Corporate Branding Digest

The Hidden Power of Employee Development
(LinkedIn, 08.09.14)

Have you ever heard anyone say that the training and development function is critical to the success of their business? That it would increase profits? Improve efficiency? Was indispensable?

First Know Yourself, then Your Team
(Forbes, 19.08.14)

Understanding how an organisation works is not enough. To be truly effective, a leader must understand the reactions of people around them.

Managers Can Motivate Employees with One Word
(Harvard Business Review, 13.08.14)

Human beings are profoundly social—we are hardwired to connect to one another and to want to work together. Frankly, we would never have survived as a species without our instinctive desire to live and work in groups, because physically we are just not strong or scary enough.

8 Leadership Mistakes that Others Made so You Don’t Have To
(Entrepreneur, 08.08.14)

Credibility is hard to establish and even easier to lose. The sad truth is I’ve seen really good leaders lose the confidence and credibility of their teams by making well-intentioned and innocent mistakes. I’m not talking about the big stuff like lack of follow-through or breaking commitments, but the subtle shifts that undermine all the trust you’re working to build. Don’t fall into these traps.

“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.” —Max De Pree

Corporate Branding Digest

What Is a Leader’s Most Important Position?
(LinkedIn, 08.09.14)

Leadership styles come in all shapes and sizes, and getting the job done, whatever the job may be, seems to be front and center of the focus of most of those in leadership positions. But what is a leader’s most important job? What should the real goal be? After more than two decades in leadership positions, I’ve narrowed it down to the following.

4 Ways to Make Sure Your Marketing Makes a Killer First Impression
(Forbes, 19.08.14)

There is an old adage that says “you never get a second chance to make a great first impression.” Thankfully in my case I made a good (surely not great) first impression with my wife-to-be many moons ago. But I digress.

Make Getting Feedback Less Stressful
(Harvard Business Review, 08.08.14)

Much of my work as an executive coach and an instructor at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business involves helping people improve their abilities to deliver feedback more effectively. It’s a critical skill, particularly for both leaders in flat organizations where giving orders is generally counter-productive and for anyone who needs to manage up or across by influencing their bosses or peers.

How Jeff Bezos Inspired an Immigrant Teen to Become a CEO
(Entrepreneur, 08.08.14)

There are many leaders I admire, but one person whose professional trajectory and leadership have truly inspired me is Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of A true entrepreneur turned ecommerce trailblazer, Bezos quit his job in finance and discovered an untapped gold mine in online bookstores. After only one year and 300 friends doing beta tests, Bezos launched; since then, he has been able to outperform competitors and drive Amazon to the top of the ecommerce leaderboard.

“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” —George Bernard Shaw

Corporate Branding Digest, Sept. 17, 2014

Leading by Following (Sort of)
(LinkedIn, 09.09.14)

I’ve always been fascinated by the Iditarod dog sled races. For a man or woman and a few dogs to trek hundreds of miles over the frozen arctic tundra of North America is truly remarkable. I admire anyone who has the guts to do it. There are truly some formidable obstacles to overcome. There’s the cold temperatures, the snowy and icy terrain, the gloomy skies, the limited rations, the threat of becoming lost, the danger of possible injury, and the list goes on and on. Only men and women of great personal courage and fortitude would even attempt such a venture.

How Effective Is It to Have a 5,000-Year Vision for a Company, as Jack Dorsey Is Said to Have for Square?
(Forbes, 19.08.14)

Any “5,000 year vision” will be functionally worthless as a planning document; the rate of change businesses contend with makes it hard to imagine market and technology contexts in two years, let alone ten, and never mind millennia; think of how a business owner 1,000 years ago would have planned for his next centuries. Projecting roadmaps or milestones into a future whose contexts are unknowable won’t help with decisions or prioritization or anything operational.

A Fairer Way of Giving Credit Where It’s Due
(Harvard Business Review, 07.08.14)

People have a deep need to feel that their contributions to the group are acknowledged—even celebrated. Financial compensation alone cannot satisfy that requirement. Fairly assigning credit, however, is difficult. In a knowledge economy, the intellectual origin of a given idea is very hard to document. Where new concepts are often conceived collaboratively, how do we know where credit is due? If one employee insists that he or she made more of an effort or contributed more to an outcome than another, how can we verify that? Getting employees to even discuss the topic can be difficult given that many feel conflicted about it: They want to be acknowledged but are embarrassed by their desire for external recognition.

5 Essentials for Leadership Excellence Gleaned from Champions
(Entrepreneur, 28.07.14)

As a communications strategist for more than five decades and founder of the Vocal Awareness Institute, I have been privileged to teach champions from all walks of life. I have taught Olympic gold medalists, Hall of Famers, Tony and Academy Award winners, chairmen of boards. The common theme among the greatest, no matter the platform, is “a champion does it differently.”

“Leadership is the art of giving people a platform for spreading ideas that work.” —Seth Godin

Corporate Branding Digest, Sept. 16, 2014

Create the Best Environment for Creative Employees with These 6 Principles
(Entrepreneur, 09.09.14)

Business owners too commonly regard creative employees as a burden on the company’s financial performance. This focus overlooks the connection between properly managed creativity and the product inventions and innovations that drive sales and ultimately business success.

Would Steve Jobs or Ted Turner Succeed in These Big Data Obsessed Times?
(Forbes, 19.08.14)

Spurred by the data analytics revolution, corporations aim to collect and analyze reams of data. This data becomes the basis for modeling the future, which in turn can define growth strategies. This is what is meant by predictive and prescriptive analytics.

The Best Leaders ‘Talk the Walk’
(Harvard Business Review, 07.08.14)

One of the most ubiquitous aphorisms in business is that the best leaders understand the need to “walk the talk”—that is, their behavior and day-to-day actions have to match the aspirations they have for their colleagues and organization. But the more time I spend with game-changing innovators and high-performing companies, the more I appreciate the need for leaders to “talk the walk”—that is, to be able to explain, in language that is unique to their field and compelling to their colleagues and customers, why what they do matters and how they expect to win. The only sustainable form of business leadership is thought leadership. And leaders that think differently about their business invariably talk about it differently as well.

7 Traits Every Great Leader Has (But Doesn’t Talk About)
(The Muse, 07.07.14)

What does it take to be a great leader? Once upon a time, birth order and socioeconomic status were considered powerful determinants in who would successfully climb the ladder. Lately, though, the focus has shifted to personal qualities.

“I believe in innovation and that the way you get innovation is you fund research and you learn the facts.” —Bill Gates

Corporate Branding Digest, Sept. 15, 2014

Generation ‘Y’ Future Leaders
(LinkedIn, 08.09.14)

The most significant changes to our world are going on as we speak and will continue, as Gen Y-ers become our future leaders. Born between 1983 and 1995, there are over 80 million of them, which is larger than any other generation. They have been affected by the events of September 11th, the housing bust and the financial meltdown and have survived but with debt, student loans and no jobs.

The Right (and Wrong) Way to Measure Results
(Forbes, 19.08.14)

Say your goal is to increase the number of customers you serve each day. Perhaps you run a city office processing food stamp applications, or maybe you’re offering technical support for your company’s product. How many customers do you serve online, in person, and over the phone? What’s the average time to resolve a problem in each of these channels? Which types of customer requests take the longest, and which can be handled expediently?

What to Do If Your Team Is in a Rut
(Harvard Business Review, 07.08.14)

Another brainstorming session, another slew of tired ideas. Your team is in a rut, but what can you do about it? How can you push everyone to be more creative? Where should you seek inspiration? What’s the best way to bring in new perspectives? And finally: how do you prevent the group from getting stuck again?

No C Players in Leadership Positions, Please
(Entrepreneur, 29.07.14)

Most great CEOs are constantly looking for talent, not to mention developing and retaining it. It is not at all unusual for CEOs to spend 65 percent to 75 percent of their time on these critical people-related issues.

“Any company has got to reinvent itself again and again.” —Bob Parsons

Corporate Branding Digest, Sept. 12, 2014

Five Brands Excelling at Storytelling
(Econsultancy, 03.09.14)

Love or hate the phrase, storytelling as a method of mass communication for brands is here to stay. Stories, anecdotes and metaphors that take an audience on a narrative journey to subtly reveal a branded message along the way are far more memorable and shareable than any brazen sales focused advertisement.

Seven Mistakes That Derail Thought Leaders
(Forbes, 19.08.14)

Becoming a so-called “thought leader” is all the rage; now, everybody wants to be a speaker, build an easy revenue stream, write a book and change the world. I do believe that everybody has a story worth sharing. Everyone has overcome insurmountable odds that give them the right to impact the lives of others. But I also see people step up to the plate only to make a huge mistake that lands them miles away from their intended destination.

The Rebirth of the CMO
(Harvard Business Review, 05.08.14)

The chief marketing officer role is undergoing a renaissance. Overly simplistic notions—“the people who do the advertising”—were based on stereotypes that never accurately reflected the range of responsibilities that many CMOs had. Those notions are even more outdated now.

Shy People Tend to Have This Coveted Leadership Skill
(Entrepreneur, 04.08.14)

So, you’re never first to raise your hand during meetings, and you’re uncomfortable schmoozing with strangers at networking events. Does that mean you’re doomed to fail in the business world?

“Innovation comes from the producer—not from the customer.” —W. Edwards Deming

Corporate Branding Digest, Sept. 11, 2014

Learning to Adapt Is the Key to Success
(Entrepreneur, 05.09.14)

Humans evolved as social animals with “safety in numbers” as a core survival instinct. That’s why cultural conformity is such a powerful force. It takes courage to go up against societal norms, challenge the status quo, and take on the majority crowd and their widely held beliefs. The threat of being isolated from the pack is a powerful deterrent.

The Difference Between Great Leaders and Posers
(Forbes, 19.08.14)

This may sound harsh, but the truth often is … I’ve witnessed far too many people in positions of leadership that wouldn’t recognize an opportunity if it hit them squarely in the face. If you cannot recognize, attract and acquire opportunity you should not be in a leadership position. Just this week I’ve observed people in leadership roles who failed to recognize opportunities, or perhaps even worse, took too long to make a decision and let an opportunity pass them by.

Warren Bennis, Leadership Pioneer
(Harvard Business Review, 04.08.14)

The sad news came over the weekend that Warren Bennis has died. For us at HBR it is the loss of a long-time author and friend. Many, many more will miss him, too, as a teacher and adviser. Let’s define “long-time”: Warren’s first piece in HBR appeared in 1961. It was called a “Revisionist Theory of Leadership,” and that is what it delivered. A half-century later, its message does not sound so revisionist: that in a business environment marked by increasing complexity and constant change, organizations require not autocrats at the top, but leaders with more humanistic, democratic styles. (For shorthand, Bennis liked the phrase from “macho to maestro.”) At the time, however, corporate titans were very unlikely to see things that way.

My Management Checklist: Questions to Ask Yourself Everyday
(LinkedIn, 21.04.14)

Whether in the office or on the road, I’m often asked about leadership and my personal set of management principles. With that in mind, I thought I would share a checklist that I’ve presented to HP leaders, outlining the fundamental questions I want our teams asking themselves every day. These five questions are extremely straightforward, but that’s the point—no company can succeed in executing its bold strategies if the basics aren’t being taken care of.

“Mastering others is strength. Mastering oneself makes you fearless.” —Lao Tzu

Corporate Branding Digest, Sept. 10, 2014

10 Signs You Have (or Are) a Great Boss
(LinkedIn, 09.09.14)

We’ve all had them: bosses and managers who make our work lives terrible and couldn’t manage a stack of paper clips, let alone a team of employees. I’ve written about the traits that make for bad bosses before, and in that article, a thoughtful commenter came up with his own list of what makes a good boss.

Three Common Storytelling Mistakes to Avoid
(Forbes, 19.08.14)

I blog often—and the world is in enthusiastic agreement—about the need to tell stories to get attention and be remembered. And I often talk about the five fundamental stories: the Quest that Hollywood knows so well, and the four others that are just as fundamental to our thinking: Stranger in a Strange Land, Revenge, Rags to Riches, and Love Story.

So You Want to Join a Board
(Harvard Business Review, 04.08.14)

Many senior managers desire—and are qualified—to join a board. And many companies around the world would greatly benefit from infusions of fresh talent and insight into their boards. Yet all too often board positions go to people who are already serving on other boards. So how can you, a promising potential new director, realize your aspiration?

5 Easy Ways to Make Philanthropy a Part of Your Company Culture
(Entrepreneur, 21.07.14)

As an entrepreneur, it can be very hard to find time in your schedule to give back.

“For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate.” —Margaret Heffernan

Corporate Branding Digest, Sept. 9, 2014

10 Things Exceptional People Say Every Single Day
(LinkedIn, 08.09.14)

You’re in charge, but that doesn’t mean you’re smarter, savvier, or more insightful than everyone else. Back up your statements and decisions. Give reasons. Justify with logic, not with position or authority.

Lessons for First-Time CEOs from Medifast’s Mike MacDonald
(Forbes, 19.08.14)

Three core premises are applicable to first-time leaders, to first-time CEOs, and to everyone going into new leadership roles. Mike MacDonald learned these during his 33 years at Xerox and is applying them in a whole new light as CEO of Medifast.

How to Tell a Great Story
(Harvard Business Review, 30.07.14)

We tell stories to our coworkers and peers all the time—to persuade someone to support our project, to explain to an employee how he might improve, or to inspire a team that is facing challenges. It’s an essential skill, but what makes a compelling story in a business context? And how can you improve your ability to tell stories that persuade?

5 Subtle Ways Leaders Lose Credibility
(Advertising Age, 14.05.14)

Credibility is hard to establish and even easier to lose. The sad truth is I’ve seen really good leaders lose the confidence and credibility of their teams by making well-intentioned and innocent mistakes. I’m not talking about the big stuff like lack of follow-through or breaking commitments, but the subtle shifts that undermine all the trust you’re working to build. Don’t fall into these traps.

“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.” —Wayne W. Dyer

Corporate Branding Digest, Sept. 8, 2014

When Marketers Step into the C-Suite
(Kellogg Insight, 02.09.14)

A marketing manager with an eye on the C-Suite might wonder how best to manage the transition and be effective with boards of directors. Through the Kellogg School’s CMO Program, top executives Homi B. Patel, Rick Lenny, Matthew Paull, and Mary Dillon offer marketing leaders advice on what they can do to foster effective team and board interactions.

The Four Leadership Lessons Millennials Really Need
(Forbes, 14.08.14)

I wish someone had given me this advice sooner. So much of the advice I did get was impractical or didn’t match my reality. This is why I wanted to bear-hug Shonda Rhimes for bluntly revealing in her commencement speech: “Tomorrow is going to be the worst day ever for you.”

Management’s Three Eras: A Brief History
(Harvard Business Review, 30.07.14)

Organization as machine—this imagery from our industrial past continues to cast a long shadow over the way we think about management today. It isn’t the only deeply-held and rarely examined notion that affects how organizations are run. Managers still assume that stability is the normal state of affairs and change is the unusual state (a point I particularly challenge in The End of Competitive Advantage). Organizations still emphasize exploitation of existing advantages, driving a short-term orientation that many bemoan. (Short-term thinking has been charged with no less than a chronic decline in innovation capability by Clayton Christensen who termed it “the Capitalist’s Dilemma.”) Corporations continue to focus too narrowly on shareholders, with terrible consequences—even at great companies like IBM.

Tomorrow’s Leaders Need Diverse Challenges Today
(Strategy+Business, 28.07.14)

Why do employees typically stay on a silo-bound career path, moving ever upward in the same function or business unit? To start, managers may not want to lose their most talented employees to other parts of the business, and they can be reluctant to take a chance on someone from another division, even if the individual has a great reputation. Employees, too, are often skeptical about a new boss who arrives without the “right background” for the job and “without a clue” about how things work around here. Ambitious, high-potential managers tend to see a direct upward trajectory as the shortest route to the executive suite; lateral moves into other functions or to take on special projects seem like unnecessary detours.

“I want to put a ding in the universe.” —Steve Jobs

Corporate Branding Digest, Sept. 5, 2014

Lead by Asking
(Strategy + Business, 25.08.14)

Having interviewed many leaders in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, I’m often asked, “What makes a great leader?” Specific characteristics may vary by industry and context, but one that consistently shines through is the ability to pose meaningful—and sometimes deceptively simple—questions. Here are six that apply to anyone hoping to hone his or her leadership acumen and impact.

A CMO’s Tale
(Business2Community, 23.08.14)

CEOs of today’s B2B organizations are becoming laser focused on profit, execution of strategy and top-line revenue growth and they expect every department in the organization to be aligned with these key goals. For many, the area that gives them the most heartburn—based on budget and non-goal alignment—is marketing.

Five Customer-centric Marketing Lessons from Apple to Zappos
(Forbes, 18.08.14)

Traditional marketing is on life support. The rules of the game have changed. Tell and sell marketing no longer works. Today’s consumer is empowered. Empowered to find their own information, empowered to share their opinions and empowered to avoid marketing. Brands need to find ways to leverage their most important asset: current customers. More than ever, referrals and word of mouth are keys to future growth.

The Skills Leaders Need at Every Level
(Harvard Business Review, 30.07.14)

A few weeks ago, we were asked to analyze a competency model for leadership development that a client had created. It was based on the idea that at different points in their development, potential leaders need to focus on excelling at different skills. For example, in their model they proposed that a lower level manager should focus on driving for results while top executives should focus on developing a strategic perspective.

“Our bravest and best lessons are not learned through success, but through misadventure.” —Amos Bronson Alcott

Corporate Branding Digest, Sept. 4, 2014

10 Players CMOs Need to Keep the ‘Digital Beat’
(, 25.08.14)

At Uberflip, we took a look at the key trends and tactics that have led to new roles or transformations in existing ones. It’s no surprise that technology is the common thread, redefining how we execute marketing and communications programs. What’s more, marketers expect the evolution to continue. According to parent company Adobe, 64 percent of marketers expect their roles will change in the next year.

Word of Mouth on Social Media Can Make Your Brand Great
(Forbes, 18.08.14)

Customers talking about you on social media is what you want, and the way you respond makes all the difference to the reader.

The Former CEO of Ogilvy & Mather on Personal Branding
(Harvard Business Review, 29.07.14)

Shelly Lazarus has been building brands at Ogilvy & Mather for more than 40 years. When she joined the agency in 1971, she was one of few women in the advertising field. Twenty-six years later, having steered successful branding efforts for clients such as IBM, Ford, American Express and Unilever, she was named its Chairman and CEO. What does this business trailblazer, Advertising Hall-of-Famer and current Board member of Merck, G.E. and Blackstone recommend to people who want to build their own brand?

5 Management Strategies to Avoid Like the Plague
(The Muse, 14.07.14)

There’s no magic formula for being a great boss. It’s a confusing mixture of providing both constructive criticism and praise, overseeing performance without micromanaging, and hoping your employees like you—but respect you, too. Plus, every team is different in size, personalities, responsibilities, and skill level—so if you’re looking to become a better manager, there’s probably no one-size-fits-all approach.

“Champions keep playing until they get it right.” —Billie Jean King

Corporate Branding Digest, Sept. 3, 2014

Is Effective Leadership Simply a Matter of Combining the Gender Stereotypes?
(Fast Company, 21.08.14)

Grounded leaders are able to do away with traditional leadership stereotypes based in gender roles.

How the Internet of Things Changes Business Models
(Harvard Business Review, 29.07.14)

As the Internet of Things (IoT) spreads, the implications for business model innovation are huge. Filling out well-known frameworks and streamlining established business models won’t be enough. To take advantage of new, cloud-based opportunities, today’s companies will need to fundamentally rethink their orthodoxies about value creation and value capture.

The Blossoming Relationship Between Marketing and Engagement in the New Customer Journey
(Forbes, 28.07.14)

It’s clear to those of us who live at the intersection of technology and customer relationships that customers have radically changed the way they interact with brands. Traditional CRM tools are no longer sufficient because it’s not about managing customer relationships anymore—it’s about creating and optimizing engagement across a vast range of digital touchpoints.

7 Things Well-Liked People Always Do
(Inc., 27.06.14)

They like you, they really like you! Or do they? Likeability can make you a better manager and leader. And you’ll like being more likeable.

“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” —Steve Jobs

Corporate Branding Digest, Sept. 2, 2014

The 10 Defining Traits of an Amazing Leader
(The Muse, 04.08.14)

“So, what makes a good leader?” It’s one of those questions that’s asked at every career seminar, business conference, and team building session. And if you’re like many, you might have an idea of what great leadership looks like, but struggle to come up with something digestible and concrete. There’s so much information out there about what leadership is and the characteristics it requires—how can you condense all of that into a couple of key words and phrases?

The Cardinal Sins of Innovation Policy
(Harvard Business Review, 28.07.14)

It happens every time there’s a big announcement about a national or regional innovation policy that will lead us into the future: We are presented with schemes to strengthen intellectual property rights, enlarge the pool of risk financing, and upgrade the universities while pushing them to collaborate more with industry. If we are truly lucky, we are told about a new science park to be built just around the corner.

8 Lessons from Sports Marketing Experts for Brands and Athletes Resisting Move to Digital
(Forbes, 28.07.14)

If there is any endeavor whose fruits are ripening, that endeavor is surely the new brand and athlete relationship in the digital age. Statistically, according to Julie Frank of Navigation Research, sports fans that see a brand message on social media are 78 percent more likely to have a positive perception of them. So brands are experimenting with the best approach to reach them through social channels.

Marc Andreessen: ‘I’m Biased Toward People Who Never Give Up’
(Inc., 30.06.14)

Addressing Stanford Graduate School of Business students at a View From the Top event in March, Marc Andreessen, co-inventor of the world’s first commercial browser and co-founder of a leading venture capital firm, said that rather than being at risk of a bubble, the tech industry is “still in a bust.” Here, Andreessen, who also co-founded Netscape, discussed what Silicon Valley’s new management style means for today’s MBA graduates, the entrepreneurial DNA, and why the “failure fetish” is nonsense.

“Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems.” —Brian Tracy

Corporate Branding Digest, Aug. 29, 2014

Inside Why Good Employees Make Bad Decisions
(Fast Company, 25.08.14)

Is it the culture, the time crunch or something else making your employees perform below their potential?

5 Things Digital CMOs Do Better
(Harvard Business Review, 28.07.14)

If you’re a mid- or late-career marketer, chances are your job today is mostly unrecognizable from what you signed on for. Perhaps no other business function has changed as dramatically over the past decade.

Are You Stopping Some of Your Customers from Doing Business with You?
(Forbes, 25.07.14)

I’m a big fan of the TV show “Undercover Boss,” whether it is the U.K., the U.S., Canadian or Australian versions. What I really like about the shows is that they allow leaders in senior management positions to get their hands dirty and get an unfiltered view of what life is like on the ground of their organisations for their employees and their customers.

6 Words Your Employees Say that Will Kill Your Business
(Inc., 01.07.14)

Listening for the telltale signs of “status quo management” is the key to moving your business forward.

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” —Mahatma Gandhi

Corporate Branding Digest, Aug. 28, 2014

Don’t Try to Read Your Employees’ Minds
(Harvard Business Review, 28.07.14)

In An Essay on Criticism, Alexander Pope famously wrote, “A little learning is a dangerous thing.” I think of this quote often when observing executives with a “little learning” of emotional intelligence (also called “EQ”).

Microsoft Announced Its Layoffs All Wrong—Here’s the Right Way to Do It
(Forbes, 25.07.14)

Well handled, a mass termination announcement can help a company earn credit for candor, articulate its values, and showcase its newfound strength. Poorly handled, it can worsen an already bad situation. The memo Stephen Elop of Microsoft sent out last week to tell 12,500 employees they would lose their jobs brought him and the company much criticism.

Marshall Goldsmith: Leadership Is a Contact Sport (Video)
(Inc., 01.07.14)

50 leadership triggers—best-selling author Marshall Goldsmith offers concrete ways to become a more effective leader.

Words to Live by: 5 Steps to Choosing Your Team’s Core Values
(The Muse, 12.02.13)

If you’re familiar with Zappos, you’ve probably heard of the company’s core values. They’re plastered on the walls and committed to employees’ memories—and ultimately, they set the expectations for every Zappos worker. And so far, it seems to be working.

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” —Leo Tolstoy