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SALE OF BALANCE THERAPEUTICS, INC.

Gerbsman Partners (www.gerbsmanpartners.com) has been retained by Balance Therapeutics, Inc. to solicit interest for the acquisition of all, or substantially all, the assets of Balance Therapeutics, Inc. (please see detail sales letter attached with additional Balance Therapeutics technology information).

Balance Therapeutics Inc. (“Balance”) is a privately held clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company located in Burlingame, CA, USA primarily focused on developing therapies for individuals with rare sleep disorders and other disorders associated with cognition and sleep. Our lead product candidate, BTD-001 (pentylenetetrzole or PTZ), is in Phase 2 clinical trials for the treatment of two rare and debilitating forms of primary hypersomnia: Idiopathic Hypersomnia (IH), and Narcolepsy Type 2 (Na-2).  As of August, 2020, Balance has 29 patents and 7 patents pending.

BTD-001 is an oral formulation of PTZ, a GABAa receptor antagonist that can reduce excessive GABA function in the central nervous system (CNS) in patients with IH or Na-2.

We believe that BTD-001 also has therapeutic potential in other rare sleep disorders beyond the two lead indications and in diseases where there is a neurocognitive impairment (mental fog) associated with an increased GABA function signal such as autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit disorder, Parkinson’s, and Schizophrenia among others.

The acquisition of Balance enables immediate access to a Phase 2 candidate with extensive clinical experience. To date, Balance has raised 3 rounds of private financing totaling $60M  supported by a premier team of life science investors including Mohr Davidow Ventures, Pappas Capital, OrbiMed, and Oakmont Corp. Balance also has an NOL of approximately $30 million for interested parties.

IMPORTANT LEGAL NOTICE:

The information in this memorandum does not constitute the whole or any part of an offer or a contract. 

The information contained in this memorandum relating to Balance’s Assets has been supplied by Balance.  It has not been independently investigated or verified by Gerbsman Partners or its agents.Potential purchasers should not rely on any information contained in this memorandum or provided by Balance, or Gerbsman Partners (or their respective staff, agents, and attorneys) in connection herewith, whether transmitted orally or in writing as a statement, opinion, or representation of fact. Interested parties should satisfy themselves through independent investigations as they or their legal and financial advisors see fit.

Balance, Gerbsman Partners, and their respective staff, agents, and attorneys, (i) disclaim any and all implied warranties concerning the truth, accuracy, and completeness of any information provided in connection herewith and (ii) do not accept liability for the information, including that contained in this memorandum, whether that liability arises by reasons of Balance’s or Gerbsman Partners’ negligence or otherwise.  

Any sale of the Balance Assets will be made on an “as-is,” “where-is,” and “with all faults” basis, without any warranties, representations, or guarantees, either express or implied, of any kind, nature, or type whatsoever from, or on behalf of Balance or Gerbsman Partners.  Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, Balance and Gerbsman Partners and their respective staff, agents, and attorneys, hereby expressly disclaim any and all implied warranties concerning the condition of the Balance Assets and any portions thereof, including, but not limited to, environmental conditions, compliance with any government regulations or requirements, the implied warranties of habitability, merchantability, or fitness for a particular purpose.

This memorandum contains confidential information and is not to be supplied to any person without Gerbsman Partners’ prior consent.  This memorandum and the information contained herein are subject to the non-disclosure agreement attached hereto as Exhibit A.

 

COMPANY

Balance Therapeutics Inc. (Balance) is a privately held clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company located in Burlingame, CA primarily focused on developing therapies for individuals with rare sleep disorders and other disorders associated with cognition and sleep. Our lead product candidate, BTD-001 (pentylenetetrzole or PTZ), is in Phase 2 clinical trials for the treatment of two rare and debilitating forms of primary hypersomnia: Idiopathic Hypersomnia (IH), and Narcolepsy Type 2 (Na-2).

BTD-001 is an oral formulation of PTZ, a GABAa receptor antagonist that can reduce excessive GABA function in the central nervous system (CNS) in patients with IH or Na-2. We believe that BTD-001 also has therapeutic potential in other rare sleep disorders beyond the two lead indications.

The acquisition of Balance enables immediate access to a Phase 2 candidate with extensive clinical experience. To date, Balance has raised 3 rounds of private financing totaling $60M  supported by a premier team of life science investors including Mohr Davidow Ventures, Pappas Capital, OrbiMed, and Oakmont Corp.

Balance Therapeutics has a patent portfolio that consists of 5 patent families including 3 in-licensed families, consisting of 29 patents and 17 pending patent applications.  The portfolio protects methods of use such as treating hypersomnia, treating excess daytime sleepiness, which may be associated with myotonic dystrophy, and improving cognitive function, as well as protecting next generation pentylenetetrazol compounds

Balance has no recurring revenues, product or collaboration related. Its value lies with the clinical asset BTD-001, clinic trial results, FDA interactions, an extensive preclinical package, its intellectual property as well as that for the second generation PTZ molecules.

Historical Company Information

Balance was founded in 2009. Following the completion of a robust Phase 1 program (3 clinical studies) in 2012, the Company began a clinical program to address neurocognitive deterioration in patients with Down’s syndrome. A Phase 1b trial in approximately 90 adolescents and young adults with Down’s syndrome was completed. In 2015 the Company decided to focus clinical development in the area of intrinsic sleep disorders. A pilot study and two phase 2 trials were completed in patients with idiopathic hypersomnia and patients with narcolepsy type 2. PTZ has been available in IV and oral formulations in the United States and other countries for several decades. PTZ was approved in the USA and several European countries for use in multiple neuropsychiatric indications. The IV route was used primarily to treat barbiturate overdoses, to speed awakening after anesthesia or, at very high doses, to provoke “therapeutic seizures” in psychiatric illnesses. The oral form was used at lower dose levels, often in combination with vitamins or iron, to treat a variety of chronic conditions, such as senile confusion, depression, fatigue, and vertigo.  In 1982, marketing authorization for drug products containing PTZ was withdrawn by the FDA due to insufficient formal evidence for efficacy.  There were no safety concerns leading to the marketing authorization withdrawal.

Thus far, Balance has completed 7 clinical studies with BTD-001: Three studies in healthy volunteers,  1 study in patients with Down Syndrome (Study DS-102) and 3 studies in patients with primary hypersomnia (Study IH101, Study IH201) and 1 study specifically in idiopathic hypersomnia (Study IH202).

Since 2014, Balance has had several FDA interactions to discuss CMC, nonclinical and clinical plans regarding the development of BTD-001. Through these interactions Balance has been able to establish a regulatory path forward for BTD-001 with a differentiated target product profile in the field of hypersomnia.

Why is our asset valuable?

BTD-001 Targets mental fog and other significant daytime symptoms in patients with Idiopathic Hypersomnia (IH)

  1.  IH is an incurable chronic neurological disorder characterized by debilitating, pervasive daytime sleepiness and other daytime symptoms including mental fog (“brain fog”), difficulty remembering things, difficulty concentrating or focusing and difficulty having conversations with others. Symptoms occur despite adequate or extraordinary sleep amounts. The prevalence of the disease is estimated at approximately 25,000 patients in the United States. There are currently no approved drugs to treat IH. Although CNS stimulants have been prescribed off-label, they generally provide insufficient symptomatic relief, leaving patients in a state of artificial wakefulness that does not address other daytime symptoms or the underlying etiology in IH.
  2. Based on studies completed to date, we believe BTD-001 has great potential to transform the lives of patients with IH.  BTD-001 has a favorable safety profile and has shown initial proof of concept and efficacy signals in a sub-groups of IH patients with long sleep in randomized placebo-controlled studies. We believe that BTD-001 is the only drug candidate currently in development targeting treatment of the most bothersome daily symptoms of mental fog in addition to treating sleepiness.  Balance has developed a proprietary Patient Report Outcome (PRO) instrument to measure the improvement of daytime symptoms.  In a Type C meeting, the FDA has agreed that the endpoint captured by the Balance-developed PRO can be used as the basis for a marketing approval.
  3. PTZ has a long history of clinical use.   Experience from over 4300 patients has been described in a broad medical literature spanning several decades.  As of to-date, over 220 subjects have been dosed with BTD-001 in studies conducted by Balance Therapeutics without any significant safety events.
  4. BTD-001 has received orphan drug designation for the treatment of IH by the FDA, and the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
  5. BTD-001 has an established regulatory path forward with a differentiated target product profile in the field of hypersomnia.

We believe IH presents a very attractive opportunity.  In addition, BTD-001 may show benefit in other GABA-driven neurological diseases with similar bothersome daily symptoms.

Balance’s Assets

  • Extensive IP and Orphan Exclusivity (US and EU) on the use of PTZ in treatment of hypersomnia.
  • Extensive knowledge in the treatment of Idiopathic hypersomnia.
  • A proprietary Patient Report Outcome tool that captures the most important daytime symptoms in IH and differentiates BTD-001 from other current off-label treatments used in IH.
  • Potential commercial opportunity in IH can be up to $400M annually worldwide
  • Extensive nonclinical studies characterizing the safety, pharmacology, PK and metabolism, mutagenicity and chronic and reproductive toxicology.
  • Approximately 7 kg of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (Pentetrazole) and sufficient quantity of drug capsules to supply a new Phase 2 study.
  • Completed extensive Drug Product development for late phase and commercial use.  Prototype drug tablets made.

The assets of Balance will be sold in whole or in part (collectively, the “Balance Assets”). The sale of these assets is being conducted with the cooperation of Balance.  Balance and its consultants will be available to assist purchasers with due diligence and a prompt, efficient transition to new ownership.

Balance Patents

Balance Therapeutics has a patent portfolio that consists of 5 patent families including 3 in-licensed families, consisting of 29 patents and 17 pending patent applications.  The portfolio protects methods of use such as treating hypersomnia, treating excess daytime sleepiness, which may be associated with myotonic dystrophy, and improving cognitive function, as well as protecting next generation pentylenetetrazol compounds.

Please see detailed Patent information attached to this sales letter email.

Balance Therapeutics, Inc. Key Personnel

  • Morgan Lam President: Morgan serves as President and is responsible for leading daily operations and product development of BTD-001. Previously, he was the Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President of Development for Humanigen Inc. (formerly KaloBios Pharmaceuticals, Inc.) from January 2016 to 2018 where he was responsible for the development of lenzilumab and ifabotuzumab for various oncology and non-oncology indications. Prior to that, he served as Executive Director for Medical & Scientific Affairs for Geron Corp. as well as Head of Clinical Operations Department from 2010 to 2015 where he played a key role in the development of imetelstat. Prior to that, Morgan spent six years at Genentech Inc. (now Hoffman LaRoche) as Clinical Program Manager in leading the clinical operations efforts for numerous oncology drug candidates including Gazyva® and Venclexta™ for the treatment for various solid and liquid tumors. Before Genentech, he worked with increasing responsibilities for over six years in the Clinical Development organizations for INEX and QLT Inc. Morgan received his bachelor’s degree in Microbiology and Biochemistry from the University of British Columbia and currently participates in various executive leadership and entrepreneurship programs.
  • Alejandro Dorenbaum, M.D. CMO:  Alejandro (Alex) serves as Head of Clinical Development. Previously, he was Chief Medical Officer at Allakos Pharmaceutical where he achieved proof-of-concept in clinical trials for novel therapeutic antibodies targeting inflammatory cells. He served as Chief Medical Officer at Lumena Pharmaceutical until it’s acquisition by Shire. Prior to that, Alex joined Genentech, where he was responsible for the respiratory programs for asthma and cystic fibrosis, BioMarin Pharmaceutical, Inc. where he conducted the clinical development of Kuvan® and Chiron Corporation where he acquired broad expertise in several areas of drug development including biologics, small molecules, and vaccines. Alex consults for several early development companies and he maintains an active academic position as Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine, where he treats patients with Allergy and Immunology clinical problems.
  • Lyndon Lien, Ph.D. – Co-founder & Advisor:  Lyndon serves as Advisor and member of the Board of Directors for Balance Therapeutics. Previously he was President, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of Balance Therapeutics and provided overall leadership for the company for over 8 years. Lyndon is Co-founder, President and CEO of Qinotto, a biotech company developing CNS therapeutics based on technologies licensed from Stanford University.  Lyndon was also Global VP of Corporate Strategy and Alliances at Elan Pharmaceuticals responsible for strategic planning, product planning and business development. He held leadership positions at Johnson & Johnson in product development and at McKinsey & Company as a management consultant.  He has venture capital experience with Pivotal bioVenture Partners and Coastview Capital.

Lyndon has an A.B. in Biochemical Sciences from Harvard College, an M.B.A. from MIT Sloan School of Management and a Ph.D. in Genetics from Harvard University.

Balance Therapeutics, Inc. Board of Directors

  • Phyllis Whiteley, Ph.D. – Executive Board Chair: Phyllis is a Venture Partner with Wildcat Venture Partners.
  • Carl Gordon, PhD: Carl L. Gordon, Ph.D., CFA, has served as a member of our board of directors since February 2016. Dr. Gordon is a founding member, Managing Partner, and Co-Head of Global Private Equity at OrbiMed Advisors LLC, an investment firm.
  • Peter Carlton, CFA: Peter is Managing Director at Oakmont Corporation, a registered investment advisor formed in 1984 to serve as the family office for the founder of Trust Company of the West and now overseeing approximately $2.5B in assets for high networth clients and investors.
  • Kyle Rasbach: Kyle is a Partners at Pappas Capital.

The Bidding Process for Interested Buyers

Interested and qualified parties will be expected to sign a nondisclosure agreement (attached hereto as Exhibit A) to have access to key members of the management and intellectual capital teams and the due diligence “war room” documentation (the “Due Diligence Access”).  Each interested party, as a consequence of the Due Diligence Access granted to it, shall be deemed to acknowledge and represent (i) that it is bound by the bidding procedures described herein; (ii) that it has an opportunity to inspect and examine the Balance Assets and to review all pertinent documents and information with respect thereto; (iii) that it is not relying upon any written or oral statements, representations, or warranties of Balance Therapeutics, Inc., Gerbsman Partners, or their respective staff, agents, or attorneys; and (iv) all such documents and reports have been provided solely for the convenience of the interested party, and neither Balance nor Gerbsman Partners (or their respective, staff, agents, or attorneys) makes any representations as to the accuracy or completeness of the same. 

Following an initial round of due diligence, interested parties will be invited to participate with a sealed bid, for the acquisition of the Balance Assets.  Sealed bids must be submitted so that the bid is actually received by Gerbsman Partners no later than September 18th, 2020 at 3:00 p.m. Pacific Time (the “Bid Deadline”) at Balance’s office, located at 863A Mitten Road Ste. 100B2, Burlingame, California 94010.  Please also email steve@gerbsmanpartners.com with any bid.

Bids should identify those assets being tendered for in a specific and identifiable way.  The attached Balance fixed asset list may not be completed and Bidders interested in the Balance’s Assets must submit a separate bid for such assets.  Be specific as to the assets desired.

Any person or other entity making a bid must be prepared to provide independent confirmation that they possess the financial resources to complete the purchase where applicable.  All bids must be accompanied by a refundable deposit check in the amount of $200,000 (payable to Balance Therapeutics, Inc.).  The winning bidder will be notified within 3 business days after the Bid Deadline.  Non-successful bidders will have their deposit returned to them.

Balance reserves the right to, in its sole discretion, accept or reject any bid, or withdraw any or all assets from sale.  Interested parties should understand that it is expected that the highest bid will be chosen as the winning bidder and bidders may not have the opportunity to improve their bids after submission.

Balance will require the successful bidder to close within 7 business days.  Any or all of the assets of Balance will be sold on an “as is, where is” basis, with no representation or warranties whatsoever. 

All sales, transfer, and recording taxes, stamp taxes, or similar taxes, if any, relating to the sale of the Balance Assets shall be the sole responsibility of the successful bidder and shall be paid to Balance at the closing of each transaction. 

For additional information, please see below and/or contact:

Steven R. Gerbsman                                                                                                                               

steve@gerbsmanpartners.com                                 

Kenneth Hardesty

ken@gerbsmanpartners.com

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How to Maintain a Professional Appearance While Working From Home

Wearing pajamas is not the answer to staying productive.

By Lauren A. RothmanStylist and fashion expert
Getty Images

The way we dress impacts our performance. There is so much in this world we cannot control and one daily routine we can practice at home is getting dressed with intention. My best advice: don’t just dress from the hip up for your next video conference call.

When I style clients we talk about strategies that make you feel empowered and confident, like you own the room. As our new normal starts to shift and you find yourself working from home more often, define the look of your most productive self as you move from your home office set up to your exercise and beauty routines.

During a time when you can feel easily overwhelmed, it is more important than ever to practice self-care. It can be uplifting to be fully awake and engaged in a home setting. Self-care requires practice and many of us now have plenty of newly unplanned time to perfect this art form.

Here are my top self-care style tips to help you stay productive and professional:

Make sure your hair is tempered.

This sounds so simple yet many people undervalue the importance of hairstyles at home. If you are spending any time teleconferencing, keep in mind that a polished appearance remains valuable.

Frizzy hair is a common distraction on video but can be very easy to tame with hairspray or product. Spray your comb or your hands with product and run it through your locks. If you are so inclined, explore the many available online tutorials. You can also sleep with your hair in a bun or a braid for a low key yet fun look — you don’t need a professional blowout to look successful.

Define your work-from-home routine.

Don’t underestimate the power of looking well-rested. This is the time to go through any free samples of skincare products you have collected over time. Focus on maintaining healthy looking, glowing skin instead of perfecting a Saturday night smokey eye (unless that’s your thing).

Also, moisturize. It is still cold in parts of the country and we’re all pumping the hand sanitizer — many of my clients report dry skin as one of their biggest beauty challenges. Try a face mask or pack of nail stickers.

Continue to wear your contacts or find some blue light eyeglasses that could help you feel more comfortable and refreshed. Daily makeup routines are also evolving, but some people, myself included, find that makeup helps us wake-up. If stress and anxiety are keeping you up at night, fake it on your next video work call and wear concealer and lipstick. It is easy to look washed out on video calls and a little makeup goes a long way. Try focusing on creating an even skin tone, highlighting your eyes to help keep your audience engaged and wearing a lip color that complements your coloring.

Practicing self-care can be like caffeine and is a terrific way to supercharge your day.

Shop your closet.

Working from home could give you an opportunity to wear pieces in your closet that still have tags. Break in the new shoes you pre-ordered for spring. Stretch out your white jeans from last summer while you sit at your desk. Purge, edit and store winter pieces you will no longer wear this season.

Organize your closet, the hallway coat closet, your toiletries, and your office. If you usually go barefoot at home (as many of us do) identify your work-from-home shoes. Find your perfect heel height that helps you feel on duty and ready to face what comes your way. Getting dressed helps us feel more accountable and wearing shoes can help us remember we are meant to be doing something productive. Don’t dress uncomfortably, but also possibly don’t plan on wearing your sports bra every day for a month either.

Build a capsule wardrobe.

Designate a section in your closet for grab and go wardrobe essentials that will appear professional over video conference. While you may be able to work from home in your pajamas, you definitely don’t want to wear them on Zoom calls with your boss. It may seem obvious, but wear undergarments and shop your closet for solid colored tops and appropriate pants. I’ve had too many clients unintentionally stand up during a video call when a child, spouse or roommate walks into a designated work space without warning.

Channel your personal brand as you curate your video conference capsule wardrobe and work from home outfits. You may be able to pop onto social media broadcasting from your bed wearing workout gear, but avoid doing this on a business video chat. Avoid busy patterns or shirts with writing that will be distracting. You can show off a hint of personal style with interesting collars, colors, earrings, and shorter necklaces.

If you’re now working-from-home for the first time, it’s good idea to use this newfound time at home to discover and update routines. Some are hunkering down to cocoon, others are balancing working from home while parenting and many of our past patterns are shifting. Wearing your pajamas endlessly is not the answer. This is not a staycation or a singular sick day — this is our foreseeable new normal. It’s a luxury to work from home while so many essential workers continue to commute and risk their health. Find your new favorite outfit that is both comfortable and professional and get yourself dressed.

Published on: Mar 23, 2020
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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7 ‘Revival’ Trends You Can Actually Wear to the Office Right Now

Shop your closet for these 90’s inspired looks that you never pitched last decade

By Lauren A. RothmanStylist and fashion expert
Getty Images

What’s old is new again and the top trends for this century’s roaring 20’s are very 90’s inspired. Oversized blazers, mom jeans, bodysuits, combat boots, crop tops, crochet, and padded headbands are everywhere. However, just because dress codes are slacking across the country, do yourself a favor and don’t walk into a boardroom looking sloppy, unpolished or unaware of your audience.

Spring is on the horizon and my clients want to know what to wear this time of year. Winter is in full effect yet stores are blooming with next season’s looks. Here’s a rundown of 7 revival trends that are stylish and safe for work.

1. Fleece

Once a material reserved for the outdoors and Silicon Valley techies, fleece has gotten a makeover. From tailored pieces to chic sweater styles, this cozy material can take you from your couch to the office. Try a trendy zip-up or blazer style in a bright color or muted animal print paired with dark denim and booties on your next casual Friday instead of the traditional fleece vest.

2. Polka Dots

This classic pattern is perfect for the office. A welcome change from floral patterns we typically see at this time of year, polka dots are spring’s version of houndstooth. It is one of the rare flattering patterns that works universally on many body types. Try it as a wrap dress or silky blouse while guys can add a pop of pattern on their socks or pocket square. You will start to see it in many stores this spring but you may also be able to shop your own closet.

3. Brights

Color is everywhere. Spring often blooms an inner release from the boredom of everyday neutrals. Brights are popping up and there is a color in style for everyone. Whether you add a shoe in Pantone’s shade of “classic blue” to your wardrobe or indulge in reds, pinks, and purples you are sure to make your audience smile in these happy tones. For an extra bold look, dip into the neon highlighter reel and choose one piece to wear to work.

4. Micro Bags

If you’re not using your phone to pay for everything and actually want to carry lip gloss, keys, or on-the-go essentials next time you run out for a coffee break, invest in this trendy bag. Its predecessor, the wristlet, still lives on but these micro bags are often miniature versions of your favorite handbag styles. They are a versatile, easy travel accessory that is sure to bring endless compliments.

5. Matching Separates

One of my personal favorites, these outfits are the perfect hybrid between business attire and business casual. Matching separates create a polished look and there is no need to add a jacket. Look for coordinating basics in neutral tones to lengthen your shape or stand out in a column of color. Dressy but not stuffy, this trend is easy to wear and will help you exude executive presence without looking like you’re trying too hard.

6. Leather

This fall trend has major staying power. In any of its iterations, ranging from couture vegan leather to shiny fabric that is leather inspired, this material is popping up head to toe. Men will find leather piping along blazers or sweaters while women will see any number of pieces competing for attention. Shop this trend carefully and avoid pleather that looks too shiny or squeaks.

7. Belts

High waisted pants are a revival trend many women would like to see stay in style. The art of tucking in a shirt is a lesson I teach many clients. The most classic and professional is the full tuck, while the half and front tuck add a little street style to your look. All of these styling tricks showcase your waist and beg for a belt. If you find yourself perfecting the art of tucking, invest in a bold style with a statement buckle.

Power dressing is always in style. Sticking with these versatile trends will help you transition your work wardrobe from a more conservative winter to a colorful, comfortable, and office appropriate spring.

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3 Reasons You Should Wear Pantone’s ‘Classic Blue’ to the Office in 2020

Channel your inner royal and own the room.

By Lauren A. RothmanStylist and fashion expert
Getty Images

Color plays an enormous role in our professional wardrobes. Some prefer to stock up on neutrals while others are always on the hunt for a pop of color to liven up their daily uniform. We wishfully search for just the right shade to match an eye color, to coordinate a lone separate hanging in the closet, or just to dazzle on a big day.

But we can sometimes be intimated by color and choose to never wear it for fear of choosing the wrong one. People can also overdo color and wear so much of it, one can’t help but say “great color” when they see you– even if they don’t mean it.

The power of color is impactful whether we organize our closets using it as a guiding principle or simply start our shopping sprees on the hunt for it.

Pantone knows the power of color, and it announces a new color every year to be its color of the year. This year the color they believe will make a global impact from fashion and design to consumer mindsets is “classic blue.”

This elegant color is easy to wear, unlike past chosen colors that feel too trendy, bold, or intimidating (like perky purple or vivid coral). Pantone color 19-4052 is finally a friendly, wearable, accessible color.

Blue is also one of the rare universal colors that is flattering on almost everyone. It’s softer than black but not as bold as red. It’s a heavyweight in the corporate world because of its versatility. Men wear some version of blue, often navy, almost every day to work. Women ask me about matching blue and black every season out of fear of making a fashion faux pas and wondering if black shoes can be worn with navy. (The answer is yes, by the way. Opt for black suede or patent leather for high style.)

Classic blue is similar to cobalt and makes a strong visual impact. Here are the top reasons you should be wearing this Pantone color in 2020.

Dress with Authority

Classic blue is the the color of leadership. You will frequently see world leaders, both female and male, wearing a suit in this shade of blue. It’s an engaging color that works well when my clients wear it on stage, on TV, on the campaign trail, in headshots, or leading a meeting. If sporting this color head-to-toe like a royal feels too bold, pop it in a shoe or a tie to reflect your confidence and welcome success with a nod to modern aesthetics.

Keep Your Audience Engaged

Help your audience stay tuned into your message with a powerful presence. As I often share with clients who work in media, viewers are drawn in by your personal packaging even before they’ve grasped your substance. Wearing classic blue is a subtle tool that helps put people at ease and isn’t aggressive enough to alienate those around you.

If only to show off your playful nature, consider a handbag, briefcase or luggage in this this cheerful hue. It is s a crowd pleaser and an effective color to wear to help differentiate yourself from the competition.

Inspire Change

Everyone wants to be valued at the office and shades of blue often convey a sense of trust. Harness the power of your presence to help achieve this. Be a beacon of hope during these long winter months at the office. Turn heads as you walk down the street in a brightly colored bold coat or dress. Change is inevitably on the horizon, and while fads will inevitably fizzle, classic blue will continue to be a reliable one-size-fits-all trend.

Color impacts our emotions and this one offers refuge from the daily grind of wearing dark neutrals or monochromatic black to the office. Stores will be stocking this shade of blue and soon it will available at every turn. Next time you get dressed, consider wearing this power color and be prepared to own the room.

Published on: Feb 6, 2020
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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If You Practice This 1 Rare Habit Now, You’re a Much Better Leader Than You Think

It may be common sense, but not common practice

By Marcel SchwantesFounder and Chief Human Officer, Leadership From the Core
Getty Images

Employee engagement is a top contributing factor to high-performance work cultures and productive employees. And yet people often confuse “engagement” with “satisfaction.”

The key difference between the two, it turns out, has little to do with free beer, pet-friendly policies, or on-site acupuncture leading to satisfaction.

It has everything to do with the work itself.

That said, engagement is also incredibly difficult to keep a pulse on. That’s why the very best leaders don’t just lead; they do something still considered rare by any corporate measure. They listen to their employees.

The critical importance of continuous listening

As you may have heard, recent news reports are filled with accounts of employee protests and walkouts, and even a government mandate to give Google employees the right to speak out on their beliefs — demonstrating how important employee feedback is.

According to a survey of more than 1,000 workers by employee engagement company Achievers, just 20.8% consider themselves “very engaged.” That same survey suggested that a lack of listening was partially to blame. While 40% of workers ranked their manager and employer “okay” at soliciting feedback, a full 16.3% ranked them as “horrible.”

Many experts agree continuous listening is one of the best ways to improve the employee experience. Dr. Natalie Baumgartner, chief workforce scientist at Achievers, says, “Engagement is complex, but that doesn’t mean we need to make it complicated. Empowering leaders to talk with employees to understand more about what’s working and what’s not is the best place to start.”

Most companies, purposefully or by happenstance, practice some sort of listening. The majority, though, still fall into the trap of just hoping these sorts of conversations occur in manager one-on-one meetings or relying on yearly surveys.

Baumgartner warns, “Life doesn’t change once a year. Employee engagement is exceptionally fluid and dynamic, changing throughout the course of a single day. If a channel is not in place for continuous listening, employees simply don’t have a way to voice concerns or feedback as life happens, resulting in employers missing opportunities to address problems before they become systemic issues.”

Business leaders should systemize a method for gathering ongoing feedback, whether it’s using a surveying tool with an ongoing set of questions, making feedback a formalized part of meetings, or using a technology solution. 

What to listen for

Managers should try to understand how employees feel about their work and the organization to understand more about their overall engagement–and also why they feel that way.

Asking how someone is feeling is such a simple, human act, but too infrequently done. Just look at Meghan Markle’s reaction when asked by a reporter how she was doing as a new mom.

The response each employee provides will differ. How they feel could range from excited to burned out to uncertain. Why they feel that way could be due to a change in leadership, a new project, or something as simple as a tech issue preventing them from working efficiently.

As Baumgartner noted, employees’ engagement will constantly be in flux, making the act of asking ever more important.

Acting on feedback

Gathering feedback isn’t enough, and can even be detrimental if the feedback isn’t addressed. The Achievers survey found when it came to actually acting on feedback, workers ranked managers and employers even more negatively. A sizable amount (42.3%) said their managers and employers were “okay–they make a few changes based on it,” but over one in five (21.4%) rated them as “horrible–they never do anything with feedback.”

The purpose of collecting feedback is to achieve continual improvement. The changes needn’t be monumental. Sometimes simply acknowledging feedback can have a positive impact.

“One of the most impactful mechanisms a manager can have on their team is to both ask for and acknowledge feedback regarding the experiences of their employees. Leaders do not have to have all the answers. In most cases, including employees in identifying a solution results in an even more effective outcome,” continued Baumgartner.

As the New Year looms–a time when job-hopping spikes–making sure employees feel valued is a prerequisite of great managers. Showing empathy around their experience–by seeking feedback–is one of the critical steps to achieving that.

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