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

Sage Member Featured in Forbes

Ray Grainger, founder and CEO of Irvine-based Mavenlink and a member of Sage Executive Group, is featured in a Forbes Magazine profile as one of the thought leaders changing business in, ray
Grainger is a former Accenture partner who founded Mavenlink to bring the skills of world-class consulting to a broad audience of companies competing in the $3 trillion global services economy.
“Ray embodies the drive to grow, improve and succeed that is a hallmark of Sage Executive Group members,” said John Rollins, CEO of Sage. The San Diego-based peer advisory group specializes in working with high-performing, top-level executives.
Grainger explained that in co-founding Mavenlink in 2008, he set out to create a better, less expensive platform that would address the issues facing the modern services company, which require tools to manage shorter duration projects often with people who are working across geographies and who may have never met before or may never meet. His goal was to help those companies optimize their business operations.
For a time after college at Harvey Mudd in Southern California, Grainger was a river guide and also journeyed to the South Pole. Those experiences helped shape his management philosophy.
“Everything I learned there at that young age was foundational to my entire career, this idea of adaptability,” Grainger said in his Forbes interview. “You don’t get to choose the people you work with. You’re all just sleeping in one big bunk house. You’ve got every type of personality you could imagine. You have to learn to get along. Everybody’s got to accomplish the mission.”

Navigating Change for CEO Success

Farnan, JackJack Farnan, Human Resources vice president for HM Electronics in Poway, learned an important lesson about managing change in an unlikely place – the spiritual home of the Dalai Lama high in the Himalayas.
An avid mountain climber, Farnan was on his way to an ascent in Ladakh when he had a chance to spend  time with thousands of Buddhists who had come to hear the Dalai Lama teach at a  monastery in northernmost India, a refuge in exile from his historic home in Tibet now under Chinese control.
The Dalai Lama places a premium on the “importance of personal change in the world,” Farnan said, and that is a message that can – and should resonate – with the chief executive officers charged with bringing change to their organizations.
Farnan, who has 25 years of experience in identifying and developing executive talent, laid out seven key characteristics of a successful CEO in a presentation to members and guests of Sage Executive Group, a premier peer advisory group based in San Diego. Farnan is currently VP of Human Resources at HM Electronics, a global company that designs and manufactures wireless communication products.
His conclusions are based on research on the requisite skill sets for CEOs to survive and prosper.
Most important, Farnan said, is that top leaders are decisive. Research shows that CEOs with this one trait “were 12 times more likely to succeed.” The components of success then flow from the ability to understand how “personal change” is translated into the workplace. Critical characteristics of these top leaders are:

  • They are decisive.
  • They engage for impact.
  • They adapt proactively.
  • They deliver reliably.
  • They hold themselves and others accountable.
  • They are Level 5 leaders.
  • They have a growth mindset.

Farnan said that ultimately successful leaders lead by example, and “we can do so much with just changing ourselves.”

Fast-moving Age of Social Media Marketing

galido-tom Tom Galido has a word of warning for the future of television as a marketing medium.
“The television model is going to fall apart as we know it,” said Galido, CEO of Kaptivating Technology in Los Angeles, in a presentation to San Diego business leaders sponsored by Sage Executive Group.
Galido explained that in today’s digitally dominated marketplace, information comes from all directions in increasingly fragmented ways. “You don’t even know where your customers are these days,” he said.
Rather than going to your TV for information – or to reach your audience – that information is available in your hand. “The most important screen is the screen in front of you,” Galido said.
In his talk, “The New Age of Social Media Marketing, he said those are key challenges for businesses. “We cannot have this level of defection” from traditional marketing methods “without reformatting the industry.”
For success today, “it’s all about being fast.” And over the next five years, he said “it’s not about being big, it’s about having the best data.”
He cited Netflix and its success in mining customer data to guide production decision, and Target, in gaining understanding of what kids wanted in back to school shopping (beauty and style) rather than focusing on what parents valued (computers and backpacks.)
The future of marketing, steeped in social media information, will “combine scale with data to drive action,” he said.
The almost universal availability of information levels the playing field. “The big boys are going to have to compete with the little guys because everyone is the same height,” he said.
Galido, 42, was named CEO Officer of Kaptivating Technology, a provider of next-generation real-time marketing technology, in January.
Sage Executive Group, which provides a peer advisory experience for CEOs, presidents, and partners, as well as for C-level executives in finance, operations and sales. sponsored the talk as part of its quarterly learning events. The talk was held at the Mintz Levin law firm offices in San Diego.
The Sage process has been developed by executives who have over 45 years of collective leadership with CEO peer advisory groups to create an effective and value-driven member experience. For more information, contact Sage Executive Group at (800) 648-1063 or visit

Hady Achieves Top Tier at Sage Executive Group

Sage Executive Group announced today that painting company executive Tony Hady has moved to the peer advisory organization’s top-level CEO group after building his company revenues to more than $6 million annually.tony hady
Hady, the principal at Pacific Western Painting in Escondido, joined Sage Executive Group three years ago as a member of the Ascent advisory group for executives running companies with annual revenues under $4 million. He attended the group’s monthly meetings in which executives work together to solve management challenges and develop strategies to expand their companies.
“Sage Executive Group has given our team the network, the wisdom, the education and the accountability needed to grow successfully,” Hady said. “I highly recommend Sage to business owners as our ROI continues to be priceless.”
Hady, 34, is a third generation painter who joined that company about three years after it was founded in Fallbrook by his brother, Kirby Hady, in 2003. Pacific Western Painting now has about 70 employees and increased revenues from $3.3 million in 2015 to more than $6 million last year.
As a result of the rapid rise in revenue, Hady has been elevated to the Sage Executive Group for CEOs facilitated by Jerry Rollins, who founded Sage Executive Group in 2012 in San Diego.
Kirby Hady, now director of client education at Pacific Western Painting, and Randall Know, director of operations, are both current members of Sage Executive Group and are actively involved in its management development program.
Sage Executive Group operates peer advisory groups for CEOs, presidents, and partners, as well as for C-level executives in finance, operations and sales. The Sage process has been developed by leaders who have over 45 years of collective experience with peer advisory groups.
For more information, contact Sage Executive Group at (800) 648-1063 or visit Sage Executive Group.

Upbeat Outlook for M&A in San Diego

img_0553Four experts on mergers and acquisitions addressed the question of what is happening in today’s “frothy” investment marketplace at a panel hosted by peer advisory organization Sage Executive Group.
There is a “crazy supply dynamic for quality assets,” said Craig Dupper, a partner with Solis Capital Partners based in Newport Beach.
He was joined on the panel, held at the San Diego office of Knobbe Martens law firm on Oct. 18, by Rose M. Thiessen, a partner in Knobbe Martens; Troy Romero, president of Romero Park law firm;  and Kerry Morris, partner in Shoreline Partners:
The question was raised by Jerry Rollins, the panel moderator and CEO of Sage Executive Group, a San Diego-based peer advisory and learning organization for CEOs and other top-level executives.
Romero said he has seen a significant rebound in the number of deals his firm has handled, from 17 in 2007 to zero in 2009 when the recession hit across the country to 14 expected this year.
“Some industries are hot,” said Morris, “valuations are at an all-time high.” But he cautioned that investors need to carefully examine financial analytics and that the customer base needs to be “rock solid,” preferring to use the word “choppy” to describe the M&E climate.
Across the board, panelists expressed wariness about the political climate and outcome of the presidential election. Thiessen said that as an intellectual property attorney,  she is especially interested in “the shape of the Supreme Court” after the new president makes a new appointment, especially on a court that has become increasingly involved in patent decisions.
That led to strong advice to business owners who may be interested in selling, or who might be surprised to find that someone is interested in buying their company.
“Make sure you have ownership of intellectual property,” Thiessen said.
And “if your company is based on a technology, it should be beautifully tied up,” Romero said.
Every company that might be attracting investors needs a playbook that provides short-term tactics, long-term strategy and “valid, timely and accurate financials,” Rollins said. “I have seen $100 million companies without a plan.”
And he noted that with the highly publicized, billion-dollar buyout of Ballast Point Brewing Co. last November, company owners still need to be careful not to have “unrealistic expectations.”
The event was hosted by Sage Executive Group and sponsored by Knobbe Martens and City National Bank.

G.A. Bartick on Leading Leaders

To lead a group of leaders, a top executive will achieve greater success by embracing a philosophy of coaching forward, of looking through the front windshield rather than the rear view mirror, advised sales expert G. A. Bartick in a presentation to Sage Executive Group. IMG_0471
His talk was hosted by San Diego-based Sage Executive Group, a peer advisory organization that gives high-level executives a confidential setting to improve their business performance and enhance their personal lives. His talk at a June 16 breakfast meeting at the Corporate Alliance office in San Diego was part of an ongoing series of learning events hosted by Sage.
Bartick, president of R3 Consultants, urged executives to “quite coaching to the past and start affecting the future.” As part of that commitment, he said that even the most well-intentioned leaders become caught up in the problems of the day and need to practice – and then execute – how to  “catch  people doing more things right and fewer things wrong.”
Looking through the front windshield is not only a metaphor for focusing on what is ahead, rather than what is behind, Bartick said. It also puts a premium on setting  “crystal clear expectations”  for what is coming down the road.
In addition to that forward-looking vision and ability to communicate, the role of leading leaders becomes more effective if the executive takes time to “get in the weeds, to pay attention to what is happening on the field of play.
Bartick likened that management mind set  to being a “conscious, competent coach,” a leader who loves helping their associates figure out how to set up the project, pricing and resources.
That often translates to giving people “the what and the why” of what they need to do to excel in the jobs – and meet the company’s management and personnel goals.
For executives in the room, that is a leadership style they described with words like “insightful,” “aware” and “inspired.”
Sage Executive Group’s identity, and resulting rapid growth, has made it a key player in management training and development in the San Diego area. It  has grown from an initial concentration on CEOs from large and mid-size companies with annual revenues of more than $4 million to a wide range of peer groups for C-level executives and sales and marketing experts from companies with sales of $1 million or more.
For more information, go to

Sage Group Hits Membership Milestone

SAN DIEGO – Sage Executive Group, a San Diego-based membership network and advisory group for business leaders, announced record growth in its membership. Sage has grown from startup four years ago to a premier peer advisory organization for CEOs of more than 90 San Diego and Orange County members, with total revenues from their businesses exceeding $1.5 billion and averaging a 15 percent growth from 2014 to 2015.
As part of its expanding role to become a key training and development organization for leading San Diego-area companies, Sage has expanded its reach to include special groups for sales leaders, creative agency executives, marketing professionals and facility managers.
What sets Sage apart in working with the region’s top executives is a philosophy emphasizing values, encouraging business leaders to put people before profits, and learning how to effectively balance business demands and responsibilities to family, community and health. Members, ranging from CEOs of large-scale companies to up-and-coming sales executives at new enterprises, meet monthly to share ideas, solve problems and exchange feedback about their professional and personal challenges.
“Sage offers camaraderie and support of people who are going through some of the same things you are,” said Sage member Steve Wagner, co-founder and brewmaster of Stone Brewing Co. “We share and give each other ideas for how to better balance life, and take good care of your business and your family.”
Sage’s growth has been guided by founder and CEO Jerry Rollins, a successful San Diego businessman and entrepreneur whose management approach is grounded in his early career as a professional hockey player. His sports experience of coaching and being coached, as well as his expertise in business team building, has translated into Sage’s emphasis on values-based leadership.
Sage’s identity, and resulting rapid growth, is founded on groups of 10 to 12 like-minded executives who meet monthly in half-day sessions led by a seasoned business leader. Members work together to address and solve critical issues impacting their business and personal lives. Each group offers a scholarship to a member who leads a nonprofit organization in the local area. Sage also holds quarterly networking events featuring a presentation by marketing and sales experts. Sage members contribute to educational growth by offering aspiring students college scholarships on an annual basis.
Sage Executive Group was launched in 2012 by Rollins, who served as the CEO, president and owner of four companies for more than 21 years, and San Diego entrepreneur Brian Yui, a specialist in building companies from the ground up.
For more information, contact SAGE Executive Group at (800) 648-1063 or visit
Media Contact: Chuck Buxton or (619) 892-8119

Nine Speakers Offer Ideas at Sage Talks

Nine speakers gave presentations at the inauguration of the Sage Talks event hosted by Sage Executive Group at the Grand Del Mar hotel in San Diego on Feb. 8, 1015. Here is a summary of their talks with links to YouTube videos of their presentations.
TONY BARON: Speaker, writer and theologian. The Awakened Leader
Author of The Art of Servant Leadership and director of the Graduate School of Theology at Azusa Pacific University in San Diego. Scholar in Residence at the Center for Executive Excellence in Carlsbad.
In his presentation, titled “The Awakened Leader: Three Little Words That Will Transform Your World,” he talked about how 80 percent of organizations they don’t have a purpose-driven approach. In his book, as in his presentation, he encourages companies and individuals to practice the art of giving back. He also encourages CEOs to have a high trust level with employees, and to let know employees that they will care for them and their families
He ended his presentation with his grandson’s words: “ I know you love me because you are with me.”
MICHEL KRIPALANI: CEO, Oceanhouse media. Commit to 3
A developer of mobile apps, his previous work at startups includes Presto Studios, a video game developer, and an intereactive multimedia company. His company mantra is, “Creativity With a Purpose.” He is a UCSD alumni.
In his presentation, he explained that things doesn’t happen overnight. For an entrepreneur , he said we need to ask ourselves : “How we are spending the time?” Make the change you need to change behaviors, he said.
Kripalani told the story of how his family taught him to take care of the important things first . He ackowledged the power of habit and the value of commiting to three things to do each day. In his own life, he keeps a chart on how he is spending his time. He recommended three of his favorite books that changed his daily focus:

  1. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. By Charles Duhigg:

2.  Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts – Becoming the Person You Want to Be. By Marshall Goldsmith. The right behaviors matter. But getting it right is tricky. Even when we acknowledge the need to change what we do and how we do it, life has a habit of getting in the way, upsetting even the best-laid plans. Feedforward can cover almost all of the same material feedback can. Imagine you have just made a terrible presentation in front of the executive committee. Your manager is in the room. Rather than make you relive this humiliating experience by detailing what went wrong, your manager might help you by offering suggestions for future presentations. These suggestions can be very specific and still delivered in a positive way – without making you feel even more humiliated.
3. The One Thing. By Gary Keller. Work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls — family, health, friends, integrity — are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered. Success demands singleness of purpose. “A different result requires doing something different.”
ALAN NEVIN: Director of Economic and Market Research at Xpera Group. The Great Divide.
Nevin has an extensive background in real estate economics, lending and market analysis. He serves the development, investment, legal and public agency communities with residential and commercial real estate valuation, feasibility and real estate advisory services and litigation support.
He gave an economic forecast for the next years. With record low interest rates, this is the time to buy real estate. His presentation included graphics that compared other states and showed how California is and will stay for the next 20 years a place for innovation and opportunities. The millenial babies will inherit great capital from their parents that will actívate economy and spending for the next 25 years.
JOE KESHMIRI: President of CEO Institute for Global Innovation. From IQ to EQ, and Now XQ
Keshmiri advises business organizations on innovative strategy, leadership, integration of intergenerational/international cultures, and managing change.
He explored the meaning of Emotional Intelligence and how an organization’s performance can suffer when the leaders and managers have a low EQ behavior.  Emotional Intelligence is the ability to effectively manage emotions and bring a high level of psychological understanding to collaboration and team work.
“Learning more about emotional intelligence can help individuals and teams develop into a fleet of top performers who produce higher levels of profitability while creating an energized healthier workplace,” Keshmiri said.
From the perspective of a marketing student, it is clear that a well-developed emotional quotient can help in building a marketing strategy and sensing at a deeply emotional level what speaks to a customer what makes them attach to the Brand they like.
SAMANTHA ANDERSON, Co-founder of 41 Orange. A Hybrid Social Media Strategy
San Diego-based 41 Orange specializes in social media and has managed more than 50 different campaigns for live events, restaurants, B2B service providers and e-commerce companies.
Anderson showed the importance of a company giving the best response to clients and replying on time to customers via social media, pointing out that to date there are 90 millions reviews in Yelp
She pointed out that 53 percent of customers will share a negative experience. A company must avoid this kind of critical review or risk losing a client . A company needs to respond promptly and have a planned strategy to respond on time and be able to assist customers. Companies need to coordinate customer service, social media and marketing to effectively implement a hybrid strategy for talking to customers.
STEPHEN COBB: Senior Cyber Security executive for ESET. Cybersecurity and Cybercrime
Cobb talked about the importance of securing the information in a company and in our lives and of raising awareness of cybersecurity and cyber threats. Make sure that the solutions we buy have effective security, because as technoloty progresses, we are more exposed and in danger to have our data stole
Wearable products and companies are a source of information about people. Data criminals target endpoints and servers. Wearables are endpoints that rely on servers for many of the benefits they deliver. In other words, the wearables business will be targeted by cybercriminals. We all will be put at risk if we don’t think about the security of the data from day one,
BRIAN SMITH: Creator of the UGG import company. The Birth of UGG
Smith, who was born in Australia and studied at the UCLA Graduate School of Management, talked about the birth of UGG. He pointed that every company starts with a concept, with a brand. It is like and infant that you need to care for and nurture through the toddler years.
When introducing a new product , a new theory in the business market, there will be a tremendous resistance. You need to have perseverance. In the case of UGG, the company and brand started in the surfer environment. But surfer shops were not interested in selling boots and that was the challenge . Smith teaches that in the journey to success, you need to find the right message, develop the need and have a passion for the product.
WADE HANSEN: CEO of investment banking firm Cabrillo Advisors. What is My True Value
When you want to sell your business, you need to know how much you are worth. That is when you need someone to help you set the value of your company.
Sometimes difficult situation arise like a divorce when different interest want the value of your business to be different. Your work so hard you need to know how much is your company and not settle with any offer. Take the time to hire professionals to give you the value of your company, and then you will be ready to make the right decisions.
G.A. BARTICK: President of R3 consultants. Leading Leaders
Bartick showed that it is not enough to be enthusiastic and to engage a customer to get the sale. You need to have a plan and a strategy to close the deal At the end of his presentation he gave each member a copy of his recent book, Silver Bullet Selling, in which he gives six steps to improve sales performance and build trusting relationships with customers.
The event sponsors for the event were:
Halo BI: A San Diego based firm offering intelligent business solutions for companies with significant supply chains that are facing rising raw material, transportation and employee costs.
GLC – Growth and Liquidity Consulting Group: A La Jolla boutique investment bank and consulting firm serving a variety of venture-backed and other privately held companies.
Thrivent Financial: A Fortune 500 financial services non profit organization headquarteered in Minneapolis that helps Christians with investment decisions and offers a range of financial products.
PM Talent Global: A San Diego technology services company providing expert guidance on comprehensive solutions and strategic staffing focused on effective outcomes.
Voit Real State Services: A provider of commercial real estate services throughout Southern California and nationally, with expertise in commercial real estate ownership, operations, tenant-corporate representation and full service brokerage.
By Cecilia Johnsoncecilia
UCSD Extension Business Program graduate student and Sage Executive Group intern.

Transform Your Strategic Thinking

If you are comfortable with your strategic planning, then you need to shift your perspective, escape the trap of “tried-and-tested tools” and focus on key areas that very likely will bring “fear and discomfort,” said business consultant Stacey McKibbin in a presentation to San Diego business executives. McKibbin photo
McKibbin, president of Multivariable Solutions and a coach with Sage Executive Group, challenged business leaders to understand that in today’s hyper-competitive environment, strategy “is more of an intuitive and messy process, not the analytical process we’ve made it to be.”
The breakfast meeting in early November was sponsored by Sage Executive Group, a fast-growing, San Diego-based peer advisory group for top managers ranging from CEOs and C-level executives to sales and marketing directors.
Effective strategic planning embraces the unknown, requires unwavering focus by a small group of top executives who have inherent trust in each other, and demands a commitment of time each week over a year or more. “Once strategy is nailed, execution is very systematic and sequential,” McKibbin said.
It is critical to assemble the right team, a group of four to five leaders drawn from the top ranks such as CEO, co-founders, head of sales or marketing, all with one attribute in common – trust. The team’s main job is to determine the focus for the future, concentrating not on everything the business does for every customer, but on its most profitable and value-driven core. This is the 7 percent that effectively defines the company and draws customers who are attracted and sustained by “value” of what the company provides and are willing to pay for it.
“This becomes you Number 1 thing to focus on,” McKibbin said.
For more information on McKibbin’s presentation, you can reach her at or (844) 433-3328.
Click here to learn more about Sage Executive Group.