Corporate Branding Digest, November 2, 2015


Employer Branding: Why It’s Time Marketing, Execs and HR Worked Together
(VentureBeat, 01.11.15)

When working at Virgin circa 1993 I recall the managing director of Virgin Games, Tim Chaney, claiming that the Virgin brand was one of the most recognized brands in the U.K. At the time, Richard Branson was building his empire on service/product promise, savvy advertising and word of mouth—well before PCs on desks with Microsoft Word and Google was commonplace. The realization of that time: the Virgin employer brand naturally inspired acquisition of talent, retention and loyalty of employees, and communicated a clear vision to optimize performance and engagement.


Even the Smallest Business Can Sink Its Teeth into These 10 Branding Lessons from Apple
(Business2Community, 28.10.15)

It’s difficult to imagine a more inspirational branding success story than Apple. Founded by two college dropout buddies who borrowed the money to build their first computers based on good faith and a promise, Apple is now America’s first $700 billion company. Moreover, it is one of the most recognized, respected and iconic brands in the world.


Chinese Companies’ Global Public Relations Imperative
(Forbes, 26.10.15)

“For many Chinese companies, ‘branding’ means designing a new logo, ‘marketing’ is the equivalent of purchasing ads on China Central Television (CCTV), and ‘P.R.’ stands not for ‘public relations’ but rather ‘pay the reporter.” David Wolf, a China PR veteran, shared this joke with me a few years ago. While it is certainly a generalization, Wolf’s words should not be taken lightly. He literally wrote the book on public relations in China and has spent the better part of two decades in the Middle Kingdom advising Western and Chinese executives on public relations and crisis management. His words hit on the critical reality that Chinese companies tend to focus on business activities linked to short-term performance, such as sales, rather than less “tangible” ones that are essential to long-term success, such as marketing, advertising and public relations.


3 Ways to Create the Company Culture You Want
(Entrepreneur, 06.10.15)

Successful businesses have learned to look beyond skills to whether prospective employees mesh with their company culture from the start.


“If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete.” —Jack Welch


Personal Branding Digest, September 4, 2015


Personal Branding in Medicine: Private Practices
(Branding Magazine, 31.08.15)

As a physician with a private practice, should you insist on a personal brand? The answer is strong and designated – Yes. Here is why.


Posture, Position, Profile and Personal Branding
(Business2Community, 31.08.15)

Personal branding is a popular term, widely used to promote yourself, and it’s not surprising that most people are confused by it. There are really only three aspects to personal branding: Posture, Position and Profile.


Your Personal Brand: Are You Expressing Who You Truly Are?
(The Huffington Post, 17.08.15)

Personal branding has become such a hot topic in today’s business world. A quick search on Amazon yields over 2,800 results. So, why is personal branding so important? Changes in the economy and the flattening of the world really drive home Tom Peters quote: “We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.” I’ve been conducting personal branding workshops and providing strategy sessions for over 3 years for both entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs looking to differentiate themselves and make a difference.


Personal Branding Lessons from a 93-Year-Old Fashion Icon
(Forbes, 28.06.15)

When I’m giving keynotes, I often ask audiences to name strong personal brands. I typically get mass-appeal responses like Oprah, Richard Branson and Steve Jobs. I never once hear the name Iris Apfel. Yet Iris, an unexpected fashion icon and the subject of a recent documentary by the late Albert Maysles, exemplifies all the important elements of successful personal branding – including the fact that successful brands aren’t necessarily known around the world; what matters is how the target audience responds. Here’s how Iris excels at personal branding and what you can do to build a brand as compelling as hers.


“Live to be your own unique brand, without apology.” —Shannon L. Alder


Corporate Branding Digest, Oct. 16, 2014


6 Buddhist Principles that Will Help You Be a Better Boss
(Fast Company, 13.10.14)

Think of your top inspirations for building a company and leading your team: Steve Jobs, Larry Page, Richard Branson are sure to make the cut. Probably not Buddha.


6 Critical Experiences Are Essential to Most Effectively Lead
(Forbes, 29.09.14)

To be an effective leader in the 21st century you have to do a lot more than just deliver results (that much is expected). Effective leadership requires certain critical experiences to deliver clarity of thought, along with the ability to embrace differences and broaden observations to see beyond the obvious. Leadership can no longer live in a highly structured, overly defined box of silos, but rather must move into an interconnected, boundary-less ecosystem of diverse minds, ideas and ideals.


Be the Boss People Love to Work for
(The Globe and Mail, 27.08.14)

In Gallup’s most recent State of the American Workplace study, 70 percent of workers admitted they neither enjoyed their boss nor were engaged in their work.


4 Bulletproof Productivity Secrets Gleaned from the World’s Great Achievers
(Entrepreneur, 13.08.14)

What defines an elite performer isn’t how they perform when everything is going well but the way they deliver when their well-laid plans are falling apart.


“I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.” —Steve Jobs


Corporate Branding Digest, Oct. 13, 2014


The Secrets to Pulling Off a Real-People Marketing Campaign
(Fast Company, 11.10.14)

Paul D’Arcy, SVP of marketing for Indeed, explains why a recent campaign worked for them and how it could pay off for your brand.


5 Personal Branding Tips for CEOs with Dan Schawbel
(Forbes, 29.09.14)

The best CEOs are able to leverage their authentic personality in order to attract attention to their company. For instance, Steve Jobs was known as being harsh on employees, having dynamic presentations and was a perfectionist. Those describe who he is and he doesn’t fake it or apologize for it. A brand personality delights consumers and makes them more interested in what your company sells.


How Not to Handle a Crisis, Courtesy of the NFL’s Roger Goodell
(The Globe and Mail, 24.09.14)

As a long-time NFL fan, I have been disheartened by the recent spate of domestic abuse cases that have arisen in recent months. But my distaste for the actions of players like Ray Rice and Greg Hardy has been matched by my disgust at National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell’s lack of leadership in responding to those actions.


The 4 Leadership Skills that Really Matter
(The Muse, 01.08.14)

The fundamental techniques that drive your success never change. Think about how many free throws Michael Jordan must have practiced, or how many jabs Mike Tyson threw. Top athletes like them never stop practicing their basic building blocks even after rising to the top of the professional ranks. So why do people believe leaders at different levels need to focus and develop different core skills?


“There is no greater thing you can do with your life and your work than follow your passions—in a way that serves the world and you.” —Richard Branson


Corporate Branding Digest, Oct. 2, 2014


Why the Best Leaders View Decisions from Their Employees’ Perspective
(Fast Company, 30.09.14 )

We get it. A leader’s day is jam-packed with meetings, calls, and more meetings. Decisions have to be made, and fast. But before you make your next big decision, you might want to consider another perspective.


Richard Branson’s Three Most Important Leadership Principles
(Forbes, 23.09.14 )

I caught up with Sir Richard Branson, as he was releasing his latest book, The Virgin Way: Everything I Know About Leadership. Branson is an international entrepreneur, adventurer, icon, and the founder of the Virgin Group. The Virgin Group is one of the world’s most recognized and respected brands, with over 400 companies. His previous best-selling books include Like a Virgin: Secrets They Won’t Teach You at Business School, Losing My Virginity, Screw It, Let’s Do It, Business Stripped Bare, Reach for the Skies and Screw Business As Usual. According to the Forbes 2012 list of billionaires, Branson is the sixth richest citizen of the United Kingdom, with an estimated net worth of US$4.6 billion. Today, Branson’s Pioneering Commercial Spaceflight Virgin Galactic announced a global partnership with Grey Goose Vodka.


9 Little Known Habits of Confident People
(LinkedIn, 08.09.14 )

Confidence is often the single differentiator between people who get what they want and people who don’t. Those who think and believe they can do something — run a marathon, start an entrepreneurial venture, ask someone out (and have them say yes), win a competitive promotion, fit into their pre-pregnancy jeans, build a fun social circle, well … they do it.


The Worst Business Decisions Ever Made—and What You Can Learn from Them
(The Muse, 06.05.14 )

What would your answer be if someone asked you what the worst business decision ever made was? Not the worst decision you’ve made, mind you—the worst decision in the history of business decisions.


“Be the chief but never the lord.” —Lao Tzu


Corporate Branding Digest, Sept. 30, 2014


9 Leadership Steps for Corporate Culture Change
(Forbes, 27.09.14)

Want to use your leadership to drive cultural change at your company? Here’s what it takes: a 9-point checklist of what we’ve found, as culture change consultants, to be required for a company culture to achieve organizational and customer experience excellence.


Richard Branson on Increasing Employee Engagement
(Entrepreneur, 11.08.14)

Success in business requires an understanding of all sorts of intangibles, especially the most enjoyable parts of work, like cooperating as a team and keeping morale high. Your goal of making businesses more profitable by helping employees to achieve their full potential is a great one, and could be very rewarding. To move ahead, you have some research to do and choices to make.


What Matters Most to Your Business?
(LinkedIn, 09.06.14)

Every generation has a defining industry—from the textile and manufacturing industries of the late eighteenth century to the transportation and communications industries that connected the world.


What Kind of Business Leader Are You?
(The Muse, 03.04.14)

With studies showing that over 110 million people on Earth are “actively engaged” in starting a business, it’s no secret that there are a lot of hands in the proverbial cookie jar. So, how do you stand out with so many people vying for influence? And which entrepreneurs in particular should you look up to?


“A tiny change today brings a dramatically different tomorrow.” —Richard Bach


Did Obama or Your Boss Overstay Summer Vacation?

[Originally posted on Forbes.com.]

Every August, millions of Americans take vacations. And every year, the most powerful of them, their president, takes a lot of heat just for taking his—and also for where he goes. Powerful business executives, too, take hits for their choice and length of retreat.
Continue Reading →

Corporate Branding Digest, April 8, 2014


Former IBM CEO Sam Palmisano on the New Rules for Global Business Leaders
(Forbes, 06.04.14)

Sam Palmisano had a great run as CEO of IBM from the start of 2003 to the end of 2011. The tech giant shifted investment into growth markets and dumped commodifying hardware (PCs) in favor of services, open-source software and a clever “smarter planet” marketing blanket for it all. Shares rose 125%. Pre-tax operating margins doubled from 10% to 20%. From 2000 IBM threw off more than $100 billion in free cash flow. His exit was well-timed, too. Business tech spending now is in a stall, and Palmisano’s successor Ginni Rometty has had to deal with seven straight quarters of revenue decline.


Is Social Media Now Part of the CEO’s Job?
(The Huffington Post, 02.04.14)

“We’re working hard to resolve the @GM ignition switch recall,” tweeted GM CEO Mary Barra, shortly after the crisis hit. “I answer some of your questions in these videos,” she continued—providing the necessary link to the videos. Rather than staying silent on the sidelines, letting others speak for her or the company, Barra accepted her role as communicator-in-chief by engaging directly with the public in the midst of a difficult recall situation. This one courageous moment signaled a sea change in the way social media is perceived in times of crisis.


CEOs: Own the Crisis or It Will Own You
(Harvard Business Review, 26.03.14)

The terrible press for GM keeps coming. The New York Times reported this week that GM lied to grieving families about the reasons for their loved ones’ deaths and even aggressively threatened families should they sue the company. This comes on top of recent revelations that GM officials knew about the faulty and deadly ignition switch issue in the Chevy Cobalt for years before recalling the cars. All this hits only months into Mary Barra’s tenure as CEO. While GM’s crisis is dramatic and specific, the crisis and the way Barra is handling it offer a broad array of lessons and a fair dose of controversy about what good leadership looks like and how some in the media judge male and female leaders differently.


Richard Branson on Why Leading Means Listening
(Entrepreneur, 03.03.14)

It’s often easy to spot an inexperienced leader. If you see someone raising his voice at employees, stuttering nervously in front of a group or avoiding admitting when he’s wrong, that’s a person who is just starting out.


“Treat everyone with respect and kindness. Period. No exceptions.” —Kiana Tom


Corporate Branding Digest, Feb. 19, 2014


Richard Branson on Not Going It Alone
(Entrepreneur, 17.02.14)

I love bumping into people and finding out who they are and what they’re working on. You never know who you’re going to meet. Such encounters can be valuable: If you think about how your most important relationships began—with business partners, your spouse, with friends and mentors—the stories will almost all involve chance meetings. My curiosity about others and ability to connect with people have helped me to succeed—after all, if people don’t know who you are, they are not going to do business with you.


Twilight of the Brands
(The New Yorker, 17.02.14)

Twelve months ago, Lululemon Athletica was one of the hottest brands in the world. Sales of its high-priced yoga gear were exploding; the company was expanding into new markets; experts were in awe of its “cultlike following.” As one observer put it, “They’re more than apparel. They’re a life style.” But then customers started complaining about pilling fabrics, bleeding dyes, and, most memorably, yoga pants so thin that they effectively became transparent when you bent over.


Abraham Lincoln’s Brilliant Method for Handling Setbacks
(Inc., 11.02.14)

What was the secret of Abraham Lincoln’s success in dealing with people? Incredibly, this is not just a question that a business journalist would ask. Dale Carnegie himself—the legendary author of How to Win Friends and Influence People—asked the exact same question on page 8 of that famous book.


PR Insider: The End of Brand and the Beginning of Reputation
(PR News, 06.02.14)

A few months ago, I stood in an office in the Gaza Strip in front of a room full of men and women who are committed humanitarians. They have risked their lives multiple times to deliver food to the most vulnerable people of Gaza during conflicts and live every day under a blockade with power outages, raw sewage flooding the streets, and the constant risk of violence. My translator whispered to me: “Most of these people are warehouse workers, so perhaps you might simplify your presentation?” Not only that, although my organization was changing name, we can’t change it in Gaza because the territory is ruled by Hamas, and we cannot interact with a terrorist organization.


“If you make listening and observation your occupation, you will gain much more than you can by talk.” —Robert Baden-Powell


Corporate Branding Digest, Aug. 29, 2013


What Your Brand Can Learn from Today’s Biggest Celebrities
(Fast Company, 07.08.13)

From pop stars turned politicians, to underwear models evolving into method movie actors—successful celebrities such as Bono and Mark Wahlberg can teach marketers some surprising lessons on the business of branding. Welcome to the intersection of Madison and Vine.


Best Practices for How to Align PR Activities with Sales and Marketing
(PR News, 12.08.13)

Companies have always been good at leveraging and monetizing the moment of transaction. The only problem is that “the sale” represents less than 1% of the time we spend online in our entire lives. Roughly 99% of our online time is spent learning, sharing, educating and deciding what we will do or buy next. The core skills of the communicator have never been more critical, provided that we deploy these skills and knowledge in new ways.


Battle of the Brands: Companies with the Best Grammar Win
(Forbes, 17.08.13)

With every company becoming its own best producer of content ranging from tweets and blogs to ads and billboards, the ability to deliver error-free copy is key.


Richard Branson on Crafting Your Mission
(Entrepreneur, 22.07.13)

Most mission statements are full of blah truisms and are anything but inspirational. A company’s employees don’t really need to be told that “The mission of XYZ Widgets is to make the best widgets in the world while providing excellent service.” They must think, “As opposed to what? Making the worst widgets and offering the lousiest service?” Such statements show that management lacks imagination, and perhaps in some cases, direction.


“Whenever an individual or a business decides that success has been attained, progress stops.” —Thomas J. Watson


Corporate Branding Digest, Aug. 22, 2013


Richard Branson on Being Social Media Savvy
(Entrepreneur, 12.08.13)

Do you have a social media presence? The benefits are immense, yet a study conducted by IBM found that social media is currently the least used of all customer engagement methods — many CEOs are unsure even where to start. Whether you’re launching a startup or expanding an established business, if you’re an entrepreneur and you don’t have a social media presence, your company is at a competitive disadvantage.


Infographic: 70 Percent of Those Helped via Social Customer Service Return as a Customer in the Future
(The Drum, 14.08.13)

Social customer service is important for building loyal customers, managing online reputation and helping to grow revenue, an infographic from Ambassador, a referral tracking and management software, has found.


How Big Brands Determine What’s Popular
(Ragan’s PR Daily, 16.08.13)

We all like to think of ourselves as trendsetters. We practice a healthy dose of skepticism whenever we encounter something new. The reality, however, is we’re more easily influenced than we would care to admit, to the point where we have to ask whether something is popular because it’s good or just because it’s popular.


The Best Way to Innovate Today
(HR Bartender, 04.08.13)

I’ve always been a believer that, in order for organizational change to really stick, it needs to come from existing culture. Yes, there are times when you have to “shake things up” or “disrupt” in order to make something happen. But that can’t be all the time. Most of the time, we must work within existing culture and processes. It allows us to be the most effective.


“If you don’t drive your business, you will be driven out of business.” —B.C. Forbes


Why Are Entrepreneurs Nearly Always Sexier Than CEOs?

[Originally posted on Forbes.com.]

It used to be that receiving a CEO title—and the corner office and tufted-leather sofa that came with it—was the acme of professional success. It was the recognition of a lifetime of hard work, of moving up the ranks, of following the path to its pinnacle. Once you’d arrived there, where else could you possibly go?

But now, in these topsy-turvy times—when “dropout of” seems to open more doors than “graduate of,” when getting a Thiel Fellowship might be more prestigious than getting a Stanford degree—that CEO title smacks of conformity, of drudgery, of playing by the rules and maybe playing it too safe. The CEO is The Man, plodding along the expected routes, expecting the same of his subordinates, becoming the figurehead of corporate oppression. It’s a big life, but it could have been so much bigger.

What’s much more appealing now is entrepreneurship. It connotes adventure, fearlessness, rule breaking and rebellion. Entrepreneurs are mavericks and innovators. It’s much sexier than winning the C-prize after a lifetime of corporate service. And it’s accessible to anyone, anytime: Think of Mark Zuckerberg in his Harvard dorm, Richard Branson on his private islands (the first of which he bought when he was just 24) or Bill Gates in his garage.

The entrepreneur is the person who was smart enough to sidestep the system. A list on the Strategic Business Team blog of 55 dropout billionaire entrepreneurs is enough to make anyone feel like a sucker for sticking with the traditional professional paths and corporate ladders. Along with Branson and Gates, the top 10 also include Walt Disney, Henry Ford, Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison.

Not only are they game changers, but they also seem to be the businesspeople with sexy hobbies: Think of Branson’s kite-surfing escapades and Ellison’s America’s Cup sailing races. Now name one famous billionaire CEO who came up through the corporate ranks and relaxes with similarly adventurous hobbies.

That spirit of thrill seeking and risk taking is not coincidental. Especially now that failure is a badge of honor (better to have tried and not succeeded than to have never tried at all) or even “an opportunity for spiritual growth,” taking bold leaps is seen in many circles as better than mincing along with baby steps. CEOs work to keep their shareholders happy. Entrepreneurs go for it. Their brands are built on being daredevils.

Sadly, it’s hard to think of a woman entrepreneur who fits this image. Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer, who infamously put an end to the company’s telecommuting policy last month, is definitely a CEO. Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, who has written a controversial new book about work, motherhood and leadership for women, is a C-suite executive. As recently as 2010, women owned only 21 percent of startups that were seeking funding from angel investors, according to the Center for Venture Research.

One very notable exception here is Lauren Zalaznick, chairman of entertainment and digital networks and integrated media at NBC Universal. I think of her as a corporate chair who worked her way up the ranks starting in 2004 but acts much more like an entrepreneur: She until recently oversaw Bravo, Oxygen, Style, Telemundo, mun2 and the joint ventures Sprout and TV One; ran the digital properties Daily Candy, Fandango, iVillage and Television Without Pity; and lad companywide initiatives such as Green Is Universal, Healthy at NBCU, Hispanics at NBCU and Women at NBCU. Each of her businesses saw record-setting ratings and revenue growth, and she has forged new media and marketing partnerships, and won numerous awards for digital, mobile, social and ad sales innovations. But in a shakeup last month, Zalaznick was named EVP, lost most of her cable TV responsibilities, and was charged with focusing on innovation, digital, monetization and emerging technology across the company—a nod to her early and successful embrace of digital.

Yet she’s not nearly as famous as a lot of the boys in this game, and we’re still at a point where there hasn’t yet been a female Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. That’s partly because women continue to be dismally underrepresented in the industry that’s minting the most millions and turning the most people into household names: tech.

Huffington Post Executive Tech Editor Bianca Bosker looked at this phenomenon a little while ago when she interviewed Arielle Patrice Scott, an as-yet-unsung female entrepreneur who aspires to be the next Mark Zuckerberg. Like the Facebook founder, she started her first venture while still in college—but hers, called InternshipIn, failed. At the time of the interview, she was on her second, GenJuice, a project born out of her senior thesis that she sees as the “next MTV,” by providing a platform for 20-something artists, writers and tastemakers to present and promote their work.

Bosker asked Scott why there isn’t yet a female Zuckerberg or Gates, and her answer was insightful:

“Women don’t think big enough. I hate to overgeneralize, because I’ve met some incredible women lately, especially in Silicon Valley, but there’s typically this sense of, ‘Let’s just start off small and see where it goes.’ I think men tend to think in bigger terms, and women don’t allow themselves to.”

That’s not just a commentary about why we’re still waiting for a real woman maverick of an entrepreneur. That’s a call to arms for anyone thinking of launching a venture—and a central reason that an entrepreneurial personal brand is sexier than a corporate CEO one: Entrepreneurs think bigger.

[photo: creativecommons.org/D@LY3D]

CEOs Who Fly Planes

[Originally posted on Havas Peaks.]

Given all the backlash against corporate executives who dared to get on a private aircraft in the past few years, it would seem as if anyone who doesn’t travel in seat 35E would keep quiet about it. But yet, even as the blowback against personal travel and private aviation has persisted, certain mavericks have been finding that aviation beyond the concourses at O’Hare can work to their advantage.

In this climate, being seen as a passive, coddled, catered-to passenger probably won’t get you too far. If you’re going to fly privately, you have to go all the way: Fly the plane yourself. It turns out that flying a plane is a solid way to burnish a personal brand.

A study undertaken by professors Matthew D. Cain of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business and Stephen B. McKeon of the University of Oregon’s Lundquist College of Business examined the links between CEOs’ personal risk taking and corporate politics. The high-fliers tended to like to take risks but to be wise about them.

An interview on Notre Dame’s Newswire quotes Cain explaining the findings of the study, “Cleared for Takeoff? CEO Personal Risk-Taking and Corporate Policies,” which included 179 CEOs who were pilots and 2,900 CEOs who were not. His topline was this:

“Firms led by CEOs who are pilots exhibit corporate policies that differ substantially from those led by non-pilots. For example, CEO pilot–led firms are more likely to engage in mergers and acquisitions, have more debt in their capital structure—meaning higher leverage and greater overall stock return volatility. Thus, thrill-seeking CEOs bring a certain element of this personality trait into the executive suite, as reflected by more aggressive corporate policies.”

He went on to note:

“Piloting small aircraft as a hobby is more risky than driving a motorcycle, flying a helicopter or even crop-dusting. Thus, the research shows, these CEOs exhibit a clear willingness to engage in risky activities for the sake of pleasure.”

This might sound like a negative, but CEO thrill seeking in the study didn’t lead to unfavorable business outcomes. Running a large company seems to be an outlet for creativity and to draw out cognitive abilities. As a result, says Cain, “These CEOs tend to complete acquisitions that are more successful than those completed by non-sensation-seeking CEOs. Their creativity- and novelty-seeking characteristics lead them into deals that improve the growth prospects of their firms.”

I’d add that for these CEOs’ personal brands, there’s a clear parallel between embracing the adrenaline rush and the risks of flying, and rising to the challenges of leading and growing a company in these tumultuous times. Playing it safe won’t suffice. Many of them—take Richard Branson and Oracle’s Larry Ellison as two blindingly obvious examples—have also used their unorthodox hobby to define their personal brand. They’re at the controls, in control, and steering an adventurous course.

The trend goes beyond those brand names to all-American corporate executives such as Steve Greenbaum, founder and CEO of PostNet, an international printing, shipping and design company that provides support to small businesses through more than 800 franchise locations worldwide. Greenbaum, the former chairman of the International Franchise Association, says flying his own Cessna 182 helps him clear his mind and sharpen his decision-making abilities.

He notes that flying is a mental escape from distractions, as well as the “ultimate challenge,” but that it also relates to his business in several meaningful ways: There are a lot of moving parts. The only thing that separates you from the ground is your ability to be constantly thinking ahead. And, just like in a business, if you make a mistake, you’re dead. (That dimension of it does pose a serious downside. There’s a serious debate about whether boards should let CEOs put their lives at stake, spurred by the death of Micron Technology CEO Steve Appleton when the plane he was piloting crashed.)

The way Greenbaum got into flying also enhances his brand story, making him an interesting, relatable, memorable guy: His wife is a pilot, and on their first date she flew them to lunch. He knew before they landed that he wanted to learn to fly, and by the time they were married, he had bought his first plane.

Likewise, Gary Green, CEO of Strategic Franchising Systems, says flying his own plane and helicopter helps him relax and focus. When he’s at the controls, he knows not to think about anything except flying. There’s little margin for error, so your mind can’t be elsewhere.

It’s not just about thrill seeking—the ability to focus is a strong brand attribute.

[photo: creativecommons.org/Global Jet]