• About John

    Formerlife: Jacobs Suchard CEO (Kraft, Nabob), Strategy Consultant. Afterlife: Palgrave Macmillan Author, Historical Novelist, Business Journalist

    Marissa Mayer’s Big Play for Good Reason

    by  • March 5, 2013 • Human Resources, Leadership, Strategy • 0 Comments

    Team Of 8 Blue People Holding Up Connected Pieces To A Colorful Puzzle That Spells Out "Team," Symbolizing Excellent Teamwork, Success And Link Exchanging Clipart Illustration GraphicAt the risk creating a reputation as yesterday’s man, I’m fully supporting Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s ban on working from home. Frankly, there aren’t many of us out there applauding this controversial big play. Several journalists, tech pundits, and business leaders have called her gambit regressive, old-school thinking, anti-family, and a giant step backward. However, none of the naysayers seem to realize that she is faced with a turnaround situation. Ms. Mayer was hired away from Google to reverse 4 years of eroding revenue. Radical change is required. To fulfill any turnaround mandate, a leader has no choice but to initiate substantial cultural and strategic change with a firm hand, not a weak wrist.

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    The Beer formerly known as Albino Rhino

    by  • February 25, 2013 • Branding, Leadership, Marketing, Strategy, Uncategorized • 0 Comments

    ARLast week I wrote about a complaint to the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal by a person with albinism – Is Political Correctness Coming to a Brand Near You? This person was offended by the brand name of a whimsical beer marketed by the Earls Restaurants chain. The powerful tribunal ruled in favor of the complainant, and after several months of dealing with the aggravation, Earls finally threw in the towel, accepting responsibility for their insensitivity and agreeing to change the name of the 25 year old beer brand, Albino Rhino. Political correctness had run amok.

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    Is Political Correctness Coming to a Brand near You?

    by  • February 17, 2013 • Branding, Leadership, Life, Marketing, Strategy • 1 Comment

    rhinoEarls Restaurants is a very popular casual dining chain with 64 outlets in Canada, Arizona, Washington and Colorado. Twenty-five years ago, they launched a whimsical brand of beer called Albino Rhino. I don’t know why they chose that name – maybe it had something to do with the white rhino’s keen sense of smell or the fact that the species is endangered. One thing’s for sure; Earls didn’t intend to demean or humiliate people with albinism. Yet, someone with albinism launched a human-rights complaint. Now Earl’s is pulling the Albino Rhino brand and considering a new name.

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    Blonde Joke on Starbucks

    by  • February 4, 2013 • Branding, Leadership, Marketing, Strategy • 0 Comments

    blonde3Last week I slammed Kellogg’s for maligning the good reputation of their Special K brand. Special K has always stood for a nutritious breakfast. This brand name is now on a new flatbread sandwich of egg, cheese and sausage that contains fewer calories than fast food restaurant versions. The entry isn’t my idea of a nutritious breakfast.

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    A Canadian’s Tribute to US Thanksgiving

    by  • December 20, 2012 • Leadership, Life

    State-of-America1-150x150A few years ago, I came out of retirement to take an assignment in southern California. I moved from British Columbia to Ventura for the better part of a year, arriving a week before Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving in America is a much bigger deal than it is above the 49th parallel. Families and friends come together to give thanks. Strangers wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. Americans believe no one should be alone on this special day. I’m certain that’s the reason my wife and I were invited to Thanksgiving dinner by people we barely knew. 

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    In Praise of Average Joes

    by  • November 13, 2012 • Human Resources, Leadership, Life, Strategy

    MVPThe times have changed, but the business tools that determine success or failure have not. Companies, large and small, cannot survive without great leadership, sound strategy and flawless execution. Those that thrive go a step further; they breathe culture. And what, in a nutshell, is culture? Culture is meaningful work, well done.

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