All posts by CoolBrands People

“Freedom is Power” – Annette Azan

I moved into studying fashion, drawn to how it affects our lives. When we put on clothes we can change the shape texture and outline of our bodies. And clothing also helps us travel between identities.

I’ve had the most incredibly colorful career in fashion. Fashion has allowed me to take risks with my own style and form and reform my own identity.

The word “Yes” has been my mantra… my driving force that has allowed a road to unfold with unimaginable circumstances.

Annette Azan – Creator & Freedom Ambassador – Nuudii System

Annette Azan - Creator & Freedom Ambassador - Nuudii System
Annette Azan – Creator & Freedom Ambassador – Nuudii System
Annette Azan - Natural Positivity
Annette Azan – Natural Positivity
Annette Azan - Creator, Trailblazer, Unifier
Annette Azan – Creator, Trailblazer, Unifier

You always know the right thing to do… the important thing is doing it – Jamie Covello

Jamie Covello is recognized as a leader in the real estate industry. She has 30+ years of experience, expertise, and insights, most recently as Executive Director, Cushman & Wakefield. She joined Avison Young as Executive Director in 2017.

I am meeting with her to find out what motivated her to move to Avison Young and to see where her focus is right now.

We sit in a light-filled boardroom with panoramic views of Manhattan as Jamie explains her motivation: “I wanted a more entrepreneurial environment. The beauty of Avison Young is that it’s a principal-owned company. They don’t have fiefdoms and silos. If one of us succeeds, we all succeed as partners.”

Jamie Covello - Avison Young
Jamie Covello – Avison Young

Market evolution has brought significant changes to all aspects of the real estate industry. The national and global industry has become commoditized. At Avison Young, Jamie can build consultative partnerships with major corporations where she can problem solve from beginning to end. She creates occupancy and financial solutions which add value to a company’s bottom line.

She’s rebuilding her client base with a focus on local business. Jamie is finding the tech sector exciting: “They’re creative, agile, interesting and dynamic. I’m interested in helping them build while keeping them in the best financial status, by managing occupancy costs.”

I remark that those qualities sound much like her! She laughs and tells me she recently worked with a tech company where the founder was shocked that she, the broker was advocating for him! His lawyer had to reassure him she was on his side and working in his best interest!

“Would you say advocating for your clients with integrity is a central tenet of yours?”

“Absolutely! You always know the right thing to do. The important thing is doing it.”

Jamie pauses and takes a sip from her coconut milk latte before continuing: “The financial framework together with the recruitment piece is huge. The office should enhance profitability and productivity. Attracting and retaining top-quality employees is vital for young companies. Millennial employees will leave if a company is not in a great location, with a forward-thinking culture and the right ‘feel’ in the office. Great leaders understand this.”

She helps her clients identify the best working environment. Jamie also ensures that they don’t get taken advantage of by unbalanced lease agreements and hidden obligations. When they commit, they’re aware of what they’re committing to.

“I’m intrigued. Can you give examples of issues that might arise when leasing commercial space?”

Jamie glances out of the window and gives me a quick lesson: “Let’s say a company needs x amount of seats. Sometimes they’re looking to build up to a certain level and expect to acquire or be acquired. Should you have a lease tail, there are accounting issues. If you grow and have to move, there will be accelerated cost issues. If you look at due diligence and acquisition, you can’t sublet space for what one might think. Often after factoring free rent and other costs into the deal, a company can only recoup 10-20%. There’s a balance to determine the ratio of excess space leased versus flexible space arrangements. Flexible office space should always be considered as part of the equation.”

Spending this time with Jamie has been eye-opening –like attending a master class in commercial real estate!  (After all, she’s been a guest lecturer on real estate at Columbia University.) Her enthusiasm for the industry is infectious and her expertise, advocacy, and integrity are admirable.

I thank Jamie and head back to the hustle and bustle of New York City.

Interview with the CEO of Bloomberg on gender equality

The Women’s Forum of New York organizes The Breakfast of Corporate Champions, where companies who are leading the way to gender balance on corporate boards are saluted.

Be part of this salute to companies with at least 20% of board seats held by women and hear the country’s leading CEOs talk about why women in the boardroom is a strategic business imperative and how to make it happen.

The case for accelerating the advancement of women on corporate boards has never been stronger – Women’s Forum of New York

Chairman Bloomberg interviewed by CoolBrands People
Chairman Bloomberg interviewed by the Women’s Forum of New York and CoolBrands People
Peter Grauer - CEO Bloomberg & Maarten Schafer - CoolBrands People
Peter Grauer – CEO Bloomberg & Maarten Schafer – CoolBrands People

Video by CoolBrands

Challenging the status quo – Gerhard Michael Eckert

Michael Eckert’s career is far from commonplace. His extensive across-the-board and beyond-border experience has proven an invaluable asset to his current field. I’m looking forward to meeting one of Germany’s most highly respected executive search consultants, Managing Partner of Höchsmann & Company, and to hear how he navigated the twists and turns of his career. The insights, perspectives and expertise he collected throughout the years are now manifest in his unique approach to executive search.

Michael has been with Höchsmann & Company for nearly two decades. The executive search firm is widely acclaimed for its creativity, insight and genuine attention to its clients’ needs and interests. It is no stretch to say that Michael embodies all these qualities himself.

“How did you end up in executive search after starting out in medical school?”

He smiles, and says, “At first glance, mine may not seem like a logical career, but if you take a step back and consider the overlaps, every single move I made in my career falls into place.” He explains. Studying medicine had always been Michael’s plan, it was a part of his family’s DNA. While at medical school, he met someone who worked in the pharmaceutical industry. His interest was piqued. Subsequently, he worked as a product manager parallel to his studies. His background was decidedly different from his colleagues: his medical expertise proved a clear advantage, particularly complimented by his natural commercial savvy. Having joined the pharmaceutical industry after completion of his medical studies, he achieved enormous international successes.

Gerhard Michael Eckert - Höchsmann
Gerhard Michael Eckert – Höchsmann

Pharma took him overseas, and he spent a number of years in South Africa, after which he returned to Germany and joined Lufthansa. The airline was looking for someone from outside the industry, someone who would be able to add a commercial perspective to the then state-owned company. The job took him all over the world, among which a number of years living in Stockholm. He was more or less given free reign, and his unyielding thirst for in-depth understanding of why the company was organized as it was, why processes were structured as they were proved immensely rewarding. Both for Michael personally and for the company on the whole.

“As a doctor, you always have to determine a proper diagnosis before you can prescribe an appropriate treatment. That means you have to ask questions. And more questions. You can’t come up with a solution if you don’t understand the problem. Always dare to question the status quo.” It is exactly this attitude, his ability to pair his broad perspective with a keen attention to detail that has established him as one of the best in the executive search field.

Making the switch to executive search in 1998, Michael’s executive background is indispensable. Both candidates and clients consider him an equal – he knows the lay of the corporate land, understands the principles of business and is capable of identifying the needs and key factors necessary to achieving a successful match geared toward the future.


Tags: Michael Eckert, Gerhard Michael Eckert, Gerhard Eckert, Meeting Michael Eckert, Höchsmann & Company KG, HR consultancy, executive search, crafter of candidates, educator of clients, IIC Partners


Ride for Growth – Sergio Alvarez, Your Strategic Partner

Conversations with Sergio Alvarez are like driving a “zoom zoom car” – interaction with him is seamless, pertinent and dynamic.  This entrepreneur provides first-class services to his clients with a combination of 360-degree perspective, empathy, cultural competence, intellectual curiosity and adaptability.  By asking different kinds of questions, he has led his company Ai Media Group to propose solutions that are distinctive from traditional business units.  Sergio says the engine for growth is passion.

“What are you passionate about?” Sergio recalls a general sales manager’s question of his very first job interview.  “I said, cars. Then they told me to clarify and I did.  And as I continued, they stopped the interview and said I was hired.  The reason behind that was if you could have this much passion about something else, that can be translated into sales, and into your career.”  Today as the COO of a company, he is thrilled to find and work with a smart and passionate team.

Sergio Alvarez - Ai Media Group
Sergio Alvarez – Ai Media Group

Sergio’s client-oriented solutions help the digital marketers to maximize their return on investment.  “We all know that 50% of advertising is wasted, we just never knew which part,” Sergio continues.

“We monitor every step of our clients’ customer journey and have touch points behind every single advertising we do.  This is how we are able to curate different solutions for every single advertising we do.”

His people skills, the company’s high-end technology, and him and his team’s enthusiasm convert clients into loyal partners.  The company’s dedication to deliver client-centered solutions has led to 90% client retention rate.

During this conversation, I have discovered where his perfectionism was rooted in.   “I grew up in a hard working immigrant family.  My parents taught me the value of hard work and sense of accomplishments.  I have always tried to be an over achiever.  But I also want to have that success not just for myself but share it with my peers.  I want to make sure that our company is full of people who support each other,” Sergio says.

Sergio Alvarez - Ai Media Group
Sergio Alvarez – Ai Media Group

His over achieving spirit is embedded in his products and services.  “The core of what Google does, is serving the most relevant content.  On the consumer side, we go further as Google Partner, serving the right message at the right time for that particular product or service.”

Sergio’s passion is to accompany every step of the customer journey in order to provide personalized solutions for his loyal clientele.  The “zoom zoom car” has miles to go before he sleeps.

Tags: Sergio Alvarez, Sergio Alvares, Sergio Alvarez Ai Media, Ai Media, Ai Media Group, New York, Sergio Alvarez CEO Ai Media Group, CEO Ai Media Group, #CoolBrandsPeople, CoolBrands, CoolBrands People

Meeting Roy P. Kozupsky – Providing thought leadership to legacy families

The delivery of legal services to affluent families and their family owned enterprises has historically been an industry slow to adapt to consumer changes. Roy Kozupsky’s methods are decidedly different, which is why I’m particularly looking forward to meeting him today.

Roy is a widely recognized and highly respected attorney. He has become a thought leader in how affluent families and their family owned business can utilize legal services in a different manner. His approach yields more value to the families he represents. A guest teacher at Pepperdine University in California, Roy is committed to delivering contemporary and progressive areas of legal thinking to the families he works with.

Having worked and trained as a trusts and estate lawyer for thirty years, his work focus shifted a decade ago. He decided to work exclusively with families whose wealth, prosperity and emotions are all aligned around their family businesses and philanthropic visions.


His work for these legacy families and his role as ‘personne de confiance’ – or trusted advisor – demonstrates a passion for a new multidisciplinary field of law and its fundamental principles of helping families. He has the ability and professionalism to first to care about a client’s well being, to try to understand their universe and values and then help them navigate solutions.


“How does that relate to the industry’s regular modus operandi?” I ask Roy.

“Selling defined legal services does not work for this field. For practitioners servicing these families, ours should not be a transaction business.”


Private client services in law is an essentially intimate field, particularly Roy’s practice of working with legacy families. After graduating from law school, he joined a firm specialized in trust and estate law. A serendipitous event. He had always demonstrated a keen interest in understanding human behavior, and this focus allowed him to combine his passion for law with working with family owned enterprises.

“How are these linked?” I ask.

“Understanding family behavior around their wealth and values is a critical aspect of law. What motivates thought patterns concerning their family and wealth? What values does a family cherish? Consider for instance a family business. The business itself is intimately connected, interwoven if you will, within the identity of the family.”


Even in today’s global economy, over 80% of all American businesses are privately held. Research seems to indicate that there are complex reasons why many family owned businesses do not make it to the next generation.

“For those families interested in perpetuating their wealth, values and philanthropic goals beyond one generation,” Roy continues, “it’s important to me to render contemporary multidisciplinary legal advice. To operate beyond the scope of what might be traditionally delivered in legal services, to help these legacy families thrive, from one generation to the next.”


Roy has seen how the world of law has strayed from its original purpose: to care for and help a family navigate the likely tumultuous events they all will face and help them understand how contemporary research surrounding family wealth and business planning can be integrated into their legal strategies.

I offer: “A principle that you dismiss outright?”

“I’m not interested in just doing transactional work and making a fee and then never hearing from a client until many years later. I want to deliver quality work that helps my clients move forward and navigate the most important issues that keep them up at night. Mainly the health, human and financial issues of their family. Money is not the measure of my success.”


Roy is passionate about his approach to law – his thirst for knowledge is unquenchable. He was and is profoundly influenced by his mentors. They pushed him to continue to ask questions, teaching him never to take anything at face value, but to persist and delve deeper and continue to develop as a professional and an individual.

“I want to bring about change in my particular area of legal work. A change born out of a deeper appreciation of what families need instead of what lawyers are selling.”


Tags: Roy Kozupsky, meeting Roy Kozupsky, #RoyKozupsky,CoolBrands People, #CoolBrandsPeople, family office, family office lawyer, lawyer, legacy families, CoolBrands, #CoolBrands, around the world in 80 brands, #ATW80B, Around the world, 80 brands

“Collaborative Leadership” – Maud Kleuskens

Op verschillende momenten in mijn leven heb ik situaties meegemaakt die ‘disfunctioneel’ waren; thuis, op school, op het werk en met de mensen die ik liefheb. Al op jonge leeftijd was ik ervan overtuigd dat ik hier iets aan wilde doen. Toen ik wat ouder was, ben ik gaan uitzoeken hoe ik disfunctionele systemen zou kunnen ombuigen naar functioneel. De sleutel heb ik gevonden in ‘collaboration & co-creation’

‘Collaboration’ betekent niet dat de mensen met wie je samenwerkt je beste vrienden zijn, of zelfs dat je ze leuk hoeft te vinden. Het gaat over het opzijzetten van persoonlijke vooroordelen, het beste van jezelf naar voren te brengen en de nadruk te leggen op de gemeenschappelijke doelstelling.

De generatie van de millennials wordt gezien als de aanstichters van het nieuwe samenwerken. Ik zie dit echter als veel breder dan een generatie. In mijn optiek is er sprake van een nieuw concept, een ‘millennial mentaliteit’, die veel meer impact heeft op onze samenleving dan velen denken, of willen geloven.

Maud Kleuskens - Millennials, who are they?

Maud Kleuskens – Millennials, who are they?

Het zijn niet alleen de jongens en meisjes die de arbeidsmarkt betreden. Het is een nieuwe manier van werken, leven, samenwerken en samen leven. Denk aan concepten als airbnb en Uber, ultieme voorbeelden van de millennial mentaliteit. We gaan voorbij aan bezit, we delen. Andere business modellen worden uitgevonden, andere manieren om je succes te meten, als bedrijf en als individu.

Organisaties moeten leren de verschillen tussen generaties, tussen de oude mentaliteit en de nieuwe mentaliteit, te verkleinen. Verschillen die zeker groter gaan worden zodra de millennials management en andere hoge functies gaan vervullen.

Ook zullen organisaties moeten leren nieuwe strategieën te ontwikkelen om maximaal te kunnen profiteren van de toegevoegde waarde van deze millennial mentaliteit.

Bedrijven die deze verandering in mentaliteit niet integreren en hun organisatie daarop aanpassen, zullen de toekomst niet overleven. Het is meer dan een generatie mensen, het is een totale shift in mentaliteit, een ander ‘concept’ waarin we leven.

Door mijn achtergrond, ervaring en passie met elkaar te combineren, slaag ik erin bedrijven deze transitie te laten maken en succesvol de toekomst tegemoet te treden.

Maud Kleuskens - Collaborative leadership
Maud Kleuskens – Collaborative leadership

Meeting Renee de Kuyper – Nieuwe Kijk op Ondernemen (NL)


Ik geloof dat familiebedrijven en sociale ondernemingen de standaard zouden moeten zijn voor succesvol zakendoen. Ondernemingen hebben een verantwoordelijkheid die verder reikt dan de belangen van de aandeelhouders, gebaseerd op de normen en waarden van maatschappelijk verantwoord ondernemen.

Ondernemen met aandacht voor de drie P’s, people, planet en profit zou in mijn optiek aan de basis moeten staan van ieder gezond bedrijf. Op de lange termijn ben ik ervan overtuigd dat bedrijven die deze triple-bottom-line niet hanteren, niet zullen overleven. Daarom heb ik mijzelf ten doel gesteld mijn kennis en ervaring in te zetten voor familiebedrijven en sociale ondernemingen. 


We leven in een tijd waarin de wereld continu aan verandering onderhevig is: de digitale revolutie, de intrede van de Y-generatie op management posities, de opkomst van de reputatie economie. In familiebedrijven zijn normen en waarden en bedrijfsethiek vaak sterk ontwikkeld. Deze vormen een leidraad en helpen het bedrijf de juiste koers te varen ondanks uitdagingen en veranderingen. Het is cruciaal om te blijven ondernemen, dat is immers de spirit van het familiebedrijf. Meegaan met nieuwe ontwikkelingen, zonder risico’s uit het oog te verliezen.

Familiebedrijven zijn vaker gefocust op de lange termijn, ze zijn bezig met meer dan winstgevendheid. Ze zijn op de lange termijn begaan met al hun belanghebbenden; klanten, medewerkers, leveranciers en de omgeving/maatschappij waarin ze actief zijn. Het concept van duurzaamheid, waarbij de verschillende spelers en elementen in de bedrijfsvoering worden meegenomen, is van oudsher geïntegreerd in familie bedrijven.


Mijn ervaring als ondernemer en commissaris stelt me in staat de wereld achter de cijfers te bewandelen. Cijfers zijn duidelijke indicatoren voor het aansturen van een bedrijf, maar er zijn ook onderstromen waar je als lid van de RvC op moet letten. Dit zijn werknemers, leveranciers, klanten of zelfs overheden die direct of indirect invloed kunnen hebben op bedrijfsresultaten.


Sinds de crisis in 2008 is het Amerikaanse model van het maximaliseren van ‘shareholder value’ behoorlijk onder vuur komen te liggen. Mijn overtuiging is dat het gaat om het maximaliseren van de ‘stakeholder’ value, wat zal bijdragen aan de continuïteit van het bedrijf. Tevredenheid van klanten, loyaliteit van medewerkers en een goede relatie met de gemeenschap waarin je actief bent, zijn mijns inziens randvoorwaarden voor een succesvol bedrijf.


Sociaal ondernemen is, zeker internationaal gezien, een groeiend fenomeen. Bij sociaal ondernemen staat een maatschappelijke missie voorop en is het verdienen van geld een middel om die missie te bereiken, het creëren van maatschappelijke impact. De waarden van sociaal ondernemers liggen doorgaans dicht bij de waarden van familiebedrijven. Ik onderschrijf de visie en de uitgangspunten van sociaal ondernemen en vertaal deze naar ‘gewone’ bedrijven. Welke stappen zijn vereist om de omslag van ‘winst gericht’ naar sociaal ondernemen te maken? Hoe krijgen we voldoende draagkracht, vanuit de organisatie? Dit is een lange termijn, vaak niet eenvoudige taak, echter wanneer het lukt, is de impact en de voldoening des te groter.


Er zijn nogal eens spanningen binnen het familiebedrijf tussen de zittende en de nieuwe generatie leiders. Nieuwe generaties willen verandering, verbetering, innovaties. De zittende generatie is meestal tevreden over de manier waarop het bedrijf wordt geleid.

Een van mijn activiteiten op dit moment in ons eigen familiebedrijf is het voorbereiden en begeleiden van de volgende generatie leiders en aandeelhouders op hun taak.

Het ontdekken van talent bij de nieuwe generatie in de familie is een interessante uitdaging. Welke rol past het best bij welk familielid en hoe kunnen we deze persoon optimaal managen om zijn/haar talent tot volle bloei te laten komen zodat one day…

Dit stelt mij in staat een intermediaire rol aan te nemen tussen de zittende en de volgende generatie leiders, beide kanten te begrijpen en te komen tot inzichten gebaseerd op ‘the best of both worlds’.


Tags: Renee de Kuyper, CoolBrands People, CoolBrands Women, #CoolBrandsPeople, #CoolBrandsWomen, Raad van Commissarissen , Familiebedrijven, Familie statuut, Begeleiden van de volgende generatie, Ondernemende families, Commissaris, raad van bestuur, De Kuyper, De Kuyper Concepts

Luiz Fernando Musa – “The Magic of a Great Idea”

We’re at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity where we speak with Fernando Musa, the CEO of Ogilvy & Mather Brazil. He shares with us his conviction that the magic of great ideas in advertising, can change perceptions and behaviour of people.

Thanks to: Patrick Williams from Pumpkin UK

Dara Brewster – “Creating a better future by empowering women artisans”

I’m at the Girls Lounge during the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity where I speak with Dara Brewster, co-founder of DARA Artisans. She talks about her passion to help women create a sustainable income for themselves while at the same time maintaining craftsmanship traditions alive.

Becky Chidester – “The shift in healthcare”

I’m at the Girls Lounge during the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity where I speak with Becky Chidester, president of Wunderman Health in New York. She talks about how specific communication can help consumers take more responsibility for their own health.

Joanna Peña-Bickley – “Hydration, Health, Happiness”

We’re at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity where we speak with Joanna Peña-Bickley, Global Chief Creative Officer at IBM Interactive Experience. We talk about how she applies her expertise as an Experience Designer to tackle issues like shortage of water. 

Thanks to: Sara Ajemian from DiGennaro Communications USA