7 Reasons Why Executive Speakers FLOP | Part 2

by Mark Sanborn


In Part 1 of ‘7 Reasons Why Executive Speakers FLOP,’ Mark Sanborn explains that public speaking — like all skills — needs to be developed, esxpecially for C-Suite leaders. He cites an unclear purpose and lack of preparation as two big reasons why speeches and presentations are delivered unsuccessfully. In this post, he continues with the key mistakes to avoid when speaking to a room.

Failure to capture attention

The scarcest resource in the world used to be time; today it is attention. The average listener is bombarded with messages from many different sources. From email to radio to voicemail to cell phones, everybody is trying to tell us something, and your attempt to give a speech is just one more bombardment.

That’s why what you say and how you say it had better grab the audience’s attention right out of the shoot. You don’t have time to “warm up.” (e.g. “Thank you for inviting me to be here today. It is indeed my pleasure to address you. What a great meeting it has been so far. Blah blah blah blah blah.”)

As my friend and high-powered speech coach Ron Arden says, “In the theater, you’ll never see an actor warm-up on the audience. They warm-up backstage.”

So forget the hackneyed concept of warming up the audience. Hit them square between the eyes with something that will break their preoccupation with what they need to pick up at the grocery store on the way home from work.

Most importantly, make your remarks relevant. Postmoderns are less interested with the question “Is it true?” and more interested in the question “How does it affect me?” Sure, you need to be intellectually honest to prove your points, but never forget to prove that your message matters to the listener.


Ego-driven leaders are more concerned with what followers think about them than they are with what followers do because of them. But you don’t necessarily have to be arrogant to be pompous. Sometimes it happens accidentally when a speaker confuses impressing a listener with influencing him or her. Impressing people is, for the most part, a head-game: It changes what they think of us. Influencing people is a behavioral game: It changes what people do because of us.

A preoccupation with self is deadly. Self-absorbed speakers present to get their needs met, rather than meet the needs of the audience. The audience instantly recognizes it.

One of the best-kept secrets in speaking is this: The audience wants you to do well. Everyone knows how painful it is to watch a speaker bomb in front of others, so instinctively, the audience is pulling for you. And they’ll cut you a lot of slack — and allow for mispronunciations and other mistakes — if you are sincerely interested in them.

If you speak down to them or try to blatantly impress them, they’ll turn on you like a pack of rabid dogs. It won’t be as obvious as the rabid dogs, but beyond their polite or at least neutral non-verbals, they’ll be mentally dismantling you for being a pompous ass. You wouldn’t be asked to speak unless someone believed that you have credibility and something to say. That is enough. Don’t undo that assumption through efforts to prove your status to others.


“Isn’t life a thousand times too short to bore ourselves?” That wasn’t uttered by a tired audience member, but it could have been. Helen Keller said it.

An audience today contains many people who were raised on MTV. That means they spent formative years watching music videos that often contained 150 images in the course of a minute. Watching a talking head is, for them, about as stimulating as watching software load.

Nobody ever flops who entertains. Don’t get me wrong: to be simply entertaining is not in itself a worthwhile goal for an executive presenter, but is sure beats the alternative, which is to be boring. Sell the sizzle and the steak.

Great restaurants know that the presentation of cuisine is as important as its preparation. Presentation and perception go hand-in-hand.

“Amusement” comes from two words meaning “not to ponder.” “Entertainment” on the other hand, is engaging. The value of entertainment for a speaker is that it mentally engages listeners. I’ve found the best way to educate is to slip good ideas in on the wings of entertainment.

By the way, telling a joke is risky. When it works, it works well. When it fails, nothing fails worse. The best way to avoid groaners is to use humor in such a way that it illustrates your point. If the audience doesn’t laugh, the illustration is still of value. And if they get a chuckle out of the humor, that’s just icing on the cake.

False endings

Remember this variation of a familiar acronym: FEAR is False Endings Appearing Real.

I’ve seen it a hundred times. A speaker starts to conclude, even tells the audience of his intent, and then tells a pithy, witty story. The audience responds favorably. The speaker gets a rush. “Wow, they liked that. I’ve got an even better story,” he thinks to himself. And then he ends again, with another story/quote/challenge/admonition/etc. Like a junkie who has just had a good fix, the speaker keeps ending until there is no positive response, but rather visible signs of disgust. By then, it is too late.

You can only effectively conclude once, yet I’ve seen executives conclude over and over. Each false ending weakens the message that was in front of it. The false ending nightmare usually begins with these words, “In conclusion….” That triggers hope in the audience’s mind. “Hey, it’s almost over!” They expect you to wrap up quickly.

In my mind, that means either summarizing or making a final point. Several points, or the introduction of new points, is not a conclusion.

A simple rule to remember: A good ending happens only once.

The beginning of excellence is the elimination of foolishness. You can bump up your speaking performance by analyzing your last presentation by asking these seven questions:

  1. Did I stick to my allotted time?
  2. Did I develop and present purposefully?
  3. Was I thoroughly prepared?
  4. Did I capture attention at the very beginning?
  5. Did I positively influence listeners?
  6. Was I appropriately entertaining, or at least not boring?
  7. Did I end only once?

An affirmative answer to each of these questions virtually guarantees that the next time you make a presentation, you won’t be a flop. Not only will you be flop-proof, most likely you’ll be perceived as an articulate and effective speaker.

*This article originally appeared on MarkSanborn.com.

Mark SanbornMark Sanborn, CSP, CPAE, is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio dedicated to developing leaders in business and in life. Sanborn is an international bestselling author and noted authority on leadership, team building, customer service and change. Follow Mark on Twitter @Mark_Sanborn.

How to Use Referral Marketing to Address Your Firm’s Biggest Business Challenges

by Lee Frederiksen

via Matylda Czarnecka

via Matylda Czarnecka

Professional services firms face a wide range of unique business challenges. But in our latest research, we found one challenge to be considerably more prevalent than others. We surveyed 530 professional services firms from a broad range of industries and asked which business challenges they were facing in the New Year. The number one response — identified by more than 70 percent of firms — was “Attracting and Developing New Business.” This response was more than twice as common as the next most common answer: “Finding and Keeping Good People,” at 35.9 percent.

So, if the difficulty of generating new business is a pervasive struggle, how can professional services firms rise to the challenge?

Why Generating More Referrals Is Key to Attracting New Business

Referrals have always been an important aspect of attracting new business for professional services firms. This was also made clear by our results: Nearly 62 percent of our survey respondents said generating more referrals was their top marketing initiative for 2015. However, firms have traditionally focused on client-generated referrals. While client referrals are certainly important, they don’t make up a balanced referral marketing approach on their own.

In fact, there are actually three types of referrals that can help generate new business for your firm – and only one type is based on direct experience. In addition to referrals from clients (experience-based referrals), firms can also seek out reputation-based referrals and expertise-based referrals.

Reputation-based referrals occur when individuals recommend your firm based solely on your positive reputation. Even though they have no direct experience with your firm and aren’t necessarily aware of your particular expertise, they feel comfortable making a referral for your firm based on reputation alone.

Expertise-based referrals occur when someone doesn’t have personal experience with your firm, but he or she is aware that you specialize in a given problem. They recommend you based solely on your perceived expertise.

In our research, we found that a startling 81.5 percent of professional services providers report receiving a referral from someone who wasn’t a client. This means that focusing your firm’s referral marketing strategy on non-client referrals can be instrumental in attracting new business. But in order to generate more of these non-client referrals, firms need to place a stronger emphasis on brand building.

Why Building Your Brand is Essential to Generating Non-Client Referrals

Your brand is the combination of your reputation and visibility. By strengthening your brand and improving these two qualities, you can increase your firm’s chances of attracting more non-client referrals.

Obviously, when your firm has a better reputation, you become more likely to receive reputation-based referrals. Likewise, increasing marketplace visibility can bring awareness to your firm’s particular expertise. What’s the best way to improve your reputation and increase your visibility? Content marketing.

Producing relevant and educational content that establishes your firm’s authority can help to lend credibility within your industry and improve your firm’s online presence. Prospective buyers who are looking for an answer to their problems will not only be more likely to find your firm, but they’ll also be more likely to trust your services.

However, it’s more important than ever to have your marketing and branding work together to not just generate referrals, but also turn those referrals into new business. We discovered that 51.9 percent of respondents ruled out referred firms before even speaking with them. The main reason this occurred was a lack of understanding about how the provider could help solve the problem.

Figure 1. Why Buyers Rule Out Referrals


Poor marketing and a lackluster website can have major consequences for firms that want to attract more new business. With clear branding, a strong online presence and comprehensive marketing materials, your firm can avoid being ruled out by referrals before they even have a chance to speak with you. In this sense, building a better brand can both generate more non-client referrals and translate those referrals into new business.

leefLee W. Frederiksen, Ph.D., is Managing Partner at Hinge, a marketing firm that specializes in branding and marketing for professional services. Hinge is a leader in rebranding firms to help them grow faster and maximize value. Lee can be reached at LFrederiksen@hingemarketing.com or 703-391-8870.
Google+ | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter @HingeMarketing

Eliminate Blind Spots — Expand the Future

by Judith Glaser


Many of us act as though we all see the same reality, yet the truth is we don’t. Human beings have cognitive biases, or blind spots. Blind spots are ways our mind becomes blocked from seeing reality as it is — blinding us from seeing the real truth about ourselves in relation to others. Once we form a conclusion, we become blind to alternatives, even if they are right in front of their eyes.
Social psychologist Emily Pronin, along with colleagues Daniel Lin and Lee Ross at Princeton University’s Department of Psychology, created the term “bias blind spots,” named after the visual blind spot.

Passing the Ball
There is a classic experiment that demonstrates one level of bias blind spots that can be attributed to awareness and focused attention. When people are instructed to count how many passes the people in white shirts make on the basketball court, they often get the number of passes correct but fail to see the person in the black bear suit walking right in front of their eyes. Hard to believe but true!

Blind Spots and Denial
However, the story of blind spots gets more interesting when we factor in cognitive biases stemming from our social needs to look good in the eyes of others. Blind spots, coupled with a strong ego, often makes people refuse to adjust their course, even in the face of opposition from trusted advisers — or incontrovertible evidence to the contrary.

Two well-known examples of blind spots are Henry Ford and A&P:

  • Ford’s success with the one-option Model-T blinded him to the desires of his customers, allowing fledging General Motors to capture a winning share of the automobile market with a broader range of models.
  • A&P stuck with the grocery chain’s private label products even as their customers defected en masse to supermarkets that carried the national brands advertised on TV.

The good news is that companies can recover from denial, even when they seem permanently wedded to their histories, their philosophies or their belief systems. IBM, a victim of its own “bureau-pathology,” learned to conquer its arrogance and overcome its history and culture under the innovative leadership of Louis Gerstner.

Intel, DuPont, and Coca-Cola are more examples of corporations caught in denial traps when launching new products. They demonstrated that when corporate management has strong convictions — or worse yet, hubris about their points of view — they can become blind to their customer’s needs, which are right in front of their very eyes.

Seeing the real truth is an art and a science. When we find the balance between what we think is true and what is really true, we are managing our blind spots with integrity and wisdom.

Fortunately, these well-known brands did not live in denial very long. It was only a passing phase, and they recovered by revisiting reality with an open mind. Blind spots explain why the “smartest people in the room” (as Enron’s top executives were famously called) can sometimes be very dumb. They do not see the light — they are not open to changing their minds.

The Power of Coaching to Dissolve Blind Spots
Denial and blind spots make Conversational Coaching so vital for leaders, and also demonstrate why peer coaching is equally important for employees. Conversational Coaching can effectively uncover and deal with blind spots and denial and give the decision-makers a fresh perspective on how to handle executive challenges.

C-IQ Coaching also helps individuals gain a broader and more realistic perspective about both situations and themselves. Executive, Team and Organizational Coaching can help leaders calibrate with the world around them, giving them reality checkpoints that position them to navigate the real world with wisdom and insight.

Occasionally, we all need a wake-up call in order not to confuse our denial maps with the actual territory.

Check Yourself

Here are 7 Common Blind Spots:

  1. Denial of Reality: Feeling so strongly about our own beliefs that we deny the beliefs of others, or deny facts right in front of our eyes.
  2. Control: Seeing ourselves as being more responsible for things than we actually are, or having more control over things and events than we truly do.
  3. Made-Up Memories: Making decisions based on memories that did not happen. Often we confuse our imaginations, or our dreams, with reality.
  4. Reality Distortions: Distorting reality to conform to preconceptions.
  5. Know it All: Thinking that we know more than what we really do. (We simply don’t know what we don’t know.)
  6. Listening Only to Validate What We Know : Failure to listen to others.
  7. Undervaluing What We Do Know: Listening too much to others, and allowing others’ beliefs to talk us out of our beliefs; or in some cases cause us not to trust our instincts.

Neuro-tips: Removing Blind Spots
Tip #1 – It Takes Thought to Learn.
 The brain does not always allow us to hear all the facts if they do not fit our prior understanding of a concept. To learn new facts, you must be actively open to accepting opposition.

Tip #2 – Effectively Working Together.
 Partners who were considered controlling were perceived as critical and rude, and their advice was generally rejected and not trusted. When the same partners showed appreciation, a feeling of rapport and trust developed, creating a deep “WE-centric” bond.

Shaping the Quality of the Conversational Environment
Every conversation has an impact. You may not see it at first. It takes place inside of us at the speed of .07 seconds. It takes place at the cellular level.  Cells talk with each other, and if a conversation feels bad—our fear networks are activated instantly. Blood rushes to our primitive brain, which is designed for protection, cortisol (a fear hormone) is spray-painted everywhere, and our ability to protect ourselves from harm is turned on instantly.

Did you ever notice that, during a meeting or brainstorming session, one comment from a powerful voice can stop the innovation process? Simple comments such as, “how could you think that,” or “what where you thinking?” activate our fear network and without realizing it, colleagues can inadvertently and unintentionally turn the “innovation lights out.”

The quality of conversations does matter. Quality conversations establish the environments and readiness to support innovation.

Pathways to Success:

  • Step 1: Encourage Candor and Trust.
    Straight talk, candor and open conversations (without repercussions and fear of punishment) are the operating norm for innovative conversations. Employees need to trust that their ideas will be heard — and that they will get support, attention and proper vetting once the ideas are put on the table. Shaping the quality of the conversational environment enables employees to speak up, and share their innovative thinking.
  • Step 2:  Eliminate Politics.
    Organizations have unwritten codes that signal “you can’t say this,” or “you can’t do that.” These tell people they are unsafe to challenge the status quo. People are afraid to speak up. Conversations go to the lowest common denominator — people stop innovating. However, when shaping the quality of the conversational environment for safety, employees trust they will get quality feedback on their ideas, and they speak up.
  • Step 3: Promote Recognition.
    Too often employees have great ideas, and no one listens. When ideas are expressed, no one validates them or acknowledges them. There is an instinctive fear in many of us that our voices will not be heard, and our ideas will be pushed under the rug or their importance minimized. Shaping the quality of the conversational environment with conversational norms that enable employees to be celebrated for having great ideas changes the amount of great ideas that show up. When employees can trust that they will get the recognition from the top for being “idea catalysts,” management will find that people have a lot to say!

Ask Yourself…

  • What does the organization need to know but does not because people are afraid to speak up?
  • What are you doing to create trusting, non-toxic work environments?
  • What are the unwritten codes or norms that are at play that may be inhibiting open, candid, trusting conversations?
  • What can you do as a leader to create trust?

Judith GlaserJudith E. Glaser is the CEO of Benchmark Communications, Inc. and the Chairman of The Creating WE Institute. She is the author of the best selling book, “Conversational Intelligence” (Bibliomotion, 2013), an Organizational Anthropologist and a consultant to Fortune 500 companies.Visit her at creatingwe.com; conversationalintelligence.com or contact her at jeglaser@creatingwe.com. Follow Judith on Twitter @CreatingWE.

C-Suite Conference Joins Forces With Boston Area Business Leaders

Boston Advisory Board Connects National Executive Event to Regional Business Network

With its focus on business leadership, the C-Suite Conference has assembled an advisory board of regional business leaders for its Boston event on March 29-31. Held three times annually in centers of American business, the C-Suite Conference draws top-tier executives from around the country for a program of keynotes, panels, interviews and networking with business peers across industries.

The C-Suite Conference Boston Advisory Board includes:

  • Paul Carbone, CFO, Dunkin’ Brands
  • Carina Edwards, SVP, Customer Experience, Imprivata
  • Deepak Masand, founder, Caterpillar and Butterfly, LLC
  • Julie Ginches, CMO, eXelate
  • Kurt Miller, SVP, Strategy & Planning, George P. Johnson Experience Marketing
  • Lee Rubenstein, VP, Business Development, edX
  • Lisa Dennis, president, Knowledgence Associates
  • Mark Hanna, CMO, Richline Group, a Berkshire Hathaway Company
  • Michael Phelan, principal, Go-to-Market Pros
  • Myles Bristowe, VP, Customer Engagement, PSCU
  • Paul Schaut, board director, ShareThis
  • Jeff Winsper, president and principal, Winsper

“Since we bring the C-Suite Conference to different cities, we work to make each event relevant to each location,” C-Suite Conference co-founder and CEO Thomas White said. “The leadership on this Advisory Board is adding a Boston accent to everything we do and connecting the C-Suite Conference into the region’s vibrant business networks.”

Scheduled for this C-Suite Conference stage are Boston Celtics’ president Rich Gotham, rock star entrepreneur Kevin Jonas, customer service expert Scott McKain, noted speaker Margaret Heffernan, achievement expert Dr. Willie Jolley and many others including C-Suite Conference co-founder and program host, Jeffrey Hayzlett, a former Fortune 100 Chief Marketing Officer, primetime television and radio host and chairman of the C-Suite Network.

For more information about the upcoming C-Suite Conference visit http://conference.c-suitenetwork.com/.

Read more at MarketWired

4 Ways to Turn One-Time Customers into Lifetime Customers

by Emma Siemasko


While it’s important to attract new customers, retaining your repeat purchasers and building a loyal customer base has to be at the top of your list! Your most loyal customers will not only support your business financially but will also be your best referral sources as well — so giving them a VIP experience helps both of you.

1.  Loyalty Programs
Reward-based programs, such as punch cards, buy x get y free promos or cards that identify a certain number of points, are all ways that loyal customers get the benefits of being a “regular.” These perk programs allow your best customers to get a special experience or a small treat for always coming to you for a product they seek.

How? These programs take on a variety of forms. Think of how your customers would like to be rewarded based on your offerings. Is it a discount? A free item? A photo on the wall? Say you own a coffee shop — a punch card that allows customers to get a free drink after nine coffee purchases is a powerful tool to keep people coming back for more. You can print your own, go through a local printing company or order them online through a medium like Vistaprint for around $10.

Successful Use: Speaking of coffee, Starbucks encourages and rewards repeat customers by sending those who have earned 30+ stars (made 30+ purchases) a coveted Gold Cards  This card earns rewards like free drinks, special offers and a customized card with your name on it so the barista knows who you are as soon as it’s handed over. It’s a VIP experience that makes the customer feel special and part of the company’s inner circle.

2.  Offering Great Products
Product inconsistency is a red flag for your customers. If the quality isn’t consistent, you lose trust from your buyers, which isn’t good news for your business. Guidelines, training and a clear set of standards ensure every customer gets the same fantastic experience each time.

  • Train each new employee. While time is often a resource we simply don’t have enough of, training is essential for each and every new staff member. Proper training allows your team to understand the process and execute their jobs to the best of their abilities. This also allows the new hire to get familiar with the business and sets standards for quality, service and presentation.
  • Make guidelines for your staff. Guidelines and directions will help guide your team through daily tasks and situations in case you aren’t there to field a question. It also helps ensure consistency. Take a restaurant, for example. Each chef needs to know the exact measurements and ingredients to make a meal taste the same every time — so a hard copy recipe needs to be available for reference.
  • Host on-going group trainings. Your employees shouldn’t stop learning after being hired. Group trainings make sure everyone is on the same page and creates a space for questions to be answered. Learning as a group throughout the year keeps skills fresh, improves communication and is an opportunity to learn something new.

 3.  Great Customer Service

Each and every customer deserves to be provided with a high level of customer service — it’s just as important as the product itself. Going above and beyond should be leveraged from the local perspective, as this personal touch is something you can provide in greater quality and quantity than a big box store.

“So much of exceptional day-to-day service comes down to tone – ‘Is there anything else I can do for you?’ and ‘What else do you want?’ are in essence, asking the same thing, but are wildly different in terms of tone. In other words, great service not only depends on execution (that you asked in the first place), it also depends on perception, or how you communicated with the customer. Getting that right is the first step in building a business people love interacting with.”

— Gregory Ciotti, Help Scout

If you doubt the power of great service, keep these stats in mind:

  • 89 percent of customers have stopped doing business with a company because of bad customer service. (Source: RightNow Technologies)
  • It takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for one negative experience. (Source: Parature)
  • 70 percent of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. (Source: McKinsey)

How to do it? A few foolproof tips:

  • Greet your customers by name. It feels good to be remembered, doesn’t it? Recalling your customer’s name is an easy way to impress your customer and let him or her know you value their presence.
  • Remember repeat orders. There’s nothing better than being able to walk into a business and be asked, “The regular?” Even if you have to keep a cheat sheet, this tool is an easy way to make your customers feel special.
  • Build relationships. Remember names and orders, but don’t be afraid to take it a step further and learn a bit more about your customers. Ask questions like, “Where are you from?” and “Have any family in the area?” to build rapport and relationships. This also provides content for future conversations.
  • Make exceptions. You have the power to bend the rules a bit to keep your customers happy. If someone asks for an item or a variation – you can grant that wish if you’re willing.
  • Think of the little things – If you sell cupcakes, why not throw in some extra birthday candles? It’s the little details that make a big difference.
  • Deliver (literally). Delivery is one of those special local offerings that can mean a variety of things based on your business. Maybe it means you make a house call for an interior design disaster or you’ll bring product to your customers’ homes to make life easier. Catering to the audience is a service large stores can’t always provide.

4.  Present Your Business Well

This one seems like a no-brainer, but keeping your business clean, visually appealing and in tip-top shape is extremely important. Your business’ presentation is a reflection of the products being offered, the staff and the owner.

“One simple piece of advice for businesses: a product’s look is as important as its functionality.” — Josh Naumu, SewellDirect

  • Consider design. If you’re not an interior designer, you might think that good design is for the birds. You’re wrong — design matters a lot and can make or break it for customers.
  • Hire cleaning help. If you don’t have time to do a deep clean regularly, hire a cleaning service to come weekly or monthly to do the intensive scrub-down and cobweb snatching.
  • Replace burnt-out lights. Lighting on both on the interior and exterior of your building (signage included) should be fully functional.
  • Keep restrooms clean. Clean restrooms are more than functional — they’re stocked with toiletries and are funk free.
  • Remove stains. Stains on walls, carpeting, ceilings and furniture will make your business look sloppy and dated.
  • Organize. Keep your office(s) tidy with filing systems and proper storage.

If your business can convert first-time customers into forever customers, you’re golden. These loyal supporters will be a referral engine, and your high standards for the products, service and presentation of your business will continue to impress new customers — keeping the traffic flow steady through your front door.

*This post is an excerpt from Grow Local: The Complete Guide to Growing a Local Businessby the team at Grasshopper, the entrepreneurs’ phone system.

EmmaEmma Siemasko is the Content Marketing Specialist at Grasshopper, the entrepreneurs’ phone system. Grasshopper provides toll free numbers, call forwarding, and a host of other features to help small business owners sound professional and stay connected. You can follow Grasshopper on Twitter @Grasshopper and learn more at Grasshopper.com.

Thomas White, CEO of C-Suite Network, Interview with Dov Baron

On this episode of Dov Baron’s Leadership & Loyalty Podcast, Thomas White, CEO of C-Suite Network – a community of leaders, joins Dov Baron to discus how the C-Suite community came about.

Having started his first tech company back in 1972, Thomas has watched companies and trends come and go.

In this show, filmed at the C-suite conference in Marina del Ray California in November 2014, Thomas share with us the dangers of reaching higher and higher levels of success, and why the B-to-B or B-to-C business models are all wrong!

The C-Suite Network includes:
* C-Suite Conference
* C-Suite Collective
* C-Suite Academy
* C-Suite TV
* C-Suite Radio
* C-Suite Book Club
* C-Suite ExChange

Watch the full interview at PodOmatic


Are Your Leadership Metrics One-Size-Fits-All?

by Pam Fox Rollin


Are you still running your team by whatever one-size-fits-all metrics you were handed? Instead, develop a small set of metrics that matter — early indicators of changes in market conditions and performance.

If your car’s speedometer displayed temperature rather than speed, combined your speed with those of nearby cars or gave just your average speed, would you just “go with your gut?” Then say, “But officer, it felt about right, and my broken speedometer said I was doing fine!”

You can’t drive well with a lousy dashboard, and you can’t lead well with lousy numbers, either. Rather than relying on or complaining about your company’s insufficient reports, make your own metrics.

Having facilitated top teams and business group leaders in creating dashboards for multi-billion dollar companies and fast-growing start-ups, I’ve learned to start with the right questions, rather than reach for whatever data is handy. The key questions are always, “What will give us early warning as to how we’re doing?” and “What will show us the key factors driving performance up or down?”

Here’s what to look for in choosing measures:

  • Select leading rather than lagging indicators as much as possible (How many customers clicked on the service contract page and the percentage that bought a contract, rather than service contract revenue).
  • Pull from data you can find or reasonably estimate each period, e.g. monthly.
  • Make sure you can learn the precise origins of the data and understand their weaknesses. Look to a variety of sources, incorporating market as well as company data.
  • Create new data streams when needed. Tally something at the front lines. Negotiate with an upstream unit for earlier data.
  • Ask for lots of input on potential metrics, especially about data quality, ease of pulling data, interpretations, and credibility.
  • Choose metrics that are especially credible to your team and will also help you communicate with executives and cross-functional partners.

*This blog originally appeared at SMEI.org.

pamfPam Fox Rollin coaches executives and teams to lead even more effectively at companies throughout the Bay Area and across the world. Drawing on 20 years of experience in strategy consulting, management education, team building, and leadership development, Pam is known as a dynamic speaker and valuable thought-partner to people leading their organizations through complex change. Pam’s book, 42 Rules for Your New Leadership Role: The Manual They Didn’t Hand You When You Made VP, Director, or Manager, made Amazon’s Top 10 in Management & Leadership and is being hailed as the essential pocket guide for leaders. Follow her on Twitter @PamFR.

How Human Resource Managers can Perform Employee Evaluation More Effectively


Working in Human Resource Management requires a peculiar discipline. We learn to identify the entire workforce that makes up our organization as “human capital,” yet we must always see each individual as just that — an individual. While the policies and systems we work within remain fairly constant, the people we manage change day by day (and, it often seems, minute by minute).

Each person we work with has good days and bad, but their strengths and weaknesses, talents and ambitions, seldom vary with circumstance or mood. In training and developing the expertise of existing personnel, it’s those inherent qualities we have to analyze and summarize when conducting employee evaluations.

Employee evaluations, such as 360 degree feedback, are essentially talent management. As such, the subconscious mindset of the staffer is quite as relevant as stated attitudes and ambitions. Self-sabotage is surprisingly common in unhappy employees, from the humblest factory-floor operative to senior echelon executives. Identifying the potential for self-sabotage, then dealing with any and all root causes that contribute to overall (but often unnoticed) despondency, is a science all to itself.

Stressful days have a habit of escalating, but they don’t represent an attitudinal pattern. If the alarm fails, the employee you’re evaluating may have rushed out of the house with a coffee that should’ve been drunk in the kitchen, cutting short anticipated family time. That coffee could have been spilled in the car and may have ruined important documents. Suddenly, those 10 minutes of over-sleeping turn into two hours remaking the file.

Days like that tend to avalanche, and nobody’s mood survives the experience intact. But such experiences needn’t contribute to an overall climate of disheartened apathy or active aggression toward the workplace. Those causes run deeper.

Industrial and Organizational Psychology

The primary way for Human Resource Managers to perform employee evaluations more effectively, and to make themselves more valuable, is to gain a working knowledge of industrial and organizational psychology (I–O psychology).
I–O psychology is the objective scientific examination of human behavior, specific to conduct and attitude in the workplace.

This field of study also applies the theories and principles of human psychology to the organizations which we — both HR professionals and the labor pool — work within.

Because IO relies largely on the tenets of psychology’s Scientist-Practitioner Model, it emphasizes twin disciplines:

  • Experimental and observational analysis influence real-world interactions, while
  • Those real-world interactions simultaneously influence future fact-finding investigations

In that way, psychological field work and empirical methodology work in tandem, improving and distilling the HR professional’s ability to see what’s behind the facade of each employee he or she evaluates. And it’s down there — way beneath the surface — that root causes can be identified.

Self Sabotage; Risks and Ricochets

Self-sabotaging behavior involves the deliberate (albeit usually unconscious) creation of problems; issues that can, in the end, interfere with performance and goal-realization.

Subtlety is usually the key to identifying potentially self-sabotaging conduct or attitude. If a line worker physically assaults a supervisor, sure, that’s self-sabotage — there’s every likelihood dismissal will be followed by a criminal prosecution. Such events are, happily, the exception rather than the rule. Self-sabotage more often evidences in behavior such as procrastination, or rapid and unhealthy weight gains caused by comfort eating.

These are easy presentations to underestimate, but they can be pointers toward problems which may well, eventually, undermine the employee’s effectiveness. That, in turn, can negatively impact overall corporate performance.

Individuals are often unaware of their own self-sabotage, and effects may not present immediately. Consequences, conversely, can begin to accrue as soon as the self-sabotage begins, so prompt attention to any perceived “symptom” is imperative.

The Take Away

Great Human Resources Managers carry out great employee evaluations, and by doing so improve:

  • The performance and productivity of the company
  • The satisfaction and commitment of the employee

A workforce that isn’t well managed, in contrast, won’t be as dynamic, and can in extreme cases even suffer from physical symptoms of ill health caused by ongoing unhappiness.

One final pointer toward how Human Resource Managers can perform employee evaluation more effectively concerns change.

To survive in a competitive marketplace, all corporate entities must adapt and evolve. Organizational development by definition imposes change upon employees, and alterations to circumstance and/or operational policies can cause discomfort. Unease, in turn, often negatively impacts “the subconscious mindset of the staffer” discussed above.

An effective Human Resources Manager remains aware of all alterations occurring within the business he or she is responsible for, and of the potential impacts they could have on the workforce. It’s usually advisable to instate a rolling series of employee evaluations, ongoing through periods of change, intended to determine how umbrella developments are impacting individuals. In this way, potential problems can be resolved before they even become problems per se, and that’s the most effective employee evaluation of all.

grapevine-evaluationsThis article was submitted and written by the team at Grapevine Evaluations. Grapevine Evaluations is a leading provider of online survey software specializing in 360 Employee Evaluations.

C-Suite Conference Draws Business Leaders to Boston

Celebrity Entrepreneur Kevin Jonas and Boston Celtics President Rich Gotham to Open Sessions of the Exclusive Business Leadership Conference, March 29-31

A world center for business innovation will host the world’s most powerful network of c-suite leaders when the C-Suite Conference comes to Boston, March 29-31. Addressing the executives assembled in the Westin Copley Place will be top business thought leaders including Boston Celtics President Rich Gotham; entrepreneur Kevin Jonas of Jonas Brothers fame; business speaker and author Scott McKain; C-Suite executive and noted speaker Margaret Heffernan; attitude and achievement expert Dr. Willie Jolley and many others.

The C-Suite Conference is hosted by its co-founder Jeffrey Hayzlett, a former Fortune 100 Chief Marketing Officer and host of the C-Suite with Jeffrey Hayzlett on Bloomberg TV and C-Suite TV. Jive Software CEO Elisa Steele will co-host the first day’s sessions.

“With the C-Suite Conference, we’re bringing an Olympic-caliber lineup of business leaders to Boston, a city known for business innovation,” Hayzlett said. “The agenda is designed to trigger substantive discussions of key issues facing the c-suite across the boardrooms of all industries. The event also provides elite executives an unparalleled opportunity to develop high-level business connections.”

The conference features in-depth interviews with successful CEOs, CMOs, CFOs and other top executives; keynotes from top motivational, marketing and business speakers; and panel presentations featuring executives sharing their own journeys in the c-suite. Previous conferences have attracted companies such as Autodesk, Kodak, Apple, Dunkin’ Brands, Sony, T-Mobile and Greyhound.

The first C-Suite Conferences were held May 2014 in Dallas and in Marina del Rey last November. The Boston conference starts with a cocktail reception on Sunday evening, Mar. 29, followed by the two-day program of panels, interviews, presentations and networking.

For more information about the upcoming C-Suite Conference visit http://conference.c-suitenetwork.com/.

Read more at MarketWired

11 Things CMOs Need To Know About Mobile Marketing Strategy And App Development

by Steve Olenski


I honestly cannot believe I actually have to write this but this just in, pretty much entire world is on a mobile device on pretty much the whole time they are awake. In other words, the world of mobile marketing and its ridiculously enormous benefits should come as no surprise to anyone.

I have written countless articles on the topic of mobile marketing going back years. I don’t say to imply I am some sort of soothsayer or anything like that. I merely bring that point up to highlight the fact that mobile marketing is not something someone in the marketing world should just be waking up to.

OK, enough about that.

I’ve put together a high-level list for CMOs or any marketer for that matter to consider when looking at their mobile marketing strategy.

1. Mobile App or Mobile Website?
Many companies rush forward and create an app just because their competitors have one. But not every company needs an app. Often a mobile-optimized site will meet most requirements. Mobile apps, however, generally allow for more creativity and better interaction with your targeted users.

According to Janna Badalian, Director of Marketing at MobileSmith, “When it comes to customer engagement, native mobile apps can give your website a run for its money. You can engage various groups of customers and offer them a superior user experience — even without a reliable Internet connection.”

2. How Are Your Customers Using Mobile?
Use analytics to understand how your target audiences are using mobile. Are they transacting or using it to gather information? Are they mostly on Android or iOS; smartphones or tablets? Translating this data to IT will help them make the right decisions and prioritize development plans. However, sometimes requirements can get “lost in translation.” Marketers usually know best what their customers expect from a mobile app, and they can get their idea to market quicker if empowered with the right app prototyping and development tools.

3. Get to Know ASO
What is ASO? App Store optimization. The App Store can be a great source of new customers, or it can be a competitive nightmare where your app never sees the light of day. Getting to understand ASO is a critical part of gaining traction and maintaining traction in the App Store. Sites like apptamin.com offer great information on the subject.

4. Get to Know Your Competitors
Download your competitor’s apps — not just you, but everyone on your team should get to know what’s out there and how the competition operates. Not only will you get some ideas, you will find out what they are not doing well which will give you an opportunity to identity ways to beat them.

5. Check Cost Per Download
This is a fundamental issue that hits the business side of marketing your company with an app. It’s one thing to develop an app, it’s entirely another to motivate customers or potential customers to download the app.

6. Consider In-App Advertising
CMOs should look at the app landscape and focus on popular apps with frequent usability. Popular apps like Twitter allow in-app advertising or mobile advertising, and that’s one way to quickly distribute your app.

7. Use Social Media to Acquire Users
You should consider every distribution point that you think is efficient, but certainly use mobile social media platforms. The technology offers an almost immediate access to download your app. Your creative plan to drive consumers to download must be spot on, or your app will fail.

(the remaining four come courtesy of Momchil Kyurkchiev, CEO of Leanplum)

8. Double-Down on Mobile
The future of marketing is mobile. Mobile is the most personal device we possess, which makes it the best device to market to. Additionally, time spent in mobile apps has already surpassed time spent on desktop Web, and for some parts of the world, mobile devices are the first and only computer people possess.

9. Use Mobile App Marketing Automation
CMOs are already familiar with marketing automation on the Web; however, mobile apps present a lot of unique challenges and opportunities. On the Web, marketing automation is predominantly a B2B market, whereas apps are primarily for consumers. Also, the primary use case for marketing automation on the Web is lead nurturing, whereas with mobile apps it’s about engagement, retention and lifetime value. Therefore, CMOs responsible for mobile apps should adopt marketing automation solutions specifically designed for mobile.

10. Take Advantage of Real-Time Location
Location is one of the great opportunities for marketers on mobile. CMOs should experiment with iBeacons and geo-fences, not only to be able to segment users based on where they’ve been in the past, but also to design marketing interactions for users as they enter or leave certain locations. For example, switch the user experience in the app to “in-store mode” once a user passes by the iBeacon at your storefront, or send a survey to hotel guests as they leave the geo-fence of the hotel.

11. Be Lean!
Mobile holds tremendous promise, but it’s also uncharted territory for a lot of CMOs. We can’t rely on gut feeling of past experience to build a successful mobile app. Instead CMOs should adopt a culture of data-driven decision making and build their app incrementally. That involves relying on A/B testing and analytics for optimizing both the in-app experience and all marketing interactions, such as push notifications.

*This article originally appeared on Forbes.com.

Steve OlenskiSteve Olenski was named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review and a Top 50 Social Media Blogger by Kred. Steve is a senior creative content strategist at Responsys, a leading marketing cloud software and services company. He is a also a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Digital & Social Media Marketing and co-author of the book “StumbleUpon For Dummies.” He can be reached via LinkedInGoogle+, Twitter @steveolenski or at the nearest coffee shop.