Monday, July 29, 2013

GE CMO Mentors The Muse

An awesome opportunity for an entrepreneur to get mentoring from a GE senior manager!

Kathryn Minshew (below left) is the CEO and co-founder of two-year old The Muse, and Beth Comstock (below right) is the Chief Marketing Officer at General Electric.

GE's Marketing Magnate Mentors The Muse

It's a packed 7-minute clip for Wall Street Journal, and it's mostly Q&A. But Comstock covers key points:
  1. Where does The Muse want to be at five years, now that it's two years old?
  2. How does the leadership team manage a large community of job seekers and their bread-and-butter customers who pay to access that community?
  3. What are The Muse's needs in order to scale: money or leadership, and toggling between the two?
Depending on where you stand, what would you ask Comstock?  How would you mentor Minshew?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Layoffs are a Call to be Humane

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In the C-Level Consultants Network on LinkedIn, Bob Whipple recently posted about his article - "Announcing a Downsizing" - and asked:
One principle I advocate is to be as transparent as possible as early as possible. There are certain situations that call for withholding information about a layoff. For example, if the valuation of the organization is going to be impacted, there may be a legal blockage. Often, nervous managers try to hide the fact too long and end up causing more harm than necessary.

What is your opinion on how and when to announce a downsizing?
I commented,

I often hope companies that say they put people first actually put people first. Layoffs may be one of the most difficult things a company has to do, but it demands that they walk the talk of that value. So your points, Bob, about transparency, trust and timing (alliteration, not intended) are very well-taken. I've been part of two layoffs situations, and my colleagues and I were left mostly to our own reading of the situation. The managers seemed particularly handcuffed by it, and struggled to communicate and to act humanely with us. Thankfully, the layoffs were small-scale, and focused on poor-performing staff.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Engaging Leadership of DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman

Ellen Kullman characterizes herself as Chief Cheerleader, Chief Questioner, and Chief Listener at DuPont.  She comes across as confident, earnest, and open in this engaging interview with Forbes:

As CEO, Ellen [Kullman] has championed market-driven science to drive innovation across the company’s businesses. Under her leadership, decision making has moved closer to customers around the world, resulting in greater partnering, collaboration, and solutions attuned to local needs.
That is among the things mentioned in her DuPont biograpy:  Chair of the Board and Chief Executive Officer.  It resonates well with the people-oriented leadership she portrayed in her Forbes interview.  But as Jim Collins and Gallup have found in their research, it is precisely this sort of leadership that drives results.

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Case in point:  In the four-and-a-half years of Ellen Kullman's tenure as CEO, DuPont has steadily raised market confidence in its future, as the following graph from Market Watch shows:

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What's more, Forbes noted recently:
Kullman led the 211-year old chemical giant DuPont through a huge first quarter with net profits more than doubling. Add to that $3.35 billion in revenue vs. $1.49 billion from last year and a buyback program for $1 billion of its shares to boost shareholder value.
The relationship between engaging leadership and sustained results is a complex one, but is clearly a causal one.  Kullman proves it!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Growth Lessons from Crocs CEO John McCarvel

Congratulations to John McCarvel for helping Crocs survive the worst of the recession and point the iconic company clearly toward growth, as Entrepreneur reported in Crocs:  From Footwear Fad to Billion-Dollar Company. 

I see three key efforts for Crocs' survival and growth:
  1. Ramped up innovation
  2. Forged line-of-sight to inventory
  3. Gained market and opportunity balance

Crocs CEO John McCarvel (image credit)

If you have the basic elements of a light bulb, you can make so many things that people want:  for example, table lamps, car headlights, and storefront signs.  The same with Crocs: They had a trademarked Croslite resin material, which, by dint of the recession, prompted them to push, not pull back, innovative product development.

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Prior to the recession, Crocs painted itself into a corner by basing production to forecasts, without a clear grip on supply-and-demand. Today the company works only with select mid-tier shoe retailers, while selling from its own retail outlets and e-commerce sites. Now it was a clearer line-of-sight on inventory.

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Crocs had its biggest market in the US, and this was hardest hit by the recession. Asia and Europe kept going, by contrast. The company contained the losses, and forged better balance in their markets: The US now accounting for less than a third of their sales.

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Social Media Leadership of Richard Branson

On LinkedIn, Steve Tappin posted a telling article:  First Ranking Of Top 30 CEOs On Social Media.  Top on the list is no surprise, as I see good activity from Sir Richard and eye-catching, timely posts on Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn.  I commented, These CEOs are the avant-garde of a new business order, and social media is just one front of this order.

In a related vein, I wrote at length on The Leadership Imperative of Social Media for senior executives and managers.

World of CEOs Dossiers
On leadership and philosophy:
If I could quickly understand a campaign concept, it was good to go. If something can't be explained off the back of an envelope, it's rubbish.
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On philanthropy:
Business leaders often get wrapped in their own world, so charity work keeps things in perspective.
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On delegation:
The company must be set up so that it can continue without me. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Contribute and Deliver to Progress

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In the Lead with Giants community on Google+, Dan Forbes posted an interview he gave recently:
I had the privilege of being interviewed by Dr. Antoine D. Moss of Black Enterprise. The interview focused on how young aspiring leaders can move into Leadership positions and make a difference. 
Here's the result: Wake Up The Boss in You.
Moss asked Forbes about how young people can get promoted into leadership roles.
Start leading now. Start by leading yourself. Determine where the gaps are in your leadership skill-set and work on closing those gaps. Become the best person you can be and you will begin to attract the attention of others. When ANY leadership role is offered to you, take it; and give it your best in an effort to prove to others that you can lead. Lastly, don’t focus on getting a promotion, focus on making a contribution and delivering results [emphasis added].
I commented:

Congratulations, Dan! 

I like your point about promotions in particular. I've consulted throughout the Middle East, for example, and many young people in major companies seek salary and grade increases and don't always have a firm grip on what it takes to advance. 

One young woman I worked with aimed to become CEO in five years. She was very talented, and I had data to support it. Problem was, her performance wasn't up to snuff and word about her in the department wasn't entirely positive. In our discussions, she was focused on career development, which was good, but clearly making a contribution and delivering results weren't quite on her radar.

The 'Cash Cow' that is Marketing

Marketing is a staggering $500-billion activity in the US alone (image credit)

With the Wharton School's Future of Advertising Program, Forbes CMO Network brings together marketing leaders for a day-long symposium to discuss 'Advertising' 2020--what advertising could and should look like in the future.
Marketing accounts for 15% of GDP, according to estimates, such as from McKinsey.

Listen. Laugh. Learn. Love.  (image credit)

Marketing activities arise around these four pillars - listen, laugh, learn and love - and are managed accordingly in Rocket Fuel's portfolio.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Unlocking your Potential can be Tough

In her article Do You Unlock Potential in Others? Carol Dougherty shares how fortunate she was to have a boss who believed in her potential and knew how to help her realize it.
The greatest gift I ever received at work was nothing flashy or even something I could display. I was given the gift of development. I had a boss who believed in me and felt I could move up in our organization with some fine tuning of my skills. Craig pushed and prodded me to grow and learn. He gave me “exposure” and “developmental opportunities”. This typically meant I was going to be uncomfortable and in things over my head. There was one year where my comfort zone was so far away I forgot what it looked like.
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I commented on her post on Google+:

On the one hand, I think it's important to get a grip, first, on the nature and extent of our potential. On the other hand, getting a full grip may come only when we've pushed ourselves, or others have pushed us, to the edges of our limits. You make a very good point in your article, Carol: Growing or developing isn't necessarily a pleasant thing. It was also very good of you to acknowledge that you hated these situations. Moreover, I think it's almost an imperative to have someone like Craig to help us realize our potential. It's difficult otherwise to do so on our own, that is, without the benefit of someone's eyes.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Business Leadership of Toby Keith

Toby Keith is a country music star, who clearly has a nose for what captivates his audience and has parlayed this into big business. He ties things neatly - bar and grill, Mezcal label, and music act - and carved out success by looking at things simply (though not simplistically) and coming up with the right solutions.

This is Zach O'Malley Greenburg's full report in Forbes - Toby Keith, Cowboy Capitalist: Country's $500 Million Man - due out with the July 15th issue. Keith's success is, at minimum, a 20-year effort, and is marked by the right amount of tenacity, a good pulse on his audience, and altogether sound judgment and decisions.

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"Trees can't grow back. Houses can't be built back. And it takes about a week to get the power back on and get the roads back open," Toby Keith said while reflecting on the damage from the recent tornadoes in Moore, Okla.

During his Sunday night (June 30) tour stop in Chicago, he talked about the challenges faced in Oklahoma and the resiliency of the Moore community.

"They bounce back so quick there, it's amazing," he told me. "You won't see them on TV six months from now crying for money and saying the government's not helping. Because they help each other out. They'll get it cleaned up pretty fast."
So Toby Keith isn't just a standout musician and entrepreneur, but he's also a fine humanitarian.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Key Motivators for your Staff

Financial and non-financial motivators are crucial for engaging your staff.  McKinsey published this article in November 2009 - Motivating People:  Getting Beyond Money.  Given the severe economic downturn, the authors understandably emphasized motivators that were cost-effective. Even in the best of times, however, finding the right balance of both financial and non-financial motivators is important. Why? Because financials can motivate only to a certain extent, beyond which non-financials are actually more effective at motivating staff.

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When it comes to non-financial motivators for your staff, these findings from McKinsey (above) are a good place to start. Keep in mind, though, that which ones or which others will actually work depend a great deal on the staff themselves. So (a) get to know them, (b) find out what truly enthuses them, (c) observe them at work, (d) collaborate on projects, and (e) arrange social events.

The non-financial motivators that McKinsey found align well with what Gallup found to be crucial ways to engage staff. Moreover, proper staff engagement have direct links to greater business results, such as sustainable growth, profit and stock increase!

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