This is an updated version of an article published in Yahoo Voices by Barbara Fowler, CMO and partner at Chief Outsiders
This is a revised blog by Barbara Fowler, originally posted on UNDER30CEO. I am sure most of you have been in a situation similar to mine. Last month, I attended Social Slam in Knoxville, Tenn. I knew absolutely no one who was going to the conference, but I decided to attend because I believed it was relatively close to my new home in Charleston, S.C. (Seven hours later, in a tremendous rainstorm, I arrived. I stand corrected.)
The experience gave me the opportunity to adopt a fresh perspective on attending a conference as an unknown. I knew it would be hard to go and meet people, but I figured, “So what? I’m an adult.” I was up for it — and you should be, too. Pushing myself beyond my comfort zone improved my networking skills and expanded my circle in new ways.
There are innumerable articles, books and classes devoted to aspects of developing a distinctive brand positioning. And, why not? Your brand positioning should drive all communication, and, as a wise man once told me — EVERYTHING communicates. However, the elements of brand positioning have become disjointed and disconnected over time, as focus shifts form one aspect to another. Also, it feels like brand positioning has become unnecessarily over-complicated by the scholarly focus, causing the project of sitting down to develop a new brand position to end up on the “someday, maybe” pile for many busy CEOs.
Today's blog is by guest blogger Kevin Dincher.
A long-time client surprised me last week. He called to update me on his pursuit of a new position within his company and in the course of our conversation said that his CEO “is an extremely talented manager but not much of a leader.” The assessment itself didn’t surprise me; I have known this CEO for over 30 years and agree completely. What did surprise me was hearing my friend make the distinction. We have often talked about the differences between managing and leading. Like most people, however, he generally use the terms interchangeably and doesn’t really make a distinction day-to-day—just the kind of thing that drives leadership experts like John Kotter crazy.
Somehow, and with no help from my Zeta Psi fraternity brothers, I managed to graduate with an engineering degree from U.C. Berkeley. But there was a point when it wasn’t clear I was going to make it. One reason was a challenging but fascinating course on Quantum Mechanics. The fact that an electron, with the right amount of energy, just “shows up” in a new orbit around a nucleus, completely boggled my mind. This indeed is the notion of a “quantum leap”. Now years later in our business of helping CEOs realize their growth visions, I’ve witnessed a parallel phenomenon:
Since you're reading this, chances are you have asked some of these very questions more than once. And quite possibly, the answers you received (or gave yourself) were less than satisfactory or convincing.
According to a recent study published in the MIT Sloan Review (Summer 2012), fewer than 15% of all businesses do any systematic study of pricing and fewer than 5% of Fortune 500 companies have a full-time function dedicated to pricing.
I recently attended a Chief Outsiders conference where a daylong session was essentially devoted to asking the right questions and listening. It is amazing what we miss when we skip this important trait. It reminded me why Socrates Café: A Fresh Taste of Philosophy by Christopher Phillips is on my list of important books. It is a book about asking questions. I like questions — and generally think that C level executives often do not ask enough of them. We are so intent on demonstrating our expertise and leadership we miss the most important step in solving a problem! That’s clearly defining the problem in the first place. Moreover, asking questions is essential for any executive who wants effective problem solving. Unless you are a CEO that likes to waste time chasing rabbits through the weeds, here are three ways to avoid those rascally rabbits.
More complaints as success? Looking to increase the number of complaining customers runs counter to conventional wisdom — but encouraging feedback from customers and making it easier for them to complain should result in an increase in the number of customers complaining. That’s a good thing! We need more complaints! With less than 4% of unhappy customers complaining (Source: U.S. Office of Consumer Affairs) we are missing out on a lot of valuable information about our company, our products and our services. Eventually, the number of complaints should stop increasing, level off and probably decrease somewhat — but if they don’t that is valuable information to have!
I recently enjoyed a long golf weekend with three friends from Toronto. One friend is a CFO, another is a CEO and the third is a Director of Experiential Marketing for a golf equipment manufacturing company. He also happens to be a former golf pro. We had a great time watching Barry Wallis hit long straight drives, shaping his iron shots to the middle of the green, getting up and down from the fringe or the sand, and not missing any putts shorter than 6 feet. What an experience this was. I had not personally used the title or created a job description for a “Director of Experiential Marketing “ so I decided to look closer and understand what Barry’s title represents.