Today’s Destination – Innovation City! All Aboard The Eye Cubed Railway.

19 11 2013

Welcome on board Eye Cubed Railway.  Captain David Sussman speaking on our way to Innovation City aboard The Inspiration.  Our super-speed train travels to the future faster than the speed of business.  So buckle up and get ready to roll.

Eye Cubed Railway

You are the select few ready to take the journey.  Each stop is a critical junction taking us closer to Inspiration City.  Allow yourself to disembark at each stop to re-orient.  Finally,  feel the power of stepping out of Inspiration smack in the middle of innovation!

First Stop              Education Junction

Know the industry.  There are a maze of streets out there.   This means reading, studying and observing.  Become familiar with the processes your competitors are following.   Study newspapers and journals to determine trends.  Know why some of your competitors are no longer in the game and what the new competitors are doing differently.  Put a critical eye on the track your company has been following and evaluate your results.

Second Stop          Finance Center

Know the Economics of your industry and your company.   Each floor offers you the focus on a different key question.  (1) What are the consumer trends?  (2) What impact has technology had on the way you do business?  (3) Has the global economy had an effect on your bottom line?  (4) Are there local economic factors impacting you?  (5) Is it difficult to hire competent employees?  (6) Does your marketing effort have to be updated?   (7) How recognizable is your brand?  (8) Where are the bottlenecks impeding evolution? The questions (and floors) are endless.  Take the time to ask yourself all of them.  Each question has tremendous value.

Third Stop                  Solutions Canal

Just thinking about these aspects of your business will give you the impetus for developing solutions to the concerns you have uncovered while exploring the Finance Center.   Perhaps you will come up with a solution for each issue.  Categorize the potential solutions and focus the solutions on specific target categories.

Now rest as you traverse the canal!   Yes, rest.   Go to a quiet place—your choice—a comfortable couch, your bed, sitting in your car as you float from lock to lock.   Shut off the phone.  Quiet music is allowed if it silences the chatter in your brain.  Give your mind the problems you want to solve—one at a time, and let this marvelous machine do its work.   You’ve fed your brain a wealth of healthy information.   It will digest and deliver.

Fourth Stop          Innovation City

Not every idea is appropriate or will work.  Nor is your organization ready for each idea as you uncover them.  Since this is a personal journey, you have the control of which idea to bring forward.  But don’t jump off the train too soon.  Wait for the best time to step out of Inspiration and onto the solid footing of Innovation.  For now, you will keep the possible solutions to yourself.   Develop your strategy to disclose once you have safely arrived in Innovation City.

There are many ways to get from where you are today all the way to Innovation City.  Some modes of transportation may be faster. Other modes of transportation may appear more attractive.  However, when you get on this train, you are guaranteed an on-time arrival.  Remember, it does not help your organization if you arrive in Innovation City too late.  Nor does anyone want to crash along the way.  The Eye Cubed Railway is the safest, most reliable means of corporate travel. We know you have a choice when it comes to Inspiration, Innovation and Implementation.  We are thankful that you chose us.  Enjoy your trip!


Should You Show’em Your Age?

15 11 2013

When you are focused on Branding, the age of your company need not be in the message!

Regardless if your company has been in business for 40, 50, 60 0r 70+ years, that fact has not made a difference in your success.  In fact, of the Eye Cubed leaders that I know and have spoken to, “years in business” means very little in the decision making process to choose a business partner.  The statement of age says nothing about brand, brand promise, value, service, needs or culture.   I am sure there is a lot to learn about companies who lose sight of the aforementioned characteristics and the Eye Cubed branding messages that go along with them.  Just ask any former executive from these industry icons:

50 yr anniversary

  1. Bethlehem Steel Company who built America’s infrastructure for 146 years (bankrupt)
  2. Paine Webber who advised clients for 123 years (bankrupt)
  3. Woolworth Company who provided a retail experience for 122 years (bankrupt)

What branding messages actually have the greatest impact for B2B or B2C initiatives?

Solving Needs 

McDonalds brand promise of “speed” defines the need they solve in one word.       

One of the most important questions to ask is; “Is ‘what we do’ solving a need for our clients?”  As long as the resounding answer is “YES”, there is no need to make a shift.  However, do not take this answer for granted.  If the tides turn and have left you unprepared and unaware that you are no longer solving a need, your organization may become shipwrecked among the throngs of defunct companies around you.

Flexibility With Execution

Apple “makes it easier to love technology so that you can experience the future” .

If you are good with ‘what you do’, take a critical view into ‘how you do it’.  This analysis includes innovating processes by bringing technology into your firm.  Your team needs to demonstrate an understanding of Corporate Hydrology by analyzing income streams and finding ways to make them wider, longer or deeper.  They need to find new ones as well to counteract the fact that, if left unchecked, all income streams share one thing in common…they will all eventually dry up and cease to exist.

Delivering Promises

FedEx delivers “peace of mind” with every package.

Everything your firm claims it will and can do must be delivered without fail.  It is critical to promise as much as possible as long as your delivery has a 100% success rate.  Clients and prospects should know the promises you make to them and your accountability should be shared as well.

Exceptional Experiences

Zappos is “Powered by Service” like no other retail provider.

There is so much to measure, one can easily get bogged down into the mundane metrics of your operation.  However, there is one measurement that you should fight to attain and invest in acquiring.  This metric should be pursued with all of the importance your company can muster.  After each and every encounter or interaction with anyone on your team, the consumer or business partner’s willingness to REFER your organization to a friend or colleague defines your relevance, value and execution.

Adding Value

AAA‘s membership exudes “safety, security, peace of mind, value, convenience and trust” and brings a loyalty unmatched among membership clubs.

Is your value proposition one dimensional?  I certainly hope not.  As a sustainable entity, providing multi-layered value places your organization as a leader among your peers.  As part of an ongoing process, we must challenge ourselves to enhance the value proposition to lock our customers into a lifelong relationship with our firms.

So when it comes to the messages you send as marketing or branding initiatives, Eye Cubed companies don’t waste words.  Eye Cubed leaders know why they are in business and what will keep them relevant into the next generation.  While we learned from Mark Sessel in a prior blog post that we must never let them see you sweat, we learn today that we should never let’em know your age!

Never Let Them See You Sweat!

5 11 2013

I had ridden Rhythm, a 14 year old majestic Morgan horse, a few times before this recent visit to the barn.  Though today was going to be different. I was on my own.  For the first time, my riding instructor was not by my side.  I was confident.  As I lead Rhythm from the barn and to the riding arena I believed Rhythm and I were in sync.  It was going to be a great ride.

Sessel and Rhythm

 As I entered the ring, I glanced over my shoulder and noticed the only noise was of the wind rustling the colorful Fall leaves.  I prepared to step into the stirrups and sit in the saddle.  I took one more look around.  I was truly on my own.  Thoughts flashed through my head.  Is it smart to be riding alone?  Can I really handle this horse?  I mounted the saddle and settled in.  Now, I was nervous.  As I moved the reins into position, I thought this may not be such a great idea.  Just one guy sitting on top of a thousand pound horse ready to run!  I felt a bead of perspiration role down my brow. My hands shook.  As I eased Rhythm into a walk, his head shot up with excitement.  Was he nervous too?  Clearly this wasn’t going to be a nice walk around the ring that I had envisioned.

Rhythm sensed I was nervous, and he became jittery too.  We were heading towards the fence.  I had to pull him into a quick turn to keep us from hitting the fence.  I was breathing faster, and we tried again.  I knew I needed to calm down, however I couldn’t summon the “calm” I needed.  Once more Rhythm fought to run, then side to side he strained against my lead.  Rhythm stopped and I dismounted.  No way was this safe.  Defeated I took Rhythm back to the barn.

During my drive home, I reflected on my failed ride.   When I was calm, Rhythm was calm.  When I got nervous,  Rhythm got nervous.  Clearly I needed to pull my nerves under control.   Rhythm was sure that a nervous rider was on board.  And following my lead like all great horses do, he became nervous and tense himself.  As I turned into my garage, I realized this lesson in leadership applied to all that I do.

Just like our majestic horse, Rhythm, the great people I lead respond to my every emotion.  A leader has to be cool under pressure, calm during a crises, and energized to succeed against all forces all the time.  Your team will derive it’s strength from your demeanor, energy and enthusiasm for your strategic mission. You must control your nerves and emotions.  If you portray panic and fear, then they will wither like their leader and spread the negativity throughout the team.  So, to keep your team inspired and driving towards success, never let them see you sweat!

Tips for keeping calm in the storm:

  1. Daily am exercise!  Sound body, sound mind.
  2. Leave your home life at home.
  3. Play your favorite “pump up” tune during the last 5 minutes of your commute.
  4. Before you walk in the office tell yourself, “It’s show time baby!”
  5. Greet everyone with a smile and a vibrant “Good morning!”
  6. While at work, find a quiet place to regain composure if the pressure is mounting and refer to #4.

Let me know how it goes.

This Post was written by Mark Sessel, President/CEO of PFP

How To Make Your 14 Year Old’s Vote Count (An Eye-Cubed Special Edition)

4 11 2013

Its 11:15 on a Sunday and his stomach is rumbling.  Of course!  His body is a temple and works like a clock.  He is hungry and we just moved the time back an hour due to daylight savings.   A typical Sunday was ahead of him.  He has a two-hour basketball workout, JETS Football and tons of homework.  In light of what is in store, I welcome the suggestion:

“Dad, while we’re out getting fitted for tuxedo’s for Talia’s wedding next week, can we stop for a burger?  I am not in the mood for leftovers all day long.”  Not a problem at all.  I obliged.

So the question is “Five Guys or Shake Shack?  What’s your vote Max?”

Five Guys

“I’m not sure Dad…That is a tough question.”  Herein lies the teachable moment.  And I could not resist.

“Well, voting could be easy Max, lets do this like 90% of American voters…One place is to the left of us and one is to the right of us.  That is all I am going to tell you…Ok Max, Where do we eat?”

“Dad, I know what your trying to do with that analogy.  And that is stupid.  I can’t tell which one I will vote for until I taste a burger at each place.  I need to know a lot more.”  Lesson learned.

With a smile and a nudge that only a son could give his father, we continued.

As we drove up to Five Guys at 12:15, we realized that there was no line.  Was this a sign?  Are American consumers speaking?  Should that fact influence Max’s vote?  I assured Max that he should never vote based on the “popularity” of a candidate or issue.  People follow people. But he has an independent mind and needs to exercise it. Lesson learned.  And within a few minutes, there was a substantial line behind us waiting at the register. 

Max ordered a customized burger…with jalapeños and a large fries (I wanted to share the fries with him).  He then turned to two amazing digital soda dispensers that were technologically advanced.  He was mesmerized by them.  This was a big plus for him.  While I did not feel the same way about soda, obviously this was important to Max. Five Guys must be targeting his demographic. And it worked. Lesson learned.

As we waited, we ate a few free peanuts.  Not a bad way to pass some time.  It is always good to hand out some free benefits to the “voters”.  While Max pointed this out, I assured him that we were still paying for those peanuts as part of the cost for lunch.  Five Guys would never give them away if they lost money in the process.  Lesson learned.

shake shack

Max ate as we drove to Shake Shack.  On the way, he commented about how amazing the burger tasted.  He mentioned that we spoke a lot so far about insignificant things that could influence his vote.  But the most important issue was the taste of the burger.  He was committed to keeping an open mind as we drove into the very busy parking lot at Shake Shack.

The line was long as the throngs of people sat and ate.  Max had tons of choices and of course, whatever he chose would culminate with their signature shake.  He was psyched.  They handed us a vibrating indicator as we waited for the order to be prepared. 

This gave us a chance to look around.  Clearly, Shake Shack had a different agenda compared to Five Guys. There were two guys sitting at a table with about six children, all under 7 years old.  Their table was full of burgers, fries and more.  There was a pitcher of beer smack in between the two men.  I checked my watch and was glad that it was 1:00 (2:00 if it was not for the time change).  At that very moment, I understood why I was particularly thirsty and was glad this was all happening after noon!  This option was a far cry from the space-aged soda machines positioned at Five Guys.  But I get it.  So did Max. “Demographics”

They called our number and there it was, the Shake Shack burger and signature shake.  As Max raised the burger to his mouth, I sat motionless, wiping the drool away from my lower lip, waiting for his reaction.  After one bite, he looked at me and said: “This burger is cold!  That is right.  The burger is cold!”  Game over!

Max was not swayed by the multitude of choices on the menu, the crowd of people pushing to get in or the incredible reputation of Shake Shack.  He was focused on the most important issue as defined by him at that time; taste.  And on this one given Sunday, Five Guys and the New York Jets had something in common.  They both won.  Five Guys got Max’s vote. Lesson learned

As I threw out the Shake Shack bag with half of a burger left in it and took the final sip of Max’s delicious leftover vanilla shake, I felt my job as a parent was both fulfilling and rewarding.  And the lessons learned about Democracy were memorable.  Only in America!

I wish that all candidates reap the benefits of the American political process and I offer thanks to them for putting it all on the line and giving us amazing choices.  Hoping that everyone voted with his/her heart and mind.