Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Three Tips for Becoming an Energizer

Some people become leaders no matter what their chosen path because their positive energy is so uplifting. Even in tough times, they always find a way. They seem to live life on their own terms even when having to comply with someone else's requirements. When they walk into a room, they make it come alive. When they send a message, it feels good to receive it. Their energy makes them magnets attracting other people.
Just plain energy is a neglected dimension of leadership. It is a form of power available to anyone in any circumstances. While inspiration is a long-term proposition, energy is necessary on a daily basis, just to keep going.
Three things characterize the people who are energizers.
1. A relentless focus on the bright side. Energizers find the positive and run with it. A state government official in a state that doesn't like government overcomes that handicap through her strong positive presence. She dispenses compliments along with support for the community served by her agency, making it seem that she works for them rather than for the government. She greets everyone with the joy generally reserved for a close relative returning from war. I can see skeptics' eyebrows starting to rise, but judging from her success, people love meeting with her or getting her exclamation-filled emails. She is invited to everything.
The payoffs from stressing the bright side can be considerable. In my new book, SuperCorp, I tell the story about how Maurice Levy, CEO of the global marketing company Publicis Groupe, tilted the balance in his company's favor when his firm was one of several suitors for Internet pioneer Digitas. At one point in a long courtship, Digitas hit problems, and the stock collapsed. One of Publicis's major competitors sent Digitas's head an email saying, "Now you are at a price which is affordable, so we should start speaking." Levy sent an email the same day saying, "It's so unfair that you are hurt this way because the parameters remain very good." Levy's positive energy won the prized acquisition.
2. Redefining negatives as positives. Energizers are can-do people. They do not like to stay in negative territory, even when there are things that are genuinely depressing. For example, it might seem a stretch for anyone to call unemployment as "a good time for reflection and redirection while between jobs," but some energizers genuinely stress the minor positive notes in a gloomy symphony. A marketing manager laid off by a company hit hard by the recession saw potential in people he met at a career counseling center and convinced them that they could start a service business together. He became the energizing force for shifting their definition of the situation from negative to an opportunity.
"Positive thinking" and "counting blessings" can sound like naïve cliches. But energizers are not fools. They can be shrewd analysts who know their flaws and listen carefully to critics so that they can keep improving. Studies show that optimists are more likely to listen to negative information than pessimists, because they think they can do something about it. To keep moving through storms, energizers cultivate thick skins that shed negativity like a waterproof raincoat sheds drops of water. They are sometimes discouraged, but never victims.
An entrepreneur who has built numerous businesses and incubated others had a strong personal mission to raise national standards in his industry. He began that quest by meeting individually with the heads of major industry organizations, all of whom told him that he would fail. He nodded politely, asked for a small commitment to one action anyway, just as a test, he said, and went on to the next meeting. Eight or nine meetings later, he was well along on a path everyone had tried to discourage him from taking.
3. Fast response time. Energizers don't dawdle. Energizers don't tell you all the reasons something can't be done. They just get to it. They might take time to deliberate, but they keep the action moving. They are very responsive to emails or phone calls, even if the fast response is that they can't respond yet. This helps them get more done. Because they are so responsive, others go to them for information or connections. In the process, energizers get more information and a bigger personal network, which are the assets necessary for success.
The nice thing about this form of energy is that it is potentially abundant, renewable, and free. The only requirements for energizers are that they stay active, positive, responsive, and on mission. Are you an energizer?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

React to the Future, Not the Past

When someone yells at you, your gut reaction may be to yell back. But following your gut can get you in trouble, and in this case, may result in a damaged relationship. Instead, try responding to the outcome. When an unsettling event happens, pause and ask yourself: what is the outcome I want? Instead of reacting to the event, act in accordance with your desired outcome. The person who yelled at you: do you want an improved relationship with him or do you want to make him feel as bad as you do? If it's the latter, go ahead and yell back. If it's the former, empathize with his anger and respond to the underlying issue in a calm manner.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Value Propositions That Work

Most people can't explain what their company does — its value proposition. The best way to start getting employees and management aligned is to understand the benefit the company is trying to deliver to its customers. Consider that there are only four types of consumer benefits that matter and by extension only four categories of value propositions that work.
1. Best quality. Richard Branson once said that being the best at something is a pretty good business model, and I agree. Think of brands that set a standard, like Louisville baseball bats, Benjamin Moore paints, and Stradivarius violins. You don't have to be a sports nut to have heard of the 125-year history of the Louisville Slugger, nor do you have to be a classical music aficionado to have heard of the legendary Stradivarius violins. Brands that set standards are sometimes luxury brands, but not necessarily. You don't need luxury to set a best-in-class standard. Brands like Benjamin Moore define quality in their categories. That's an enviable position and a value proposition that works.
2. Best bang for the buck. Recessionary woes have amplified the fact that some consumers will always buy on price. Best-in-class value doesn't always mean lowest price, however, but rather the best quality-to-price ratio. Jet Blue is a good example of a company that, though it may not offer the cheapest or best in comfort travel, does a good job of communicating its value relative to its price point. Dell, Chipotle, Ikea, and Toyota are other good examples of best-in-class value, and their value propositions have been sustainable through the years. Incidentally, the founder of Ikea, Ingvar Kamprad, has regularly traded places with Bill Gates on various world's richest lists.
3. Luxury and aspiration. On the other end of the spectrum from bang-for-buck players are luxury providers that promise the experience of a wealthy lifestyle to aspirational consumers. Ralph Lauren is one of the masters of a lifestyle luxury brand; others are Rolex, BMW, and Hermes. While the luxury segment was hurt during the downturn, it is almost certain that as the economy rebounds that customers will return to luxury goods as their discretionary spending increases.
4. Must-have. One of the most attractive value propositions we have seen and studied are the "must-haves." These include basic goods — certain foods, for instance. During my prior work with Thomson Reuters, we often talked about "must-have" content that business professionals could not do their jobs without. The critical legal information and tools WestLaw provides to lawyers are an example. As long as there are legal cases, there will be a need for legal information. It does not mean there will not be competition, but if the category you are pursuing is must-have, then the market leaders will have a great prize to share.
Does your company's value proposition fit in one or more of the categories above? If not, it is time to adjust. Figure out how to reposition your offering. Stop being stuck in the middle and aim to set a new standard
Written by:Anthony Tjan

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Thought for the Day

The grass is always greener...............only when you water it

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Total Leadership

by Stewart D. Friedman

Now more than ever, your success as a leader isn't just about being a great businessperson. You've got to be a great person, performing well in all domains of your life -- your work, your home, your community, and your private self. That's a tall order. The good news is that, contrary to conventional wisdom about "balance," you don't have to assume that these domains compete in a zero-sum game. Total Leadership is a game-changing blueprint for how to perform well as a leader not by trading off one domain for another, but by finding mutual value among all four. The author shows you how to achieve these "four-way wins" as a leader who can: Be real: Act with authenticity by clarifying what's important Be whole: Act with integrity by respecting the whole person Be innovative: Act with creativity by experimenting to find new solutions With engaging examples and clear instruction, Friedman provides more than thirty hands-on tools for using these proven principles to produce stronger business results, find clearer purpose in what you do, feel more connected to the people who matter most, and generate sustainable change. Most leadership development books focus only on your professional skills, while books about personal growth concentrate on your needs beyond work. Total Leadership is different. It's a unique and long-awaited resource that shows how to win in all domains of life.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Networking by the Numbers

Last week I had my 200 networking meeting (thanks Frank Leggio), and in going through my records I came up with the following:

200 face to face networking meetings
13,850 miles driven to meetings
72 breakfasts at First Watch
144 wheat germ pancakes (28,860 calories)
68 lunches (who knows how many calories)
30 meetings at Panera
20 gallons of ice tea (just a guess)
51 trips downtown
2 parking tickets
1 speeding ticket

Opportunity to network with great people like you PRICELESS