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!





The Nature/Nurture Debate & Developing An Eye-Cubed Leadership Team

4 09 2013

What was your reputation…____________?

  • As a young student?
  • In high school?
  • In your first job?
  • After the 90 days following that big career leap?

What are the reputations of your…____________?

  • Employees?
  • Teams?
  • Departments?
  • Companies?

Do you have a personal reputation filled with the Eye-Cubed qualities of a great leader that inspires others to innovate and implement?  I ask the following follow-up critical question:

Spring feeling

What came first, the reputation or your behavior that supported it?

This issue permeates psychology classrooms and has been debated among the greatest minds.  Have we developed the personalities, which form our reputations, as a result of “nature” (what we were born with and cannot control) or “nurture” (the environment in which we were subjected, exposed and molded).  This concept drives one of the key tenants on how to build an Eye-Cubed team that is inspired to achieve greatness and high performance.  In the Eye-Cubed world around us, we control that which we can and believe we have the ability to influence results by executing a plan.  As a result, I answer the nature/nurture debate as follows:  NURTURE!

“Give the people around you a reputation to uphold.”

When I was a young boy, I was wrought with “confidence” issues.  They manifested themselves in many ways. However, my mother Janice Sussman, refused to allow me to develop a negative self-image.  Her consistent words and actions gave me the confidence to believe in myself.  Over time, I grew to believe the positive stories she told me.  I developed the very image she demanded I have of myself.

In high school, there were two English teachers whose actions, words and behaviors damaged my confidence and belief in myself.  I nearly gave up writing completely as they said, “I have no idea how you ever got out of middle school English.  Your writing is remedial.”  However, there was another teacher, George Stone at The Hotchkiss School, whom I respected and admired.  I listened to him.  He praised my creativity.  He described me as “powerful”, “influential”, “creative” and as a “leader”.  He wrote a letter to my parents describing me this way.  I took those words seriously and focused on following the footsteps of one who had those traits.  I continued to write.

Throughout my business career, I developed the reputation of following in my father, Stanley Sussman’s footsteps as PFP’s innovator.  I took that as a responsibility and honor to maintain while I focused a tremendous amount of time and energy on providing that characteristic to the company.

  • Who can you influence by giving them a reputation to uphold?
  • What qualities will you identify as key?
  • How will you communicate the great news?

You, your Eye-Cubed leaders and their teams possess the qualities needed to excel (Read more about Leadership as the Prerequisite of Inspiration).  Many know it today and need to hear it from you.  Others need to hear it from you so they believe it tomorrow.  By providing a “nurturing” environment, your team will achieve your vision.





Put Your Business On The Eye-Cubed Super Highway.

21 08 2013

It’s no coincidence that super highways have many lanes allowing you and others to reach your destination simultaneously and in a timely fashion.   They facilitate the movement of millions rather than hundreds or thousands and allow for an efficient and effective commute.  You have few options since taking a back road hoping for the same speed and efficiency as the highway will bring you unacceptable results.

Super Highway

ON WHICH ROAD IS YOUR COMPANY TRAVELING, (BACKROAD OR SUPER HIGHWAY)?

“The growth, evolution and sustainability of our businesses are limited only by our ability to create multiple ‘lanes’ over which to traverse.”

IN YOUR COMPANY, HOW MUCH “TRAFFIC” CAN NAVIGATE THE PASS SIMULTANEOUSLY?

If you are the only individual in your organization capable of implementing an initiative or innovative idea, you will be limited to your skill level and the amount of output you can deliver on your own.  However, as you successfully develop leaders within your operation, and focus on the skills and experiences needed to implement high-level projects and/or initiatives, you will broaden your base of Eye-Cubed leaders within your midst.  Your corporate GPS will then rout your company onto the Eye-Cubed Super Highway.  As a result, you and your organization will be blessed with the ability to simultaneously move multiple key strategies forward successfully.

HOW DO YOU DEVELOP MULTIPLE EYE-CUBED LEADERS IN YOUR COMPANY?

  • Avoid Too Much Too Soon: Take it slow and allow your “high potential” teammate to learn with small projects.  Their success gives you the confidence to put more on their plates.
  • Give Responsibility to 30 Year Olds:  Some of the greatest entrepreneurs (including Stanley Sussman, the entrepreneur who founded my company) built their businesses on the backs of 30-year olds.  Make sure the future is secure with the leadership that will bring your organization through the next generation.
  • Encourage Mentors To Emerge:  No man/woman is an island.  Mentors and coaches are invaluable in helping guide emerging as well as seasoned executives through the toughest moments.  We all need appropriate encouragement and guidance to build leadership skills.
  • Allow Education via Mistakes:  Set appropriate expectations along with an environment that eliminates the fear of failure.  We all have made mistakes.  Make sure the lessons are clear and everyone moves forward to becomes better Eye-Cubed Leaders.
  • Encourage Diversity Of Personality (See my post on this topic):  If you fill the executive table with like-minded leaders, you will limit your exposure to new ideas, different schools of thought and key perspectives.  Varied projects demand varied personalities.  Thus, your overall corporate success requires the necessary tolerance to appreciate diverse styles of excellence.

A one-man-show can only do so much.  Unfortunately, in addition, the pressure on that one thing is understandably multiplied and becomes intolerable.  Furthermore, it is difficult to prioritize all of your companies  opportunities down to a singular focus.  The opportunity cost associated with time is simply too great.

In contrast, imagine pursuing multiple unique initiatives simultaneously lead by different key executives that target:

  1. Sales Operations
  2. Social Media
  3. Collections/Payments
  4. Business Development/Acquisition
  5. New Channels of Business
  6. Innovations through technology

When your company is traveling down a multi-lane super highway with the requisite Eye-Cubed Leadership poised and ready to deliver results,  your company will enjoy an easy commute from today into tomorrow.





Innovation “SCREWED” The Wine Industry! What will it do to yours?

14 08 2013

glasses_wine_against_sunset

The sun sets on a warm summer evening.  You slide the chilled bottle of Kim Crawford Souvignon Blanc out of the ice bucket.  The sound of the bottle against the ice and the water dripping from its sides fills your ears. With towel in hand, you wipe the excess condensation away, creating the most perfect, romantic moment.  And now for the big finish!  You lift the corkscrew and raise it to the mouth of the bottle.  You crave that sound of the initial release as the cork breaks free and offers you the delicious, crisp liquid within.

“WHAT?  NO CORK?  A SCREW CAP?  YIKES!  My moment is ruined.”

No way!  In fact, you are on your way to an incredible evening. What just happened?

You experienced innovation within the wine industry, a process that took 45 years to evolve.  The Stelvin Screw Cap, by Amcor,  was developed in the late 1960’s yet had not penetrated the wine industry until recently.  In fact, the adoption rate in New Zealand was at a mere 1% in 2001.  By 2004, 70% of the wine out of this area was sealed with the Stelvin Screw Cap.

There were two issues.

  1. There were practical issues regarding quality control and the impact screw caps have on the product.
  2. There were damaging consumer perceptions of screw caps and the negative impact they have on the experiential value of wine.

INNOVATION’S IMPACT ON QUALITY

All concerns posed are real.  In order to move the innovation forward, testing must take place.  The supporters and detractors of the innovation must clear the air with regard to the facts.  In the end, if there remain concerns (real or perceived), those can be addressed and debated.  The less impact the innovation has on the original quality, the more likely it will be adopted.  Furthermore, there are many instances when the innovation improves the original quality of a product or process.  These facts must be explored and communicated throughout the industry.

CONSUMER’S PERCEPTION OF INNOVATION

What does the consumer think about the innovation?  Unfortunately, the answer to this question guides the impact the innovation will have on changing the industry.  Without consumer adoption, the market needs may be significantly limited.  The innovation may need a PR machine with the “right” supporters publicly pushing adoption.  Educating the public is also a strategic initiative.  By creating a wave of positive perception, the wave of demand will follow.  Breaking the perception barrier, if it is a factor, is clearly the key to success.

Eye-Cubed lessons abound within this story.

  • The atmosphere was ripe for inspiration
  • The industry had matured enough to be inspired for a change.
  • The issues “for” or “against” the innovation were addressed.
  • The plan to break the perception barrier was implemented.

Never pick a grape prematurely.  Never serve wine before its time.  And never underestimate the determination of an Eye-Cubed leader who has been inspired to innovate and brave enough to implement.





MARKET WATCH! The Best Investment Tip Available Today!

7 08 2013

Invest Short Term and Long Term In The Company of U!

Investment Tip

With all the external pressures grabbing at our time, it is never surprising that we neglect to invest time in ourselves.   I am not referring to meaningless ‘time’ that ultimately will be considered wasted.  I am specifically referring to intentionally maximizing the time you have to grow your most important asset, the asset you are 100% responsible for, The Company of U!

In the same fashion that we approach the challenges facing our industries and business, we need to relentlessly pursue personal change to overcome the struggles, challenges and issues specific to our own progress.   The commitment to The Company of U will reap the highest return.

  • Keep Investing in R&D

Never Stop Learning.  Challenge yourself with new courses and new skills.   Go out of the box.

  • Live Your Brand

Be true to yourself.   Live up to the reputation you have given yourself and do so throughout your day, every day.   Hold yourself accountable and recognize when you need to refocus and adjust.

  • Analyze Your Streams of Income

Manage your finances carefully and continually ask yourself:   “Am I satisfied with my balance sheet?”   Review revenue streams and expenses to keep The Company of U on solid ground.

  • Keep the President of U Healthy

When it comes to health, you can only control the things you can control.   And, the list includes eating, drinking, sleeping, exercising and getting checked-out!  The list might seem overpowering but Healthy Presidents need power.

  • Improve Communication

Miscommunications and misunderstandings cause stress.   Hone your skills.Think about what to say and how to say it to get the results you want.  Take responsibility for your words.

  • Enhance Collaboration

You can exponentially increase the value of The Company of U by developing a strong, dedicated team.  Create a positive environment to foster this synergy.

  • Plan to be Inspired

Give yourself the time and space to be inspired/  Test a variety of meditation and relaxation methods to free your mind of the ‘must dos’ and tap into your creative energies.

  •  Implement Change to the Company of U

Like every company in operation, you too need to evolve to remain relevant.  It takes many small steps consistently placed to effect change and see the desired results.   Make the journey worth it.

  •  Appreciate Your Past and Understand Where You Came From

You have a history that shaped you into the person you are today.  The Company of U cannot move forward without the past as a foundation upon which to stand and build.   You have accomplished incredible things to get where you are.  There are people in your life who have helped you achieve.   You have overcome obstacles and reached goals.   Never forget that as you break new barriers and push for greatness, you are your biggest asset!

There are many advisors looking to help folks invest their money.   They look for companies that have strong foundations with the greatest likelihood for sustained growth.  The greatest investment strategy that an Eye-Cubed leader can follow is simple.  Invest short term and long term in The Company of U!





Follow the Ye____ Br___ Ro__ To Collaborative Innovation

31 07 2013

follow-the-yellow-brick-road-5

When you put it all together, innovation is not a solitary endeavor.  You need collaboration.  But how do you do that?   Where does it fit in the process?  Most importantly…HOW DO YOU GET THERE?  The road is laid out in front of you today.  Simply put one foot in front of the other, and soon you will be walking towards Eye-Cubed greatness.  Do not trip along the way!

  1. Own the idea/innovation or solution.  This is the toughest step but necessary to get your innovative idea into the pipeline.  Use all of the resources available to you to evaluate the innovation, analyze the cost structure and strategize about the implementation.
  2. Develop the innovation as far as you can on your own.  Run with it.  Map out the plan.  Come up with as many obsticles as possible.  Overcome as many objections as you can foresee.  What technology will you need?  What resources are anticipated?  How long will the solution take to implement?
  3. Meet with individuals/ key execs (one on one) to get buy-in and gauge the reaction or objections to your idea. If you think about the solution day and night, you will have made the ‘Kool aide’ and have been drinking it all along.  Others need to be brought up to speed to where you are.  Tell the story with energy and conviction.  You need to sell the innovation.  Then do the hardest thing possible…. SHUT UP and listen.  Remind yourself that everyone has the power and capability to enhance your idea, uncover real concerns that can be overcome and add tremendous value to the innovative process.  This buy-in is a critical step in getting your innovation to the drawing board.  Do not come up short here.
  4. Listen to others for enhancements, add-ons that build on original thought.  Take all of the ideas and bring them forward with you to the next meeting.  Your innovation will take incredible shape and breathe a life of its own.  Momentum will build along the way as your team joins you on the Yellow Brick Road.
  5. Pull team together for a green-light thinking/brainstorm session.  Guide the discussion with strategic participation.  While everyone has participated individually, this is a time for the team to own the project.  Everyone will have an opportunity to build upon and enhance the idea further.  Avoid the common pitfall of doing this step too early.  You will end up with a watered-down version of your idea or concept.  What your company needs is the direction necessary to lead through the innovation process.
  6. Gain commitment from leadership to pursue innovation.  You need resources and time to execute the plan.  Agree on both and you are on your way!  Make sure you uncover the hard costs ($$$) needed as well as the softs costs (time and personnel from other departments within your company) that will result from the project.

Successful green light sessions have direction and a plan.  When you follow the Yellow Brick Road towards collaborative innovation, you already know the objections, enhancements, concerns and interest level.  You are way ahead of the game when you do the necessary work ahead of time!

Innovation needs direction, leadership and strategy.  To be considered an Eye-Cubed leader with the “Innovator” quality, you need to have the answers, not just the questions.  Everyone knows the questions.  To find the answers, simply Follow The Ye____ Br___ Ro__!





Are You Aware of The Social Media Golden Rule?

24 07 2013

Social-Media-Golden-Rule

“FOLLOW OTHERS IN SOCIAL MEDIA AS YOU WOULD FOLLOW THEM FACE TO FACE.”

Applaud Twitter who has made it easier for us to follow the Social Media Golden Rule by eliminating the “Auto-Followback” option!

Of all of the many lessons out there we learned about social media, perhaps one of the greatest lessons of all is:

“THERE IS NO EASY WAY TO MAKE SOCIAL MEDIA WORK. SHORT CUTS SIMPLY DO NOT EXIST.” 

While I tried a few along the way, there was one short-cut that had been out there in the Twittersphere that I had avoided, perhaps by luck or perhaps due to something in my gut that had told me “NO, DON’T DO THAT”.   Ironically, this feature has just been removed and is now forbidden forever.  The tool is the “auto-followback” feature that was available as part of many Twitter applications.  It automatically followed anyone who happened to follow you.

While it is the goal of many (including myself) to have an ever-expanding network of followers to influence, bring value and thought, there has never been any virtue to having tens of thousands of followers if 95% of them are garbage, useless, spam and fake. And for you to follow folks just because they are following you is an easy way to build a network with a porous foundation.

As a result, I always looked at my followers and made sure that I was only following those whom I felt were legitimate individuals and valuable additions to my network.  I manually selected followers both in my searches and as part of my follow-back process.  This took more time but was well worth it.  For now, my network is significantly more valuable to me than it otherwise would have been.  The ability to gloat about a huge network has never been my goal.  Sheer numbers can be very deceiving.

There is no doubt that I have a broad definition of acceptable followers to whom I would welcome the follow and gladly follow back.  However, I am actually making a decision on each one of them.

Similarly, we do this in “real life”, face to face.  We would never blindly support someone and be a part of their personal network if we don’t have some kind of connection to them.  We need to have a reason to continue the acquaintance.  We need to know something about them that validates the relationship.  And like I mentioned earlier, while our standards can be very broad, they must exist.

So like many days, while I opened my Twitter account with the desire to automatically and systematically “unfollow” those who I have followed and have (for some reason) not followed me back.  Let’s applaud Twitter for their “big news”.

If you follow social media’s Golden Rule, you will surely find great success:

“FOLLOW OTHERS IN SOCIAL MEDIA AS YOU WOULD FOLLOW THEM FACE TO FACE.”

Please take a moment and follow me on Twitter.  I am sure we have a lot to share and even more to learn from one another.  @Suss33