Saj-nicole Joni, Ph.D. is an internationally acclaimed business strategist and confidential advisor to CEOs and their top executives. She is often called upon by executives to serve as their thinking partner focused on tough strategic choices that define their impact and legacy. Saj-nicole helps leaders to think about context, judgment, complexity, and future possibilities. She is highly regarded in the business world as a trusted, unbiased ‘third opinion’.
“Working with Saj-nicole,” says one CEO, “is like having an entire brain trust of deep thinkers to help you work out your toughest issues.” A provocative sparring partner, she helps draw out leaders’ strategic thinking to view all sides of a problem, test multiple possibilities, and look far ahead to the consequences of potential paths of action. Saj-nicole never gives advice; instead, she challenges leaders to think more profoundly about the future — in order to be ready to meet it.
Saj-nicole draws upon her senior leadership expertise as an executive at CSC Index and Microsoft, where she distinguished herself in global strategy, finance and organizational leadership. She has served on a number of boards including public and private companies. She currently serves as a Trustee of the New England Conservatory and on the advisory board of the Simmons School of Management.
Her book, The Third Opinion: (Portfolio: 2004), was met with critical and professional acclaim. Her second book The Right Fight (with co-author Damon Beyer) was released by Harper Collins in February, 2010. A frequent speaker with a regular column featured on Forbes.com, Saj-nicole has appeared on National Public Radio Marketplace, and has appeared in publications including The Harvard Business Review, Strategy and Business, and Fast Company.
Saj-nicole earned her undergraduate degree and doctorate from the University of California, San Diego, she has served on the faculties of MIT, Carnegie-Mellon, and Wellesley College. She is the founder and CEO of Cambridge International Group Ltd. and has served as a Fellow at Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership. She is also an accomplished pianist and an avid gardener. She lives in Cambridge, MA.
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Saj-nicole speaks regularly to business audiences worldwide, challenging them to extend their thinking beyond their comfort zones and to stretch their understanding of what is possible.
Saj-nicole presents audiences with hard truths that they need to work through, strategic dilemmas they need to understand, and leadership challenges that they will face. Her speeches are always interactive, thought-provoking, and hard-hitting.
Leaders will be tested as never before in the months ahead, Saj-nicole argues in this talk, and success will demand the full engagement of a leader’s head, heart and guts. What is the role of strategic thinking in a world turned upside down? How do companies go forward in such uncertainty, and what are the opportunities that times of flux present?
The Three Hard Truths of Leadership
Sooner or later, Saj-nicole suggests, leaders will struggle with three tough questions. What will you do when you
- lose perspective on a critical issue that you’re struggling with?
- cause conflict among your team members in order to get something done? and
- manipulate people that work for you because you can’t and won’t tell them the whole truth about a situation? Saj-nicole takes the audience on a thought-provoking journey during which she explores case studies that illuminate each of these hard truths that are at the center of leadership in the 21st century.
Leadership of multinational organizations demands more from executives than ever before. The issues are more numerous, more complex, and more urgent. How can you retain your humanity, lead with integrity, and be fully present for your people when the stakes are so much higher than they have ever been? In this talk, Saj-nicole explores with the audience the dilemmas of leadership and how to work through them authentically.
The Third Opinion
The subject of Saj-nicole’s first book, The Third Opinion: How Successful Leaders Use Outside Insight to Create Superior Results, this talk looks at how leaders at all levels develop their network of advice and counsel — in order to challenge and sustain their life-long leadership potential. Developing wide perspective, seeking unfettered exploration and unvarnished truth is essential when the leadership stakes are high. Saj-nicole shows how leaders through history have sought ‘third opinions’ from outside counselors, balancing the need for inside knowledge with outside perspective. She helps audiences think about how to systematically create their own strategic insight networks, and how to enable those they mentor to do the same.
The Right Fight
Drawn from Saj-nicole’s book (Harper Collins, 2009), The Right Fight, this talk looks at what it really takes for leaders and teams to survive. The myth, deeply embedded in business thinking of the past, is that alignment is the most important goal for teams to be able to function and achieve results. But it turns out that alignment is merely the starting point of productivity. Creative tensions and well-orchestrated conflict, that is, ‘Right Fights’, are the real source of innovation, risk management, and developing leaders capable of driving sustainable results. In this groundbreaking and often surprising talk, Saj-nicole will share a practical approach to harnessing this most important resource for your organization. Audiences will effectively be able to answer the critical question — “are we fighting about the right things?”?
CEO, Information Services Company
“Saj-nicole quickly got to the root of the questions I had about my company’s business model. She has a rare ability to think both strategically and tactically in a coherent way, which is what a CEO needs in a sounding board and sparring partner. I found her assistance immensely valuable and recommend her highly.”
Chairman, Global Investment Bank
“When I first met Saj-nicole, she was immediately helpful, bringing enormous business savvy, and an uncanny ability to zero in on the key areas I needed to focus on. She’s much more attuned to the full suite of demands and pressures a CEO is likely to face than the classic senior management consulting partner, which makes her extremely helpful as an inner circle advisor. Saj-nicole has a caring way of being hard-nosed, blunt, but effective. I like and value that about her, even when the truth is difficult to hear.”
Global President, Fortune 20 Financial Services Company
“Saj-nicole is uncompromising in having you come to grips with the realities of the situation you are facing. In a lovely way, she is unwilling to let you get around any issue you may have. She doesn’t waste time — she comes up to speed on issues quickly, and fully understands the corporate environment you’re in. She is an invaluable resource, and of all my advisors, I find the time to see her.”
Silver Linings for 2012
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
I predict that employers who recognize this shift, and tap into it, can unleash new levels of productivity and innovation — but only if they play their cards right. Your job as leader is to keep bickering and turf wars to a minimum while assuring that people engage in honest debates and what I call "right fights" about the hard stuff that really matters.
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