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!

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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





Strategic Planning II: Not a 12 month process!

29 01 2013

StrategicPlan

For the past 5-6 years, my company, PFP, has simplified its strategic plan to the point where it can be and is printed on a business card.  It is one of the most popular items to hand out and discuss with clients and partners.  On one side of the card is our mission statement and brand promise.  On the other side of the card is a list of our strategies for the year.  These strategies are the result of strategic planning sessions and agreed upon by all of PFP’s top executives.  The end result is available to be presented publicly and is presented to every employee of the company along with a personal letter from our President, Mark Sessel.

Our strategic plan this year was unusual since it did not contain a single initiative that was new to our organization.  At our strategic planning session, we determined it was necessary to dig deeper to achieve the desired results of our current innovations and bring them to successful fruition.

This is a good thing.  And if it happens to your team and organization, embrace it.  It does not mean that your team has lost its innovative edge.  It is not a sign of “lazy” strategic planning.  To the contrary, it is recognition that the arbitrary twelve-month timeframe in between your annual Strategic Planning Sessions does not coincide with the time needed to effectively implement the desired initiatives each year.

Timelines to gain buy-in to get onto the plan are lengthy.

Gaining consensus on the pain the organization is feeling without the innovation, and using the meetings and planning sessions to get the innovation on the list for the year is more complex than originally thought.  In order to gain buy-in, one must follow a process (see POST).

Timelines to build the foundation of Innovation are lengthy.

We start with an image and vision of what the innovation looks like and how it will perform when fully implemented.  Then reality begins to weave its way into the innovation.  There are technical, financial, resource and skill-set realities.    The goal is to engage the necessary resources to build the foundation for the implementation of the innovation.  The foundation allows the team to develop an efficient process and effective method of operating that can grow with the needs of your company.  Building this foundation takes significant time.

Duplication of the innovation and proving success is time consuming.

Just because you launched the innovative idea doesn’t mean it is going to ultimately revolutionize your company.  You need to prove your concept and this takes time.  Get some results, turn your projections into realities and share the facts.  These become the “assumptions” for the future as you attempt to replicate your results while using different variables.  As you change the picture and continue to show results, your expectations will change appropriately.  While this process keeps the innovation on target to realize its potential, the timeframe to navigate through this step is lengthy.

Bringing the revolution throughout your company is not a quick process.

Until it consistently becomes part of the budgeted operation of your firm, the initiative is in its innovative and strategic stage.  Once you have hired people, built an operation, developed efficient processes and created significant momentum you are on your way.  Your expenses and revenues can and should be projected.  When this happens, the innovation has officially moved from strategic thought to strategic action and lastly to operational day-to-day management.

timeframes

There is no rule that sets the innovation and implementation process as a 12 month process.  As a result, Eye-Cubed organizations must have the intestinal fortitude to keep initiatives on the strategic list for more than one year.  Pull the innovation off the list too soon and risk losing momentum and destroying your vision.  Get it right and reap the massive rewards.





Invaluable Perspectives from Keynote Interview of David J. Sussman, Esq. CLU

22 01 2013

Do not miss Ronald Allen’s live keynote interview of David Susman, Esq. CLU, SVP of PFP and President of Eye-Cubed-U, LLC

Gain perspectives on:  Succession, Corporate Value, Leadership, Partnership, Change, Inspiration, Innovation, Family Businesses and more.  The President and innovator of Eye-Cubed-U, LLC shares his experiences and philosophies that spurred the formation of a new wave of corporate language and culture.

Click Here and listen live!  It really is a fantastic interview.  Thank you.

Tune In

Hear about these wonderful people:

Understand:

  • The culture of the credit union industry
  • Selling to the credit union industry
  • Adding value to B to B clients
  • Innovating the Insurance Industry

Perspectives on how to become a:

  • Consultant
  • Speaker
  • Keynote Speaker
  • Presenter
  • Thought Leader

Hear advice on:

Books mentioned in the interview:

Companies mentioned by David Sussman and Ronald Allen: