Monday, February 04, 2013

And Finally a "P"

Wow, I just realized that I never gave you the "P" in MAP. My apologies.  As a reminder, M is about discovering your MOTIVATION.  Think of it like this, why are you willing to go above and beyond to attain something or become something when others are not? What do you care about passionately? A is for ABILITY.  What abilities do you have? What comes naturally? What skills have you learned? What abilities have you gained through the school of hard knocks? Which ones fit well with your motivation?

OK, now let's finish our MAP.  P is for Personality. You can look at personality from 2 perspectives. One is descriptive of who you are and the other is learning how to use personality to connect with others so they can help you take your Motivation and Abilities to the next level. Today we'll focus on who you are.

There are numerous personality systems that are used by large corporations, the military, jury consultants and even dating services to identify how someone would fit in certain roles pertaining to how they would act in that role. These systems can be very complex and confusing to quickly understand. However, for this post, I just want you to understand a very simple concept of personality... who you are and what it may mean to how you live out your MAP.
The Four Quadrants
At its core, personality can be broken into 2 axes.  The first has task oriented people at one end of the spectrum and people oriented people live at the other end.  The second has more assertive people at one end and less assertive people at the other.  When overlaid these two axes create 4 quadrants: Task/More Assertive, Task/Less Assertive, People/Less Assertive and People/More Assertive. Let's assign a color to each.  Task/More Assertive - Red, Task/Less Assertive - Blue, People/Less Assertive - Green and People/More Assertive - Yellow. Can you identify yourself in one of these? No, well let's talk about what each wants. The Task/More Assertive person wants Results, Task/Less Assertive - Process, People/Less Assertive - Loyalty and People/More Assertive - Inspiration.  Does that help?  Still not quite there? Well let's look at their favorite word.  Task/More Assertve - Now!, Task/Less Assertive - How?, People/Less Assertive - We and People/More Assertive - Me.  Do I hear some of you grumbling I'm more than one of these?  That's exactly right. We all have some of each in us.  But one is almost always stronger than the others.

What Fits and What Doesn't
So by understanding the strongest part of your personality you can get a good idea of the P in your MAP. You'll understand both what roles may create an environment to release your genius and which ones most likely won't. On the positive side, if you're Red, you'll find you gravitate to situations where you can make quick decisions about the big picture; Blues will find roles that take time to analyze the data and follow a process.  Greens will create an environment that allows everyone to get along and work together. And Yellows will often find themselves as the center of attention inspiring those around them.

On the negative side, if your strongest is Red, then your genius probably isn't in a role which requires patience and warm fuzzies. If it's Blue, you may not be suited for the inspirational leader role . Greens often have difficulties being in a let's get things done now role that demands quick decision making regarding big picture strategic direction.  And Yellows are truly uncomfortable in situations that necessitates detailed analysis or that are purely an individual intellectual endeavor.

However, don't mistake the role or situation with the industry.  I've known each of the colors to have great success in a variety of industries.  For example, Blues tend to make up the large percentage of Creative Directors in Advertising Agencies. Hmmm, that doesn't seem quite right you say.  Well as Creative Directors they direct the creative "process" at the agency.  Now do you see?  I also know several Yellows who are superstar accountants.  I can hear you saying that can't be, but let me explain. Personality does not indicate ability or intellectual capacity.  These Yellows entered the industry as all accountants do but then found the role that fit their personality.  Almost all of the Yellows I know now have their name on the door and are typically the face of the firm. Making sense now?

Breaking It Down
So at its core figuring out your personality comes down to two simple questions:

1. Are you more Task or People oriented?
2. Are you more or less Assertive (Do they Ask or Tell)?

Find your MAP and live your Genius.

Happy MAPping!

Friday, June 08, 2012

Give me an "A"

If you read my previous post entitled, "Are you a genius", you are now waiting for me to explain the A in the MAP process of discovering your genius.  Well to recap since it has been a few days since I've posted, the M is Motivation.  It's about taking the time to discover or re-discover what you have a true passion for.  What you care about. What motivates you to take action.  But being motivated and passionate don't necessarily translate to being good at something.

A is for Abilities
So let's jump to the A - Abilities.  What comes easy to you?  Reading, Basketball, Cooking, Encouraging?  Stop reading and take a few minutes to jot down some thoughts on your abilities.  It's not just about your natural abilities but also those learned abilities and the ones you've gained through experience.  They can be functional or relational. Everyone has them so don't cop out and say, "I'm not good at anything."  You may not be a world class athlete but you may be a world class encourager.  If evaluating yourself is just too difficult ask someone who knows you very, very well to give you some direction. Now I say direction because you are the only one who can definitively say, "Yes, that's one of my abilities." Don't feel pressured by what others say if it doesn't feel right. Okay?

Give me a M, Give me an A...
We're not done yet though.  Having an idea of your Motivation and your Abilities is great but there's one more piece of the puzzle that will clarify the context in which you should use your Motivation and Abilities.  We'll get to the P in my next post.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Are you a Genius?

There are some incredible people in the world.  Actually every person is incredible. Most of us are incredible in ways the media isn't interested in but we all have our own genius. What got me thinking about this is a quote from Albert Einstein,

"Everyone is a genius.  But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, 
it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."

There are several parts of this quote that I find worth talking about.  How we judge people is a biggie but will have to be saved for another post. Today I'll tackle finding your genius.  It's obviously very important.  But is it simply identifying your strongest abilities?  Or does it go further?    

Discover Your M.A.P.
I've been on a personal journey to discover my own personal genius and how to best use it for the past 30 plus years. I've taken numerous tests to discover my strengths and weaknesses. Often, I've been excited by what I've learned but have come to a seething frustration when the discovery never seems to end in a clear path to putting my strengths to their best use.  From this journey I've developed the M.A.P process for not only discovering your strengths but the right context in which to use them.

Instead of starting with strengths, I've found it better to start with motivation. When you understand clearly what you truly care about, you'll have some great clues about the best context in which to explore using your genius when you discover it.

So get your iPad (or a piece of paper) and start answering the following questions:

What do/would you love to do? When do you feel most fulfilled?
- If money, talent or time were not an issue and you could be assured of success what would you do?

What are you passionate about?
- What subjects/areas of interest get you energized? What issues concern you? What gets you fired up? 
Where are you volunteering your time now? What causes are you giving money to?

Who do you enjoy working with (who do you think you'd enjoy working with)? - both co-workers and/or those who will benefit from your work.

So what happens if you stop here?  Should you just follow your bliss?  Maybe, but maybe not.  There's still an A and a P to explore... and we will over the next few days.


Monday, March 05, 2012

Rediscovering Richmond - Living beyond Charles Collie Land

If you're anything like me you often find yourself living a very narrow life.  Sometimes it seems as if I don't know what's happening outside my home, my office and my facebook account.  I live in Richmond but I tend to live most of my life in Charles Collie Land.  Which is a real shame because Richmond is an amazing city and region.

I'm not going to make this post a tourism commercial but if you live here and aren't constantly exploring what the region has to offer you are missing out. Everyone talks about the history of Richmond but that history is talked about in a monochromatic way.  Richmond is not only the place where the United States was born and then divided, it is a place where creativity and innovation has blossomed time and time again (and not only at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - which is awesome).

In a recent conversation with my friends Gayle Turner and Tom Laughon at Catch Your Limit Consulting, they reminded me of the visionaries, crazies and misfits that have made our region the center of so many creative activities.  A guy named George Washington developed a unique canal system that allowed Richmond to become the center of trade in a new nation.  But at the same time Richmond had also become the theatrical center of our new nation - and may still be if not for harsh fire regulations that allowed the backwater town of New York to draw the theater away.  Also, Richmond claims the writer of a uniquely dark style of poetry named Edgar Allen Poe, remember him.  Speaking of innovations, Richmond was home to the first electric trolley system in the U.S.

Well, fast forward to today and theater, art, and creative activities abound. From huge music festivals to 10ks and open innovation centers for Fortune 500 companies to Innovation Centers at major universities and hundreds of little companies doing mind blowingly amazing things.  Just go to Google, pick an industry, a category or a crazy thought and then type Richmond, Virginia or just RVA after it and prepare to be wowed.  Don't live the narrow life.  Enjoy and be a part of the creativity that is Richmond!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Believing is the first step toward doing.  
As kids, we don't know what we can't do.  But our parents (think they) know.  Good parents (and good friends, coaches, managers, teachers - and I'll put in consultants since that's what I do) don't pre-assume what can't be done.

She didn't know she couldn't
I wrote this while eating lunch at a local restaurant.  I was inspired by a little girl, no more than 2 or 3 yrs old. She refused to come into the restaurant unless her parents let her open the door... by herself.  Well, by herself she couldn't even budge the door.  Seeing this, her Dad - now this is important - without letting her know, pulled the door open.  The smile on her face lit up the room as she strutted in with an expression that said, "Yeah, I did it. I did it all by myself!"  I believe that little girl will accomplish big things in life, because she doesn't know she can't.

I think this applies to business.  Let me know if you agree.
If you want people to grow, let them try new things (like the little girl opening the big heavy door).  If they aren't strong enough to do it on their own - HELP THEM!  So many great achievements have been squashed because the people around them decided to pass judgment rather than help.  Look around you.  Is there someone trying something new?  Are you going to say, "you're crazy for trying to do that" or will you ask, "how can I help?"   Or like the Dad, will you help and never tell.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Get Aligned!

The word "alignment" seems to be fashionable today in the consulting business.  I think it's a good word that well describes what branding can do for an organization.  So to me the word "alignment" is also very relevant to an organization's success.

If you think of an organization as a body you can see how making sure that everything is working together around a single concept allows each part of the body (the organization) to help the other.  Hand/eye coordination, if you will.  The world class athletes (organizations) will be the most coordinated.  The interesting thing (playing off of yesterday's post) is that bodies (organizations) that are focused on making decisions according to their brand also tend to be the most innovative.  Robert Goizeta, longtime CEO of Coca-Cola said, "We have 2 constants at Coke.  We have a constant purpose and a constant dissatisfaction with how we achieve that purpose."  Nuff said.

So, before you go tell the world about how wonderful you are, make sure your wonderful words are backed up by a wonderful body (organization).  You don't want to have the same experience that a  300lb woman had when she uploaded a picture of a super model as her profile picture on a dating site.  Initial excitement at the number of men wanting to go out with her... and then a nasty collision with reality.  It's about truth and relevance. Know the truth of who you are. If you don't like it, change it. Become relevant. Then communicate  in a way that truly engages your audience.

Get Aligned!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Creativity and Consistency

Seems like everywhere I turn these days people are talking about creativity and innovation.  Actually, that is exciting because I'm hearing it from what you would probably think of as the most unlikely organizations to ever be considered creative or innovative.  However, the interesting thing to me is that the most creative and innovative people and organizations I know are also extremely consistent.  Unfortunately, the old line organizations I run into often think that to be creative they somehow have to become less consistent.  It's an unfortunate stereotype that creativity = disorganized, scatter-brained, all over the place thinking.  Real creativity is about making connections that others don't make.  It's about seeing patterns that others don't see.  In a way its being blind to some of the rules that have no good answer to the question, "Why?" and creating new ways that are more relevant

We live in so many boxes (stereotypes, culture, industry, peers, income, government, etc.) that consistent/continuous creativity and innovation are almost impossible.  That's why I believe that while creativity and innovation are important, there are key ingredients that must be in place to help people and organizations survive the inevitable periods where they just aren't creative or innovative.  The key ingredients are "trusted relationships."  Without trusted relationships your product or service will begin to be perceived as having less value and viewed as more of a commodity.  Which is the beginning of a spiral that makes it more and more difficult to be creative and innovative.

So, I guess what I'm saying is that being creative and innovative are great things but don't take your eyes off the impact that developing consistency and forging relationships built on mutual trust can have. They are the foundation, the platform that give creativity and innovation the power to change the ways we think, feel and act.  

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Getting Results

Getting results.  That's what it comes down to, right?  It's why we do all the stuff we do, right?  Well, I'm not so sure.  We tend to justify things.  We do stuff just because it's right there in front of us, not because it leads to accomplishing anything (see Social Media, X-Box, Doritos, etc., etc., etc.)  We get distracted by things that aren't necessarily bad in themselves, sometimes we even think they are the right things to be doing (like writing this blog post when there may be [is] something more important I should be doing).  

I have discovered the main reason we do this!  Are you ready?  Are you sure?  Okay, here it comes.... We don't get results because we either don't know what we're really trying to accomplish or we're afraid of what results will mean for us.  That's right, the real reason we don't get what we say we want is that then we'd have to CHANGE to get there.  Ouch!  That can't be right because I really want to succeed.

So have you ever clearly defined what success is for you or your organization?  Thought about what success would really mean... the impact it would have on your life?  If so and you're still not getting results, is it possible you're afraid to admit that you're afraid of not being able to handle the success you think you want?  Hard questions, but ones you need to confront if you want to break on through to the other side.  Let's go get results! Not just any results, but the ones that will have a truly positive impact on our lives and the lives of others.

Stay focused!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Decisions, Choices and Branding

Business like life is made up of decisions and choices. How you make them determines whether you'll be successful or not, as well as the level of your success... or failure.  Decisions and choices that aren't based on any foundational principles or values don't have much chance of getting us or our organizations where we or our organizations want to be.  This is mainly because we probably aren't sure where we want to be or how we'd like to (or should) get there.

So where does branding come into all of this?  Well, I believe at the beginning.  By clearly defining your brand you will also be clarifying your purpose, the fundamental things you believe in and what you and your organization value most.  Once you can stand on this foundation, making decisions becomes simple (I didn't say easy).  You'll be able to see the past, present and future through new eyes... and others (colleagues, employees, clients, vendors, prospects, media, investors, your spouse, etc.) will be able to see you and/or your organization through those same new eyes. You'll know what (and who) fits and what doesn't.  It's like your mother told you, just because you CAN do something doesn't mean you SHOULD.

Define your brand and make better decisions.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Humility and Submission aren't Four Letter Words

I've been thinking a lot about how our culture is changing.  It appears to me that some very positive change has come in the last few years.  I'm not talking about a forced increase in creativity and entrepreneurialism. Though I love creativity and entrepreneurialism. I'm talking about a shift that's been taking place for a while.  Over the last 30-40 years our culture has been about hype.  Everything has been commercialized to the point that in some ways we all started to believe it truly was all about "me."  But the pendulum has begun to swing in a new direction.  No, not back to where we were 50 years ago.  As much as some harken back to "the good ol' days," we couldn't go back if we wanted because of the influence and effect the last 3 plus decades has had on the way we think & act, and the way the world works.  What is happening is a return to the concepts of humility and submission.  But in a new way. Let me explain my thinking. 

Years ago I heard what I believe to be the perfect definition of humility: it's not thinking less of yourself, it's just thinking of yourself less.  There is a new attitude toward helping others, toward protecting the planet, toward service in general.  So much so that Corporate America (as it slowly starts to "get it") spends billions on causes and cause marketing each year.  Whether this is done from the heart or because it's the new cool thing to do or just a way to sell more stuff - the trend toward service is real. 

Now for the more controversial subject of submission.  Again, words mean things so let me define submission.  I'm not talking about the slavery type of submission.  Or totally sacrificing your identity.  Submission is when you are willing to make your will fit the will of a greater cause.  It requires humility, but more than that it requires courage.  For example, you have two opportunities, one to make a large amount of money doing something that you love doing but has little if any social impact and another to make a huge difference by joining forces with an organization that has a massive social impact but the money is less than compelling.  What do you do?  I believe there has been a shift in how a growing percentage of the population answers the question. 

Social impact has become a huge driver in career choice.  People are submitting to what they see as the "greater good" (whether it actually is or not is a subject for another post).  However, the interesting thing is that many are finding a third option, often by accident.  The whole concept of the social entrepreneur.  Doing good to do well.  Making more money by focusing on the social impact.  This is the American Way.  The concept introduced at the beginning of our nation - "Self-Interest Rightly Understood." 

So, humility and submission don't have to mean beating yourself up, taking sacred vows of poverty and self-denial.  Individuality can still be strong in these trends toward humility and submission.  It's actually a requirement to be the best leader you can be.  Jim Collins called this a Level V leader.  The type of leader that can take an organization from Good to Great.  "Compared to high-profile leaders with big personalities who make headlines and become celebrities, the good-to-great leaders...[are] self-effacing, quiet, reserved, even shy - these leaders are a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.  They are more like Lincoln and Socrates than Patton or Caesar." (pgs. 12-13, Good to Great by Jim Collins)

Selfishness and greed aren't going away but the good news is they are no longer the ideal.  We have the opportunity to do great things through real relationships that have an impact that ripples out beyond ourselves.  What a great time to be alive!

New Perspectives = New Value


Monday, June 29, 2009

The Wave is coming...

If you haven't heard about it yet, you've got to check out what's next from Google. Google Wave is going to change the way you use the internet (again).

While you’re watching this think of the implications – to society, to culture, to productivity, to innovation, to structure, to processes, to how we think, communicate, engage, etc. It’s somewhat mind blowing. At the same time it’s a rather simple concept… Have one place to manage everything – input and output, relationships and work. Collaborate real time. Review the steps that occurred, how a conversation went, who put those weird captions on your vacation pictures. Instant messaging will be truly "instant," letter by letter. Update all your social media sites at one time. Edit them all at one time. Okay, even though it may be a simple concept, what it does goes on and on and on... Watch the video and try not to drool on your keyboard.

New Perspectives = New Value


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Social Media and Richmond, Virginia

Today, Richmond Biz Sense launched the 1st of a 3 part series on social media in Richmond, Virginia. Interesting stuff, especially the quotes from Charles Collie (shameless self-promotion) and my good friend Nhat Pham (he's Pham-tastic).

The point that may have been missed about Twitter is its usefulness beyond selling and marketing is that it is a great information resource. We actually use it as a very powerful research tool. Actually all social media has the potential to inform in a very "real" way.

New Perspectives = New Value


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Do it anyway

In a poem called "Do It Anyway", Mother Teresa said:

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful you will win some false friends and true enemies;
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, some could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

If you live by the words of this poem, your life may not be easy but it will be better.

New Perspectives = New Value


Monday, June 15, 2009

A Lean and Not So Mean Business Model for Today's Economy

Ariel Horn, who runs The Horn Corp., a Manhattan ad agency, has found both a way to help the numerous unemployed advertising workers in New York, and a new business model.

Great ideas don't come from doing things the way they've always been done. Start with the problem not how you do things. It not only makes it easier to solve the problem. It makes it easier to sell the solution. Think like Ariel Horn and you'll find opportunity where others only see problems. Know of anyone else like Ariel?

New Perspectives = New Value.


Friday, May 29, 2009

The Pain and the Ecstasy

Technorati Profile

Connecting all your profiles and getting on all the directories and making sure you have tags here there and everywhere is quite the pain... until someone that needs you finds you.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How to talk to customers when times have changed

Here's a good article from HBR on how to talk to customers (when you don't know what to say). It equates talking with clients in the current economic downturn filled with layoffs and belt tightening to a personal situation when a friend has lost a loved one. Sometimes you just don't know what to say.

I've been telling my clients for months now that the things their clients cared about just a short time ago are not the same today. The message still comes from your brand's core strength but it needs to be communicated in a new way that takes into account the new behaviors and attitudes as well as the changing strength of various touchpoints/media. I also have been chanting as my mantra that this is not the time to stop or greatly reduce your marketing. It's time to make it more efficient, yes. But to just take the tact of cutting the marketing budget without a strategy to make it more efficient (and effective) by honing your communications by taking the steps outline above is just increasing the speed of your downward spiral.

Be responsible, but be responsible in an intelligent way.

Stay focused.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Times They Are A Changin'

In his blogpost, We Are Actively Dismantling Your Trusted Marketing Strategies, Brian Massey explains that,

"The culture, the strategies, and the beliefs that your business has relied on for the past 20 years are being actively dismantled."

I think that in many ways Brian has it right. As we shift power away from the Boomer Generation that thrived on hype and mass marketing we find control of defining what a brand means largely in the hands of the "new" consumer. Enter the era of conversational marketing where the words humility, simplicity and authenticity rule.

The truly interesting thing about all this that Brian points out is that the parts still work, they just need to be put together in a different form.

"TV is not an effective way to communicate, video is."

"Radio is not an effective way to communicate, the human voice is."

"Print is not an effective way to communicate, words and images are."

"Web sites are not an effective way to communicate, solving problems is."

All of this relates to my last post on listening first and always. Understand your audience (those that are important to you as well as those that are important to them) then say something powerful. They will do the rest.

As Shakespeare said, "To thine own self be true."

Be real,


Friday, January 02, 2009

Listening is rare, but it's the key to Social Media

Recent research indicates that the average individual listens for only 17 seconds before interrupting and interjecting his/her own ideas.

In social media it usually works like this:

I see that there over 100 million people on Facebook, Bebo, Xing, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Twitter etc., etc., etc. I think, "Wow, I need to get involved. Maybe something good could happen for me." I register, fill out my profile and then start connecting with everyone I know and a bunch of people I barely know or would like to know. I join some groups and ask everyone to connect with me. I spend hours making comments, posting stuff, sending people cutesy flair, etc., etc., etc. It's interesting and even a little fun but nothing is really happening other than a bunch of my old girlfriends are trying to get in my friends list. Lots of talk and no real action (business-wise that is) Hmmm. Why am I not having any luck making something happen?

I think it's because you didn't spend time listening first.

Here's another scenario:

"Wow, I need to get involved..." You google social media and find some interesting articles that talk about the different reasons people get involved with social media. Some of them actually cause the hair on the back of your neck to stand up. But you now understand the type of people you want to be in touch with to accomplish something. In this case finding resources and networking for business opportunities. You decide to spend some time on each of the most popular social media sites and learn about the tools available for each. You search the groups and find several that seem to fit your interests. You take the time to read some of the posts and comments in the groups and decide on 3 that are great fits. By this time you realize that getting involved with all the social media sites you can find is impossible. But you can manage 2 or maybe 3. You find that there are ways to post once and have it show up on multiple sites. Efficiency is my friend you think. There's more to learn so you continue to monitor posts and follow links to learn more about the people that are saying what you're thinking. You contact a couple through e-mail and find that they are full of advice. You ask about results and listen extremely closely when you hear what some have been able to accomplish. Now its time to get involved... and maybe think about starting a business helping others accomplish their goals through social media... maybe even write a book about it... (that's what David Meerman Scott did).

Listen, Learn and Act,


Monday, December 22, 2008

Shoe Thrown At Bush Sells Like Crazy

Wow, a marketing technique that got right past me: Get a reporter to throw something (how about a shoe) at an international leader (especially a very unpopular one like George Bush). Result? 300,000 orders for that type of shoe within a week of the attack. 4 times the amount of orders for the shoe since 1999.

Without the internet, it's just news. Without social media, it's a slow build. Put them together and it's an international phenom.

Hmmm. I guess Nike will need to rethink sponsoring athletes. Would it be a conflict of interest for reporters to wear logos like NASCAR drivers? Ok, maybe I've taken this a little too far... or have I?

Marketing is no longer in the marketer's control.

Remember that.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dell makes $1 million from its Tweets

$1 million sounds like a lot but in comparison to Dell's annual sales it's not very much at all. Even so, it does show that as Twitter continues to become more and more popular with the mainstream, opportunities for businesses to monetize Twitter will also grow.

So put on your brainstorming cap, sharpen your pencil and figure out how to make your own million using Twitter.

Keep on Twittering,


Monday, December 15, 2008

Build a Ballpark and Your City Will Grow

I've always been a skeptic of the saying "build it and they will come" from the movie, "Field of Dreams." But it seems I may need to rethink things in light of new research from Wharton real estate professor Albert Saiz and Gerald A. Carlino of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

They found that "American cities with consumer leisure opportunities that appealed to visitors were also able to attract additional new residents over the course of the 1990s, the decade they examined. On average, cities offering more leisure advantages -- like an attractive waterfront or museums -- gained an additional 2% in population over less attractive counterparts during this 10-year period; some "beautiful cities" like Boston and New York that didn't have the ability to add housing to meet increased demand instead saw a sharp increase in housing prices and rents."

Sounds like Richard Florida, author of the book, "The Rise of the Creative Class" just got some additional validation.

One caveat, though. The last time a civic improvement trend occurred was from the 1890's to the 1920's. The trend ended when it ran into the Great Depression. Will the trend of new ballparks and river walks end with the current recession? Maybe I won't have to rethink things after all.

In the end, cities with strong positive brands are the ones that will be best positioned for growth.

Be strong,


Friday, December 12, 2008

Brands on Twitter... ban or embrace?

First, let me say that "I Love Mashable." OK, now that I've gotten that out of the way on with the blog post.

Social media is about conversations. As the title of Robert Scoble's book, "Naked Conversations" implies, transparency is a key to the effectiveness of social media. This article from Mashable makes the argument that people have relationships with people therefore brand only twitter sites are just plain wrong.

I agree and disagree. I agree that having a human face to a brand makes a brand more real. However, I also believe you can have a relationship with a brand. See the New Coke story for example. Taste didn't matter, the relationship with what came to be known as classic Coke was so strong that Coke killed the better tasting product. Twitter brand sites need to be careful though. Cold, marketspeak on Twitter is just plain wrong. I don't say ban it, but just know you won't be successful if you don't have real conversations.

Be real,


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Branding Is About Better Decision Making

From conversations I've had recently, I've come to the conclusion that most people still believe that managing a business is very different than branding and marketing a business.

I disagree vehemently to this way of thinking. Management and Marketing are in a real way the same thing.

To manage a business you have to understand it. You have to organize it and make sure each piece is doing what it needs to do to reach goals that accomplish the company's mission.

On the other hand, to discover a company's brand you have to find the intersection of what prospects, customers, management, employees, alliances, vendors and all the other audiences want from or value in the company.

So if you first take the time to discover your brand, you'll be able to more clearly make decisions regarding how to organize your business correctly, which people to hire, what processes to put in place, which technology to purchase, what vendors to work with, etc., etc... and you'll also be a more efficient and effective marketer because you'll be focused on communicating what you do best that the customer values most.

To build a better business that can meet the current economic challenges start with your brand.

Stay Focused,


How Sam Zell Killed The Tribune Co.

Article from Forbes on how Sam Zell saved and then killed the Tribune Co.

It goes to show that knowing how to run one type of business doesn't always translate to being able to run all types of businesses. Zell treated the Tribune Co. like his real estate development business and loaded on debt. We all know the result that was announced yesterday - bankruptcy.

The lesson - know your business and be smart with your money. Zell thought he could buy the Tribune leveraged to the hilt, then sell the Cubs and pay down his debt. It may have worked, but he he couldn't sell it in time. Are you listening GM, Ford and Chrysler?

Be Wise,


Monday, December 08, 2008

Does Brainstorming Help Innovation Occur?

Interesting article that concludes that individual "aha" moments come from group efforts. The article also finds that brainstorming is a waste, but more "systematic inventive thinking" produces more innovations.

Even so, I still like the brainstorming process when it's focused. One of my favorite quotes is "don't let the facts get in the way of a great idea." Don't get me wrong. I'm a research guy, but there are times when "gut" wins out. For me, this is one of those gut things.

Be an innovator,


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Cisco wants to be a Leadership Consulting Firm?

Read this article in Fast Company today.

Cisco's business model is fascinating. From what I can tell they have created these groups and councils that will have the authority to make decisions about new products, services, businesses, etc. without having to get approval from the c-suite. It has worked so far, especially in speed to market with new products. They also have expanded their definition of who they are (which in the long run may or may not be a good thing) to more consulting oriented offerings that connect more to their business model than to their technology offerings. Can the firm known for offering the plumbing supplies of the internet add leadership/management consulting to the mix successfully? I'm not so sure. IBM did a pretty good job at this but in the end they transitioned to become more consultant than technology producer. Time will tell. Having $26 billion to play with doesn't hurt their chances... or does it?



Monday, December 01, 2008

Lay-a-way for a New Generation

Saw this from DirectDispatch that Lay-a-ways are back in vogue now that credit is crunched.

I think lay-a-ways fit both today's economy and today's dominant generation. If hype is out and genuineness and authenticity are in, Lay-a-ways making a comeback just makes sense. It's a way to get what you want in a more "real" way than sliding plastic. But from a branding perspective, a lot of negative brand equity has to be cleared away to make lay-a-ways cool. Do you think the current economic pressures people are feeling are enough to overcome the stigma? I'm not so sure.

Be real,


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Start Where You Are

"Don't let life discourage you; everyone who got where he is had to begin where he was."
- Richard L. Evans

If you are not a world beater right now, today, don't worry about it.

Take the time to assess yourself and your organization. Answer the following questions:
- What's going well, what isn't, why?
- What would things look like if they were exactly the way you want?
- What needs to change to make it that way?
- Who are the key people to making those changes?
- Are the key roles filled with the right people?
- What needs to happen first, second, third...?
- How can we chart our progress?

Now, just do it!

In other words,

1. Start where you are,
2. Know where you want to go,
3. Get a map (develop a plan) that shows how to get there and
4. Take the first step from where you are to where you want to go.

Be Wise,


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Train to Nowheresville

Still on my quote kick. Here are some of my thoughts on this one:
"You've got to think about 'big things' while you're doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction."
--Alvin Toffler, renowned futurist and author of "Future Shock" and "The Third Wave"

Ever get caught up in what appears to be the mundane, every day "stuff"? You feel like a "damsel in distress," tied to the railroad tracks just moments from being run over by the express train to "Nowheresville." You feel like you just can't ever seem to get past the urgent to get to the important. This quote explains why. If you don't take the time to think about how the small things you do are taking you to or away from accomplishing the big things (your vision, purpose, mission, goals) then each day you are leaving it to chance that you are moving in the right direction.

So how do you stay focused on the big picture when there are so many fires to put out on a daily (hourly) basis? There really is only one way to do it -- set aside time to think about the big picture and how it relates to your daily activities. It's that simple and that hard. If you find you just can't discipline yourself to do it then I suggest you find a business coach that can help. Many of my clients have said that they just needed someone outside of their company to hold them accountable as well as to bounce big picture ideas off of. Of course, all the big picture planning sessions in the world come to nothing without connecting it to what needs to be done on a daily basis.

Be Wise,


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Rene Descartes and Learning for the Future

"Each problem that I solved became a rule which served afterwards to solve other problems."
- Rene Descartes (1596-1650), "Discours de la Methode"

Ok, I promise this is the last time I'll use this quote... today. But I hope you agree that it's had a lot to say. This time I want to focus on what I believe is the real power of this statement.

Where most people see problems as...problems, Descartes sees problems as opportunities to learn in order to solve future problems. Taking a future perspective when solving every day problems allows you to create value that doesn't exist when you're just "putting out fires."

It's actually very difficult (a problem in itself) to create value without having problems to solve. So the next time you're confronted with an irate client, a prospect who just keeps putting you off or a supplier who forgot to deliver your order, just smile knowing you've been given a great opportunity to improve your organization and yourself.

Be Wise,


Rene Descartes and Learning that Sticks

"Each problem that I solved became a rule which served afterwards to solve other problems."
- Rene Descartes (1596-1650), "Discours de la Methode"

In my last post I mentioned that I should do several posts from this quote. Here's part II. In the last one I focused on building a "learning organization." This time I want to focus on "individual learning."

Many organizations focus on episodic training sessions to teach people the skills they need to do their job. Some go further and provide seminars to increase an employee’s enthusiasm and motivation. But again, it's done in an episodic somewhat disconnected manner.

Studies have shown that a person will retain, at most, about 10% to 20% of the content of a two hour training session or seminar. Add a consulting piece and that number increases to 30% to 35%. But add a coaching and/or a mentoring program and that number can go as high as 80%!!!

So make sure that you look at the big picture first, and then connect the pieces. Your organization's leaders and managers should make sure that team members understand the context of any training and that the training fits the context (that is the strategy and culture) of your organization. Then coach and mentor your people to use that training to solve the real problems they face and move the organization closer to it's Vision (it's preferred future state).

Be Wise,


Rene Descartes knew the key to building a Learning Organization

"Each problem that I solved became a rule which served afterwards to solve other problems."
- Rene Descartes (1596-1650), "Discours de la Methode"

This short quote has so much meat that I may need two or three posts to give all my thoughts on it.

But let's start with what I think is essential for any organization -- to (as Peter Senge of MIT would say) become a "learning organization." In most organizations learning is done on an individual basis, either through continuing education or by on-the-job experiences. However, a huge opportunity is missed when what an individual, or a team, learns is not shared with others in similar roles.

In order to share learning, opportunities to "download" this knowledge must be created. Most think first of technology like databases and contact management software. These can be very useful, but the place to start is by identifying the situations where learning is taking place and then finding ways to compile this learning (debriefings, group meetings, questionnaires, maybe even something as simple as creating a list of people with expertise in certain areas for others in the organization to go to with their questions).

In the end, the more efficient an organization is at sharing knowledge the stronger it will be.

Be Wise,


Monday, November 24, 2008

Identity and Corporate Strategy

Interesting research from HBS via Booz's Strategy + Business.

This somewhat validates what I do for a living. I help corporate leaders use their brand to make decisions about all facets of their organizations... including technology. In other words your identity (your brand) is the source of energy from which everything else flows in your organization. It doesn't mean you stay static, it means you stay true to your purpose while always looking for ways to better fulfill that purpose.

Sometimes I really like reading research.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Crisis + Creativity = Opportunity?

Interesting article from Wharton about folks who are making it happen in spite of everything. Proving that innovation, creativity and common sense can still succeed. Got the itch to start something? There shouldn't be much competition for a while.

Go for it!


Television vs. Multimedia i-Mac

Are we nearing the end of the stand alone TV? Do I hear the crash of technologies merging?Mama Shelter, a Parisian hotel has rid itself of the one trick pony television and replaced it with multimedia i-macs. Hint to all my friends, I want one for Christmas.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Social graphs one up traditional segmentation studies

Excerpt: "It may well be that direct communication between people is a better indicator of deep similarity than any demographic or geographic attributes," wrote the authors, then-NYU grad student Shawndra Hill (now a professor at Wharton), NYU professor Foster Provost and Chris Volinsky, a researcher at AT&T Labs.

Read the rest of the article:

Go social media! Yeah value creation!


Transparency and Trust

Excellent article in Fast Company magazine on building trust through transparency.

In a related thought, have you ever read David Maister's book, The Trusted Advisor? In it he shares what he calls the Trust Equation. I've made a slight adjustment but the equation is basically that Trust equals Credibility plus Reliability plus Emotional Connection divided by the level of Self-Orientation.

In the past the focus has been on Credibility and Reliability but today's emphasis on Transparency shifts the focus to Emotional Connection and more importantly level of Self-Orientation, which indirectly affects Emotional Connection. As humans, we will always have some level of self-orientation but when we listen to our customer and act in an honest and open way, the customer will often give us a break for having a little self-interest.

Read the article and then fill in your trust equation in regard to a specific customer, friend, or family member.

Would being a little more transparent create a lot more trust in that relationship?

Be trustworthy,


Monday, November 17, 2008

The Markers of the Next Generation

Below is an excerpt from today's Monday Morning Memo from Roy Williams, the Wizard of Ads, that should be the guiding principles for all communications over the next 30-40 years:

"Ten years ago when Locke, Searls and Weinberger published the 95 theses of their prescient Cluetrain Manifesto, they listed thesis number 4 as: 'Whether delivering information, opinions, perspectives, dissenting arguments or humorous asides, the human voice is typically open, natural, uncontrived.' Then, in thesis 22 we read, 'Getting a sense of humor does not mean putting some jokes on the corporate web site. Rather, it requires big values, a little humility, straight talk, and a genuine point of view.'

There they are; the markers of the next generation: 'Uncontrived, straight talk, a genuine point of view.' Another way of saying this is 'unfiltered blurting of your truest feelings.' "

Use this to build rock solid relationships that will lead to success and prosperity.

Be real,


Friday, November 14, 2008

How to get advertisers for your blog

My new hero, Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV (passionate champion of doing what you love), had this little gem of advice on his website:

As usual I really need to take this advice (no ads on my blog...yet). Do you?


Life is about...

This quote is a paragraph in a letter from a friend who decided it was his duty to go to Iraq to help both Americans and Iraqis. He is a very rare type of person who sees beyond the obvious.

“Our culture says life is about 'power (control), position (titles), wealth (false security) and fame (false sense of self-worth)' but in truth, life is about 'character (courage, transparency, etc.), relationship (to love & trust), vision (to do good) and leadership (influence)'. These truths resonate with most folks quickly because 'power, position, wealth & fame' squeeze us all out. They are competitive. 'Character, relationship, vision and leadership' are not competitive. We can spend our whole life growing in these areas. Inwardly we all admire and desire these priorities.”
-- James C. Anderson, MD (written while stationed in Anbar province, Iraq)

So what is your life about? I'm asking myself the same question.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Designing offices for the four work modes can boost productivity by more than 20 per cent

When I read this article in the Financial Times, I found it interesting that Gensler, the international architecture and interior design firm, has identified 4 work modes that more or less correlate with the 4 basic personality types. Hmmm. I like it - that is, I like the concept, not necessarily the way Edelman PR has implemented it in their London offices. I'm not much into "lights decorated with small paper drawings of Japanese erotica." That goes more to values than personality, I guess.

If education were this flexible in its approach would we see a 20% boost in learning?! In most of education, business and in life things end up being about understanding yourself, understanding others and then adapting to communicate in the way the other person (or organization) can best understand. This doesn't mean you shouldn't want to have a consistent brand. It just means you need to tailor how you communicate your brand's one thing to your different audience segments. From the personality side, one of my favorite books in this area is The Platinum Rule by Tony Alessandra. He says that it's not the Golden Rule that says, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" that builds productive relationships but the Platinum Rule that states, "Do unto others as they would have done unto them." Another book from more of the brand side of the equation is The Experience Economy by Joseph Pine and James Gilmore who look at the 4 realms of Experience. Adapting-to-connect works in relationships and in the type of environment you provide in the workplace as well.

What should change at your office?


Friday, November 07, 2008

The next 5000 days of the Web: One Machine - We are the ONE

A talk by Kevin Kelly, a futurist of the highest degree, recently caught my attention. He talks of what the next 5000 days of the web will bring. My view of the implications, if Mr. Kelly is correct, are both exciting and disturbing. From one perspective, the world and every person in it will be like a part of a huge parallel computer. Progress... positive change would be instantaneous continuously. However, without a clear set of global values, the opposite could also be true. The concept of marketing would truly be holistic. Everyone would be forced to live their brand because there would be no where to hide the "truth" about you, your organization, your product/service. Complete transparency. So what I preach to my clients today about defining their one thing and let everything they do internally and externally flow from that may not be a bad idea.

Take a look, think about it and let me know what you're thinking. You might as well, I'll know everything about you in 5000 days.

My head hurts thinking about it. I'm getting some Tylenol.

Stay focused,


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Inbound Marketing Summit with Seth Godin and David Meerman Scott

Mark Campanale with Triumverate Environmental (check out his blog ) recently attended the Inbound Marketing Summit. While there he posted some comments about how great it was. I trust Mark so I went to the Inbound Marketing Summit website and watched several videos of the various presentations. Wow, this is good stuff. There is so much to get out of these presentations. Business owners, marketing professionals... everybody needs to understand what Albert Einstein put so well, "We can't solve problems using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."

Watch and learn.
(Seth Godin) or

(David Meerman Scott) or

So, did you learn anything?


In Light of Yesterday's Elections a Couple of Quotes from James Madison

Congratulations to last nights election winners. A little advice from James Madison, the father of the U.S. Constitution.

"Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government."
James Madison

"Every nation whose affairs betray a want of wisdom and stability may calculate on every loss which can be sustained from the more systematic policy of its wiser neighbors."
James Madison

Your friend in Freedom,


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Marketing - It's Personal

Jim Stengel, formerly head of Marketing at P&G, has started his own firm focused on what I'm calling "purpose-driven" marketing. It's all about the relationship with the customer/client/consumer.Take a look at his speech at the 4A's conference:
Here's his blurb launching his new venture:"Jim Stengel, outgoing global marketing chief at Procter & Gamble, is setting up Jim Stengel LLC, which is promoting a new way of selling based on the concept of "purpose." For example, the company's Pampers brand has been focused on the purpose of developing healthy, happy babies, not just keeping bottoms dry, he explained."

Stay on purpose,

Monday, November 03, 2008

FAO is no longer the ghost of Christmas Past

Have you heard? FAO Schwarz, the toy store left for dead after filing chapter 11 and closing all of its stores 5 years ago, is back. Why? It's all about the BRAND!

Check out this interview with David Niggli, president and chief merchandising officer to learn how to revive any great brand on life support. Go back to the core of what made your brand great to begin with.

Stay Focused,


Did you know? What are the implications?

Saw this video from today's Wizard of Ads' Monday Morning Memo. Would love to hear your thoughts on the implications of some of these things. Very thought provoking facts... things like China will soon be #1 in number of English speaking people and by 2049 a $1000 computer will have the computational power of all the people in the world combined.

Think about it.


Friday, October 31, 2008

Using Design to Crack Society’s Problems

I recently read an extremely intriguing article in Fast Company magazine about the power of "design thinking." A company in the UK called "Participle" is addressing social issues using a design approach... and it seems to be working. Awesome. The key is not that you have to be a designer, but if you learn to think like a designer it gives you a new perspective on how to address the challenges you may face in business, in society... in life.



Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Flattening can be fattening

I've been reading several books at the same time lately. I always read several books at a time because it helps me see the connections between ideas in often very different industries or subject areas.

At present I'm reading "The World is Flat", about globilization's impact on global competitiveness; "Primal Branding", about the 7 things needed to build a brand that sticks; "Blue Ocean Strategy", about how to make your competition irrelevant; "Book Yourself Solid", about how to get more clients than you can handle; and a biography of John Adams which delves into the personal and public lives of one of our most difficult to understand founding fathers.

What I've found so far is that John Adams went through a lot of the same things I've been going through lately: A constant struggle with confidence that vacillated between total self-derision to sometimes unrealistic optimism.

The more I've read "The World is Flat" I see that the United States often does the same thing. We do great things and then beat ourselves up for being a superpower but in the end we play to our strengths: flexibility and innovation. These strengths allow the U.S. to take good times too far and find ways to survive and thrive in the not so good times.

Then I look at "Primal Branding" and realize why John Adams was never as famous as George Washington or Benjamin Franklin. His story wasn't as exciting. "Primal Branding" points out that a truly great brand must have a strong "creation story".

"Blue Ocean Strategy" talks about creating your own unique market space so you don't have any real competitors or at least they don't matter anymore. Going back to the John Adams biography it became clear that the United States caught the imagination of the world because it was the first modern democracy/republic. None of the other powers of the day could (or wanted to) provide the amount of freedom/liberty that the U.S. could (or wanted to). Also, "Book Yourself Solid" emphasizes that success comes at the intersection of capability and desire.

Does this make sense? In relation to business it goes back to several key points.

1. A strong brand starts with a strong story.

2. A strong story needs to position you in your own unique market space.

3. Confidence is key to business success but it must be based in reality.

4. Confidence comes from working in areas of expertise and passion (the best place to get results).

5. People (clients/prospects) need to understand the value of what you do more than they need to understand what you do.

I'm sure there are many more connections to make. I'll share more as they come to me.

What are you reading?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Good Decisions

What are good decisions? Could bad decisions in the short term end up being the keys to your future success? Could what looks like a great decision that gives you success in one area actually be your undoing down the road? Or is a good decision obviously a good decision and a bad one a bad one?

The key to this complexity appears to me to be simplicity. But as I've said over and over in my consulting work, "Simple does not mean easy." From my experience, businesses that have a clear purpose, a clear brand and a clear strategy derived from that clear purpose and brand tend to find more confidence in their decision making.

The result? Unfortunately, good decisionmaking doesn't always show immediate positive results. Often, change requires going through some pain to get to the gain (sounds a little cheesy but it's true).

Another truth is that what may have been a good decision at one point in time may no longer be such a great decision later on. The late Roberto Goizueta, former CEO of Coca-Cola said, "There are two constants at Coca-Cola. A constant purpose and a constant dissatisfaction with how we are accomplishing that purpose."

Again, unfortunately, it seems to be human nature that once we have success a particular way we get comfortable and don't look for better ways to do things until it's often too late. Warren Buffet found a more poetic way to say this, "The chains of habit are light until they are too heavy to remove."

Clarity and timing. Patience and action. Taking into account the future while living in the present. Simple... but not easy.