Dec. 27, 2022 | Podcast

Episode 8: Growth at the Intersection of Technology and Humanity

Helen Yu, CEO and founder of Tigon Advisory and WSJ best-selling author

About the episode

According to best-selling author Helen Yu, there are five disconnects that inhibit a company’s growth potential. In this episode, she talks with us about how to overcome these disconnects and the importance of a business sherpa who can guide you along the way.


Helen Yu

Founder and CEO of Tigon Advisory and Wall Street Journal best-selling author. She drives growth for tech companies from start-ups to global titans like Oracle and Adobe, and helps CEOs achieve multibillion-dollar revenue growth and record profitability.


You are a successful author and advisor to startups and to large corporations–can you tell us about your journey to success?

I started my career as an accountant and financial analyst. I learned to code and spent time designing and implementing 400-plus financial planning applications, working alongside CFOs and CIOs. I ran the Oracle BI consulting practice and then joined Adobe. My journey led me to recognize the critical gap patterns in growth-driven technology startups, prompting me to become an entrepreneur of a startup accelerator five years ago.

I would love to hear your perspective on what it means to be digital.

Digital to me is a new way of thinking. A few words come to mind when it comes to being digital–it’s innovative, practical, iterative, and scalable. 

In my opinion, only 20% of being digital is technology related; 80% of being digital is people and process.


When you think about entrepreneurship, there is a desire to be nimble and react to changing market conditions. Can startups be too nimble because they're reacting to so many different factors in the marketplace?

There are, on average, 305 million startups created each year–and 90% of them fail. Part of the reason they fail is because startups can be overconfident. When I took on the journey to climb Mt. Everest, I was looking for a sherpa. But many in the business world who are just starting off don't know what they don't know. They're often blindsided on what they should be doing. Then they become too nimble before they even see the result. They switch gears, sometimes under pressure from investors or limited funding. But a lot of things can be avoided. Startups often need a sherpa who can guide them through the journey.

When you are coaching both startups and Fortune 500 companies, how do you coach on digital strategy? How does digital show up in conversations focused on helping those businesses thrive?

We talk about digital all the time. I usually ask leaders to step back; I ask them what problem they are trying to solve. What are the business challenges? Value exchange and progress are the two things that are so critical for them. We talk about what value means to them or what success looks like and then have them describe that to me on a macro level.
Then when you talk about digital, I ask them, how do you measure being digital? Because their definition of being digital might be very different from mine. It's all about spending the time to understand where they're at. We have to assess where they're at today, how far away they are from being digital or from really reaching that goal.

What’s been your experience as far as articulating a problem statement that you then work with your clients to solve?

I challenge the company or the leaders I work with to say, what is the problem? I keep asking them the questions until they start to say, why am I doing this? I always say there's a reason for a company to be successful versus not being successful, oftentimes it’s really coming from the very top–the CEO and the founder. Do they have a solid understanding of how these metrics are interrelated? And how they can give the functional leader the incentive to perform and drive toward the same goal is really critical.

Jump ahead to these highlights:

1:30 - Helen’s journey to success
3:10 - The wisdom of her grandmother
4:05 - What Fortune 500 companies and startups have in common
5:00 - What it means to be digital
5:55 - Conquering the 5 disconnects to accelerate growth
8:10 - Can startups be too nimble and take on too much?
10:40 - How growth thrives at the intersection of tech and humanity
12:36 - How do you coach businesses on digital strategy?
14:30 - Articulating the problem to solve is critical in business

This is Digital

West Monroe's team of experts and guests pull back the curtain on how to build digital throughout an organization. Through real-world examples, you will learn how to spot digital transformation in real life, and how to make small decisions every day that make a big impact on growth.

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