Unlike most former institutional investors, Adam spends quite a bit of time mentoring entrepreneurs, conferring with leading venture capital investors, and speaking about ways to optimize high growth companies. Moreover, as a former large firm attorney and entrepreneur with broad start-up experience, Adam draws insights from unique vantage points.
An overwhelming proportion of early stage companies fail, and both entrepreneurs and venture investors have learned to accept that. But does it really make sense to accept systemic failure? What if entrepreneurs and investors sought to better apply lessons learned in larger, publicly traded companies? If they did, maybe some of the repetitive failure vectors in the venture ecosystem would be less common?
Speaking Topics Include:
This session, first presented at the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center, uses a case study approach to teach entrepreneurs and venture capital investors alike about how most high profile corporate failures aren’t management failures as much as they are boardroom failures. By marrying case studies with recent admonitions from institutional investors who manage trillions of dollars, the goal is to provide a practical, implementable framework for when early stage companies should have a board, who should be on those boards, and, perhaps more importantly, who shouldn’t be on them. This session also examines how various structural aspects of the venture capital ecosystem that haven’t changed meaningfully since the 1970s are probably ripe for some innovation to keep pace with dramatic changes in the U.S. capital markets.
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 “Entrepeneurial Governance” column in industry-leading Directorship magazine.