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Did You Miss The Signs?

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January 22, 2020

Ace of Base’s song of a similar name was definitely my summer theme in 1993. Amidst head-bopping to this catching tune, I never thought carefully about the lyrics with the exception of one line “I saw the sign and it opened up my eyes, I saw the sign.”  Trust me, there’s something there.  That’s why I appeal to your pop music nostalgia to introduce our framing question:  do you know it when you see it?

Whether the answer is yes, no, or maybe, you should certainly keep reading.

This week we’re exploring red flags.  It’s a concept with which auditors and serial daters are all too familiar.  A red flag is typically defined as warning or indicator that there is something wrong (or a potential threat exists to) a system, process or financial  result.  But signs are not limited to logic, reason or data analytics.  Jen Sincero explains how intuition, inspiration, coincidence, synchronicity and interest play a role in highlighting important signs.

Follow the Money

When you’re organization’s is growing by leaps and bounds, or even if it’s not, absent proper controls, it is quite easy to overlook the financial minutiae.  Yet, where  according to a 2018 Hiscox Embezzlement Study, the average embezzlement case carries a hefty $350,000 price tag, with 22% of corporate fraud case resulting in over $1MN in losses, experts recommend organizations be on the look out for six common signs of fraud.

Apart from the devastating financial losses, (where  on average small business experiencing the most), there’s a broader underlying issue at play.    As we prepare for strong start to the year, ask your core team: what small stuff have we overlooked on the journey to scale?

Too often organizations, particularly as they grow, focus on the macro objectives like revenue, expansion, team size and new product lines and loose sight of the micro considerations such as operational processes, cultural indicators, systems and fiscal controls.

Flip the Script (how to design for employee success)

Fast company catalogued the top signs that you made a bad hire:

  • Seeking a promotion before the ink dries on the initial employment contract
  • Sure no question is stupid question, but these newbies as to for help with EVERYTHING, event task that fall well within their job description and promised level of experience.
  • All talk no action.  This team member is the master at sharing the vision and outlining the game plan, but fails on the follow through of execution.
  • #traveljunkie who on Day 1 submits requests preplanned, yet undisclosed vacation time, including during the mandatory training phase.
  • Values being a social media influencer or consumer over the position for which he or she was hired.

If, when reading this list you cringe or nod in agreement, then you know all to well the HR turmoil associated with poor hires. 

While some bad hires are true outliers, others result from bad hiring practices and initial on-boarding.  Does your organization’s design for employee success start at the recruitment stage?   If, on one hand, leaders clearly articulate the organization’s core values and expectations, and as a result team members at all levels internalize and adopt these practice, then the chances of countercultural making it in the door decrease substantially.

As the red flags in our organizations (and personal lives) show up , they often go unnoticed until a real problem arises as a result.  Yet, Maria Konnikova, offers in Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes,  “to observe, you must learn to separate situation from interpretation, yourself from what you are seeing.” Ultimately, it’s all a matter of perspective. Indeed, as Dr. Wayne Dyer suggests,  if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change.


Leigh-Ann / Venture Cafe Miami

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