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Monthly archives "June 2013"

Demystifying the C-Suite

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c-suiteOver the last five years I have been fortunate to work with Director, Vice President, and C-Suite level colleagues very closely. This has taught me a great deal about the ins and outs of how a business is truly run and how expectations are managed. For those that are not fortunate enough to work as closely with this set often, it may be very intimidating.

If you are intimidated enough, they may see you as a less than great performer. If you are intimidated enough, they may not get the correct message from your work. If you are intimidated enough, you will avoid them and let someone else take credit. So let us stop all that before it starts.

  1. They are human and make mistakes. Yes, it is true. You may want to think they landed in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947 and are stranded here only to make your life a mess. Lucky for you, they are not. All humans make mistakes. What differentiates the C-Suite from others is that they learn and apply mistakes of theirs and those reporting to them.
  2. They don’t know everything. They should not know everything either. they hire and cultivate those below them to make the right decisions based on the overall company vision. If the CEO is a finance person they do not know everything about marketing, and vice versa. They surround themselves with experts of industry. Who knows? you may be that expert.
  3. They want to see your hard work not hear about it. Bring them ideas when afforded the opportunity. If the opportunity does not present itself, find a need, and make a pitch to present it to them. Start solving their problems. Walk the walk as they say.
  4. They are busy. They don’t just sit around all day like some may think. This level is juggling many different initiatives. When trying to get a hold of them on an issue or pertinent project you may have to try a few means to get a hold of them. Email does not always cut it.
  5. They will go to bat for you. If you make yourself visible to the C-Suite they will stand up for you when needed. They are very protective of their top performers. If you repeatedly take initiative and always keep the company’s best interests in mind, they will recognize it. You may not even realize how much they like you. Find ways to get them talking about you without you in the room, you may not even know it for months or years.

Taking all these things into consideration, they can fire you as well. Tread lightly. However, as long as you always put forth your best effort and are sincere about it, you have nothing to worry about.

Have you noticed anything else about the C-Suite?

Personal Brand Leadership at Any Level

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who_says_elephants_cant_dance_gerstnerThe term “personal branding” has been around for a few years now. However, many individuals still have a difficult time grasping what that exactly means. When focusing on your personal brand the goal is to elevate, while staying true to, yourself at work and at home.

In the effort of elevating yourself to the greatest possible potential is another key term – personal leadership. In the book by Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. “Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance” the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of IBM touched on this topic heavily. Gerstner spoke largely of his days at IBM and its turnaround, but he also spoke to ideals in personal leadership. Three portions to take away from this book for anyone looking to elevate their personal brand are as follows:

  1. “Passion. As a student going through Harvard Business School, I would never have guessed that passion would be the single most important element of personal leadership.” You must be passionate about your work. If you are not passionate you will be passed up like a bum in a subway station. Your work will go unnoticed. Passion shows that you care about your work, the good of the company, and the health of your family. A man by the name of Louis Chevrolet has a passion for driving. A women by the name of Emily Dickinson had a passion for writing. A man named Steve Jobs had a passion for computers. Maybe you’ve heard of them? While not all passions will get you to the top of your field, they will show your drive and propel your forward.
  2. “The common thread among them [great CEOs] is that they…

Read the entire article on the Talent Zoo Blog Beneath the Brand at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beneath-the-brand/blog_news.php?articleID=17709

Life is Too Short

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I will do it tomorrow. I will get to it eventually. I will stop by someday soon. I will get back to you.  We say these things daily. In the wake of events such as the Boston marathon bombings and Sandy Hook Elementary shootings we are reminded why life is much too short to wait. Putting something off until tomorrow is another day lost, and what if tomorrow never comes? For some, as in the bombings or shootings, it did not.

Emails go unanswered and life goes on. Phone calls go answered and life goes on. You can either choose to let everyone have 24/7 access to you via smart phone technology and move at the speed of sound, or you can take a step back. If you choose to take a step back maybe you will have a chance to give back to your community, church, or family. By this, I am not saying to quit work and devote your life to others. What I am saying is that there are things more important than work. Things such as a loved one’s smile, helping someone less fortunate, or taking time out of your workday to help a charity that is close to your heart, remind you that there is good in the world.

You are part of that good. Sometimes it is easy to forget that. It is easy to rush off to work without kissing your spouse goodbye for the day. It is easy to get upset because the older lady in front to you is taking too long checking out at the grocery store. It is easy to not help a family member move into their new apartment. Did you ever think it might be the last kiss you give your spouse? Did you ever think this might be the only person this older lady talks to all day long, or that she needs help loading groceries into her car? Did you ever think that it may not be easy for a family member to ask for help?

Sometimes it is the simplest things in life that we miss out on. We forget how lucky we are. Celebrate life. Step back and enjoy what is around you. Help others in the simplest ways. And, don’t forget to smile.

Cadillac is Going Rogue

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2014-cadillac-ctsCadillac is “Going Rogue.” No, not in the Sarah Palin-esque style after which she so eloquently titled her memoir. Rather, in its advertising switch from Fallon Worldwide to three firms from the Interpublic Group of Companies simply called “Rogue.” Rogue is comprised of Campbell Ewald (Detroit), Hill Holiday (Boston), and Lowe (London).

“Our open architecture model brings together outstanding IPG talent with deep knowledge of both autos and the luxury consumer — domestically and around the world,” said Michael Roth, Chairman and CEO of Interpublic Group. “Our offering will be comprised of the exceptional creative capabilities of Hill Holliday, a powerful base of operations in Detroit thanks to Campbell Ewald, and Lowe’s dynamic international network.”

Back in March, Bill Shea at Crain’s Detroit Business told the public that Cadillac would be taking the reins of its advertising back from Fallon Worldwide and giving it to Campbell Ewald. Tuesday, Shea announced that “Campbell Ewald hired as part of Cadillac ad account switch.” The focus has been on Campbell Ewald because of its long history…

Read the entire article on the Talent Zoo blog Beyond Madison Avenue at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beyond-madison-ave/blog_news.php?articleID=17668

Your Past. Your Present. Your Future.

Meeting an old friend is like looking into your past, reminding you of what you love and how you got to where you are. Tweetable.

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When I tweeted this I did not expect the number of positive emotions to come from this sentiment. I began to think deeper about how I felt that night. There are a few friends that some people have that you may not see or talk to in years. However, when you get together, you are transported back to a time that is very different from now. You are yourself, but an outdated model if you will. When I met this friend I was back at the Motorola Razr version of myself – before the Blackberry and multiple versions of iPhones.

Thinking about it in terms of phone upgrades made me think how far I have upgraded myself. My mindset was of a more limited functionality. In a world where everything is so fast-paced and changing rapidly it reminded me that I am achieving my goals. My past has shaped my present and my present is shaping my future. My goal of continual education is paying off.

My present is right here, right now. I am focused. I am focused on learning as much as possible about everything I come in contact with. I am focused on my family. I am focused on my job. I am focused on being my best possible self. For years I have stood firm with this mindset. To see a prior version of myself made me understand that even though my general goals and values have remained the same it has propelled me to new heights.

Do you have a friend like this or have had a similar experience recently? If so, share it with me below. I want to hear about it.

In my tweet I used the word love. I love life. I love my wife, family and friends. I love nostalgia. I love ice cream before dinner. I love to laugh. I love to play complex jazz music at obnoxiously loud levels next to the guy who’s speakers are thumping with hip hop loud enough to rattle the tires clear off your car while stopped at a red light. Sorry for the run-on sentence. But seriously, I love the little things. The thing I discovered was that while my mindset had been upgraded, my love had remained the same. Sure love may evolve, but the specific things that are true to your heart always remain the same.

In business, sometimes brands lose site of what they love and/or what their audience loves. They lose their focus on divert from the plan. Personally I have been down on myself that maybe I am not growing as fast as I should be. Looking back those 5-6 years changed my mind. Look back into the last 5-6 years of your brand. Is your underlying love and focus still there?

Action item: A mentor of mine once told me this and I think it may help you better understand my point. Put your goals, your hopes, your wants and anything else on a piece of paper. Have your spouse do it with you for fun. Tuck the pieces of paper in a jar and stash it away. In five years, open it. You may want to put an expiration date on it or open it on a special day like an anniversary or new years day. When you finally open it you will be amazed at how far you have come.

Never Trust A PowerPoint Expert

What makes someone a PowerPoint expert?

Nothing. Mostly it is self-proclamation. Millions of presentations are created and given each year in PowerPoint, but how many are effective? How many have a clear goal that is translated well into a cohesive and effective presentation? It is not clear if we will ever get these numbers.

Usually when someone proclaims to be a PowerPoint expert it means you now have more work to do to fix the presentation before it is presented to the client. Case in point: In the final step of an RFP process, we were to give a presentation sharing our value proposition with the potential client. The presentation was blocked for a two-hour time window with time for a question and answer session. The “PowerPoint Expert” went straight to building the deck of 67 action-unpacked slides. Many of the slides had text in full sentences and were to be read word-for-word. The expert-created slides made me want to slide under the table. What is worse, in an attempt to include more charts and drawings, smart graphics were used. It is important to point out that smart graphics are only as smart as the person putting them together. They not only differentiated from our color scheme but they modified the graphics in such as way that that they were corrupt. In the end I was the one doing as much as I could to clean them up before presentation day. We did not secure that work.

The PowerPoint may not have completely been to blame for not winning the work but it plays a more significant role than one may realize. The key thing to remember is this is your first deliverable for a new client. It delivers your brand’s image and value.

There are tons of articles on best practices on how best to create a presentation. Similarly, there are at least twice as many articles and media on what not to do in creating a PowerPoint presentation. That is not the goal of this article. The goal is to recognize the importance of PowerPoint as a medium of story. In The Art of The Pitch, Peter Coughter does it better than anyone in explaining on how best to give a presentation. One key point that sticks out is not to start out going straight to the deck to put the slides together. Think about what you want to audience to take away first. Know specifically what they are interested in and then figure out the best way to convey it. Sometimes, you may not even need a PowerPoint.

What presentation formatting nightmares have you seen? What would you do differently?

Here is a funny-but-true video to better illustrate these points by comedian Don McMillan called Life After Death by PowerPoint. Watch it here.

Original article published on the Talent Zoo blog Beyond Madison Avenue at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beyond-madison-ave/blog_news.php?articleID=17626