• The Paradox of Two Guitar Companies

    by  • December 21, 2011

    '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

    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

    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

    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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    Momentum: Leadership’s Most Valued Intangible

    by  • November 30, 2011

    The dictionary describes “momentum” as a strength or force that keeps growing. Gamblers in the rush of a hot-streak believe in the force. Sports teams with momentum go on inexplicable winning streaks while opponents can’t seem to string two wins together no matter how hard they try or how ‘talented’ their roster.

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    Is This the Flag of Riches to Rags?

    by  • November 27, 2011

    State of AmericaI’m a Canadian on assignment in California. Last Thursday I had the pleasure of joining a group of 12 for American Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a much bigger deal down here than it is above the 49th parallel. The days around the holiday are the most travelled of the year. Families and friends come together to give thanks. Strangers wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. Americans believe no one should be alone on Thanksgiving. I’m certain that’s the reason my wife and I scored that dinner invitation.

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    What Ever Happened to the Pepsi Generation?

    by  • November 20, 2011

    NATM_512x288The concept of a Pepsi advertising campaign designed to capture America’s youth had its roots in the 1960’s. But it wasn’t until the 1980’s that “The Choice of a New Generation” struck 14-24 year olds like a social tsunami. Michael Jackson, the theme to “Billie Jean” and a phenomenal blend of marketing and entertainment drove the Pepsi brand to the pinnacle of contemporary culture. Coca-Cola was so taken aback by the success that they made a colossal error in judgment. They abandoned their century-old recipe and launched “New Coke”. The result was disastrous. It looked like Pepsi had won the Cola War. But they had won only a battle.

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    Homeless, Not Helpless: Entrepreneurship in Unlikely Places

    by  • November 13, 2011

    DSCN1034I’ve never thought of the homeless as innovative or entrepreneurial. I suspect few do. Some might say these lost souls don’t have an enterprising bone in their bodies; if they did, they wouldn’t be homeless. I understand why people come to this conclusion; when they see the homeless, they see them sedentary – lingering in the streets, slouched on park benches, lying under blankets in alleys or crouched against buildings with cups in outstretched hands. My visit  to Santa Barbara last week changed my mind about homeless ingenuity.

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    This Bud’s Not for Me

    by  • November 7, 2011

    Recently I bought a case of Budweiser with the new can design. Because I had a few of the old cans in the refrigerator I conducted a side-by-side comparison through the eye of a marketer. The comparison raised a couple of brand trivia questions. How many brand icons and slogans appeared on the old can? How many of those do you think have been removed?

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    The Essence of Strategy (Part 2)

    by  • October 30, 2011

    ThisWayLast week’s blog post bemoaned the lack of strategic discipline in today’s world of business. I posed three simple strategic questions that on the surface appear easy to answer.

    1. What business are you in?
    2. What will you sell?
    3. To whom will you sell?

    You’d think executives from the same organization would offer the same responses. More often than not, their answers can be as different as night and day. Why?

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