• About John

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

    The Language of Leaders

    by  • February 12, 2012 • Human Resources, Leadership, Life, Strategy

    learnleadI have to be honest. I didn’t think I was going to enjoy Kevin Murray’s new book on how top CEOs communicate to inspire, influence and achieve results. Although Mr. Murray’s arresting title raised my curiosity, I became skeptical when I read the list of leaders he interviewed for insight. The 60 interviewees, all from the UK, were comprised of eight Sirs, four Lords, four Dames, one Lady, and a Baroness, but not one person was under the age of 40, and the majority were over 60. I couldn’t help wonder how this seemingly pompous club of elites could possibly empathize with the hundreds of thousands of hard-working “commoners” in their factories, offices and warehouses. With such a massive impact made by so many young entrepreneurs, I had doubts today’s business generation would benefit from the reflections of old guard, old economy leaders. I was wrong.

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    Stop Personal Branding; Start Running the Business

    by  • February 6, 2012 • Branding, Human Resources, Leadership, Life, Marketing, Strategy

    me-meInherent in the definition of career is the opportunity to progress. “Getting ahead” was my father’s way of saying it. Notwithstanding politics, nowhere is the notion of upward mobility more prevalent than in the world of business. More than ever, people are seeking mentors, “branding” themselves and carefully managing their careers in order to dash up that quintessential corporate ladder.

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    When to Ditch the Leadership Love-in

    by  • January 30, 2012 • Human Resources, Leadership, Life, Strategy

    Some of you may have read my Leadership Love-In blog http://www.ceoafterlife.com/leadership/leadership-love-in/ in which I reiterated the never ending need for better leadership. I also extended kudos to a handful of passionate leadership bloggers who I consider to be experts in their field (links listed below). These pundits command impressive social media audiences, and while it is gratifying that people are interested in their perspectives and insight, the ongoing leadership mania underscores the significant gap between principle and practice.

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    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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