Tuesday, January 31, 2012


I always liked Honda - now I like them even more! This is one of my all time favorites...Bueller is back! The link below has the new Honda Super Bowl Ad featuring Mr Boderick aka Bueller.


It's NOT just Cost when it comes to producing in China!

An example from Apple - why they make iPhones in China...this applies to many products and companies...
  1. Most of the components of iPhones and iPads — the supply chain — are now manufactured in China, so assembling the phones half-a-world away would create huge logistical challenges. It would also reduce flexibility — the ability to switch easily from one component supplier or manufacturer to another. 
  2. China's factories are now far bigger and more nimble than those in the United States. They can hire (and fire) tens of thousands of workers practically overnight. Because so many of the workers live on-site, they can also press them into service at a moment's notice. And they can change production practices and speeds extremely rapidly.  
  3. China now has a far bigger supply of appropriately-qualified engineers than the U.S. does — folks with the technical skills necessary to build complex gadgets but not so credentialed that they cost too much.
  4. And, lastly, China's workforce is much hungrier and more frugal than many of their counterparts in the United States.
By Charles Duhigg and Keith Bradsher at the New York Times. Read more at...


Sunday, January 29, 2012

12 Reasons You Will Be a Better Leader this Year

12 Reasons Better Leader
1. Because you are generous with information. You know it enables and values others.

2. Because you eschew the trappings of power. You respect your position too much to let yourself become self-absorbed and disconnected from those you serve.

3. Because you know leadership isn’t about how well you are appreciated, but it’s about endlessly showing your appreciation of others. Leadership isn’t about how you feel, but how you make others feel.

4. Because you are honored to lead, you genuinely respect and care for the people you serve.

5. Because you avoid the trivial and stay focused on your core values and the vision they enable. You will always pay attention to what matters most and you communicate it tirelessly and with clarity.

6. Because you are driven to produce and are accountable for it and expect the same from others.

7. Because you take time to reflect to keep yourself aligned and to continually evaluate your impact.

8. Because you exercise. You know that regular exercise not only makes you feel better physically and it has a profound impact on your cognitive abilities and mental health.

9. Because you are curious, you are committed to being a lifelong learner and building a learning culture within your team and organization. You won’t rely on what worked for you in the past.

10. Because you are humble enough to know that you don’t have all the answers and it doesn’t have to be your way and it is in fact, unhealthy for you to insist on it.

11. Because you are committed to building others greater than yourself. You are validated not by your own knowledge and accomplishments but by those you help succeed. You are passionate about and energized by the people you serve.

12. Because you know that you are setting an example for others to follow. Everything you do matters. You know it’s not about you.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Quotes and Advice from JoePa...RIP!

  • Act like you expect to get into the end zone.
  • Believe deep down in your heart that you're destined to do great things.
  • Publicity is like poison; it doesn't hurt unless you swallow it.
  • The minute you think you've got it made, disaster is just around the corner.
  • The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital.
  • When a team outgrows individual performance and learns team confidence, excellency becomes a reality.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Book excerpt from Understanding Michael Porter: The Essential Guide to Competition and Strategy.

About the Author: Joan Magretta is a Senior Associate at the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness at Harvard Business School. 


Joan Magretta: What are the most common strategy mistakes you see?

Michael Porter: The granddaddy of all mistakes is competing to be the best, going down the same path as everybody else and thinking that somehow you can achieve better results. This is a hard race to win. So many managers confuse operational effectiveness with strategy. Another common mistake is confusing marketing with strategy. It's natural for strategy to arise from a focus on customers and their needs. So in many companies, strategy is built around the value proposition, which is the demand side of the equation. But a robust strategy requires a tailored value chain—it's about the supply side as well, the unique configuration of activities that delivers value. Strategy links choices on the demand side with the unique choices about the value chain (the supply side). You can't have competitive advantage without both.

"The granddaddy of all mistakes is competing to be the best, going down the same path as everybody else and thinking that somehow you can achieve better results."
Another mistake is to overestimate strengths. There's an inward-looking bias in many organizations. You might perceive customer service as a strong area. So that becomes the "strength" on which you attempt to build a strategy. But a real strength for strategy purposes has to be something the company can do better than any of its rivals. And "better" because you are performing different activities than they perform, because you've chosen a different configuration than they have.

Another common mistake is getting the definition of the business wrong, or getting the geographic scope wrong. There has been a tendency to define industries broadly, following the influential work of Theodore Levitt some decades ago. His famous example was railroads that failed to see that they were in the transportation business, and so they missed the threat posed by trucks and airfreight. The problem with defining the business as transportation, however, is that railroads are clearly a distinct industry with distinct economics and a separate value chain. Any sound strategy in railroads must take these differences into account. Defining the industry as transportation can be dangerous if it leads managers to conclude that they need to acquire an airfreight company so they can compete in multiple forms of transportation.

Similarly, there has been a tendency to define industries as global when they are national or encompass only groups of neighboring countries. Companies, mindful of the drumbeat about globalization, internationalize without understanding the true economics of their business. The value chain is the principal tool to delineate the geographic boundaries of competition, to determine how local or how global that business is. In a local business, every local area will require a complete and largely separate value chain. At the other extreme, a global industry is one where important activities in the value chain can be shared across all countries.

Reflecting on my experience, however, I'd have to say that the worst mistake—and the most common oneis not having a strategy at all. Most executives think they have a strategy when they really don't, at least not a strategy that meets any kind of rigorous, economically grounded definition.

Magretta: Why is that? Why do so few companies have really great strategies? What are the biggest obstacles to good strategy?

Porter: I used to think that most strategy problems arose from limited or faulty data, or poor analysis of the industry and competitors. To say it differently, I thought the problem was a failure to understand competition. This surely does happen. But the more I have worked in this field, the more I have come to appreciate the more subtle and more pervasive obstacles to clear strategic thinking and how challenging it is for companies to maintain their strategies over time.

There are so many barriers that distract, deter, and divert managers from making clear strategic choices. Some of the most significant barriers come from the many hidden biases embedded in internal systems, organizational structures, and decision-making processes. It's often hard, for example, to get the kind of cost information you need to think strategically. Or the company's incentive system rewards the wrong things. Or human nature makes it really hard to make tradeoffs, or to stick with them. The need for trade-offs is a huge barrier. Most managers hate to make trade-offs; they hate to accept limits. They'd almost always rather try to serve more customers, offer more features. They can't resist believing that this will lead to more growth and more profit.

I believe that many companies undermine their own strategies. Nobody does it to them. They do it themselves. Their strategies fail from within. Then there is the host of strategy killers in the external environment. These range from so-called industry experts to regulators and financial analysts. These all tend to push companies toward what I call "competition to be the best"—the analyst who wants every company to look like the current market favorite, the consultant who helps you benchmark yourself against everyone else in the industry, or who pushes the next big thing, such as the notion that you're supposed to delight and retain every single customer.

Let's take this last idea as an example. If you listen to every customer and do what they ask you to do, you can't have a strategy. Like so many ideas that get sold to managers, there is some truth to it, but the nuances get lost. Strategy is not about making every customer happy. When you've got your strategist's hat on, you want to decide which customers and which needs you want to meet. As to the other customers and the other needs, well, you just have to get over the fact that you will disappoint them, because that's actually a good thing.

I also believe that as capital markets have evolved they have become more and more toxic for strategy. The single-minded pursuit of shareholder value, measured over the short term, has been enormously destructive for strategy and value creation. Managers are chasing the wrong goal.

These are just some of the obstacles. Cumulatively, they add up. Having a strategy in the first place is hard. Maintaining a strategy is even harder.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

25% • 70% - 5% Recruiting Formula - Do You Agree?

The executive search firm Karel and Company claims to have a candidate assessment model that can predict a candidates success in a new company.

They believe A candidate’s experience, expertise, business prowess, and acumen should not be the final discriminating criteria in the search for the best candidate. They suggest the following criteria should also part of the qualifiers.

  • What does he/she bring any new or additional business to the table?
  • Do they possess the leadership, style, traits, and ability to guide and grow the people that will be working with? 
  • Does the candidate have well honed management and mentoring skills?

The "Formula": “25% • 70% - 5%

  • 25% of a candidate’s value to your company is their knowledge and experience, who they know and what can they bring to the table that will be of value to your company.
  • 70% of their value to you is how the candidates’ personality and chemistry will fit in with your companies. This will ultimately determine if they will be successful. And, the last 5% … 
  • 5% is luck! Everyone and every company needs some luck. 
What do you think?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Focus On Success Fundamentals In 2012

Focusing on these ten fundamentals will help you have the maximum opportunity to find success in 2012.

1.  Cash is still King. Managing the relationship between accounts payable and accounts receivable is as essential to survival for your business as breathing is to you.

2.  Declare war on excess inventory. Don’t let one piece of inventory spend a night under your roof unless it’s turning or paid for.

3.  Convert non-performing assets to cash. What things were worth last year has no bearing on what they’re worth today, and they will be worth less tomorrow. If it’s not being used, cut it loose.

4.  Employees spend most of your cash. Ask them to identify ways to find efficiencies and maximize margins. Install these into the new year’s budget and operation.

5.  Review all operational steps and eliminate, or fix, inefficiencies. My friend, Michael Stallard, recommends the four “Ws,” “What works, what doesn’t, what do we stop and what do we continue.”

6.  Outsourcing is a best practice. Call a planning meeting and ask this question about every task in your operation: “Must this be done in-house?” Everything that does not directly “touch” a customer is a non-core competency and a candidate for outsourcing.

7.  Keep your banker informed about business opportunities AND challenges. The title of the shortest book ever written is “Loan Officer Courage.” An uninformed banker is a scared banker and you’ll never get help from a scared banker.

8.  Success burns cash. Prepare a financial projection that anticipates at least 10% growth in sales this year. See how that impacts your cash requirements due to increases in inventory, A/R, etc., and start thinking about how you will fund this growth (see #7, above).

9.  If you don’t have a banking relationship with an independent community bank, start one this week. This is not a banking alternative – it’s a small business financial fundamental.

10.  Every customer and prospect has expectations that are changing faster than ever before. Keep asking what they want and deliver what they say. Remember, you get to decide what you do; customers decide how you do it.

Write this on a rock…Focus on the fundamentals, plan for success and grow your business in 2012.

Thanks to Jim Blasingame @ Forbes.com

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Leadership Lesson from Presidential Candidates

Your politics may influence your perspective but our current Presidential candidates and President are all leaders. As is the case in business leaders have different skills and some are applicable to the needs of the organization and sometimes its a mismatch. So even if you don't agree with their politics I contend that they all have something to offer and if we could bundle them together in one leader we would have something quite special...

Barack Obama: There is no arguing his ability to communicate to large groups. This is not a common skill and some of our best known leaders are not great speakers or communicators - this is a great attribute that has the power to influence.

Mitt Romney: A well rounded resume with breath and diversity of experience including success and failure is how you learn and develop your core beliefs and style as a leader. Having real world experiences in investing money and being accountable for budgets, people and strategy is a great teacher of how to manage with limited resources.

Newt Gingrich: Knowledge and intelligence is certainly a great asset. The key is the ability to implement and take great ideas and make them applicable to a real world. But if you don't have knowledge you are certainly behind the eight ball when you start.

Rick Perry: Proof of results in a similar situation like running a large and diverse state like organization (Texas) is certainly no small accomplishment and gives valuable insight into the challenges ahead in a larger organization.

Rick Santorum: Consistency and depth of believe is central to a good leader. Often referred to as strength of conviction. This skill is one that is obvious to followers and if they believe what you are saying and doing it can be a powerful way to create a team that is unified and working against a common goal.

Ron Paul: Having the courage to stand up for what you believe in spite of doubters in a relaxed an comfortable style is very appealing. Acting as if you are part of the team not the all knowing leader is a skill that endears others to support and want to help and follow.

John Huntsman: Global and diverse experience in an increasingly global and challenging world is a very valuable skill. To many leaders today lack this insight and having actually experienced other cultures and perspectives gives very valuable insight into dealing with it.

If we could put all this together in one leader what ever orgaization they were leading would certainly have a head start on the competition! 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Gaining Strategic Alignment: Communication is Key

To lead one must effectively collaborate with the entire executive team, the board, and every associate/employee in the company. 

Delegating responsibilities to direct reports and investing more time into honing communication skills are two examples of how this is accomplished. In its simplest form 80% of your job as a leader is communication…with that in mind, here are five tips to become a more influential, engaging communicator.

1. Reach Out and Align Interests
Communication is “a means to influence,” and when done well, it can help win support for your strategic ideas, says Susan Cramm, executive coach and president of Valuedance, a leadership-development firm.

Figure out what drives people and where your interests meet theirs by asking them about their goals and projects
Engaging with others reveals their unique strengths and limitations, Cramm says. In one case, the vice president of operations at her company had dyslexia and needed financial statements read aloud to him. Cramm says that if she had not gotten to know him, she “would have assumed that he wasn’t interested in financial performance or didn’t want to collaborate with finance.”

2. Teach and Share
It’s crucial to adjust your message and your vocabulary “into something that’s crisp, compelling, and accessible to the audience. You may need to adjust you terms, phrases, etc to match the group, sales and marketing people use different language than engineers and operation staff. The overall message obviously does not change just the words you use to  make your point.

An example of a way to do that is to set up a brown-bag or pizza lunch or meet briefly with other departments to update and explain your view and perspective in a casual context, says Joel Garfinkle, founder of Garfinkle Executive Coaching. Be encouraging and use business terms instead of jargon. It also helps to speak in terms of your audience’s interests, showing it that understanding the numbers could help gain traction for its own ideas. For example, the marketing team could make a better pitch for a new initiative by analyzing its profitability or sales will benefit from a discussion on costs and pricing as examples.

And if you reach out to other departments before formal presentations, they will be more likely to pay attention when you do get up to the podium, Cramm adds.

3. Tell a Story
To keep meetings and conversations engaging, model them after the dinner-table conversations people have after work, when “all the stories come out and the real communication happens,” says Bill Maw, CFO of Liquidnet, a vendor of securities-trading systems. That means telling stories that keep your audience’s attention through humor, imagery, and other techniques.

At a workshop Maw attended, an insurance executive spoke about his company’s quest to improve Six Sigma quality. With its language of four nines, green belts, and Plan-Do-Check-Act Cycles, Six Sigma can sometimes sound incomprehensible. So instead of talking about “lean processes,” the executive spoke of his effort to shed time-consuming, bureaucratic procedures. He told a story about a little yellow form that had been used at the firm for 30 years and that everyone had to fill out, although no one knew why, Maw says. The speaker imagined the form, always beyond reach, floating along through his enormous office building and taunting him. Call it executive humor, but the audience was laughing. “I felt like I was walking around that place with him,” Maw says. “He was talking about probably one of the most boring topics, but he dragged you into a real-life story.”

4. Get to the Point
Another way to keep people engaged during meetings: don’t bore them to tears with extraneous details. Craft presentation slides to highlight broad themes, and keep presentations to no more than six slides. Putting a limit on the number of slides, by the way, does not mean crowding every tiny bit of information you can onto each slide. When a leader unveils a 25-word introduction slide, “you can just feel the room deflate,” Bates says.

Including too much detail on slides can also tempt you to read the presentation, a mistake that can keep you from engaging with the audience. Include only important facts and numbers, and rely on an outline that allows you to speak conversationally. Fewer slides don’t mean the conversation has to be less substantive, though, because “people can always ask questions,” says Bates.

Keeping the slides simple sometimes means choosing graphics over words. Maw recalls a workshop instructor who used a picture of a train wreck to represent the failing U.S. economy. The message was potent. “You don’t really need to state the obvious with more facts [when] everybody knows how bad things are,” he says. “Sometimes people overkill a message, where one simple but impactful picture says it all.” A leader should be in command of the message and speak from the heart and the sides should be an outline to maintain flow and avoid forgetting something.

5. Don’t Go It Alone
To improve your presentation skills, seek help from all the resources your company offers, including other people, Bates says. For example, reach out to a marketing employee for help creating compelling visuals for your presentations. Or, interview key audience members before a presentation, asking them to point out your blind spots — what you might be neglecting, and what they would like you to cover. That can lead to more engaging and relevant presentations and foster more productive communication.

Most leaders are afraid or think it shows weakness to ask for help – I know from experience it shows you are human and people will be more inclined to follow if you are approachable!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Where Have the Real Leaders Gone?

Do you like what you see when you look in the mirror?
  1. Do you have Integrity in everything you do? Dealing with your staff, customers, and superiors? If you don't have Integrity you can't build a sustainable business because there is no loyalty...
  2. Is Loyalty important to You? If not you may win the short term battle but you will lose the (long term), the war! Relationships and reputation are central to long term success. If customers can't trust you - they won't buy. If your staff can't trust you they won't go above and beyond and you will lose them as soon as they can get out. 
  3. If there is no Integrity and Loyalty than you can't build a Team. Teamwork is an absolute requirement in an increasing competitive world where resources and customers are at a premium. If your team isn't working together and for you, they are working for themselves and against you!
My favorite quote from Jack Welch is when I heard him explain that the essence of leaderships is Knowing the Difference between Doing "What's Right" vs. "Doing The Right Thing". Leadership can be described in many ways but the essence is certainly about knowing the difference between right and wrong in dealing with people and business issues. What makes this so complicated is that many leaders lack the confidence and grounding that comes from the foundation of Integrity, Loyalty and Teamwork.

If you don’t have confidence this often leads to a focus on short term (tactical) activity and results or putting out today’s fire rather than having a big picture (strategic) view and building for the long term. If your team, customers and superiors are not part of your "team" you are relegated to being evaluated on your short term results, they are important but it’s tough to live on that treadmill every day. If you have a "team" the long term results are just as if not more important and as a result the short term results will not be the only evaluation criteria but just a piece of the much bigger picture….a more balanced and sustainable approach and outcome!

to my whitepaper. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Return of the Boomers in the United States

Content provided by Susan Nelson @ Lander, Global Brand Consultants @ http://landor.com/#/talk/blog/

  • There are an estimated 77 million of them in the United States
  • They control over 50 percent of discretionary spending
  • They enjoy 80 percent of all leisure travel
  • They represent about 40 percent of regular Facebookers
So what brands are targeting the boomers? Almost none? Defined as the generation born between 1946 and 1964, the boomers' time may have come around again as the recession drags on and the unemployment levels of millennials stagnate. Their legacy of invention and reinvention and unwillingness to accept the status quo leaves them open to new brands, new products, and new ideas. In 2012 look for manufacturers and marketers to take more notice of the boomers.

What are the implications of this trend for brands?
While most companies primarily target the sought-after 18-49-year-old market, savvy marketers are starting to seek segments not already bombarded by marketing messages. With a majority of boomers online, digitally based organizations such as Encore Careers and Vibrant Nation are creating movements around pride and contributions to society, while rejecting the gray closet. In its advertising, Coldwater Creek boldly features mature women flirting and playing. Eileen Fisher shows models with (gasp!) gray hair, and shoe designers have noticed that boomers have lots of money and sore feet. Even the usually myopic television programmers are appealing to a boomer audience with Mad Men, The Playboy Club, and Harry's Law. Next year, look for more products, services, and programs targeted at boomers across all categories. In addition to those named above, other smart technology, consumer electronics, cosmetics, and social media brands have already caught on. Yet so many consumer packaged goods (CPG) and media brands seem stuck in the fallacy that early adopters are all young and cool. They don't get that there are a lot of boomers with plenty of money to spend.

Which brands will stand out?
Steve Jobs got it: Nothing suits the aging boomer better than the iPhone, the iPad, and the iMac. Prestige, style, ease of use, and portability-the perfect combination for the boomer who refuses to age. Pixar got it: The portrait of a long, loving, and loyal marriage that comprises the first 10 minutes of Up spoke directly to this audience and broadened the film's appeal. The traditional "senior ghetto" marketers, such as FirstStreet, are redesigning their catalogs and retooling their brands for a more stylish, energetic image. The Vermont Country Store (catalog and website) cleverly markets to boomers with a kitschy combination of retro products, humorous writing, and modern interpretations of traditional favorites.

Start watching for marketers to develop line extensions (and premium price points) aimed at boomers' desires to stay active. Cosmetics giants such as Olay and L'Oreal will continue to introduce new brands and really begin to pay attention to the boomer male. More consumer electronics brands could capitalize on boomers' lack of brand loyalty and entice them with new, convenient features such as more automation, enhanced video communication, and the allure of a single device that does it all. In the memorable words of that legendary boomer song: We've only just begun.