• About John

    Formerlife: CEO of Jacobs Suchard (Nabob, Kraft), Strategy/Branding Consultant. Afterlife: Fortune & Forbes Contributor, Wannabe Novelist.

    Strategy for Non-Strategic Leaders

    by  • January 22, 2012 • Human Resources, Leadership, Strategy

    StressI didn’t realize it at the outset, but blogging has provided a wonderful opportunity for me to ponder and reflect on the most valued (but often neglected) principles of business. When I was on the ‘hot seat’ and in the line of fire as a CEO, I constantly dealt with pressing day-to-day issues such as bringing in the quarter, forecasting erratic commodity markets, reacting to predatory pricing, and stressing over sales shortfalls and excess inventory. Suffice to say, most of the issues were short-term and operational rather than strategic. No matter what a company’s product or service, this is not a business anomaly. Squeaky wheels get the grease.

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    What Makes P&G Great?

    by  • January 14, 2012 • Branding, Human Resources, Leadership, Strategy

    P&G_brandsI could talk about their brands, their global clout, their sales growth or their stock market value. Not today. The mystical factor that distinguishes P&G from everyone else is people. From 1837 to the present, P&G people have been the company’s sustainable success factor. To many in the consumer packaged goods industry, this isn’t an epiphany. But what is it that makes the people at P&G stand out from the rest?

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    The 10 Best Brand Names Ever

    by  • January 8, 2012 • Branding, Marketing, Strategy

    With the approach of every new year comes the rankings by major periodicals on a variety of measures from most valuable global brands to the most innovative companies. My ranking of the “Best Brand Names”  is not constrained by time. If fact, every quantitative measurement has been removed from my assessment. I have purposely ignored a brand’s reputation, its place within the market, even its package design. Fundamentally, the judgment criterion for the “10 Best Brand Names Ever” is one of clearing the slate and imagining the brand at inception, before advertising, promotion and packaging. That is the brand name acid test.

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    The Leadership Love-in

    by  • January 2, 2012 • Human Resources, Leadership, Life, Strategy

    I’ve read scads of books, blogs and journals on leadership. Everything I read has been said before – maybe in a different way and usually with different supportive examples; yet, I can’t seem to stay away from the subject. Apparently, neither can others. Leadership books, blogs, and tweets continue to command an impressive share of human interest as expressed by various readership analytics.

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    A Manifesto’s Unbridled Power

    by  • December 26, 2011 • Branding, Human Resources, Leadership, Life, Marketing, Strategy

    Manifestos ignite people into action. The greatest manifestos, such as The Ten Commandments and The Declaration of Independence are so emotionally charged that their catalytic influence can endure for centuries. As recently as fifty years ago, an emotional speech delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial established a clear and convincing purpose for American Civil Rights. Today, Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream is arguably the most inspiring manifesto of the last century.

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    The Paradox of Two Guitar Companies

    by  • December 21, 2011 • Branding, Leadership, Marketing, Strategy

    '69-Tele_smallThey are global, they are successful and they have become the quintessential icons of pop music. Since the birth of rock ‘n roll sixty years ago, the esteemed products of Fender Musical Instruments and the Gibson Guitar Corporation continue to dominate a market enthralled by rock music and rock personalities. From wannabe pickers to professionals, Gibson and Fender are as close to transcendental as a brand can be.

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    Lateral Mind Games

    by  • December 19, 2011 • Human Resources, Life, Uncategorized

    I was cleaning out some files the other day and came across a brain twister. I suspect the puzzle came from the Edward de Bono lateral thinking seminar I attended some 30 years ago. It must have made an impact on me because not only did I save it, I also used it as a warm-up exercise at a couple of out-of-the box, new product brainstorm sessions. The best way to approach any brain twister is to free the mind and allow it to function “laterally” rather than vertically or logically. And by the way, the more people devoted to the task, the faster the solution. What does that tell you?

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    Turnarounds and the Big Play

    by  • December 11, 2011 • Branding, Leadership, Marketing, Strategy

    chartbusterI’ve been in business a long time. If you don’t believe me, just look at my profile picture – that was taken a couple of years ago, (okay, maybe I’m being a bit generous on that timeline). My point is this: I’ve had my share of corporate turnarounds. Believe me, there’s nothing that can match the turnaround experience in teaching or seasoning a young manager. My most daunting resurrection was my first one – that of the Canadian unit of Jacobs Suchard, at the time called Nabob Foods.

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    Gretzky, Gates, Zuckerberg: Can they see the Unseen?

    by  • December 4, 2011 • Leadership, Life

    It takes a knack to see the unseen. Some call it a sense, a gift from God bestowed upon the chosen few. We’ve witnessed this sense in our greatest athletes. Wayne Gretzky had a knack of skating where he knew the puck would be or passing behind his back where he knew a teammate would be. Larry Bird moved a split second before an opponent’s ball toss to make the steal. Joe Montana calculated the movements of everyone on the football field. Each superstar athlete saw the play before it happened.

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