Business Leadership

7 02, 2020

WIC Summit 2020 opening plenary

By |2020-02-07T18:37:15+00:00February 7th, 2020|Categories: Business Leadership, Videos|0 Comments

It was an honor to join five exceptional female graduates for the Women In Cloud Summit 2020 opening plenary: Entrepreneurship Mindset – Leading in Cloud Economy.

The WIC movement is a powerful movement, where both men and women are taking action to create economic access for Women in the Cloud economy.  Learn more here about the movement.

1 12, 2018

People lie once every ten minutes. What is this costing your company?

By |2018-12-01T19:10:52+00:00December 1st, 2018|Categories: Business Leadership, Business management|0 Comments

It has been said that we live in a culture of lies—white lies, exaggerations, misrepresentations and outright deceptions. In fact, Robert Fieldman has recently published a book that demonstrates that the most popular people are the ones who lie most often. Plus before people know each other will they tend to lie once every ten minutes. My question is: how will that affect business success or failure?

I’ve seen that lying is one of the most destructive forces in a business management. One of the leading offenders is the way an organization engages in self-deception. An organization will collectively kid itself in the interest of moving forward.

Consider this scenario: You are running a company. You are likely a strong personality or you wouldn’t have had a good deal of success already. You have a new idea, and because you are a good boss with a great staff, you ask for your employees’ input. They support the major thrust of whatever you describe, raising minor objections. You head back to your office to begin an implementation plan.

Now imagine the potential reality: your employees have high mortgage payments, a kid or two, and increasing credit card debt. They also hold the belief that their next raise will be tied to being a popular “team player” so they withhold awkward but insightful criticism. Your business slowly fails because the truth will put your employees’ immediate futures at risk.

Everyone in this scenario is trying to be the good guy. But in reality, the good guy employee would risk his or her raise to speak the truth. The owner who’s a really good guy would demand truth and create a culture of honesty—rewarding smart, respectful, and comprehensive thinking.

On the other extreme, I’ve seen the opposite problem in a company whose motto was “challenge the process.” It’s not a bad idea, but in practice, it can create a culture of naysayers. If you were brave enough to agree with anything, you risk not living up to the motto. It can paralyze the organization. Large-scale projects may not get off the ground effectively because company-wide support was impossible to achieve. The motto, unfortunately, can create a company-wide agreement to sustain a different sort of self-deception: “The system or ideas we have proposed cannot be right if I’m going to live up to the motto and get my next raise.”

Clearly, it takes humility, courage and, of course, honesty to find out how lying might be damaging your business.

27 06, 2018

Dynamic platform vs. traditional business strategy

By |2018-12-01T04:39:36+00:00June 27th, 2018|Categories: Brand Strategy, Business Leadership, Business management, Business Plans, Business Strategy, Strategic planning|Comments Off on Dynamic platform vs. traditional business strategy

Our dynamic platform harmonizes your leadership team around a clear vision in one day and then builds momentum long-term, ensuring that vision becomes a reality. It could be called a “Strategy Platform”. But let’s not. Our approach is so radically different from the disappointing image “strategy” can summon in the minds of business leaders, we don’t like to use the word.

Unlike a traditional approach to strategy, our dynamic platform is an online, adaptive, affordable, collaborative method that guards against faulty conclusions or dust-gathering strategy documents because no one knows quite what to do with them.

Don’t settle for the traditional approach of just getting people on the same page, offer them a framework for smart improvisation.

Wondering if it’s actually possible? Over a hundred organizations have found it highly beneficial.

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13 06, 2018

What does the empowered buyer demand?

By |2019-09-03T19:56:59+00:00June 13th, 2018|Categories: Brand Strategy, Business Leadership, Business Plans, Smart Leadership|Comments Off on What does the empowered buyer demand?

What’s being demanded by the 
empowered buyer?

It’s good to take a look at this shift in the 
buyer’s thinking. There are statistics to confirm it, 
in case you have doubts.
The research company GlobeScan annually surveys a thousand top thought leaders, as well as the general public, in a majority of countries around 
the world on some pertinent issues. GlobeScan Radar program, a syndicated service offering based on global public opinion research, covering a variety of issues around business in society. GlobeScan has been tracking issues and societal expectations for business across the world since 1999.
It’s no surprise there is now a strong belief that a company should be rewarded for being socially and environmentally responsible, but there is an even stronger sense that a company should be punished for harming social and environmental health. Globscan reported in a 2011 study 31 percent of social media users said they had rewarded a socially responsible company. While 23 percent of social media users said they had punished a socially irresponsible company by criticizing them or boycotting their products.
In 2014 GlobScan reported that both current and future stainability leaders generally rate business as low on transparency, future leaders have a lower perception of business transparency in general: 31 percent were notably more likely to say that business is characterized by a lack of transparency while 20 percent of current leaders rated businesses as low on transparency.

The research in 2007 showed how rapidly the consumer’s sense of empowerment is increasing. Does the consumer believe they possess the power to influence a company’s behavior? Over the last few years, there is strong and steady growth in mainstream activism in most countries. The sense of empowerment in the U.S. is exceeded only by that in Canada and Australia. Forty-five percent of Americans polled consider themselves mainstream activists on some level and obviously feel empowered to affect corporate behavior—a statistic that has grown at a rate of 7% in two years.
Now, that’s a sense of empowerment.
When it comes to companies reporting their 
activities, leaders worldwide hold two interesting perspectives. While most admit to having purchased something, or invested in a brand, based on a corporate social responsibility report (CSR), 35% strongly agree, and 41% somewhat agree that stainability reporting is used to improve a 
business’ image and is therefore unreliable.
These statistics indicate there are a growing number of individuals around the world who feel they can apply pressure that will force companies to comply with their desires authentically. And, of course, they are right. Companies desperately need those who will purchase their products or services. There is no business without someone to do business with.
It is interesting that the sixties helped us distrust authority, but it took until now—sometime after the turn of the century—to really understand that the buyer, not the seller, has the power.
Whether you agree with environmental thinking 
or not, it is refreshing to finally regain, as a culture, our own strong sense of values and a desire for purpose beyond “stuff.” We are all buyers in one role or another. As buyers, either for a business we represent or directly for ourselves, we know we can choose products and services that align with our values, functional needs, time lines, personality, budget, and a grander sense of purpose. 
But conversely, this can be intimidating for you from a business perspective. If you’ve become accustomed to focusing on whatever you want—whatever you want to offer, the way you want to offer it—and use a branding, advertising, or sales strategy that says whatever it takes to entice the buyer, you’ll likely need to make 
some changes.

28 05, 2018

A short history of why we need to know how we are unique as an organization.

By |2018-12-01T19:01:40+00:00May 28th, 2018|Categories: Brand Strategy, Business Leadership, Business Plans, Grow Business, Smart Leadership|Comments Off on A short history of why we need to know how we are unique as an organization.

It’s generally understood that brand, as the term is now used, began in the twentieth century. Linguistically it has a long history, but as it applies to the stakeholder’s image of a business, it has a fairly short one. All its diverse origins and evolutions could be investigated, but it’s not necessary to go that deep into history to gain an effective understanding. Simple definitions are the most useful.

An academic would be disappointed without years of research and pages of references, but smart business demands only the essential elements be evaluated and applied. That’s the difference between people who like to talk about business and those who like doing business—theory vs. hands-on implementation. Often, it is also the difference between a useful consultant who has the track record to evolve your company and one that has an impressive-sounding theory about “how one might grow one’s business.” Use caution.

The short story about “brand” goes like this: As the mass-produced products from the industrial revolution came to market, it created an identity problem in the local store. The question arose: How does one differentiate a new, modern product (like a healing salve, for instance) from the local product everyone has trusted for years? The problem of communicating the unique value of any given product was born. Eventually this created an entirely new industry category that became part art and user was no longer the priority. In fact, belief in the strength of branding made us consider whether a quality product was even necessary. Even those of us who made a living by marketing and branding started to drink our own Kool-Aid. We no longer felt the need to actually tell the truth about the products or offerings, because the brand was the thing that people would buy. There was no need to obsess over the product; that was the old way of doing things. Now all we had to do was tell the potential buyer what to think through great branding. With enough really smart creativity, we would motivate the purchase.

The hard thing for me to admit is that it actually worked for a period of time. Most of the buyers jumped on the branding bandwagon and were genuinely influenced by the grand illusions presented by marketers.

What could fill that huge gap in logic?
Emotion. Our affluent culture offered us, as consumers, far too many decisions to make in a typical day. We were grateful for anything that could speed up any of those decisions, especially one that is emotionally charged.

It’s impossible to know all the reasons why our culture, at least for a time, fell prey to the egotistical message of the Brand. But I’m pretty sure it has something to do with the fact that we evolved to a place where we had the affluence and leisure time to move higher up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, without the discipline to do so.

Here’s what I mean by that statement: We, as a culture, had been working really hard—toiled through the infancy of the industrial revolution and a couple of world wars—and then the fabulous time-saving, pre-packaged goods rolled into our homes and made our lives a breeze.

That’s the point at which we became lost in the pleasure of our reprieve and quickly forgot why we had worked so hard. We wanted a well-deserved break, a little time to bathe in our newly won luxury. We lost touch with the bigger goals and meaning of life. Without a more noble pursuit that humans naturally long for, we were left with stuff, experiences, and purchases that we then used to make us feel alive and important. In that context, an exciting brand illusion appeared to be just the thing we needed. Good branding could offer us the timesaving, pre-packaged replacement to a meaningful life. Thankfully, this shallow solution was not going to last forever.

So now, we come full circle. We, as a culture, have begun to awaken and realize that without a reason for being, we will end up in a lost, pointless existence. Now, everything has shifted. We want more—more than just “stuff” for the sake of having it. We want more than the emotional high of associating our personal worth with the brands we choose. We want less jargon and more for our money. We want to save the trees, save the planet, save the children, and educate the poor, and we want a product that does what it claims it will do. Or we’re out.

This is an exciting time for those who prefer telling the truth. It’s encouraging that we are all demanding more from the products and offerings we spend our money on. It restores a little faith in human nature. But it will also increase the demands on the business owners to pay attention to their customers.

We’ve developed a method to produce the candor required to build a great brand.

Are you ready? Check out this self-assessment and find out in just a few minutes:

14 05, 2018

Why do so many business initiatives fail?

By |2019-08-19T18:54:38+00:00May 14th, 2018|Categories: Business Leadership, Business management, Business Strategy, Strategic planning, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Why do so many business initiatives fail?

According to executives, nearly half of all strategic initiatives fail.

Various studies conducted since 1995 consistently show executives will admit their strategic objectives have failed on some level almost half the time. I am not surprised by the failure rate, but I am thrilled by the honesty. When we can admit a problem, we can begin looking for a solution.

There are two reasons strategy fails. Either there is a flaw in the strategic plan, or the strategy fails in execution. The root cause of both failures is confusion around about what strategy is, and what it is not.

We are all taught we answer the“Why.?” questions first and align our team around an inspiring vision. Strategic objectives will then answer the question of “What?”. Tactics answer the question “How?” The trouble comes when strategic objectives and executional tactics are also considered strategy. We’ve all seen a set of tactics presented as a strategy. This is a classic mistake, but one that can be avoided when these concepts are understood as separate but connected elements in an overall business framework.

Most business leaders are very comfortable with the idea of creating a plan for executing strategic objectives. They know how to break a broad objective into smaller objectives, and then assign the necessary tasks and deadlines to individuals to accomplish those goals. It sounds like a straightforward process, and impressive when the plan is presented in a whiz-bang slide deck. Yet those same business leaders are surprised when the execution of that plan doesn’t quite proceed as they’d intended, or at least about half of them are.

Unfortunately, without answering the “Why” question first, there are no criteria for evaluating those objectives, or how they will be executed. So the leader can either do nothing because he cannot make a clear-minded decision on his own, or he’ll do what most leaders do, make the best guess he can and hope it doesn’t fail. Suddenly, it becomes apparent where the high failure rate of strategic initiatives comes from.

There has to be a better solution.

We’ve developed a really smart option to rapidly answer the“Why” question first. Check it out at


5 05, 2018

Is candor a business leaders best friend?

By |2018-12-01T19:04:24+00:00May 5th, 2018|Categories: Business Leadership|Comments Off on Is candor a business leaders best friend?

There are a lot of brilliant entrepreneurs out there, and at some point—despite their impressive tenacity and competitive nature—they usually hit a ceiling. The excitement of moving their company to the next level becomes a frustration. Naturally, they blame their staff. Morale declines, frustration increases, the cycle repeats. The entrepreneur, now a business leader, rolls up his sleeves again and comes up with new and improved ideas, but still doesn’t see the results he’s looking for. He is driven to advance his organization, but what can he try next?

I’ve worked with businesses for years and have witnessed this many times. Some make it and some don’t. This book was written to share the approach I have seen generate success.

You need a solution that is fast and straightforward. The market moves quickly, and there is no long-term advantage in avoiding reality. I offer raw honesty in a concise format, because that’s exactly what a business leader needs.

29 04, 2015

One sure way to develop efficient tactics

By |2015-04-29T18:17:36+00:00April 29th, 2015|Categories: Brand Strategy, Business Leadership, Business Plans|Tags: , , |Comments Off on One sure way to develop efficient tactics

One sure way to develop efficient tactics – Don’t roll the dice. All your
tactics can be very effective and efficient to implement once they are tied directly to your larger strategy. You can quickly evaluate each tactic based on your companies values, personality, positioning, SWOT, and consumer needs.

Here is an example of the potential cost of neglecting to directly tie
tactics to a larger strategy. During the Atkins Diet craze many potato chip companies who had solid growth for years were suddenly losing revenue. Sales and business development people were screaming for a diet product. Companies started reformulating their product line, designing new packages, creating new sales programs and new messaging—then the fad wore off. The image of their company had now become convoluted, and getting back their market share
likely was even more difficult.

This initial response was human nature. Of course, the natural response was to develop “diet products.” Without organizational guidelines that are stronger than the panic, what else would an entrepreneur do?

Since constant change seems to be the constant part of the business climate, this re-creating of tactics would need to happen quite often without the overarching guidelines. The leadership team, or in some unfortunate cases an outside firm, would need to regroup again, put their heads together, and craft another set of actions they’d need to take immediately to respond to the new situation. Next, they’d need to create a new budget to support those actions, scrapping former efforts to adapt to the new situation.

It is possible that these are actually the correct actions for that moment in time, but how can you be confident that they are appropriate for the long-term goals of your company?

• How do you know this is the right direction and not just a new direction?

• In what ways should the new plan connect directly to former efforts and in what ways should it deviate?

• Will the return be worth reinventing internal procedures to support the changes?

• Will the company really be able to deliver on its new promise/direction?

29 04, 2015

Do you have the right tactics?

By |2015-04-29T18:09:01+00:00April 29th, 2015|Categories: Brand Strategy, Business Leadership, Strategic Intent|Tags: , , |Comments Off on Do you have the right tactics?

Is that the wrong question?

You can hire an outside firm to help you. They will most likely offer you a brilliant set of short-term tactics, which, may work for awhile. They will even want to call it a strategy. I suppose it is a strategy of sorts—a short-term, action-oriented strategy.

This can feel like the perfect solution, because you have very likely already spent years rolling up your sleeves and pushing through to the next level. You may feel like, with this plan, you finally have some real help at the executive level, and you may. But I can promise you there is a far more efficient path to evolve a business. I will also promise you that to do what I suggest will make you feel like you are going backward in order to go forward; so let me explain further.

A strategy that is rooted in tactics will work within a given set of finite circumstances. Once those circumstances morph into something new, the strategy will need to be re-created rapidly.

Strategic intent and strategic objectives should guide tactics.

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