• Signs of the Spineless Leader

    by  • May 24, 2012

    spinelessDo you have to meet a spineless leader to know one? Not necessarily. Recently, I unveiled a spineless leader upon learning how he handled a single set of circumstances – the orchestrating of an unfair and unjust hiring practice that covertly circumvented the promotion of the best candidate. This is all I needed to visualize the yellow stripe illuminating from the back of his neck to the base of his spine.

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    Is Business a Game of Poker or Chess?

    by  • May 21, 2012

    Chess.PokerHave you ever thought about business in the context of a game? Would that game be chess or poker? Had this question been asked during my years in the corner office, I would have curtly responded, “We are strategists. Strategists play chess, not poker – next question.” Twenty-five years later, I’m not nearly as dogmatic or single-minded on the topic. It’s not that I’m going to do a 360 on the value of strategy in business – strategy is part of my DNA; I attribute much of my corporate success to a strategic and creative mindset. The truth of the matter is that a master strategy without agile tactics diminishes the potential of a business.

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    The ‘Old Economy’ Needs a Rocket Man

    by  • May 6, 2012

    So much has been written about business innovation this past year. Those walking the talk are on Fast Company’s list of the World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies. These are the businesses whose products and services are having an impact across their industries and our culture. Ninety percent of these organizations have yet to experience a mid-life crisis; they are still under the age of 40. Are we to deduce that innovation is the domain of new economy and early-stage life cycle businesses? Seems that way – but this isn’t necessarily the case.

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    Where (and When) the Magic Happens

    by  • May 1, 2012

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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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