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The Negotiating Wisdom of Vito Corleone

February 23rd, 2011

One of my favorite leadership philosophers was the late, great Vito Corleone, immortalized in Mario Puzo’s The Godfather. Don Vito rose to power because of his talent for engaging almost anybody in productive negotiation.

The Don was committed to reasoning with others to find win-win solutions. Read the rest of this entry »

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What Makes P&G Great

February 21st, 2011

Last summer I was invited to visit Procter & Gamble’s headquarters in Cincinnati. I was filled with nostalgia, for that is where I began my career in marketing and general management long ago, and I had not been back in over two decades. At first I was struck with the strangeness of the place. There was a coffee bar in the lobby, turnstiles blocked the elevators, and I recognized few faces. But by the time I left, I realized that the truth was more complex, and therein lies the secret of P&G’s continuing success.

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Education’s Challenge Is Finding the Right Metrics

February 16th, 2011

I recently had a conversation with a gentleman whose name I didn’t catch, but he certainly stimulated thoughts. He has spent his career as a specialist in Education Leadership and Policy. We were both old enough to chuckle over the current deja vu in education policy discussions. It feels like the early 80s again. He recalled Reagan’s denunciation of our educators as possibly criminal because of our students’ low scores on international tests, while I remembered the fear of an engineering-driven Asian giant that was about to surpass us (Japan then, China now). Of course, what the hand-wringers didn’t know was that we were at the dawn of one of America’s greatest growth eras, spurred by the very skills which our education system excels at fostering, like creativity and innovation.

American education remains one of our economic treasures, a net exporter of services as foreign students flock to our schools. Yet we have this sense of failure. Why? Read the rest of this entry »

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From Bud to Boss: Kevin Eikenberry’s Book for New Leaders

February 14th, 2011

Recently, we published part one of an interview with Kevin Eikenberry of the Kevin Eikenberry Group, whose new book, From Bud to Boss (co-authored with Guy Harris) is launching this week. Following is Part 2 of the interview. Read the rest of this entry »

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E-Myth, Rework, and Truth

February 11th, 2011

A couple of the most popular business books irk me. Michael Gerber’s The E-Myth Revisited and 37signal’s Rework disagree about many things, yet both make the same fundamental error: they over-reach.

Let me make the point by citing a book that never over-reaches, Good to Great by Jim Collins. Read the rest of this entry »

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From Trainer to Guru: Kevin Eikenberry’s Leadership Journey

February 9th, 2011

Kevin Eikenberry of the Kevin Eikenberry Group is well known in leadership development circles, so it is no surprise that his new book, From Bud to Boss (co-authored with Guy Harris), is creating a lot of buzz. I recently got to chat with Kevin about his career, his goals, and especially his current project. Following is Part 1 of the interview. Read the rest of this entry »

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Humility? I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Humility!

February 7th, 2011

The brilliant Julio Olalla recently told me a story  about the connection between language and experience.

He said to imagine you go to an art museum filled with several Gaugins. You stroll through. You notice the vibrant colors, the tropical scenes, the curious eyes of the Polynesian women. Then, as you leave, you run into the world’s greatest Gaugin scholar. She invites you to walk through the exhibit again, this time with her as your guide. Perhaps you think, “But I just saw it all!” But in the end, you go back through with her.

Do you really believe your second experience would be remotely like your first? Read the rest of this entry »

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Tweets, Books, and Learning

February 4th, 2011

Keeping informed by tweets is like nourishment from fast food: at best limited, at worst hazardous. Learning comes from in-depth experience, like submersing in a book.

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Numbers & Business: Whose Reality Is Reliable?

January 28th, 2011

Organizations mix “facts” into a tasty Kool-Aid that everyone drinks. How reliable is fact-based decision making? What is really real, and which reality should we believe?

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SPICIER Selling: A Better SPIN

January 26th, 2011

Readers know I am a fan of Neil Rackham’s SPIN Selling. However, I’ve mentioned that his model is a bit awkward; when I am in a sales process and think “SPIN,” the N doesn’t give enough guidance to remember what comes next. So, as previously promised, here is my evolution of Neil’s theme, SPICIER Selling. Read the rest of this entry »

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5 Questions to Answer Before Starting a Social Media Campaign

January 24th, 2011

Social media experts are popping up like mushrooms, and most have a program to sell you. I mean no disrespect. Many of their programs are very good. But before you buy any social media program – or begin any marketing campaign, for that matter – please do yourself a favor: Answer these 5 questions.  Read the rest of this entry »

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The New Brand Management Model

January 21st, 2011

Consumer marketing has changed in significant ways this decade due to the growth of social media and other communication channels. Here are some of the biggest shifts.

During the classic era of CPG marketing, focus was easy. Now, not so much.

Back then, marketing managers had a handful of clear priorities: business planning and execution to deliver results, product development, research & analysis, training newbies, and advertising (which primarily meant TV, sometimes supplemented with PR, magazines, radio, POS, billboards, and sales collateral). In the classic model, one functional group served as hub of the wheel, controlling and coordinating all internal and external activities related to the product or brand. It was all about one brand, one position, one message.

Today that model has been blown up by complexity. Read the rest of this entry »

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The 3-Dimensional Customer

January 19th, 2011

It’s easy to talk about being customer-focused. It’s less easy to focus on specific customers. There are so many, and so many different types! Here are three customer dimensions to consider when selecting your growth strategy. It’s not a trivial exercise: wrong focus, no growth. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Power of Doing Nothing

January 17th, 2011

I spent the holidays doing nothing. Well, not exactly nothing. I read the kind of mindless novels I never make time for. I skied for the first time in 16 years. I went to parties and watched football and planned outrageous surprises for the kids and conspired with them on outrageous surprises for their mom. Made playlists. Exercised.

But I didn’t read business books or blogs. I unplugged from Twitter. I didn’t write. Cancelled client meetings. Closed for business.

I felt borderline depressed for the first week. I didn’t know who I was. Then one day I woke exhilarated. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Art of Being Inconsistently Consistent

January 14th, 2011

Effective entrepreneurs keep their organizations focused on unchanging goals. At the same time, they cannot become married to specific plans because conditions change. While striving to balance consistent vision with adaptable plans, leaders must also ensure all stakeholders opt in. Whoever said it was easy?

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Vision: Finding Your Sweet Spot

January 12th, 2011

If you could create your perfect career or company, where would you begin? If you had to choose, would you pick something that makes a lot of money over something you care about? How about something that you excel at?

Why choose? In fact, Jim Collins argued in Good to Great that the great companies don’t choose. They insist on having it all.

Regular readers know I am a big fan of Jim Collins. However, I have never been completely comfortable with the language he uses when discussing his Hedgehog Concept and the “sweet spot” where excellent companies take germinate and grow.

Here is how I explain it to clients. Read the rest of this entry »

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How to Know If You Are Resilient

January 10th, 2011

If you are curious about how resilient you are, Dr. Al Siebert offers a 2 page self-administered quiz in his fine book, The Resiliency Advantage (pg. 16-17). If you’re feeling fragile and any good at test taking, the “correct” answers will be obvious, and you will be able to reassure yourself that you are indeed good a bouncing back.

The fun part comes a couple pages later, where he offers five extra credit questions: Read the rest of this entry »

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Managing the Free Agent Job Market

January 7th, 2011

Are you old enough to remember how free agency revolutionized baseball in the 70′s? Suddenly the whole concept of “team” was up for grabs. Many of us purists were horrified as the Yankees found they could buy championships by snapping up available stars.

Today, there is no more debate. Free agency is the water all sports teams swim in. And despite our fears, professional sports remain fascinating. Despite rapid turnover of players, teams command loyalty.

Less commented on has been the revolution of free agency in the business world. After brutal rounds of downsizing and restructuring in the 80′s and 90′s, most businesspeople no longer regard their companies as family but rather as stepping stones. And you know what? It’s OK. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Twitter Manifesto

January 5th, 2011

I love Twitter. It has helped me meet several remarkable thought leaders and given me a new venue for sharing my own ideas. So it distresses me to see how rapidly Twitter is getting devalued by junk. You know, the programs that troll for followers, push the same generic automated tweets through subscribers’ feeds, and litter the twitosphere with garbage.

This is my reply to Twitter Trolls and those folks who promise to make you rich and famous if you buy their software, program, or advice. It’s a personal manifesto. Read the rest of this entry »

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Slow Advice, Fast Growth

December 29th, 2010

You’ve heard of the Slow Food movement? I’d like to recommend something similar for those dispensing business advice. These days, a lot of people are trying to force-fit whatever they’re selling into every situation, and they make their fast food one-size-fits-all approach sound haute cuisine by saying they’ll coach you.

Yuck.

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