• About John

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

    Where (and When) the Magic Happens

    by  • May 1, 2012 • Human Resources, Leadership, Marketing, Strategy

    Magic2A picture is worth a thousand words; clichéd but true. This illustration may also become clichéd, but whenever I see it, I grin and nod. Although the Promised Land lies within that magic circle, most of us can’t break out of our comfort zone. Recently, the Apple Corporation has shown the world a glorious example of how big business creates magic. No doubt, many CEOs will try to replicate the principles that catapulted Apple to the most valuable company on the face of the earth. Will they be able to do it?

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    Does a Mentor have to Breathe?

    by  • April 28, 2012 • Human Resources, Leadership

    To most of us, mentors are people of experience and knowledge who help the less experienced advance their careers and/or their education. There are plenty of well-known examples throughout the course of history; Aristotle mentored Alexander the Great, Laurence Olivier mentored Anthony Hopkins and Freddy Laker mentored Richard Branson.
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    The Gulf Spill: BP Still Doesn’t Get It

    by  • April 26, 2012 • Branding, Human Resources, Leadership, Life, Marketing, Strategy

    Gulf Spill(First published in Forbes.com, April 20, 2012) Two years have now passed since the explosion at BP’s deep-water rig in the Gulf of Mexico. In the aftershock, the world watched BP and its chief executive, Tony Hayward, make blunder after blunder while their crude continued to gush, literally and figuratively. BP’s talk about caring for the environment was for naught, as its actions failed to match its message. And although the company finally fired Hayward, paid restitution, enhanced its drilling standards, and sponsored several feel-good TV commercials, it has failed to regain the trust it supposedly covets. Why? Because the public still holds the view that BP is dealing with the Gulf disaster’s fallout not because it wants to but because it has to.

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    The Power of an Enemy

    by  • April 23, 2012 • Leadership, Life, Marketing, Strategy

    IClay’m an extremely competitive person. As a kid in sports, I played my heart out, hated my opponents and cried when I lost. Admonished by my mother and father for unsportsmanlike behavior, I eventually matured and forged a stiff upper lip in defeat. But behind the façade, the agony gnawed my gut – it still does. I have no regrets; In fact, I consider the repugnance of losing a special gift. There is no doubt in my mind that my ferocious competitive spirit is responsible for my success in corporate life.

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    Learn to Teach. Teach to Learn

    by  • April 13, 2012 • Leadership, Life, Marketing, Strategy

    teachlearnWhen I retired, I thought I was through with business. And I was, until the social network came along and enticed me to blog. Like most bloggers, I write about what I know; that’s strategy, leadership and branding. My motive is nothing more than to share my experience with today’s business community in the hope they might put an old warrior’s advice to good use.

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    Snails and Big Companies

    by  • April 8, 2012 • Human Resources, Leadership, Strategy

    I’ve always held the opinion that big organizations move at a snail’s pace. Every day, we see or read about bureaucracy – government is the biggest offender. But anyone who has worked with large NGOs (non-government, not for profit organizations), or giant corporations has tasted it. Sure, there are exceptions to the rule. The most valuable business on the planet has set a wonderful example for getting things done. But unlike Apple, most big companies don’t have the will or the way to cut through the quagmire of red tape to “just do it”. Even Procter & Gamble, a perennial success and a company I greatly admire, struggles to find nimbleness. Check out the complete list of similarities between big companies and snails.

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    Marketing a Bull to Withstand a Monster

    by  • April 1, 2012 • Branding, Leadership, Marketing, Strategy

    RedBullFlyIn my blog of last week, entitled A Monster of an Idea, I gave kudos to the Monster Beverage Corporation for becoming a ridiculously-profitable, high-growth $2 billion dollar enterprise despite ignoring the Holy Grail of marketing commandments. Monster entered the market after Red Bull, discounted their product, proliferated the hell out of the brand, and committed a boatload of sins that would give marketing pundits Al Reis and Jack Trout migraine headaches. Yet, despite Monster’s disregard for the immutable laws of marketing, the brand’s “cult” status insulated it from any punitive market damage. Today, Monster Beverage keeps chugging along at a phenomenal 30% annual growth rate. I hadn’t realized it, but that blog of last week left people with an unanswered question – how in the world did Red Bull withstand the onslaught?

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    A Monster of an Idea

    by  • March 26, 2012 • Branding, Leadership, Marketing, Strategy

    MonsterMy original premise for this blog was to share a variety of leadership and branding principles with the current generation of business leaders. With forty years in the saddle, hundreds of dusty trails and a few fistfights along the way, I have an oasis of management insight in which to draw. More than 60 blogs later, I remain of the view that the vast majority of the strategic tenets that guided me as a CMO and CEO remain valid today. Yet every so often, I come across a very successful exception to the rule.

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    The World of the 21st Century CEO

    by  • March 19, 2012 • Human Resources, Leadership, Life, Marketing, Strategy

    globeLast week I identified the successful 21st century CEO as someone who is constantly thinking about the future.  History has shown us that the best performers were those who made the right strategic moves to create a future in which their company would enjoy significant competitive advantage. Their strong sense of vision and belief in proactivity helped them get to the future first. Apple’s Steve Jobs and Google’s Larry Page are excellent examples.

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    Who is the 21st Century CEO?

    by  • March 15, 2012 • Human Resources, Leadership, Strategy

    He or she is the leader who is constantly thinking about tomorrow – not the next week, the next month, the next quarter or even the next year. The future these leaders envision is the one they choose to create; their tomorrow will be a business ‘lotus land’ that is poles apart from an unwelcomed future determined by their competition, a future that inevitably forces defensive reactivity. Proactivity is the secret to long-term success. Those who get to the future first, are the ones who win.

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