Right Questions, Right Time, Right Solutions

October 4, 2019

In our personal and professional lives, we are asked to make roughly 35,000 decisions every day ranging from “should we have a cybersecurity assessment?” to “should we reset our tuition?” Obviously, some decisions are more important than others, so how can we make better decisions when we must make a tough call, or when we are faced with options that are unpleasant?

According to research by McKinsey, “Decision makers complain about everything from lack of real debate, convoluted processes, and an over-reliance on consensus and death by committee, to unclear organizational roles, information overload (and the resulting inability to separate signal from noise), and company cultures that lack empowerment.”

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Onboarding Your Rockstar New Hires

September 20, 2019

Your new employees are about to complete their 30th (teachers) or 90th day (administration and staff) — how is their onboarding going? For many of you, the answer is that onboarding has been completed, paperwork is in, and, like most schools, universities, and corporations, you are in good company. For those of you who say that you are just getting started, you have just improved your new hire retention by 82% and productivity by 70%.

According to Gallup, “The decision to join a new organization is often accompanied by leaving another, and new hires are placing bets that their new role will be better than the last, fulfilling a need the previous employer was not. It is a decision that starts with rational considerations but is ultimately decided based on emotions…The transition from candidate to employee should feel like a natural handoff that continues the momentum and fuels the excitement for the new job. Don't lose the momentum you've gained during attraction and recruitment by failing to deliver during the onboarding process. Welcome new hires like they are the rock stars you diligently selected.”

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Benefits of Membership

September 6, 2019

Welcome back! We hope that you had a productive summer filled with successfully finished projects, a clean audit, and some time to refresh and recharge with family and friends! The PAISBOA team completed the migration from one survey platform to another and opened the PAISBOA Annual Data Survey on time on September 3, we are waiting for the audit report, and we all took some time to have some fun with family and friends. A successful summer for all!

As always, we are now gearing up for the 2019-2020 academic year, just like you. Just as you focus on your students and employees, our focus is on YOU! Your membership in PAISBOA comes with a myriad of benefits included in your modest, all-inclusive dues. We would be remiss if we did not remind you of your membership benefits, and advise you of some new opportunities for this year:

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Leadership Lessons from Music Legends

August 23, 2019

As many of you know, my broken ankle a slowed me down a bit, but it did not dampen my enthusiasm for good music. This summer, my family and I made plans to see a number of concerts in all different venues, and I considered giving up my tickets to some of them due to my mobility issues. My family said, “Nonsense!” So they wheeled, muscled, and pushed their way into theatres, casinos, and stadiums, with me in tow, to see some of the classics of all times.

To start this academic year off right, let’s begin with some lessons from folks who understand leadership at a visceral level, and who have the gravitas and the career longevity to back it up.

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Summer of Learning

July 26, 2019

On June 11, I broke my ankle in three places by getting my foot caught between a step and the seat in front of me at a Phillies game. I knew immediately that I broke my ankle - Ouch! The ushers and first aid team were very quick to act and very helpful, but no one ever followed up with me from the Phillies or Citizens Bank Park. I was surprised and yet not surprised at the same time.

Lesson 1 – Customer Service is Key! In this litigious age, sometimes we forget that just showing empathy/sympathy is still the right thing to do.

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The PAISBOA Annual Data Survey: New and Improved Version Underway Soon!

June 14, 2019

Led by Tom Devine from Merion Mercy Academy, our PAISBOA Survey Gurus (Frank Aloise, Larry Capuzzi, Erin Donnelly, Mark Gibbons, David Gold, and Jayme Karolyi) are gearing up for the launch of the PAISBOA Annual Data Survey.

With our new data collection partner, Dynamic Benchmarking, we plan to open our beta test to 15 member schools the week of August 12, and will open the survey to all PAISBOA members by the end of August. If you are interested in being a beta tester, please contact Ron Hill at [email protected]. We will contact the first 15 respondents with the beta testing information in early August.

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Reading for the Future

May 31, 2019

I am a big reader! I always have a couple of books going — one for fun and the other for professional development. I read two news feeds from different perspectives, multiple professional newsletters and magazines, blogs from associations, education, and business, and I scan association sites for new ideas on website functionality, trends, and professional programming. Right now, I am very interested in Artificial Intelligence and how it applies to education. Bottom line — I am always reading something or looking for something to read!

This week, I read NAIS’ Independent School Magazine, which highlighted health and well-being for students, and it started me thinking about the health and well-being of the employees in our independent school and university communities, how our workforce is changing, and what that means to the way we do business.

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Leadership, Longevity, and Legacy

May 17, 2019

This week, I came across a blog post by John Maxwell titled, You Can’t Lead If You Can’t Stick Around: Developing Longevity as a Leader, in which he describes the “secret to staying in a high-powered role for 2 decades” like Daniel Amos of AFLAC, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, and Warren Buffet of Berkshire Hathaway. He cites three traits that are the foundation for any leader’s longevity: character, competence, and consistency.

  • Character: combination of values, beliefs, and actions – talking the talk and walking the walk.
  • Competence: built on experience, growth, excellence, exceeding expectations, and inspiration in the way you understand and connect with your people.
  • Consistency: behaviors, temperament, and integrity – “leaders are the metronome for the team’s performance – a steady beat by which everyone else can play”

For PAISBOA, John Batley is the metronome! A former CFO of Westtown School, recipient of the Visionary Award, and the man for whom the John Batley Award was created, John’s legacy is one of selfless giving and inclusion in PAISBOA. We celebrate his character, competence, and consistency each year at the PAISBOA Annual Meeting with the selection of the John Batley Award winner.

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Celebrating Women in Leadership and Linda Phelps, Executive Director of PAIS

May 3, 2019

For women leaders, there is a Catch-22 situation based on societal norms. We are expected to be warm and nice as well as tough and competent having to negotiate a unique balancing act of being demanding yet caring, authoritative yet participative, advocating for ourselves while serving others, and maintaining a distance while being approachable.  It’s no wonder why we are all so tired!!! Being perfect is exhausting!!!

Despite gains in every profession, women remain underrepresented at all levels of leadership, according to research compiled by the AAUW for the Barriers and Bias report. In Congress, on corporate boards, in colleges and universities, in independent schools, and independent school associations, male leaders outnumber female leaders by considerable margins. There are many reasons for these leadership gaps, but stereotypes and bias are still the leading obstacles to women’s leadership.

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Why the PAISBOA Network is the Most Important Member Benefit!

April 5, 2019

Having recently finished the membership renewal cycle for PAISBOA, and looking back at the results of the membership survey from last year, the benefits of membership we have assembled are important to our member schools and universities. Most members appreciate the consortia for business insurance, goods and services, and healthcare. Others find the PAISBOA Annual Data Survey a critical part of their data-driven decision-making process. Many members find the annual meetings (Business Insurance Group, Health Benefit Trust, Purchasing Consortium) and professional development programs invaluable in improving their professional practice. But the key benefit of PAISBOA membership is the PAISBOA Network.

Business Officers spend much of their time alone and in many ways, feel like a “business owner” or “sole proprietor” at their school with long hours and stressful decisions. Building relationships and having a network of colleagues that you can count on makes the job less solitary. While your membership in PAISBOA provides all the tangible benefits that you have come to expect for your school or university, it is the camaraderie, resources, and advice you rely on to be more effective and efficient in your role that keeps you coming back to PAISBOA.

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Vacation, Self-Care, and Sleep

March 22, 2019

With one week left in the month of March, we find ourselves in the throes of March Madness (literally and figuratively!), and many independent schools are either returning from or just heading out for Spring Break. For those of you with April spring breaks this year, you are likely trying to keep the wheels on until then. March is a tough month—the weather is iffy, daylight savings knocks everyone off their game for a few days, and for many schools and universities, it feels like a long time since the winter holiday.

For those of you fortunate enough to travel over your break this month or next, or even enjoy a staycation; getting away from work is good for you and good for your school. Rather than leave vacation time on the table like 52% of Americans who don’t use 212 million vacation days annually, here are three good reasons to take your vacation:

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A Consultant, an Astronaut, a Congresswomen, and an Artist go to a Conference in SoCal…

March 8, 2019

This sounds like the beginning of a good story…right??? And, it was. As winter begins to fade, and the hope of spring is in the air, many of us travel to the annual meetings for NAIS and NBOA to reignite our passion for independent school education, reconnect with colleagues from all over the world, and learn how to better support the business operations of our schools. It was my privilege to represent the independent schools and universities at both conferences on behalf of PAISBOA. Kudos to Donna Orem, Jeff Shields and their respective teams for excellent programs, and here are some of my takeaways from my week in cloudy, southern California:


Frans Johansson, author of The Medici Effect and The Click Moment, said, “The most powerful innovation happens at the ‘Intersection,’ where ideas and concepts from diverse industries, cultures, and disciplines collide.” Despite all we have heard about needing 10,000 hours of practice to attain mastery in a discipline, Johansson asserts that innovation is less about expertise and more about how you can rapidly combine insights and ideas, often widely disparate, to create surprising and unique breakthroughs. He explains that with a sport like tennis where the rules and playing field do not change, it is possible to become great with hours of practice, but with the pace of change happening in business, industry, geopolitics, and education, the need to innovate requires a shift to a new model of fast-moving, diverse and inclusive teams that can rapidly uncover new, innovative pathways for growth.

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Are YOU Hiring Like It’s 1999?

February 22, 2019

This past Wednesday morning, while many were bracing for the next nuisance snow event, some of us were chatting with Dr. Greg Martin of The Perkiomen School about faculty hiring in independent schools. Dr. Martin’s research about independent school hiring is most timely with the perfect storm of record numbers of baby boomer faculty about to retire, low unemployment rates, and the traditional “triple threat” hiring model that does not align with the type of work/life balance millennials and Gen Z graduates value.

Independent Schools are facing challenges in three main areas related to hiring the best talent.

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School Safety and Security Update

February 8, 2019

While school safety and security is always on our minds, it often jumps to the top of our to-do list unexpectedly! Over the past couple of months, there have been numerous steering committee conversations with business officers, HR professionals and plant managers as well as recent the e-list discussions which have warranted further research about school safety by the PAISBOA staff. Your questions and our explorations highlight the need for further education and information on several topics.

With that in mind, PAISBOA is planning a Safety and Security Summit on Thursday, April 25 at the PAISBOA Offices. This is our regular bi-monthly meeting for Plant Managers, and will include important information for Heads of School, Business Officers, Technology Directors and other school leaders. We will have an educational component and a panel discussion about safety and security tools. We will have more information out to you shortly!

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Best Practices or Bad Habits?

January 25, 2019

Happy New Year!!! While I am not a big fan of the New Year’s resolution — there are many people who believe in starting the year resolved to change their habits. My perspective is if you need to make a change, why wait until the new year? I prefer to pick a theme for the year.

In 2018, PAISBOA focused on member engagement, and in 2019, we are focusing on group purchasing. PAISBOA was founded on the concept of group purchasing, with a mantra of “all for one, one for all”, and with the core values of integrity, transparency and loyalty. This back to basics approach, with a fresh perspective from the PAISBOA Services Corporation Board and Purchasing Consortium Steering Committee, will serve our members well as we assess our group purchasing programs in the coming year.

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Winding Down 2018 and Looking Ahead to 2019

December 20, 2018

As we wind down 2018, and perhaps take a breath over the winter holiday break, there are some big ideas headed our way in 2019. Isabel Roughol and Laura Lorenzetti Soper from LinkedIn gathered business leaders, authors, journalists and academics to give their 2019 predictions. In 50 Big Ideas for 2019: What to Watch in the Year Ahead, experts foresee a shaky economy, a troubled world order and continued anxiety — but also a renewed focus on caring for ourselves, for each other and for doing the right thing.

As independent school leaders, here are some trends that are worth watching:

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What Is Keeping You Up at Night?

December 7, 2018

Last week I had the privilege of being part of the delegation from Pennsylvania at the North American Conference on the Business Office (NACOBO) sponsored by NBOA. Carol Lerner from The Philadelphia School, Adam Wojtelwicz from Shipley School, and I joined Business Officers from all over North America to discuss all the things that keep business officers up at night!

Thanks to Jeff Shields and his team at NBOA, we identified issues, looked at the independent school business model, talked about affordability and accessibility, assessed our leadership strengths, and built our personal and professional network. As with all NBOA programs, we had an ambitious schedule, worked hard, and enjoyed good food, fellowship and fun with a most congenial group of old and new friends.

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Gratitude is Good!!!

November 16, 2018

There are two things that businesses -- or in our case, independent schools and universities -- can’t have enough of: revenue, for obvious reasons, and gratitude. We often fail to appreciate our current students and families, and reward high-performing employees by piling on more tasks and responsibilities. Why is gratitude as important as revenue, and what causes this “failure to appreciate?”

  1. Focus on the new – new always seems more interesting than ones we already have
  2. Busy and Rushing – seems like we don’t have time for the small things like “thank you”
  3. Lack of prioritization – gratitude seems to be the last item on our checklist
  4. Fear of creating new demands – the notion that employees who are appreciated will ask for more money
  5. Feeling uncomfortable – when you never receive appreciation, you might not know how to show appreciation to others

Expressing gratitude is good for business and people. When receiving feedback, we feel the negative with three times the strength we feel the positive. As a culture, we give 10 times more negative than positive feedback. As Camille Preston tells us, “we need 3:1 and we are getting 1:10.” It's no wonder so many are unfulfilled in their work!

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The Results Are In - How Healthy is Your School?

November 2, 2018

Yesterday was Organizational Health Day with Scott Barron from School Growth, Inc. and today, for those of you who participated in the PAISBOA Annual Data Survey, the results of the General Survey are in! Why are these two seemingly unrelated items noteworthy?

Something Scott Barron said yesterday stuck with me, “Data driven strategic planning is critical to uncovering and leveraging the powerful genius of your school and leadership. Because your school has a distinct context, copy and pasting from other schools is a weak and ineffective way to plan.” With the data from the PAISBOA Annual Data Survey, you are now able to use your distinct data to support your journey to better organizational health.

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Business as Usual -- or Evolution?

October 19, 2018

This past Wednesday at the ADVIS/E.E. Ford Program, “Transformative Models for Independent School Sustainability“ which was sponsored, in part, by PAISBOA, we heard from John Gulla about some of the ways the E.E. Ford Foundation is helping independent secondary schools become better versions of themselves. One of these is by offering grants to schools and associations, like ADVIS, in the independent school space. Many of the PAISBOA secondary schools have benefitted from these grants to explore ways in which they can “leverage their unique talents, expertise and resources to advance teaching and learning throughout this country by supporting and disseminating best practice, by supporting efforts to develop and implement models of sustainability, and by encouraging collaboration with other institutions.”

Gulla asserted that we (independent schools) are pricing ourselves out of existence, and that according to NAIS, only 15% of their member schools exist in a place where they have enough financial aid resources; the rest live in a world of net tuition revenue.

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