Catalyst Conversation: Leading through a Crisis23 Feb

Leading Through a Crisis

Leaders face significant challenges before, during, and after any crisis. In the wake of yet another international humanitarian disaster, GCG takes a look backward to prepare for the future. Over the past decade, many have witnessed September 11th, Hurricane Katrina, a Financial Meltdown, and a recent earthquake in Haiti.

The four highlighted events required unique leadership capabilities to navigate and emerge from surreal events. The leadership abilities of presidents, international organizations, leaders of companies and countries alike were placed under a microscope to evaluate the leaders effectiveness during the crisis. Though no leader can fully prepare for such extreme disasters and crisis, the actions of great leaders provide the foundation for recovery and execute a plan that mobilizes thousands and millions of people.

As future leaders, GCG asks, what can be learned from past extraordinary events and the actions taken by prominent leadership figures? What challenges exist when faced with such circumstances?

HSN CEO discusses leadership in hard times
HSN CEO Mindy Grossman discusses the steps the company took to keep employees in the loop through the current recession.

Guiding questions:

  • How is leadership defined during crisis?
  • Based on the events above, what are the key takeaways for young emerging leaders to adopt and learn from?
  • Everyone is a critic with 20/20 vision, how does an emerging leader stay on path to do what needs to happen when up against adversity?
  • How does a leader best prepare for crisis?

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Catalyst Conversation: Corporate Social Responsibility15 Feb

Leadership and Corporate Social Responsibility

Recent events have shown that  difficult decisions are made by companies to protect the safety of their customers despite the financial loses that those companies may incur in the short term. In the wake of the Toyota recall which may cost tremendous financial loss, the Global Catalyst Group reflects on similar situations and the leadership decisions behind each case.

Friedman states: “There is one and only one social responsibility of business – to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.” Friedman (1962, 1970)

Over the past decade, the conversation on corporate social responsibility has changed dramatically, so GCG asks the fundamental question, what is the responsibility of companies to stakeholders and the broader public? Case studies included the Toyota recall of 2010 and the Tylenol recall of 1982.

Guiding questions that GCG has answered during this discussion include, what responsibility do companies and corporate leaders have towards the safety of consumers; where does one draw the line between losing profits or market share and the decisions to protect consumers; what role does shareholders play in holding companies and corporate leaders accountable; and how do we define corporate responsibility under the new leadership?

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Continuing the Conversation: Choosing the Right Funding Path11 Jan

Brad Headshot(2)

Choosing the Right Funding Path

At the Georgetown University Catalyst Summit, Brad Hargreaves discussed the future of venture capital and how it will impact collaboration in startups over the next decade. Specifically, he analyzed how the decline of the traditional venture funding model is leading to the proliferation of “incubator-style” funding opportunities, fundamentally transforming many startups from siloed institutions to distributed entities with shared advisors, employees and – occasionally – management.

But entrepreneurs are not passive entities at the will of shifting financial winds: they still face critical financing choices as they guide their business forward.

During this Catalyst Conversation, Brad led GCG through those choices, addressing questions ranging from basic, scope-related issues, such as:

  • Why should an entrepreneur take funding? When is boostrapping not enough?
  • What types of businesses should take funding? Do these models apply to other business structures, such as nonprofits and sole proprietorships?
  • What should businesspeople look to get from their financiers other than money?
  • What kind of businesses are good fits for the incubator model? Are there some businesses that should still aggressively pursue traditional venture capital?
  • How do angel investments work? Are they worth pursuing?
  • How can different funding models be combined to yield an ideal outcome for my business?
  • Can I get some of that sweet, non-dilutive government (stimulus?) money?
  • What’s the best strategy to meet the people who have the money I need?

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Continuing the Conversation: Creating Entrepreneurial Communities07 Jan

Professional Pic2(4)

Creating Entrepreneurial Communities

During the Georgetown University Catalyst Summit, Megan Yonke provided definitions for entrepreneur and an entrepreneurial community:

An entrepreneur is person (or a group of people) who identifies and pursues a new business (or social) venture opportunity. An entrepreneur organizes, operates and takes risks in pursuing this venture in expectation of gaining a profit.

Entrepreneurial Communities are those communities where significant economic and social entrepreneurial activity exists and where there is an effective system of public and private support that facilitate and support entrepreneurship.

Based on her community economic development work and research in Michigan, she described why entrepreneurial communities are important for long-term economic sustainability. Finally, she discussed five commonly-employed community economic development models:

  1. Anchor Approaches
  2. “Cool-Cities” Initiatives
  3. Public-Private Partnerships with Educational Institutions
  4. Community Economic Development and Networking Organizations
  5. Enterprise Facilitators

While she briefly discussed some pros and cons of each model, she led GCG to take the conversation to a deeper level. During this Catalyst Conversation, Megan leveraged the experiences and ideas of the group to identify additional pros and cons of each approach. She discussed the applicability of these models to other domestic and international community examples.

Guiding Questions included:

  • What is the demographic of an entrepreneur? How would you define an entrepreneur?
  • What specific aspects define an entrepreneurial community? Which model(s) we discussed do you believe to be most effective?
  • What role do mentors and assistance organizations play in facilitating economic development?
  • What role do academic institutions play in developing entrepreneurial communities?
  • Is clustering good for the future of a community’s economic development? Should we be worried about disappearing economic diversification?

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Thank you to Summit Attendees13 Oct

Thank you for all who attended the Catalyst Summit on October 3, 2009 at Georgetown University.

To view the recorded presentation from the Catalyst Summit visit: Catalyst Summit Videos.

We are actively planning our next summit and would like to hear what you personally got from the event and how you will be applying the shared knowledge to advance your personal and professional life.

All comments and feedback can be sent to info@globalcatalystgroup.com


Catalyst Summit Recorded Presentations09 Oct

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Catalyst Summit: Issues and Opportunities in a Dynamic and Ever-Changing World

Session One:


Megan Yonke: Creating Entrepreneurial Communities

Liam Cleaver: Transforming Our Workplace: Enabling Collaboration in Complex Organizations

Session Two:


Brad Hargreaves: How the changing venture landscape is revolutionizing collaboration in startups.

Elizabeth Nugent: The Failure of Iran’s ‘Twitter Revolution’: New Media and the Iranian Election

Brett Staron: From Kalamazoo to Kinshasa: The Future of Interconnectivity and Economic Development at Home and Abroad


Summit: Opportunities in a Dynamic World05 Sep

Global Catalyst Group in partnership with Georgetown Entrepreneurial Organization

The Catalyst Summit:
Issues and opportunities in a dynamic and ever-changing world

world in hand

DATE: October 3, 2009
TIME: 8:30 AM- 12:30PM
LOCATION: Georgetown University

Free for Students, Non-Members and GCG Members


Join us for a half-day Catalyst Summit that explores the opportunities that exist in a dynamic and ever-changing world.

Creating Entrepreneurial Communities: How do we utilize entrepreneurship to promote economic development in deteriorating communities?

Due to recent economic downturn, municipal government revenues have declined in parallel. Given an inability to provide traditional local stimulus programs, community leaders are exploring alternative economic development models based on endogenous entrepreneurship. Frameworks that have been developed range from subsidies for anchor companies to create a local multiplier effect, partnerships with research educational institutions to encourage high-tech spin-offs, and local “enterprise facilitators” to formulate strategic partnerships amongst community members. This presentation will focus on practical examples of various community economic development models and facilitate discussion on the pros and cons of each model. Participants will be encouraged to discuss the applicability of these models to other community examples in the United States and internationally.

About the Presenter:

Ms. Megan Yonke is a Global Catalyst Group member and currently works at a consultant at a Fortune 100 consulting firm as a Federal Government Consultant in Arlington, VA.. She graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations and Economics. Her researched has focused on international community economic development topics, ranging from the role of entrepreneurship in emerging industries to the impacts of foreign direct investment and trade. She has worked extensively with Michigan State Government officials, as well as local governments and civic associations.


How the changing venture landscape is revolutionizing collaboration in startups.

Venture capital as it has been known for the past forty years is dying — and it’s being replaced with a new and distinctly different financing model which will have profound impact on the way young companies are run, raising questions such as:  How should an entrepreneur with an idea today go about starting their business?  How will founders and employees collaborate within companies?  How will strategic partnerships between young companies look in 10 years?

About the Presenter:

Brad Hargreaves a Global Catalyst Group member and is a leading innovator in the casual gaming world. Currently, he is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of PickTeams, the creators of the GoCrossOffice teambuilding program and GoCrossCampus gaming network.  Since founding PickTeams in 2007, Brad has been featured in the New York Times, MTV News, Sports Illustrated and CBS News, where he was recognized as a creator of some of the most popular and fastest-growing games for 18-24 year olds. Prior to founding PickTeams, Brad attended Yale, where he helped create Yale’s first university-run entrepreneurship initiative.


From Kalamazoo to Kinshasa: The Future of Interconnectivity and Economic Development at Home and Abroad

The concept of the network is as old as the dismal science itself yet has been one of the key — and often overlooked — drivers of economic prosperity ever since its inception. With the creation of a smaller, flatter planet thanks to the Internet, mobile technology, and other means of collaboration that are as widespread as ever, both small and large communities around the world stand at the brink of an unprecedented spiderweb of “clusters” that give way to novel and lucrative competitive advantages, as well as economic advance for those communities well-positioned enough to exploit them. This discussion will explore these connections, how communities of all shapes and sizes have leveraged unique local, national, and international networks, and the brave new world created by this concept of economic development.

About the Presenter:

Brett Staron is a Global Catalyst Group member and is a consultant at a Fortune 100 consulting firm in Washington, DC. He graduated with High Honors from Michigan State University in 2008 with dual bachelor degrees in International Relations and Economics, with a specialization in Political Economy. Brett has led and conducted several research projects with a focus on higher education, family structure, and political systems and their influence on the standard of living in both industrial and developing economies.

The Catalyst Summit is FREE to Students, Non-Members and GCG Members thanks to our sponsors, Global Catalyst Group and Georgetown Entrepreneurial Organization but registration is required.


Leadership: Different Styles, Same Results08 Aug


Leadership: Different Styles, Same Results

Prepared by Don Ball and Justin Tsang

Machiavelli asked, “Is it better to be loved or feared?”

GCG  focuses on effective leadership by analyzing two fundamentally diverging styles which have been discussed in a Harvard Business School case study on two of the greatest basketball coaches of all time; Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K) of Duke Univ and Bobby Knight (The General) of most notably, Indiana and Texas Tech.

The men’s profound leadership styles could not be more different; Coach K promoting affection and positive reinforcement while Bobby has been appropriately labeled an “in-your-face taskmaster”. Both men, however, command great devotion from their players, have similar winning records and are acknowledged as top NCAA coaches.

Key concepts include:

  • Effective leaders understand their own assumptions about human nature.
  • How you lead (leadership style) is influenced by who you are (self-awareness) and the demands of the situation (situational awareness).
  • Expanding your self-awareness, situational awareness, and ability to adapt your leadership style increases your overall range of effectiveness as a leader.

After reading the article: http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/5464.html please come to the meeting prepared to discuss and answer key questions below:

  • What motivates people to do their best – the fear of loss or hope of gain?
  • Is there a most effective style of leadership? Or does it depend on the organizational context?
  • Does style matter if the results are similar?

Our Mantra

The Global Catalyst Group seeks to gather persons of unique potential into a community dedicated to thought leadership, shared resources, and mutual improvement. Through deliberate collaboration, collective mentorship and continuous dialogue we believe that we can support and stretch one another with meaningful insight and thoughtful guidance. We encourage our membership and partners to exercise, together, their ambition, creativity, and both their professional and social networks to pursue a greater purpose than oneself. We challenge them to leave a legacy and we support one another towards this end.

Contact Us

We are actively exploring new opportunities to connect and collaborate on projects that add value to our mission. Contact us to start the conversation.