Merry Christmas, everyone.
Archive for December, 2009
Posted in account planning, acts of rebellion, greenville SC, guerilla marketing, smart business, tagged brandbuilder, kamran popkin, olivier blanchard, promotional anarchy, swag club on December 18, 2009 | 28 Comments »
Yesterday, I received a package in the mail. Well… through UPS, actually. The doorbell rings, I go to answer, and sitting there on my doorstep is this box. Brown waves at me, drives off, and I walk back into the house with the mysterious package under my arm. I weigh it in my hand. Too heavy for a T-shirt. Too light for a book. Too quiet for an 8lb bag of m&ms. I let Chico sniff it for explosives. Clear. Cholula sniffs for pot. Clear. Chiquita sniffs for anthrax. We’re all good. I set the box on the kitchen table, swing my ninja sword at its edges in a blur and a woosh, and voila. Inside the box, I find… this:
Now, for the sake of disclosure, I should point out that I know Kamran Popkin (@swagclub). That we are both members of Social Media Club Greenville. That he already sent me a pretty kickass “thinking cap” earlier this year (which I wear during brainstorms, but only when I need that extra little bit of je-ne-sais-quoi), and also that he had a hand in getting me to the BMW driver school this summer. And yes, Kamran and I have briefly chatted about ways in which we could work together – meaning ways in which Swag Club might come in handy with some of my clients, and with this blog, Red Chair and “the book” in 2010.
So Kamran, being the business samurai that he is, decided that showing me, rather than just telling me, what kind of power good swag and a personal touch can accomplish, sent me this pretty badass (and color-awesome) little package of goodies just in time for the Holidays.
Here is the note he sent with it, along with the flip side of his business card (the nine rules of Swag Club):
- You don’t talk about Swag Club.
- You don’t talk about swag club. (Unless you need great swag.)
- The search for great swag is over only when you say “Wow – that nails it!”
- Only two guys to a fight. Unless we need help, then we bring in the big guns. We know a guy.
- One swag project at a time.
- We work with no ties or socks. Even on Sundays, always workin’ but never stressin’ the work.
- The quest for great swag goes on as long as it needs to.
- First projects are often the start of a great relationship. Or the end of a bad one.
- Great advice @swagclub is always free.
Badass. The front of the card is the pink dealio at the top of this post.
More on the contents of the package (aside from the handy little sanitizing gels, the portable reading light and the post-it slinky):
As simple as this little cell phone holder may be, it’s a great idea: It looks cool, it unfolds flat so it’s easy to travel with, and you can put your logo on it, which… is kind of thepoint. Anyway, very handy little desk accessory for someone with my schedule. (And yes, my phone is either a) a temple to social media narcisism, b) an exercise in accessory branding, c) a better way to mark my stuff than using a sharpie, a label or… scent, or even d) all of the above.)
Next item: This MoMa-inspired perpetual calendar. Minimalist, doesn’t require batteries, kind of cool looking on a desk. And as a bonus, it’s accented with BrandBuilder orange.
Very cool, especially since it was completely unexpected.
So here are my takeaways from this pleasant little surprise:
- Either wow or go home.
- Make it personal.
- Be persistent.
- Be relevant.
- Be bold.
- Make people feel like a million bucks.
- Show people that you care.
- Go analog.
- If the devil is in the details, that’s where you need to be.
- Sometimes, it isn’t about the what. It’s about the how.
You know how we like to talk about best practices? You don’t really have to look much further than this.
Guess where I’ll be going for all of my swag needs from now on.
Have a great weekend, everyone.
Posted in brand consciousness, brand ownership, brand planning, brand promise, brand relevance, building value, business thinkers, leaders, leadership, lessons, tagged Alan Deutschman, Anne Mulcahy, brandbuilder, Bruce Harreld, Fast Company, IBM, Marcus Buckingham, Margaret Heffernan, olivier blanchard on December 3, 2009 | 17 Comments »
I agonized for a few days over what kind of brilliant advice I should share with you on this 1,000th post since the launch of the BrandBuilder blog before finally realizing that no. 1,000 is no different from 999, 1,001 or 356. So no more pondering, no more worrying about writing an epic post (the time for that will come again in due time), and no more waiting around for inspiration to strike. Today, instead of talking about social media, brand management, who does what well and who does what poorly, let’s just talk a little bit about leadership. Corporate leadership, that is.
And instead of doing all the talking, I will let people with a whole lot more experience than me give you some tips about how to become a better leader. Great stuff that transcends the typical leadership quotation mill.
Anne Mulcahy – Former CEO of Xerox
In a crisis, you have the opportunity to move quickly and change a lot – and you have to take advantage of that.
Change doesn’t happen if you don’t work at it. You’ve got to get out there, give people the straight scoop, and get buy-in. It’s not just good-looking presentations; it’s letting people ask the tough questions. It’s almost got to be done one person at a time.
There’s not a lot of room anymore for senior people to be managers. They have to be leaders. I want people to create organizations that get aligned, get passionate, get really inspired about delivering.
Stories exist at every level of the company. Whether it was saving a buck here, or doing something different for customers, everyone has a story. That creates powerful momentum – people sense that they’re able to do good things. It’s much more powerful than the precision or elegance of the strategy.
I communicate good news the same way I do the bad news. I thank people and make sure they feel a sense of recognition for their contribution. But the trick is always to to use the opportunity to talk about what’s next, to pose the next challenges. Where do we want to go? How do we want to build on it?
Margaret Heffernan – Author, The Naked Truth
Nothing kills morale like a staff’s feeling helpless. This often plays itself out when there are rumors of a new strategic shift or a major personnel move, or worse, when the papers are littered with bad news about your company. A big part of boosting morale is about constructing a haven of logic that offers individuals shelter from any storm. At its most basic, leaders have to communicate their awareness of business conditions and place their plans in that context. Each time [a CEO outlines] a future that comes true, he demonstrates his own competence and reinforces trust.
The happiest people aren’t the ones with the most money but those with a sense of purpose – a sense that they are contributing to something bigger than themselves. At least some of this has to derive from work. The purpose of a business, then, must be explicit and go beyond boosting the share price or fulfilling some bland mission statement. People want to believe that they are part of something meaningful. The sense of purpose doesn’t have to be grandiose or revolutionary, merely credible and anchored in values.
Purpose is achieved through goals, and the acid test for any leader is defining the appropriate ones. Too small, and celebrations soon ring hollow. Small goals breed cynicism. But too-big goals produce helplessness. Although it can be temporarily thrilling to rally around a big corporate slogan like “kill the competition,” the reality is that employees can’t do it alone and they can’t do it quickly.
Alignment between corporate goals and personal development has never been more critical. The more unpredictable the outside world, the more urgent the personal quest for self-determination. What employees look for in leadership is a sense that their personal journey and the company journey are part of the same story. When these goals aren’t aligned, employees tend to whine with others, eager to share their sense of anger and injustice, polluting morale. The only way to combat this and get back on track is proper feedback. Give employees the tools to influence their own fate.
Get a life. Keeping morale high is like being on a diet: It requires constant effort and is never over. New ideas, stimuli and motivation come from all around you. It’s the larger life, after all, that gives purpose to the climb.
Alan Deutschman – Senior Writer, Fast Company – writing about how IBM builds new businesses
Look for opportunities that can become profitable [billion-dollar] businesses in five to seven years. You’ll probably find them by talking to customers rather than to brilliant researchers in the labs, who are are looking further ahead.
J. Bruce Harreld – IBM
You want to celebrate failure because you learn something. You need some level of security to say ‘I screwed it up,’ and be comfortable that you won’t be fired.
Marcus Buckingham – Author, Break All The Rules
Turn anxiety into confidence. For a leader, the challenge is that in every society ever studied, the future is unstable, unknown, and therefore potentially dangerous. By far the most effective way to turn fear into confidence is to be clear – to define the future in such vivid terms that we can see where we are headed. Clarity is the antidote to anxiety, and therefore clarity is the preoccupation of the effective leader. If you do nothing else as a leader, be clear.
Effective leaders don’t have to be passionate, charming or brilliant. What they must be is clear – clarity is the essence of great leadership. Show us clearly who we should seek to serve, show us where our core strength lies, show us which score we should focus on and which actions we must take, and we will reward you by working our hearts out to make our better future come true.
See? Told you these folks know what they’re talking about.
Thanks to Fast Company‘s March 2005 issue for providing much of today’s content. (I have quite the collection.)