skyscrapers.

His book explores the creation of a global mastermind network of AI technologists and researchers, with membership from UCSD, Caltech, MIT, Harvard, Oxford, USC, and other leading institutions and companies.

In 2006, Bates co-founded Mtell to harness the onslaught of sensor data in the industrial Internet of Things. The company’s machine-learning platform is used to monitor industrial facilities to anticipate problems and protect equipment and personnel. Mtell was acquired in 2016 by AspenTech, the global leader in process optimization software.

Bates is currently Technology Chair at an AI accelerator called Sandbox in San Diego and Director at Neocortex Ventures, helping launch AI startups from synthetic biology to music & entertainment.

In his concluding remarks to the business leaders who attended the event, sponsored by Sage Executive Group, a peer advisory organization based in San Diego, Bates said: “Start to embrace the concept of augmentation and how AI can help you.”