Adam is retained to speak by corporate governance organizations, corporate boards, law firms, audit/consulting firms, investor relations organizations, and investor conferences. In the last several years, he has appeared internationally 100 times.
As a former large firm lawyer, operating executive, and institutional investor, his topics include: small-cap boardroom best practices, capital markets, corporate finance, hiring/managing professional service providers, small-cap enterprise risk management, and small-cap board composition.
Whether he’s sharing the stage with Fortune 100 board members and former White House cabinet members, or presenting global keynotes, Adam is invited back over and over again by iconic companies due to his well-chronicled thought leadership, candor, humor, and practical takeaways.
Speaking Topics Include:
While skilled investor relations professionals do a terrific job of preparing management to meet with the buy-side, institutional investors view the world through a decidedly different lens that non-investors consistently struggle to intuit. In fact, some investor meetings are often doomed before they start due to company websites that contain nonstarters for experienced investors. Issuers can learn why the overwhelming majority of small-cap investor meetings don’t go nearly as well as management think, and they can walk away with some practical advice on how to eliminate myriad mistakes they didn’t even know they were making.
Small-cap companies raise in excess of $30 billion annually in the equity capital markets. The bad news is that special situation hedge funds benefit dramatically from repetitive capital markets mistakes made by small-cap issuers. These serial mistakes struggle to reach the light of day, because the status quo is profitable for various capital markets constituents. Bottom line: issuers are undertaking needlessly dilutive financings, wasting time and money meeting with investors who can’t and won’t buy their stock, and inartfully selecting and managing service providers who are hurting their shareholders. The good news is that all of these mistakes are avoidable with some frank, practical forethought.
Boardroom legal advice has historically been focused on “culpability avoidance;” i.e., director adherence to relevant statutes and regulations. But institutional investors are laser focused in today’s capital markets on boards being strategic assets for shareholders. Therein lies a costly rub for law firms: the buy-side is increasingly investing in “governance excellence,” whereas many law firms unintentionally encourage “box-checking.” Boards know the difference; do your partners and associates?
Highly structured equity and equity-linked instruments are common in the small-cap equity capital markets. Audit firms and audit committees regularly fail to appreciate the nuances and potential implications of these instruments, and clients react by choosing new audit firms. Take the opportunity to understand directly from a former special situation fund manager why instruments are structured the way they are, the mechanisms which typically result in defaults, and how firms/clients can more efficaciously administer complex financings.
In 2014, the entire board of directors of Olive Garden’s corporate parent, Darden Restaurants, were replaced after a proxy contest initiated by an activist investor. What happened next is something that every entrepreneur and venture capital investor should study. This session focuses on practical takeaways from the Darden proxy fight for founders and venture capital investors.
Adam has consistently supported our Board Development Program as a speaker sharing his unique perspective regarding the challenges of governing small-cap companies. He is one of the highest rated speakers at every session. We have been fortunate to benefit from his extensive knowledge on the realities of serving on small-cap boards and appreciate his contributions to our program.
Rick Sanders, Managing Director, Office of the Chairman
I consider myself to have found a friend and ally on a mutual quest to impart knowledge to boards of directors, particular those of smaller organizations who face unique challenges. Having now had several opportunities to work with Adam in a speaking capacity, I have seen first-hand how he breaks down and defines relevant issues faced by boards and management of smaller and mid-size companies with refinement and proficiency, but further provides tangible guidance and solutions that organizations can use to bolster decision-making and resource allocation in the areas of capital structuring and formation as well as overall sound governance practices. His writings and teachings reflect deep knowledge and demonstrate a sincere passion for education and advising.
Amy Rojik, Partner and Director of the Center for Corporate Governance and Financial Reporting
Experiencing Adam speaking about small company corporate governance is like watching a locomotive come out of a closet! His passion and energy are palpable, and the perspective he brings as a former special situations investor is quite unique. I have invited Adam to speak on several panels for the American Bar Association and The Practising Law Institute, and he never fails to open the eyes of the audience to the particular trials of, and skills needed within, small-cap boards.
Frank M. Placenti, Leader, Corporate Governance Practice of Squire Patton Boggs LLP, and President, American College of Governance Counsel
As a teacher at the Center, Adam inspires founders to think differently about company oversight and gives them tools to support growth while creating long term, sustainable value to shareholders and stakeholders.
Adam has a unique and passionate way of breaking down the principals of corporate governance through stories and experiences that highlight actionable steps any entrepreneur can take to make their business stronger and better able to overcome the big challenges that come their way.
Celena Aponte, Director of Strategic Initiatives
Adam is a thoughtful and engaging speaker with an astute and informed perspective on early stage start-up and small-cap public companies. His experience as an institutional investor and as a board member, give him a holistic understanding of the complex challenges facing these companies, their board and CEOs. Adam is able to distill down the most important elements and deliver them in a clear, compelling, no-nonsense way that audiences really connect with. It's the reason that we have invited Adam back to speak at multiple events year-over-year. To top it off, he's a complete joy to work with.
Erin Essenmacher, Chief Programming Officer
Best Selling Author
Adam wrote The Perfect Corporate Board: A Handbook for Mastering the Unique Challenges of Small-Cap Companies (McGraw Hill); it was the #1 ranked corporate governance book on Amazon.com in June 2017. In its review of The Perfect Corporate Board, Bloomberg Businessweek said: “Attention, directors of small-cap companies. Help is on the way.”
Adam was a contributing author to The Handbook of Board Governance: A Comprehensive Guide for Public, Private and Not for Profit Board Members (Wiley), which was the #1 “New Release” in corporate governance on Amazon.com when it was published in 2016. His chapter is entitled, “Systemically Overlooked Anomalies of Governing Small-Cap Companies.”
Adam also writes the “Entrepreneurial Governance” column in industry-leading Directorship magazine.
Thought Leadership from Adam J. Epstein
Adam J. Epstein is a former institutional investor, and, now, an advisor to CEOs and boards of pre-IPO and small-cap companies through his firm, Third Creek Advisors, LLC. He speaks monthly at corporate governance and investor conferences, and has appeared internationally more than 100 times since 2012. Mr. Epstein is a key contributor to Nasdaq’s new Amplify small-cap content initiative, an advisor to the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center, a distinguished National Association of Corporate Directors Board Leadership Fellow and faculty member, and he is the small-cap contributing editor for Directorship magazine. Prior to founding Third Creek, Mr. Epstein co-founded and was a principal of Enable Capital Management, LLC. During his tenure, Enable’s special situation hedge funds invested in more than 500 small-cap financings. Mr. Epstein has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Businessweek and on CNN Presents. He earned a Juris Doctor from Boston University, and a Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, from Vassar College.
Adam J. Epstein