Today’s CMO: Part Artist, Part Scientist

By: Drew Neisser, Founder & CEO of Renegade

My new book, The CMO’s Periodic Table: A Renegade’s Guide to Marketing, features interviews with sixty-four masters of their craft, including some who lean heavily to the science side and others who employ an artist’s intuitive touch.  In this short post, I’ll introduce you to two “scientists” who have harnessed the power of data to drive sales and minimize the unpredictability of their efforts and two “artists” who rely on their intuition and place big marketing bets that the data doesn’t necessarily direct.

“The last three years of my career have seen an amazing transformation from what it means to be a marketer.” Tim McDermott

As the current CMO of the Philadelphia 76ers and the former CMO of the Philadelphia Eagles, Tim McDermott knows a thing or two about marketing sports teams, especially ones that haven’t always performed well on the court or field. Seeking to build multi-dimensional fan relationships, Tim has made data a major part of his marketing strategy.  As he puts it, “We’re heavily invested in infrastructure, software and human capital in order to re-engineer what we’re doing on the data science side.” While this is very much a work in progress, Tim acknowledges they can now take a far more sophisticated, data-driven approach.

“At Visa the ultimate measure of success for our marketing is ROI—our ability to drive the business.” Antonio Lucio

When I first interviewed Antonio Lucio, he was deep into his tenure as CMO at Visa, where he prescribed a three-tiered measurement approach. Lucio’s short-term metrics included reach and impact with recall being a proxy for reach and “usage lift” the gauge for impact. Lucio’s third tier was long-term impact, which he defined “as lift in our brand equity and our ability to influence consumer behavior longer-term.”  And while all of the above are critical effectiveness measures for just about any brand, Lucio never stropped looking for others, noting, “Our key performance metrics evolve to address changing dynamics in the industry.

“Creativity and innovation aren’t just about another page in a magazine or another billboard with clever imagery or copy.” – Lee Applbaum

When Lee Applbaum became CMO of the iconic beverage brand Patrón Spirits, he took an admittedly conservative “stewardship” approach to his new duties. Not wanting to screw up a good thing with the master brand, Lee directed his team toward new products and “reimagining the conversation in our category.”  The launch of line extension Roca Patrón presented just such an opportunity to disrupt via events, social, digital and mobile.  His “Roca on the Rails” campaign featured a fully-restored, opulent 1927 railcar offering bespoke dinners and tastings with celebrated chefs.  This unique experience started a wave of PR coverage and social buzz that helped to exceed sales goals by 50%.

“Creativity is driven by staying authentic to your brand and your mission.” – Loren Angelo

CMO Loren Angelo is not shy about sharing the success Audi of America has enjoyed on the sales front, pointing to 45 consecutive monthly sales records and elevating brand opinion and consideration by over 30 percent since 2006.  This growth is the result of bringing “smart, entertaining creative to market” like using Snapchat during the Super Bowl to launch the A3, which it continued via a partnership with “Pretty Little Liars.” Loren is not afraid to experiment with new channels, even if the ROI is not readily measurable, noting that, “Creativity comes in the message as well as the medium in which it’s delivered.” To drive the point home, Loren concludes, “Building the brand with time-starved, affluent Americans requires us to bring unique ideas to a variety of channels.”

“If only marketing were a science.” – Drew Neisser

Having interviewed over 150 senior marketers in the last 5 years, I have come to appreciate the fact that marketing is not a “one size fits all” profession.  Each CMO faces a unique set of challenges and must blend the right mix of elements to achieve the desired results. Some of these elements are quite scientific ranging from Befriending Data to Marketing Automation, CRM to Email Efficacy.  Others like Storytelling, Pure Creativity, Going Viral and Social Purpose require more of an artistic touch. All of these “elements” are covered in The CMO’s Periodic Table along with 56 more, not the least of which is Setting Expectations, the lead chapter featuring my interview with Jeffrey Hayzlett who requires no introduction on this site. And with that, here’s to hoping you pull together all the right elements for your marketing challenge in 2016!

Founder and CEO of Renegade, the NYC-based marketing agency that helps CMO’s find innovative ways to cut through, Drew is a recognized authority on cutting-edge marketing techniques, having won numerous awards for creativity and campaign effectiveness. Ranked among Brand Quarterly’s “50 Marketing Thought Leaders Over 50,” he is an “expert blogger” for Forbes, CMO.com and TheCMOclub among others, pens the weekly CMO Spotlight column for AdAge and is the author of TheCut, a well-respected monthly newsletter.

The Truth: Performance Review Transformation is Not Over

By: Wally Hauck

“Wisdom is found only in truth.” – Johan Wolfgang von Goethe

It is difficult to find the truth especially in complex situations.  It can be elusive. It is often influenced by changes in our environment.  It can shift dramatically when we change how we think about the problems we are seeking to solve.  For example, some advertisements for cigarettes in the 1950 made claims that smoking was safe.  Some claimed even doctors enjoyed them without concern, they could keep you slim, and/or they could help relieve your asthma symptoms.  Today, those messages would be considered lies.

Are performance reviews effective or not?  According to some research (SHRM) 58% of managers say no and of course 42% say yes.  Jack Welch still defends the forced ranking of employees using the performance review (rank-and-yank). Steve Ballmer at Microsoft “yanked” that policy out of Microsoft because a large percentage of employees claimed it was one of the worse policies on the planet for engagement and innovation.   Who’s right? It depends!  How you think about people, problems, and the root cause of poor performance will influence your answer. 

There is a transformation occurring in the performance review process now.  Many large organizations are the early adopters of that transformation.  These include Adobe, GE, Deloitte, Google, and a few others.  Still nearly 85% of organizations continue to use the typical performance review model.    Yet many of those are now motivated more than ever to consider a change.  According to a recent survey by Bersin, 70% of the organizations surveyed reported either recently changing their performance management system or were seriously considering it.

What’s the motivation to change?  It’s the usual reasons and some additional new ones too.  For some it’s the need for speed.  The truth: annual reviews just don’t allow people to respond to the accelerated change in the marketplace.  Customers’ needs and desires change frequently and employees must be in a position to respond. The annual typical review stymies an organization’s ability to respond.

Still others are interested in improving employee engagement.  The typical review is notorious for damaging engagement.  Ratings are often seen as biased or manipulated. This is especially true of forced ranking systems.  Yahoo is currently facing a law suit brought on by their forced ranking system. 

Still others have come to realize their corporate values are being contradicted by their typical performance review process.  The truth: this contradiction with values has damaged productivity of disgruntled employees who are receiving the mixed messages.

On a more practical note, some of these early adopters of the transformation have finally come to realize the internal costs of conducting the typical review.    The time spent by managers to “do them right” far outweighs the benefits.  This is especially true when one calculates the loss of engagement, loss of productivity, and damage to the speed of response to changing conditions.

But, there is one more reason to transform the typical review.  In my opinion this reason is the most compelling of all because it gets to the very heart of the root cause of the failure of the typical review.  All the other reasons are symptoms.      When one finds a root cause it’s time to celebrate because you know you are close to a breakthrough in performance improvement.  As Dorothy Thompson once said, “There is nothing to fear except the persistent refusal to find out the truth, the persistent refusal to analyze the causes of happenings.”  The truth: the typical review has the wrong focus.  Its focus is on individual improvement and not on the quality of interactions. The early adopters are still making this mistake.

There are two ways an employee can obtain feedback, interpersonal interactions and system interactions. Interpersonal interactions concern behavior which the employee has total control.  System interactions involve other factors outside the control of the individual.

In most organizations it is the employee’s manager who is formally responsible for giving feedback to the employee.  The truth: this is a manager dependent process that can contribute to a sluggish bureaucracy.  As mentioned earlier, one of the major complaints of the typical performance appraisal is that feedback occurs infrequently and that infrequent feedback damages employee engagement which damages performance.  Why can’t everyone be allowed and/or obligated to give feedback when appropriate?  Few of the transformations allow feedback from anyone including co-workers.

Employees need to understand how their behavior impacts the performance of others. Every employee needs to behave with respect and integrity at all times or performance suffers.  Interpersonal interactions enable people to communicate with each other effectively as long as it is with integrity and respect.  When people are disrespectful they need to realize it and they need to change and they need to know immediately.  When they break integrity they need to know it and they need to change and they need to know immediately. 

Managers can influence the quality of the interpersonal interactions.  They can make them easier or harder. They can make them functional or dysfunctional.  When an employee’s behavior is discussed the influence of managers must be discussed as well.  The truth:  the transformation continues to point mostly in one direction i.e. toward the employee.  Few of the transformations encourage feedback to the manager from the employee.

System interactions, the second type of feedback, provide information about how well employees are working with their processes.  Employees influence their processes but they don’t control all the inputs.  The quality of the inputs to their processes will influence their performance.  An organization must recognize this and enable employees to communicate immediately when the inputs are not optimal. The current transformations are not clarifying this.

Employees should be able to receive frequent feedback from their processes.  Their manager and co-workers may need to give them feedback on the quality of their interpersonal interactions but feedback from the processes should not be fully dependent upon the employee’s manager.  The employee, if they understand how to study a process, can arrange to collect their own data.  The transformations are not addressing this concern. 

The truth: the transformation continues to focus on individual performance instead of the quality of the interactions therefore the transformation is not yet over.  I am hopeful the transformation continues to evolve in this direction otherwise performance improvement will continue to suffer and frustrations will continue.

Wally Hauck, PhD has a cure for the “deadly disease” known as the typical performance appraisal.  Wally holds a doctorate in organizational leadership from Warren National University, a Master of Business Administration in finance from Iona College, and a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania.   Wally is a Certified Speaking Professional or CSP.  Wally has a passion for helping leaders let go of the old and embrace new thinking to improve leadership skills, employee engagement, and performance.

When It Comes To Your Brain, “Use It or Lose It”

By Dr. Tony Alessandra

Let’s explore some ideas for improving brain function by actually using your brain. This is very beneficial because the saying “use it or lose it” is definitely true where the brain is concerned.

Like it or not, the human brain starts slowing down at about the age of 30. At one time, it seemed like nothing could be done about this, but new research shows you can train your mind to work faster and better — and you can do this at any age. With the right tools, you can re-condition your brain to work as it did when you were younger. What’s needed is a clearly defined regimen of brain exercise. Just as you can plan to walk or run a certain number of miles every week, you can also commit to workouts for your brain in the same period of time. The key finding in modern brain research is that the brain at any age is highly adaptable. It’s “plastic,” as neurologists put it. If you ask your brain to learn, it will learn. Moreover, you can speed up the process.

Let me give you an example of something I’ve been doing along these lines. I had never been very interested in crossword puzzles. I’m not sure I had ever actually completed any kind of a difficult

crossword puzzle at any point in my life. Then I became aware of some research that seemed to show how doing puzzles could have benefits for brain function. So I tried it and some interesting things happened.

I found that it was definitely an enjoyable activity. I gave myself some freedom in how I did the puzzles, and I think this made it more fun. I tried not to approach it as if I were taking an exam, or as if I were trying to do some serious activity that was going to benefit my mind. I was just very open to it. I didn’t tell myself that I had to complete the crossword in any specific period of time. I would just get started on it and leave it out on the table, and then over the course of the day I’d add things. I was actually very surprised by how this worked. I would feel like I couldn’t possibly do any more on the puzzle, but then when I looked at it a few hours later I would see something that I had missed — and it would actually seem very obvious. Another thing that surprised me was the way a crossword puzzle could actually be a social activity. My wife and I could do them together, or she would add some words when the puzzle was left out and then I would add some different ones later.

The truth is, it hasn’t been established in any rigorous way that crossword puzzles benefit brain function. As I mentioned, there has been some study of that question, but a convincing answer hasn’t emerged yet. The same is true of the Japanese puzzles called Sudoku, which are basically crossword puzzles with numbers instead of words. What has been established, however, is that introducing new forms of mental activity can strengthen the brain and for me a crossword puzzle was a new form of activity. If people have been doing puzzles every morning for their whole lives, there probably is not much benefit. That’s especially true if doing puzzles has become a habitual behavior in which you’re mindless while you’re doing them. However, that wasn’t true for me. Instead, I was doing a mental activity in which my brain was asked to create new connections and to operate in new areas. I can’t document that this has had benefits, but my sense is that it has. So here’s what I urge you to do: whether it’s crossword puzzles or Sudoku or chess or bridge, challenge your mind to try something different.

Executive Briefings: Intersection of Leadership and Social Media

By Thomas White for Huffington Post

In my work, I meet business leaders from all over the world who have advice, stories and personal tips to provide. I sit down with these leaders to give them the opportunity to provide current business advice and give a glimpse to their personal stories as a business leader.

I recently sat down with Rob Harles, Head of Social Business & Collaboration at Accenture Interactive. Rob joined Accenture from Bloomberg LP in New York where he was Global Head of Social Media responsible for developing and managing Bloomberg’s social media strategy and initiatives worldwide.

As a leader in social media for a long time, both at Bloomberg and now Accenture, what changes do you see in what expectations customers have of companies?

Customers have higher expectations than they’ve ever had. Social has acted as a catalyst for people to express their views, support, lack of support for brands, and what they expect brands to do, to live up to their promise. Only ten to fifteen years ago you wouldn’t have been able to do that. Brands were lucky enough to be able to tell you what they stood for and hope you believed it. Now you have to prove it, and social is acting as that catalyst.

We call it the ultra-transparency situation, and it affects how companies engage with customers. How would you describe this phenomena?

The phenomenon with social is really about people wanting to feel that they matter, and they want to be able to express that. It’s been around since the dawn of time, when we were just a nation of shopkeepers. As we grew and had to come to terms with the challenges of scaling businesses, we got more and more distant from our customers. The result was that we had to do standalone market research at a set point in time just to see where people’s needs or demands were going or how they felt about us. Now that’s changed. It’s 24/7. They’re telling you exactly what they need. They’re telling you exactly how they feel. Sometimes they’re telling you the extremes of that because there is less of a filter.

What do you see in the next five years? How is social media going to change as a medium, and how is it going to change the way we do business?

The advantage of real-time information is that we are addressing people’s issues faster. We are being more responsive. Organizations and brands are using the insights that come out of social to improve themselves, and that’s a good thing. But with that always comes challenges. This is where organizations go off the rails. At Accenture Digital, what we’re seeing is that companies are almost too ready to take data and do something with it and not really think about the implications. Also, it comes with the challenge of where do you draw the demarcation line in terms of privacy? How do you think about protecting the rights of your employees or the rights of your customers? There isn’t a day that goes by when there isn’t a headline about something like this. It’s creating great opportunities on the one hand, but it’s also creating a lot of challenges in terms of sensitivity and the law. Eventually we find our path. Eventually we figure out the right way to do something and sometimes we only do that by making mistakes. Sometimes the consequences of those mistakes are actually quite precious, but it still makes us better.

Let’s shift gears. As a leader, what are the traits that you most admire in other leaders?

Everybody is different. That’s the thing that I’ve recognized, and good leaders recognize that. We’re a little bit more open than we’ve ever been and don’t self-edit as much. Great leaders are ones who have a vision and are willing to be tenacious enough to drive that forward. An example would be if you say you want to have an innovative culture. It’s another thing to actually create an innovate culture. Great leaders are ones who are a little more flexible than they’ve ever been, but have great vision and can really motivate people to bring more than what they’re just asked to do. It’s like a puppy dog scenario. I love it when people come to me and they have an idea, it might not be a perfect idea, but it’s a start. They’re thinking. The worst situation is where you stifle that.

Along your way to becoming the leader that you are today, who has inspired you, and what about them inspired you?

I have to pay homage to some of the great thinkers and entrepreneurs that we’ve had in just the last few decades. Whether it’s Bill Gates, or Steve Jobs, or Steve Wozniak and many more. In so many ways they represent the unique American spirit of trying to do something that no one has done before. It’s high risk. I admire the people who are the unsung heroes who have tried something and it hasn’t worked. Most entrepreneurs, if they’re really honest, will tell you, “So much of our success is built not just on hard work or creativity.” But their little secret is luck and being able to see it and take advantage of it and run with it. Not everyone has that luck, but they have all the other things. Sometimes those unsung heroes drive us forward through the missed opportunities and the failures just as much as those who we venerate. I like to see people, generally, who try things and are okay with failing and picking themselves up, learning from it, and moving to the next thing.

Difficult Doesn’t Have to Be So Difficult: How to Turn Challenging Conversations into Trusting Relationships at Work

By Judith E. Glaser

No one could believe it – Radio Shack let thousands of people go and they did it through email!  Most people dislike delivering bad news in person, and will find any way to avoid it.

Making eye contact with another person who you care about, and with whom you need to deliver a difficult message – probably creates disappoint, upset or hurt – and is one of the most difficult things for human beings to do. So, rather than confronting these challenges, we often take too many alternatives which at the time seem to be less challenging or hurtful but later turn out to cause more pain.

Discussing/Delivering/Moving Through Bad News

Clouding the Issue

Two years ago I was asked to coach a CEO who was one of 6 reporting to a chairman. The difficult message the chairman wanted to give the leaders was that if she didn’t raise the performance of her team she would be asked to leave. Rather than giving that message, the chairman wrote a 6 page report that provided feedback and 98% was about how good the leader was. Embedded in the document were 2-3 lines, which briefly stated that the chairman expected a higher level of performance from the leader. When I asked the leader what this document communicated to her and what she would do as a result, she said she was doing everything right and therefore was on the right track for her bonus.

Failing to be candid with others is one of the largest reasons why people ultimately leave companies. When we think we are doing the right things, we keep doing them. When key messages are embedded into larger messages, they get lost, are “sandwiched in” which means we can easily discount them or deal with them as less important.

Candor is Golden 

People do care about outcomes, but they care more about the processes that produce those outcomes. People want to know where they stand and why. If there is a difficult message they need to hear, employees would prefer to know the truth rather than a watered down or clouded version of it.

Candor supersedes fluff in situations where truth is the medicine needed. Fear of telling a person they have failed, or are about to be fired, or they didn’t make the cut are realities in life. We all know this. Yet we do more harm to an individual by trying to soft pedal our way through a difficult conversation.  When people are candid with us – and do it in a caring way – we are open to building trust with them – it’s as simple as that.

Turning Difficult Conversations into Trusting Relationships at Work

How should a leader address customers; shareholders; the press; employees? Are there different components of the message that should be shared with one group and not another? Who needs what type of information? Most of all, how can you set the context for difficult not to be so difficult. The best strategy is to be specific and clear about what is happening, rather than clouding the message with hyperbole.

  • Unmet Expectations: Most difficult messages come from a very common origin. Unmet expectations. I failed to deliver the results you expected. You failed to deliver the results I expected. It is difficult because it contains embarrassment and disappointment – two things human beings dislike the most. It is a social embarrassment and when this is the core of the context, then people want to deflect the message, minimize it, blame others, avoid it – or any other tactic they can think of.Every difficult message has some dynamics that are unique to the situation. And each group of people may have different messages that are required to share, however there are a few things in common with all. These are all people – and in each case they are important relationships that you want to preserve and sustain even thought the message you need to discuss or deliver is different.
  • If you don’t care about the relationship then you can say anything you want. In this case you can “data dump” or get the situation off your chest and act mindlessly about how you say it. Sometimes this can be venting or letting it all out if the issue is about your relationships with them.
  • Caring: However in most other cases, if your goal is to share something that is considered “difficult” and you want to sustain the relationship, you need to set the context for a sustained relationship up front so the person knows that this may be difficult for both of you… and that you care about them regardless of how difficult the message will be.
  • Candor: In addition you want to be explicit and honest about what you are sharing. Candor communicates respect, and that is what people want most. Not candor that looks like blame, or anger, but candor that looks like the real truth…

Example:  Failure to Deliver Results on Your End
For example, your company failed to make its numbers this quarter and it’s because of a delay in the launch of a product. There will be an impact on stock price, or deliveries, on employee bonuses – so the impact is across the board with employees, shareholders, press and even customers. Identify where the impacts lie, take responsibility for the event, ask people to accept your apology, explain your new strategy for making it better, and asking for their on going support or help in any way that is needed.

Understand How to Address Fears, Concerns, and Worries:

  • Triggering:    ‘Feared Implications’

Very often just the thought of having a difficult conversation causes anxiety and fear. Our minds quickly create a movie of what might happen, and our minds are quick to imagine the worst. I call this ‘feared implications.’ Feared implications are the worst-case scenarios, and when our minds imagine the worst, the neurochemistry of fear takes over. The clinical name for this is Amygdala Hijack, named after the part of the brain, which is the seat of fear.

  • Priming:
    Do have the conversation in person
    whenever you can. When you talk with someone face-to-face, it primes the way for an honest and caring exchange and it does make a difference. People experience a great level of trust and openness when they see someone face-to-face and see the look in their eyes of caring and concern for their well being.
  • Refocusing & Redirecting:
    Do focus on outcomes
    and especially those that may be good or better for the person down the road. A person receiving bad news will be focusing on the loss and you want them to focus on how to use this situation to grow and to gain something better than what they had before. Redirect and refocus them on how to use this situation as an opportunity for change and growth.
  • Reframing:
    Do focus on development and growth not punishment and blame.
    Most people feel shame and embarrassment when something goes wrong. When you reframe a discussion from ‘criticism’ to ‘development’ it shifts the person from thinking, “I was bad” to “here are new ways to be successful.” This creates a new energetic shift in their brain from the fear state to being open to learn something new. The Heart-Prefrontal Cortex will start working together and become in sync to create a healthy state of mind – open to learn.
  • Co-creating:
    Fear closes down conversations. When the boss is afraid to talk, it amplifies the fear and feared implications. Instead, be open to discussing the impact and implications of the news. People will always say after the fact, that when a leader was open to discussion, it makes them feel that the difficult news was palatable. They feel if the process of exchange is fair and open, with candor, respect and caring, then they can accept the news. Also, if there is dialogue they may come up with other ways of handling the situation that had not been revealed before.

Judith E. Glaser is CEO of Benchmark Communications, Chairman of the Creating WE Institute, Organizational Anthropologist, and consultant to Fortune 500 Companies and author of four best- selling business books, including Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results (Bibliomotion). Visit www.conversationalintelligence.com; www.creatingwe.com; email jeglaser@creatingwe.com or call 212-307-4386.

How Great Executives Avoid Common Rookie Missteps

Nobody’s shocked when someone who’s an obvious idiot flames out in a job they were never cut out for.  But more than 50% of executives still fail within the first 18 months of their appointment to a higher altitude – and many of them are the good ones.  What accounts for so many promising young executives reaching broader assignments and stumbling once there?

Ten years of research, more than 2700 interviews and surveys have revealed consistent patterns of tripwires that cause even the best to fall.   Here are four common traps well-intended executives unwittingly step into. 

The mandate bait  Many executives arrive with a perceived mandate to repeat past success –“you’ve turned around situations like this before and that’s what we need.”  Instead of looking realistically at the current situation, executives reach back to their bag of tricks that “worked before” and begin slapping those formulas on the new  environment without contextualization.  Organ rejection sets in as the leader’s diagnosis turns into an indictment of the culture’s inadequacies. The organization more firmly resists, resenting the executive’s ignorance of what will and won’t work.  Avoiding this trap requires deep knowledge of context – reading it and adapting to it.  Hit the ground learning, not running.

Stakeholder blindness  Deep relationships with new peers, sometimes former bosses, new direct reports, sometimes previous peers, and new bosses, are most critical at the highest levels of organizations.   But given that most rising executives distinguish themselves through individualism, they painfully underestimate how much they need others when they get to the top.  Forming mutual partnerships with those who most hold the keys to your success, and whose success you can influence, is critical.  Connections formed with deep trust, investment, and openness are the best guardian against this trap.  To transform an organization, you have to let it transform you.

Altitude distortions  How your messages are received, and how messages arrive to you, change dramatically when you near the organization’s top.   Assume you now have a megaphone strapped to you 24/7.  Everything you say and do is amplified and open to interpretations far from your intentions.   Similarly, information you get is now sifted.  People sanitize data and tell you what they think you want to hear.  Unable to adapt to these distortions, many executives regain their footing by reverting to the more tangible, less ambiguous work from their old job.  Executive breadth is the requirement for avoiding this trap – having the broadest possible knowledge of your organization, how its pieces fit together, especially of how to bridge the organization’s seams where conflicts are intensified.  Broader perspectives that add value lower level leaders can’t, helps new executives confidently orient to realities of higher altitudes.  Rise above the fray, and stay there.

Power failure  Most executives struggle with the larger sphere of positional, informational and relational power afforded them by bigger jobs.  While tabloids are filled with leaders who abuse that power with indulgent self-interest, the more common power failure is abdication.  Executives are so fearful of wielding power that they avoid using it, especially when the risks seem high.  Indecisiveness, accommodating mediocre performance, co-dependent relationships with others to hide behind, and irresponsible uses of confidential information are just some of the symptoms of a leader who has abdicated their power.  Self-protection, not self-service, is often the driver behind such fearful leaders.  What they fail to grasp is the importance of the larger good their power is intended to serve.  At the top of the organization, your ability to right injustices, allocate resources fairly, provide access to opportunity, focus people on limited priorities, and invest in promising talent are all the privileges that accompany power, and failure to exercise it is as much an abuse of the  privilege as exploiting it for personal gain.  Embracing the importance of executive choice is the custodian against power failure.   Constructing choices with data, appropriate inclusion of others, clear values, and full appreciation of painful trade-offs is an executive’s privileged prerogative.   Executive power is intended to serve others, not hide behind.

Landmines in the field of executive leadership are plentiful, but no need to go tap-dancing in those fields unprepared.  Translate your noble intentions into success by thoughtfully preparing yourself for the realities of executive leadership and beat the odds against failure. 

Commercial Cards Modernize the Payments Process and Enhance Supplier Relationships

Our competitive and global business climate requires C-level executives to maintain visibility into spending and constantly look for ways to make every dollar count. A payment strategy that relies on electronic payments is an important first step. As part of that strategy, you can take advantage of commercial card program benefits to drive down costs, forecast cash flow, optimize liquidity opportunities, and enhance valuable supplier relationships.

Consider that 50% of payables are still paper-based1 and each check costs, on average, $30 per item to process and handle.2   Commercial cards can be used not only for purchasing and expenses, but inventory and capital expenditures as well. 

“Progressive leaders looking to improve process efficiencies, cash visibility, and forecasting, recognize that making the relatively simple move toward using commercial cards is the logical solution for payments.”

–Ranjana Clark, Head of Transaction Banking, MUFG Union Bank, N.A.

Download White Paper:

Learn more about transformative ePayables strategies: download the MUFG Commercial Cards white paper here.

About MUFG:
MUFG Union Bank, N.A. is a member of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), one of the world’s leading financial institutions. Learn more about our
Commercial Card program at mufgamericas.com/commercial-cards

Contact a MUFG ePayables specialist at 214-468-7829 or visit mufgamericas.com/commercialcards for more information.

1Electronic Payments Survey, Association of Financial Professionals, 2013.

2 Ibid.

The foregoing article is intended to provide general information about commercial card and is not considered advice from MUFG and MUFG Union Bank, N.A.

© 2016 Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved

The MUFG logo and name is a service mark of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc.

 

Self-Expression: The Neuroscience of Co-creation

By Judith E. Glaser

I have yet to meet an executive, who joins a company to be ‘minimized,’ marginalized or to be intentionally held back from making a contribution.

We join a company to make a difference, to make a contribution, to be praised and rewarded.  We join a company to bring our voice to the table, and ‘lean into conversations’ so our voices join in the spirit of partnering with others to shape, create and Co-create the future.

Neuroscience is teaching us that ‘self-expression’ might be one – if not the most important ways for people to connect, navigate and grow with each other.

Validate View and Voice
Why might this be so? This experience suggests that something important happens inside of us when our view of the world is validated publicly—when our voice is heard and acknowledged, when we see we are not alone in our inner thoughts. This article is inspired by an experiment I ran over 25 years ago that created the impetus for the Birth of Conversational Intelligence
® – how we use conversations to connect with others’ to share a common view of the world.

Case in Point!

When my children were in elementary school, I created a school project called Children’s World. I proposed that we gather the students’ stories and pictures, and compile them into a book and publish it. When I shared this idea with the principal and teachers, they got behind it and offered to help. And when I shared this idea with some parents, I soon had 20 volunteers. When we shared this idea with the 550 students. Within a few weeks we had all of their contributions.

As we began to compile the books, we put on the floor all of the contributions—everything from stories and pictures from the 5th graders to poems and pictures from 1st graders—and looked for how we could best combine them. During the creative process, something amazing happened. It was as if each child was sensing things around them and with their best abilities they could usher up, they shared their stories and pictures with others.

At the end of our pattern-seeking process, all of the art and stories came together into chapters organized by themes that emerged as we sorted. We found children’s stories from 1st grade to map into illustrations from children at a higher grade.  We found a local printer who printed enough for parents to buy for their children and others. The books sold out in the first two days, and we had to re-order them.

The teachers told us there was an upsurge of creativity during the years we published Children’s World. Other schools in our community heard about the project and began their own Children’s World project.

Later, we did a follow-up study, looking for possible connections that might show the impact of the projects on the children’s emotional, social and academic development. We found a positive impact from the few years we did the Children’s World projects—a direct correlation to the number of children who were accepted into top universities, measurably more than in the years before or after.


Self-Expression at Work
How to you drive self-expression in the workplace? How do you encourage speaking up? In what ways can people apply their talents to create the next generation products and services your company offers?

Conversational Intelligence (C-IQ) teaches us to see differently—to listen differently—and to process what we perceive differently. When we do that, we act in the moment in ways that create energy, activate energy, and help guide energy toward more productive and more powerful ends. C-IQ gives us tools for letting go of the past and transforming the future.

As you become transparent about your aspirations and intentions to co-create and also what threatens you—your fears and “stories” about what is going on—you feel a release inside. You gain the courage and a space to share your views without judgment. You could speak out and have a voice, and not be judged for how you are feeling. You have a chance to speak out and have your opinions valued.

You can reveal your inner thoughts and feelings to one another—to work on Transparency + Relationship together. You can talk about what is bothering you and what you aspire to create. You can move from a state of protection to partnering with others by being open to sharing and discovering their fears and aspirations.

Co-creating Conversations Bridge Realities
By stepping into one another’s shoes and listening without judgment, you trigger the prefrontal cortex (the executive brain) to access higher-level capacities, including how to handle gaps between reality and aspirations; how to access new thinking; and how to move into infinite thinking together and co-create new possibilities. Without this part of the brain activated, you tend to fall back into positional thinking and fight for your vested interests. You become more candid and caring and speak truth in trust, without triggering fear, creating the space for Shared success.

Breakthroughs occur, as you stay open to the possibility that you might discover ideas you have never thought of before. As you create a bonding experience (oxytocin rush), you start to open up new conversations about “what ifs.” You imagine new things that you might do together, fostering higher risk taking and openness. Co-creation opens the “infinite space” our minds need to be free to connect with others in new ways. Positioning, politicking, interpretation, drama, and negative storytelling give way to a sense of shared success and bonding that shapes new relationships.

Achieving greatness depends on the quality of the culture, which depends on the quality of relationships, which depends on the quality of conversations. Everything happens through conversation. By grafting C-IQ rituals into your interaction dynamics, you will discover new doors opening up in your mind and in your reality.

Try These Experiments:

  • Think about how to craft an exercise like Children’s World in your organization,  team, or school.
  • Start a meeting by asking people to share a personal story and a business story that just happened that they are excited about—see how the meeting shifts.
  • In team meetings, you might share “What I respect about you and what I need from you.” This exercise helps you understand others, recognize strengths in others and prime one another for partnering and co-creation as you create openness, bonding, connectivity, and empathy for one another.
  • Collect success stories in teams and publish them—watch how the team spirit changes.
  • Publish success stories on your intranet. Ask people to include tips, and practices that underlay the success—watch how the C-IQ grows in your organization


Judith E. Glaser is CEO of Benchmark Communications, Inc., Chairman of The Creating WE Institute, an Organizational Anthropologist, consultant to Fortune 500 Companies, and author of four best selling business books, including Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results (Bibliomotion). Call 212-307-4386 or visit www.conversationalingelligence.com; www.creatingwe.com; email jeglaser@creatingwe.com.

http://www.benchmarkcommunicationsinc.com/

B2B Marketing: C-Suite Executive Briefings

Q&A: Cody Pearce, Chief Operating Officer of Nelson Schmidt, On An Evolution in B2B Marketing

The C-Suite Network hosts a monthly online event called Executive Briefings. Each event features an executive thought leader discussing a topic important to the C-Suite. Thomas White, CEO of C-Suite Network, hosts the event with a unique Q&A format. 

During one of our recent Briefings, Cody Pearce, chief operating officer of Nelson Schmidt, joined us to discuss the evolution and landscape, both present and future, of B2B marketing. Nelson Schmidt is a leader in helping companies and clients truly think about the marketplace and how they can engage with buyers in a way that’s really effective both to the top and bottom line.

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If anybody has been around marketing they’ve heard a couple of terms: B2B and B2C. So when somebody is talking about business to business, or B2B, what does that really mean?

We talk a lot about the evolution of B2B marketing and to some extent the dissolving of B2B marketing. When we look out at some of the trends that we’re monitoring, we look at three things: One, the market landscape has really dynamically changed even over the last three to five years. Just about every business model has been significantly disrupted. There is a massive influx of information and information technology that is changing the way we do business – changing the way we go to market.

Secondly, the customer landscape – both demographically and the way the customer has been empowered – are dramatically different because of the evolution of tools and information. The empowered customer has changed the way we think about marketing.

Lastly, the B2B landscape is dramatically shifting. We’ve seen a disappearance of our trade with the BMA (Business Marketing Association) being absorbed by the AMA (American Marketing Association) and with our Trade Voice BtoB Magazine being absorbed by Advertising Age, for example. Those trends are real evidence for us that there is a tremendous shift taking place, and a movement towards the creation of a single community of marketers rather than a definitive distinction between B2B and B2C companies, brands, and marketers. That shift, for us, is an incredibly important one, and one that we’re making sure to pay close attention to so we can change our business and our business practices with it.

We certainly have seen these changes in the landscape, the kind of things that we all supported and helped build this market we call B2B are certainly evolving pretty rapidly. What is causing this change? What is going on in the customer space that’s having this change come about?

What we look at, first and foremost, is the emergence of new channels and the access to information for customers that just hasn’t been there until the last three to five years in the way that it is today. That is changing the way the customers get information. It’s changing their ability to be much more intelligent and informed, and it’s forcing companies and marketers to think less about the product or solution they offer – a business or commercial audience versus a consumer one – and to think more about the journey and the considered purchase process of their customers. We need to evolve with these changing demographics, market landscape changes, and emergence of new tools and channels.

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You talk about the change in how we market, but this question of the evolution of B2B to considered purchases isn’t really just an issue for marketing folks. It’s really an issue for all the C-Suite, isn’t it?

It really is. I think the changes that we’re starting to describe, and the trends that we’re looking at, it changes how we do business. It changes how we connect with customers. It changes, perhaps, how we go to market and make money. For us, as an agency, and as a considered purchase marketing agency, it means thinking differently about the way that we help our customers from the executive office all the way through the commercial marketing teams and into the sales organization. So it does affect our client’s businesses literally from top to bottom in the way that they do business.

You’ve used this term a few times called considered purchase, what does it mean?

It simply means that rather than defining marketing as business-to-business or business-to-consumer, we are defining our practice of marketing around the idea of the level of consideration we see that customers make before making a purchase choice. Considered purchases are complex and have a great deal of emotional and financial risk and reward.

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So you aren’t getting this idea because you sit around a room. You go out and talk to folks and find out from them what they’re seeing.

That’s absolutely right. It’s not just about coming up with a new term for the sake of having something catchy to talk about next. It really is about re-inventing the way that, as an agency, we’re beginning to practice and the way that we solve problems for our customers.

When we talk to marketers, what we’re hearing are a couple of emerging trends. Number one, we hear that there’s a lot more focus around the consideration for purchase of those goods or services. It’s less about B2C and B2B, and it’s more about the level of consideration a customer has to make before making a purchase choice. We also find that the marketers probably feel less informed, especially as business models change and are disrupted. We begin to then shape our conversation around the purchase journey, around the consideration required, and the consequence and complexity tied to a brand choice to define the way that we practice.

For example, if we start to look at and map different categories of products and services along a spectrum of consequence and complexity, we can start to draw a line differently than traditional B2B and B2C lines have been drawn in the past. There’s kind of a convergence and a similarity now between the process someone may go through when choosing a banking alternative or a college choice, and very much being able to connect that to what a capital equipment purchase might look like. That journey looks very similar regardless of a consumer or a business target audience or offering. 

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Do you think because we have had these distinctions of B2B, B2C, and so forth that we have failed to really understand what you call the customer journey and how the sales funnel really works?

Yes, and marketers tell us that. They’re starting to question the traditional sales funnel and rethink the way that customers, in a more informed setting along a path of highly considered purchase, are moving through that funnel in a less linear fashion. Instead, they are coming in and out of it much more rapidly, and carrying forward with them preconceived choices based on the level of information available to them. As we look at the customer journey in the highly considered purchase path, it forces us to rethink the sales funnel and how we engage with the customer to affect their choices.

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Let’s talk about the customer journey. How do you help people map that out?

We actually give a lot of credit to a company called Adaptive Path. We found some very compelling tools that this organization had developed. They are a thought leader in the space of customer experience, and they make available to us, and this is public domain, a great set of tools that we’re beginning to use to provide structure to mapping out the customer journey.

The tools help us look at the stages a customer goes through, whether it’s in a business-to-business or business-to-consumer setting. We then can map those stages out from decision, through research and shopping, into buying and consumption — all the way down to using and feeding back into the loop their experience.

Not only does this allow us to look at the functional aspects of what customers are doing, but it lets us explore the emotional aspects of what customers may be thinking, feeling, and experiencing at each of the stages of the journey. That allows us, ultimately, to provide some guiding principles and seek opportunities for where we can be most effective with the right content, at the right time, through the right channel, as we begin to map this more comprehensively. 

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By mapping this out we know what to do when.

That’s right. It’s about what to do when. It’s about what channels to use. It’s about having some predictability in the work that we do to the outcomes that we’re trying to measure. This allows us to set up analytics and KPIs around our marketing programs to know that the investment is working as best as it can.

We begin to apply this as simply and as informally as a brainstorming session. We literally project it up on a wall for a post-it note session with our media and public relations and digital teams. We also take it very formally into the way that we scope and manage comprehensive annual campaigns.

Through this modeling we can start to look at the tools and the modes of communication. We can look at what customers are functionally doing, thinking, and feeling at each individual stage. We can much more intelligently then shape our messaging, our creative strategies, our channel mix, and investment in a way that we know is going to be most effective and optimized.

This guideline has given us a great framework to start looking at both consumer and commercial purchase cycles and building intelligent plans that use a modern set of tools in the most effective way.

What is the “Zero Moment of Truth”?

Zero moment of truth is something that has been talked about for a few years. This is the ultimate point in time in the customer journey of where they decide and make a final decision. It’s that moment of truth where we can start to look at the first moment of truth – that is when a customer narrows down its final set of consideration brands – and the zero moment of truth when they actually go from the shopping and evaluation to the choice. They have made a critical decision.

This model that you’re using is a considered purchase model. This could apply to what has traditionally been thought of as a business to business or a business to consumer orientation.

Yes, it doesn’t matter for us. For example, laundry machines. A laundromat owner may be considering replacing equipment in his or her store, or a homeowner may be looking to replace the washer and a dryer in their home. Both are highly considered purchases.

For both of those scenarios, we can map those purchase journeys. We start to model very closely the tools, the channels, the content, and the delivery of what we do as marketers to affect their choices.

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We’ve got this picture of the customer journey. Is this it or is there more?

No, there’s more. Obviously this is one step towards them building an effective brand and communications plan and strategy. The example that we will use here is connected to that laundry store owner. How it impacts what we then do as marketers can come in three ways and shapes. 

Number one is this has dramatically impacted the way we are shaping and delivering our creative and message strategy that we’re using. We have typically focused heavily on the promotion of our functional benefits. We talk a lot about the value proposition. We talk about promoting features and benefits of a solution.

Now having gone through these exercises, it has completely changed that mindset for us. It lowered the purpose and the role of the equipment and it heightened the emotional feeling of risk and of challenge and connecting it to a broader set of solutions that our brand can deliver. In this case we talk about financing. We talk about construction services. We talk about the business that they’re running and the impact we can have on improving that business. We connect emotionally through digital platforms by showing and telling through much deeper engagement how that is happening, and what other customers are feeling, and how they can connect. The first impact it’s having is changing the way we build our message and creative strategies and the mix that we use. 

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The second thing is these individual moments of truth. The great news is that marketing automation, programmatic media, CRM and other marketing techniques have dramatically improved our ability to intelligently hone in on this and very predictably insert the right content at exactly the right moment through the right channel, and keep that engagement to make sure that we are a part of that zero moment of truth. It has really changed the way that we bring automation and use technology to deliver our content in a much more sophisticated and predictable way.

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Lastly, it lets us build metrics that are a little bit different than the traditional KPIs of a marketing program. We can not only look at the things that are typical in the funnel in terms of impressions and the things that we usually have looked at as marketers. It starts to help us really hone in and drill down on activities where are we seeing engagement. Getting this in real time and connecting it down to the sales funnel, in terms of active deals and closed opportunities, lets us measure in real time how impactful our message, our mix, and our strategies are at being part of that consideration set.

Those three things to us as marketers are incredibly powerful. What we’re saying and when. How it is being delivered. The way that we hone in predictably on the behavior of consumers at exactly the right time. Then the visibility to measure that along the way to affect our decisions. Those are the three big ones for us.

What does all this mean to how we measure marketing effectiveness? It seems like we have a whole new way to look at things that are much more clearly tied to the sales results we’re producing.

Yes, that is probably the most important question marketers are asking themselves. They are looking at their investments and seeing pressure from the C-Suite in terms of what am I getting, what should I invest, and how are we performing. We owe it to ourselves as marketers – and frankly as an agency committed with a tagline of “we deliver customers” – we have to back that up with evidence.

We’re starting to talk about engagement versus the quantity of impression. Where we typically are thinking a lot about the top of the funnel in terms of impressions, awareness, and perception, and attitude measure – that matters and we care about it, but we also have to know what impact that is having on the quality of engagement – from the engagement of consideration, to ultimately the choice. Being able to connect that from the top of the funnel to the bottom of the funnel literally in terms of active deals through visibility in CRM and a connection to our customer sales teams, is critically important.

What does somebody do if they want to start bringing in this understanding of the customer journey in a considered purchase way but they don’t have a large budget? Where do they invest their money?

Frankly, what I would encourage is to go through the process I discussed earlier — go through a process of mapping the customer journey. Go through a process of truly, intimately understanding what your customers are going through in making their choices in a highly considered decision. Zone in on the areas where you feel you can affect that first and final moment of truth to bring your brand into consideration, and dominate and own that area of your marketing investment.

Regardless of the size of budget, being thoughtful about the approach and careful about the measurements can help you determine the right thing to do at any investment level.

Moving forward, what do people do?

We are hypothesizing here – based on the trends we’ve talked about and the evolution and witness of our B2B trade dissolving, we believe there’s an evolution taking place. We believe that organizing the way we practice around considered purchase versus B2B and B2C is a meaningful path. We believe that the playbook, the way that we deliver, should be centered on the mapping of that customer journey in a much more modern way with the use of the most sophisticated tools we have available to us as marketers. 

We want to continue the dialogue. We want to continue to learn and listen to marketers. We want to invite everybody here to join in this conversation and debate. Let’s, as a community of marketers, regardless of B2C or B2B, begin to recognize truly how disrupted our space has become and how important it is for us to start moving in a direction to re-invent ourselves and redefine our impact in business value. That is critical for us and I think that is what we can all go forward thinking. We believe there is something relevant here for everyone to dig in with us.

You can learn more about Executive Briefings, watch other sessions and sign up for future events here.

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Thomas White is the CEO of the C-Suite Network and the host of the nationally syndicated video program, Business Matters. This was taken from dialogue on C-Suite Executive Briefings.

EEA in Education Pact on Engagement With C-Suite Network

The Enterprise Engagement Alliance and C-Suite Network at C-SuiteNetwork.com have announced a broad marketing partnership to educate corporate management on the emerging field of engagement and to provide the EEA community with a broad range of the C-Suite Network’s learning and networking services.

Under the agreement, the Enterprise Engagement Alliance will develop an education program and content track on all aspects of Enterprise Engagement for the fast-growing C-Suite Network community. C-Suite Network describes itself as the “world’s most powerful network of C-suite leaders with a focus on providing growth, development, and networking opportunities for business executives with titles of vice president and above from companies with annual revenues of $10 million or greater.”  The group currently has over 175,000 executives in its community.

The group holds three conferences a year; hosts online television and radio broadcasts on topics of interest to top management; manages a private online community for business leaders, produces specialized interactive learning programs for C-suite leaders, and offers a book club featuring titles of interest to business management. The EEA will promote these services both through its Engagement Strategies portal at Enterpriseengagement.org and its annual Engagement University at eeaexpo.com, held this year in Orlando April 25-28.

Said Thomas White, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the C-Suite Network, “The emerging field of Enterprise Engagement provides a compelling roadmap for today’s business leaders seeking to gain a competitive advantage by harnessing the power of engaged customers, distribution partners, employees, vendors, and communities to achieve their short- and long-term goals. It’s our mission to help our community find the latest strategies and tactics to improve the performance of their organizations.”

Bruce Bolger, President of the Enterprise Engagement Alliance said, “The C-Suite Network has done a great job of building a community of executives committed to excellence and creating a complete set of learning and sharing tools to help their organizations excel. We couldn’t imagine a better education partnership.”

Original Article from Engagement Strategies Media