Thursday, November 4, 2010

Boardroom Metrics Accomplished Executives

I've been gone for a while as Boardroom Metrics continues to grow rapidly.

We now have 14 Accomplished Executives and Advisors. They are located in Toronto, Waterloo, Guelph and Ottawa.  There are several more currently in the selection process including two in Montreal.


The mission of Boardroom Metrics is to help others make money.

We provide a unique outlet for individual talent – by maintaining a strong, respected brand umbrella; proactively driving business opportunities; and, providing the platform to team up with other, like-minded, accomplished achievers.

For organizations, we provide a ready source of select leaders, subject matter experts, business tools and processes.

“Measure, plan, do” is our credo and we have assembled the people, tools and processes that client owners and leaders can tap instantly to build value in their enterprises.


Each of our Accomplished Executives is screened and chosen based on achievement, attitude and contribution.

They come from diverse backgrounds – retail, broadcasting, engineering, technology, healthcare, manufacturing, pharma, not-for-profit and others.

Their expertise includes corporate and non-profit governance, leadership, marketing, sales, social media, communications, facilitation, coaching international business and more.

Over time, our pool of exclusive talent keeps growing – providing unique opportunities for select individuals and outstanding resources for successful organizations.
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On a regular basis we feature blog posts written by one of our Accomplished Executives. The posts can be found on the Boardroom Metrics news page, here

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

When Web Advertising Doesn't Work

Microsoft Sharepoint being advertised (I had to look twice) under the header "How Brilliant Ideas Destroy Companies". That's ironic. And kind of humorous!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Role of the Owner vs. Role of the CEO

Value = Profit that is Sustainable and Transferable.

Ask any private business owner what they want from their business and almost every one of them will tell you: "I want to maximize value.".  Then watch what they do on a day to day business.

Fight fires. Run the day to day.

In the model above, the business owner is the one responsible for the V - Value side of the equation. The CEO is responsible for the Pst side - profits that are sustainable and transferable.

The first is a strategic role. The second is a tactical, operating role.

So what happens when the owner and the CEO is the same person - something that is very common in private businesses?

What I see almost every time is that the value side gets forgotten over and over and over. Firefighting is envigorating, challenging, important. It overwhelms everything else.

When times are good, being the CEO is being the hero.

When times are bad being the CEO means being too busy manning the liferafts and avoding ice bergs.

"Value?"

"Naw. That's something to think about when times get better."

To create sustainable, transferable value the Owner/CEO must be an owner first - and a CEO second.

Being an owner first means having a clear picture of what drives sustainable, transferable value and getting a plan in place to build it, maintain it, and ultimately monetize it.

Being an owner first means being held accountable as the CEO to execute the value building plan - or to get out of the way and let someone better suited do the job.

 The Boardroom Metrics Chairman's View system makes it simpler for owners to be owners. First, it provides a snapshot on a company's value. Second, it highlights the gaps/opportunities - in a dashboard fashion - where value creating work is required. Third, it introduces a professional chairman - someone who spends a few hours a month holding the owner, and the CEO accountable for doing their roles properly.

Most owners want to maximize the value of their business. Too many are spending their time as CEO's.  The Boardroom Metrics Chairman's View System can help turn that around.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Boardroom Metrics Announces New Services, Web Site

Every business has to evolve with the times and the opportunities that are put in front of it. Boardroom Metrics is doing that.


First, we have expanded our geographic service offering beyond Toronto to include Ottawa and Montreal.

Second, we are providing new advisory expertise in employee health and well-being, and corporate learning and training.


Employee health and well-being is rapidly becoming a top priority for all forward thinking organizations. Linking employee health and well-being with corporate performance – not just benefits cost containment - is an important competitive advantage we believe our clients are going to be increasingly interested in.

Corporate learning is another rapidly evolving field. The days of standing up in front of 200 people and ‘teaching’ them are gone – thanks to much better insight on how people learn and rapidly advancing technology – whether it be in the classroom or on a Blackberry. Again, our intent is to help our clients more clearly make the connection between learning, training strategy, training execution and significant improvements in corporate performance.

Third, we have expanded our tools offering to include the Chairman’s View System.

Chairman’s View enables private business owners who are committed to transferring their businesses in some fashion down the road, to measure, visualize and increase the sustainable and transferable value in their businesses.

Most private businesses owners in the US and Canada intend to transfer their businesses to new ownership in some fashion over the next ten years. Unfortunately, a large majority won’t come close to receiving the value they anticipate unless their focus changes from day to day management to sustainable value creation.

Fourth, we have significantly upgraded our interim management capabilities. The goal of our ‘Accomplished Executives’ program is two-fold:
  • First – to provide a comprehensive marketing umbrella so that senior, experienced management talent can be promoted and become known and findable to the broad, business market place.
  • Second – to seamlessly provide outstanding talent in conjunction with our advisory and tools practices to clients requiring short or long term executive support – whether it be for advisory, professional Chairman, senior executive or specialist roles.
Fifth, we have launched a new website that describes our services in more detail and encourages prospective clients and accomplished executive talent to start a dialogue with us.

All of us at Boardroom Metrics are passionate about business and in that regard we hold some simple but clear beliefs.
  • EVERY business has the potential to be a spectacular success.
  • NO business succeeds without strong leadership.
  • PEOPLE are the only competitive advantage that can’t be duplicated.
If you’re interested in spectacular success and looking for a passionate, skilled and experienced partner we would love to work with you.

Jim Crocker, CEO

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Thinking of a Start-up?

Then what about starting an airline?

Here's a great post by Randy Tinseth, VP of Marketing for Boeing Commercial Aircraft.

It takes you to a site called Start-up Boeing! There's everything there for the next wannabe airline maven.

Starting an airline never crossed my mind either. But clearly more than a few people over the years think of it. And as Randy says, "downturns create opportunities".

My interest in this blog goes beyond my interest in aircraft. There are likely millions of airplane blogs (in fact, I think I have one!), but this is the only one I follow regularly. Why? Because it does a great job of making you feel like you're getting real insight on the industry, the company and the people. It exposes you to other areas of the Company and creates an image of Boeing that certainly turned my head around.

So, not interested in starting an airline or even in airplanes? I get it.

But still wondering how companies use 'social media' (I can't tell you how much I hate that term) to promote what they do? Then following this blog is a great example how to do it.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Introducing Boardroom Metrics Chairman's View

Three out of four private businesses will not sell when they are put on the market.

For the past six months, Boardroom Metrics been working with and completing due diligence around a unique private business tool called Chairman's View.

Chairman's View is a software and industry data-based approach for assessing a private company's key value drivers, ranking them, quantifying their impact on the company's value and implementing plans for improving the highest priority drivers.


Here are some key elements of the Chairman's View approach:
  • focus on value, not just profits: designed to ensure owners create strong options for sustaining and transferring their businesses - currently, three of four private businesses DO NOT SELL when they are put on the market
  • outputs: include research-based quantitative ratings for 8 business drivers, 9 value drivers and almost 50 associated categories
  • Value Dashboard: enables business owners to visualize company value, how key drivers are performing, and the impact on company value of making improvements to sub-performing drivers
  • Performance Dashboard: enables business owners to visualize company operating data and the impact of making improvements to business drivers
  • software-as-a-service: means Chairman's View is client-accessible and includes industry data, evaluation criteria, templates, dashboards, action plans and progress monitoring tools
  • three phased approach - Phase 1 is the upfront driver and value assessment; Phase 2 is the improvement plan for the weakest value drivers; Phase 3 is transaction based - selling, merging, transferring or continuing to build value in the business based on the owners goals
  • Phase 1 pricing: including full access to the tools, outputs and action plans is $20,000

Giving owners great options for their business - and frankly, seeing them get rich - has always been a primary driver of Boardroom Metrics. Therefore, I'm truly excited about Chairman's View because I believe it will significantly enhance business owners' perspective on value and how to maximize it.

Any private business owner or those advising private business owners - such as accountants, wealth advisors, insurance brokers, M&A specialists - will likely find that Chairman's View is a very helpful for discussions on succession planning, business sale or transfer.

This link to Slideshare provides more detail on the Boardroom Metrics Chairman's View offering. 

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Canadian Board Index - CEO Facts Canada

Every year, Spencer Stuart sends me a copy of their 'Canadian Spencer Stuart Board Index - Board Trends and Practices of Leading Canadian Companies'. Yesterday's mail brought the 2009 study.

This years theme: 'The Route to the Top and Company Performance in CEO Transition' is and interesting look at how Canadian CEO's get to the stop, how long they stay and what they accomplish.

Some interesting facts from the study:

Internal Promotion: The rate of internal promotion to CEO has remained unchanged in the past decade (70% - which seems like a pretty good #) despite increased focus on succession planning.

Industry Background: in 2009, 83% of CEO's recruited from outside the firm came from the same industry grouping as the firm. That's up from 50% 10 years ago. One in four companies now go abroad to get that industry experience up from one in ten a decade ago.

Turnover: 13% is the 2009 # for annual CEO turnover, vs. 10% ten years ago. However, forced departures is at 44% of all turnovers, vs 27% - 30% in the past.

Tenure: the median stint for CEO's who survived successfully is 5 years. Only 10% survived seven to nine years.

Performance/Backgrounds: Interesting. In every case where a new CEO was brought in, the companies led by externally recruited CEO's performed better. Also, finance types performed the best. Sales/marketing types didn't. Period.

I'm not sure there's any real surprises here given trends in governance, performance and the economy. Thoughts?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Fortune Magazine Article on LinkedIn

"You Google other people, so don't you think they're Googling you?" LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman asks. "Part of a networked world is that people will be looking you up, and when they do, you want to control what they find." Helping you present yourself well online is just the start.

Feels like I should say "I told you so".

I won't, but I am glad to see I'm in good company.

A few days ago I posted this personal branding presentation. Today, the latest Fortune magazine showed up. With this article in it. It's titled 'How LinkedIn Will Fire up Your Career'.

Ironically, two seconds before I saw this I hung up from a great recruiter and good friend who was telling me how he'd just landed a recruiting contract with a high profile business organization here in Canada. You know how they found him? LinkedIn. You know how they picked him? On the basis of the quality of his profile. His LinkedIn profile proved to them 'he got it'. Does yours?

It works!! Get on it (yeah you. Stop acting like this stuff doesn't matter!)!!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Really Stand Out - The 5 P's Personal Brand Planner

Here's a presentation based on the advice I'm passing on to clients and contacts. Lots of people are starting to get this: branding transcends jobs (it's too late when you've been fired)and the internet means regardless of whether you choose to proactively participate or not, others are. Students. Business leaders. Those interested in 'encore' careers.

The simple steps here work. First use the basic planner. I guarantee it will send you straight to your LinkedIn and Twitter pages!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Learning to Speak - Today's Lesson: Voice

I was back at it today.  With my public speaking coach.

We started by reviewing what I'd learned from last week.

"Umm. I learned about posture" I said, slumping in my seat.

"Very funny", she said. "Let's talk fear triggers."

"Fear triggers?!" I yelped.

Actually, it was a relief. Seriously. In about 30 seconds she nailed what it is that makes me very nervous at times as a public speaker. Intimidation. With a half baked speech and an audience full of experts I get intimidated.

Very nicely, she positioned it as something almost natural. Her solution? NEVER give a half-baked speech (ok, there was more to it but that's really the bottom line).

I'll try.

From there we moved to voice coaching. This was a FASCINATING experience.

If you remember the post from my first session - for all my public speaking deficiencies - my voice is my greatest asset. And no different today. Today we went through a detailed analysis and overall I got an 8.5 out of 10 - a very high rating. Right? (come on, yeah, that's pretty good.)

Then, we did exercises in volume, pitch, rate, tension and relaxation. Not all easy. In fact some felt downright stupid. I took notes. I practiced. We even did tongue twisters (I'm horrible).

But, these are great exercises.

Then, I did a re-reading of the presentation I'd prepared.

Taped.

And SERIOUS progress.

Then, we did 10 minutes of relaxation exercises.

Then I did another read. HOLY, FRIGGING, SMOKES.

Different person. Different voice. Different read.

I can still picture the smile on my coaches face. It's not like this is new to her. She's seen it a thousand times before. But wow. Considering how little time I'd really had to change, the change was remarkable.

So yeah, I'm going back. And REALLY looking forward to it.

You know what's on the menu?

Storytelling.

Some of you know me. You've heard me tell a story. YOU CAN WAKE UP NOW!!!

And by next Tuesday - you won't recognize me.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Milkaholic Lindsay

Did I read that Lindsay Lohan is suing e-trade for $100 million? And I'm going after Jungle Gym.

Love these ads.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Personal Branding - The Risk of Leaving it to Others

Personal branders need to Google themselves. Like it or not, if you've got any kind of brand you will show up there.

Not there? Not much of a brand.

Even worse - there's some dude with your name dancing around naked? On the first page of Google. Under video results??!!

Like this guy.



Jim. Seriously? This is disturbing stuff. How drunk were you? Actually, you don't look that drunk. Are you just prone to taking your clothes off and looking goofy? Really? Can't you see you're giving us all a bad name? And now that you've established your personal brand, how's the career and job search going? Hopefully you're not a teacher are you?

I hate using me as the example in this case - but THANK GOODNESS I've established myself on-line in ways that 1) hopefully make it clear to most people that the guy dancing around naked ISN'T ME (if nothing else I'm a way better dancer) and 2) help dilute the overall negative impact that might be created by this video.

Imagine if the only Jim Crocker content on the internet was this video? Then, what might people think about me? What might my brand be worth?

Lots and lots of people continue to resist the notion of exerting some control over their on-line brand. And, on one hand - I get it.

But keep in mind that the best case when you do nothing on-line is that you go invisible. What's more likely is you will show up in random ways that may say lots - or nothing - about you.

Worst case, your brand image gets controlled by others.

Who may not care as much about your brand as you do.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Clarifying Learning to Speak...and Not Writing Reports

People have asked what I meant in my last post when I said I stopped doing client reports after leaving my first consulting job. Did I stop consulting?

The answer is no. I've done 20 more years of consulting after that. But I changed my approach a lot.

From my first consulting job, it was clear to me that 'traditional consulting'  - big study, nice binder, fancy presentation - didn't work very well. I recall thinking that of over fifty (!) projects that I participated in in that first consulting job, only one - a project with a large cereal and pet food manufacturer ever lead to what I would have called significant change.

So, I went seeking another approach and found a smaller consulting firm with a few, high profile clients. For them, writing 'reports' was unheard of. Instead they did case studies, went undercover, facilitated work sessions, produced training videos, coached and mentored managers and front-line employees - and basically invented whatever approach they felt would have the greatest impact for their client. Writing a formal report was never an option.

For me it was heaven. And change happened every day.  It was a better way.

So since then I've incorporated that learning along with the experience from running several organizations - into a consulting approach that is more hands on, facilitator-manager-coach-mentor than consultant. Because it works.

And I never write reports.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Learning to Speak

"If you had to pick someone as a public speaking role model, who would it be?" my instructor asked.

"Public speaking role model?" I said."Ummm..."

"You say umm too much", she said.

"Gee, you sound like my wife."

I've gone back to school - to become a great public speaker.
 
Step back a bunch of years. First I was a consultant for a traditional, study-report-and-present consulting company. Then, I became a public company CEO. Doing those jobs well was a non-stop diet of public speaking - to clients, Boards, at annual meetings and trade shows, speaking to analysts, fund managers and others. I loved public speaking. A great day was a day I had to give a speech.

Fast forward a few years. Ummm...not so much.

First, I don't get the opportunities like I used to. I stopped doing client reports after I left my first consulting job. And my current key shareholder says she hears enough from me already. There's no need for an annual meeting.

But that's about to change (role, not shareholder). So it's time for an upgrade.

What did I learn today?

Well, get this. My instructor rated me a -1(that's minus 1) out of 5 for my 'gestures'. Eye contact, posture, confidence and sense of humor (sense of humor?) did a whole bunch better - she gave me a one. ONE!! Geez, I guess I'm gonna get a lot for my money!

But....and this shows I really am in the wrong career - she gave me a 4 out of 5 (four!) for vocal technique. Out of five!

According to my amazing instructor, who's worked with lots of amazing people....like Al Gore....four out of five is unheard of for some schmo walking in off the street (actually I called first). She told me I have a "broadcaster quality" voice.

Too bad I didn't know that before the Olympics.

From there we moved on to fixing some of the basics. Stooping and slouching is bad. It makes your audience want to kick your ass. I need to get my shoulders back. Plant myself squarely on center stage. "Be in charge of my space. Like Mick Jagger". Oh. Right! Have you seen me on Guitar Hero?

Then I learned how to move. From center stage, left to my 'humour box' and right to my 'empathy box'. I found moving from box to box easy - the real challenge is actually being empathetic or funny. Learning that comes in week 14.

Then we beat the 'umm' out of me. It went like this.

"Jim, start speaking".

"Blah, blah, ummmm, blah."

STOP.

"Blah. Ummm." STOP.

"Ummm." STOP.

Ok. I get it!

But you know, something interesting happened along the way. My public speaking came back. Oh, I'm not perfect...there's at least $10,000 between me and a public appearance...but the comfort and feel of a few years ago started to creep back.

It turns out I'm not a podium person. Get me moving and I start making eye contact and being passionate. And change those other scores too. I gesture and laugh.Who knew??!

It was a terrific first session. Definitely worthwhile.

And, as I was leaving all she kept talking about was how I could become a broadcaster.

Have they filled Lou Dobbs' job yet?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lessons from PodCamp Toronto 2010 #pcto2010

Lesson 1: there is no better time to know a little or a lot about 'social media' - you're in demand. There were something like 1600 people signed up in Toronto yesterday. I didn't check, but I'll bet the first podcamp had something like 12 people show up.

Lesson 2: business is catching on, catching up - a couple of jammed sessions I sat in on included:

Chris Barger, Director of Social Media for General Motors (who knew?) discussing the role of his group during GM's Chapter 11 meltdown and relaunch.

Donna Marie Antoniadis of co-founder and COO of ShesConnected Multimedia Corp discussing the power of Facebook and throwing up cool Facebook promotions from Pizza Hut, Dunkin Donuts, Jet Blue, McDonalds and others as great examples of business-building through community building on-line.

David Bradfield, Senior Partner, Global Chair, Digital at Fleishman-Hillard tackling the issue of how to deal with social media when it turns against your brand (and there was also a 'boob' story but it didn't translate very well at the back of the room) - a decidedly PR approach to social media (David is a very knowledgeable, great speaker) that unfortunately left me cold.

Lesson 3: the 'unconference' approach to topics has huge value - experts in the crowd, relevant conversation, questions and answers - but not everyone gets it yet (any presentation longer than 10-15 minutes is too long) and it's tricky if there is only one expert in the room (which doesn't happen often).

Lesson 4: I'll never pay $1200 for a conference again. Podcamp Toronto is FREE (as are any huge number of meetups, mixups and mashups going on all the time now all over Toronto on any and every topic). Not only did Podcamp Toronto include first class facilities, topics and presenters, the sessions were live-casted on the web, and podcamp has its own great website, facebook, twitter, etc, etc. It's been a while since I've read Chris Andersons book called Free, but clearly the FREE pricing model extends  beyond the on-line world - at least to conferences about the on-line world! Gotta be a big thanks to heavy-hitter sponsors like Social Media Group, Chevrolet and Rogers for making it possible.

Bottom line on Podcamp Toronto. Great value. The world is still changing fast. Business is hanging in there. It's a good time to be an unexpert.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Thanks for the Concern

No, I'm not 22 and jobless or 52 and feeling unappreciated.

But I could use a good proof-reader.

It seems when I under-punctuated my last post - the first paragraph came off like I was down, out and who knows what?

Friends were calling to see if I was ok.

I'm fine.

Reflecting their concerns, I've changed the punctuation from this (potentially all about me, but not really):

Twenty-two and no job. Thirty two, three jobs and a bunch of crappy bosses. Fourty-two, weary and tired of the treadmill. Fifty-two, spit out and unappreciated.

To this (clear and solid transference to others!):

Twenty-two and no job? Thirty two, three jobs and a bunch of crappy bosses? Fourty-two, weary and tired of the treadmill? Fifty-two, spit out and unappreciated?

What's exciting about this is the learning. It's a key reason why I blog. There's always a risk. And often, some learning.

In this case I was experimenting with an 'edgier' intro than usual. Why not, right? Unfortunately, slipping up on the punctuation gave it an edge I never expected.

I'm going to be OK! And thanks for the learning.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Hey. Would You Just Get on With it? Some Inspiration.

Twenty-two and no job? Thirty two, three jobs and a bunch of crappy bosses? Fourty-two, weary and tired of the treadmill? Fifty-two, spit out and unappreciated?

It's time to get on with it!

This presentation by ex-Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki is old and famous. But it's inspiring and helpful. Think brand you. Think next Google. And GTF on with it!






Thursday, February 11, 2010

Instant Value from Twitter - Twitter Search

Although Twitter awareness has broken through almost everywhere in the business world, there's still lots of people questioning its value.

Here's some advice I find myself giving that frequently seems to be a surprise - don't worry about broadcasting on Twitter - use it for search.  

Search for anything - companies I know are using it to track announcements in their industry, competitors, sales leads, interesting content and knowledge. They're using it combination with other tools like Google alerts to stay in real-time touch with what's going on.

Twitter's natural interface is all about broadcasting, so it doesn't appear to lend itself well to search.

But lots of other Twitter interfaces are set up to enable real-time search. I use Tweetdeck - which also integrates my Facebook and Linkedin feeds.

There are lots of others.

To search Twitter from the web, go to search.twitter.com, which is awkward but is in the process of being integrated better into Twitter itself.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Video Branding Follow-up and Example

Last night I got this email from an ex-client and good friend Flavio Gomes. Flav is co-founder and President of Logisense Corporation. EngageIP, Logisense's IP billing platform is used by customers worldwide. It's a great example of the use of video for both personal and professional branding.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Personal Branding - To Video or Not to Video

Over a year ago now I threw this video up on YouTube to prove I had a sense of humor. It's a silly video. I did it to offset the feedback on my other videos that I look way too serious. Some just misinterpreted it as a demonstration of my skills with a felt marker.

 Video is becoming a big part of personal branding.  Having watched the evolution that's going on, here are some thoughts:

1) The personal brand video revolution is going to accelerate. It's not quite main stream yet but it will be. From resumes to blogs, vlogs and websites, people on video is going to be everywhere. Check out this video clip that can be inserted into a Twitter profile. The rationale is simple: to personalize content. It's not just Jim's thoughts - it's Jim.

2) Not everyone is going to embrace the move to video. The biggest concern is privacy. It's a big leap to go from content-only to video. Especially for women, just having a profile picture is cause for concern. Taking that to video is very scary.

3) Video adds a whole new dimension to on-line personal branding - appearance. Now, instead of being judged simply on experience, expertise, content and thinking, be prepared to be judged -and judged instantly - on LOOKS. While individual appearance may in many cases enhance other content (isn't that the point?), adding video WILL DILUTE everything else, at least at the first impression stage.

4) Video production is important...and confusing. Up until now at least, the web has put a premium on 'genuine' vs. 'produced'. Video that is professionally shot and edited hasn't necessarily been viewed as being real, and therefore tended to be viewed as a somewhat negative branding technique. However, with services springing up everywhere to produce personal on-line videos it's not clear there won't be growing acceptance of better produced content.

5) Content is still king. The purpose of most personal video is simple - put a face to the name. So, talking for 5 minutes about resume details is boring and unnecessary - there are better ways to do that. However, video is perfectly suited for other tasks - like demonstrating a skill, or a personality trait, or credibility. There are 1000's of YouTube (and Google) videos of pros presenting their material in various settings. That's effective.

6) Smart personal marketers are and will continue to evolve the art of personal video to create personal competitive advantage. That's going to put pressure on all the rest of us to figure out where we stand and what role personal video plays in our marketing mix.

I don't believe it's much of a stretch to suggest that within less than 2 years, all resumes will include personal videos. And 'Extreme Makeover - Personal Branding Edition' will be a huge hit.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

John Keep Your Eye on This One: Foursquare

A couple of months ago I started noticing a couple of Facebook friends enthusiastically posting their latest accomplishments on Foursquare. I paid no attention. But they stayed enthusiastic and kept updating. I noticed that.

Then I started noticing Foursquare's name showing up in the early and not-so-early adopter press. Hmmm.

So, yesterday I downloaded the iPhone app (about 12 seconds, amazing interface) and the Blackberry app (beta, go to the website, copy the link, blah, blah, blah, not 12 seconds - come on BB, apps are killing you but I digress).

Foursquare is game/twitter/crowdsourcing/yelp/tripadvisor all rolled into one. You visit places. Check in on your smartphone to let your friends know where you are. See who's nearby. Write a review. Collect points. Get famous. Move on.

If necessary, in the morning, you can even figure out where you've been.

From a business perspective Foursquare's got some pretty mighty business implications. Slow night? $2 off promotion for Foursquare users. Just show them your iPhone. Get listed in the what's hot. Get dissed in the reviews.

It's early days but Foursquare clearly foreshadows more of what's coming as mobile and other social technologies keep moving forward. Together. Fast.

The founders of Foursquare are moving forward too. It's clear that content, advertising and (from a business perspective this is big) analytics are going to be key new elements of the Foursquare platform.

Check out this Slide presentation if you want a better feel for Foursquare


Monday, February 1, 2010

Personal Branding Plan Presentation, The 5 P's

Personal branding is a way of communicating the unique value you offer.

Working with clients and talking to managers, employees and others, I've found the 5 P's to be a simple, yet effective way to organize thinking and planning around personal branding. Here's a simple presentation providing some basic insight into the 5 P's. With a bit of thought (finish the sentences) you can build a simple personal branding plan.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Personal Branding - How Old Are You?


This week I attended a disappointing but eye opening Alumni event on personal branding.

Disappointing because the panel delivered little of value on personal branding.

Eye opening because those attending spanned the full age, experience range - from new grads looking for their first jobs, through recently sidelined senior execs looking for new careers.

Not easy at 55. Or 24. Or 33. The angst in the room was palpable.

Which got me thinking.

First, it's too bad the 55 year-olds were just waking up to their personal brands now. Second, they need to change.

Also, what a great time for the 24 and 33 year olds to be grabbing their personal brands squarely by the 5 P's, and maximizing their efforts to stand out now. Forever.

I felt worst for the 55 year olds. I would have had some simple advice for them: modernize your packaging.

Lose the blue/grey suit, white shirt and boring tie. Not only do you look like every other 55 year old in the room, you look 55. For the ladies - sorry - sleeker is better. Nothing says over the hill like overweight. And colour is good. One thing about boring...it's boring.

For the 24 year-olds 'promotion' and 'product' seem to be the priorities. Desperately unafraid to network in person, checking their on-line presences(?) turns up....nothing other than a maybe it's you/I'm never checking the profile on Facebook. Somewhere in there is a pretty decent opportunity to stake a point of view, show off some great potential and get noticed.

Although this never came up, I wonder about how both groups are grappling with personal brand 'pricing'?

Lots of senior experience got moved out the door over the past 18 months for one key reason: too expensive. Adjusting pricing down, pricing more creatively (eg, take less from more customers), or demonstrating superior value could be important considerations now.

At 24, pricing is pretty straightforward.

Loss leader, baby.

Get me in the door and get me some experience.

It used to be interns were only for law firms and Governments. Now, the free model of employment - experience in exchange for effort - seems to be springing up all over the place.

For those 33 year-olds successfully through the front door - this is brand investment time.
Building experience, expertise, visibility and value. It seems to me all 5 p's are in play. This would be the ideal:
  • outstanding 'product' - this is what I do, who I am
  • important decisions on 'place' - take the job in NY? don't take the job in NY?
  • increasing 'price' - hand in hand with delivering outstanding value
  • 'promotional' opportunities everywhere - from industry speaking engagements to the personal blog
  • incredible 'packaging' - ok, the kids are taking a toll and sleep deprivation is tough but working out is working out and Harry's still makes a nice suit
So, different ages - different stages. At 24, I know it's difficult to comprehend 55. And who wants to. But man, what an opportunity at 24 to build a brand for life. And be 55 and in control of a Porsche. Not a Toyota with a faulty accelerator pedal.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The 5 P's of Personal Branding

Last night a client invited me to her alumni association event on personal branding. While interesting, we both agreed later that the session had missed it's mark - career management as viewed by HR experts is not personal branding.

I'm passionate about this: personal branding transcends employment. It's not about getting to the next level - it's about being you to the world, whoever, whenever and where ever you are.

Having said that, there's no question personal branding is important from an employment perspective - for several reasons - 1) how you promote your personal brand should support, not hinder personal employment goals - being a Girls Gone Wild participant may get in the way of becoming the next VP of Supply Chain - and 2) you will get fired or be otherwise unemployed at some point (count on it) - how strong your personal brand is, will (thanks to the internet and other changing factors) be an increasingly important factor in how long you stay unemployed.

So, how to build a personal brand? Well, in traditional marketing there are either four or five key elements of the brand marketing mix depending who's defining it. They're called the 4 (or 5) P's of marketing. Here's how I see them applied to personal branding.

P1 - Product. You. What are you? What do you deliver? What are your values? If I'm going to invest in associating with you, what am I investing in? What value do I get?

P2 - Price. What's the cost of doing business with you? Let's call it dollars plus friction. Are you expensive, inexpensive, a pain in the ass or easy to deal with?

P3 - Place. Where are you located? Where do you hang-out? Where are you accessible? One of the reasons personal branding is becoming so much more important is thanks to the internet. Now, P3 - Place, can be everywhere, from anywhere. Now, we all have the opportunity to be our own world-wide brand like Pepsi or Apple.

P4 - Promotion. Thank you internet. Google yourself. If you don't show up, you either don't have a brand or the scope of your brand is very small. Fixing it is easy. Take 5 minutes to upgrade your LinkedIn profile. No, it won't make you Pepsi but it's a start. Keep going. Write a blog. Claim your name on Twitter. Join a community. There's never been an easier time to get your product in front of customers.

P5 - The 5th P is up for grabs. In many books its PEOPLE. But we are people, so I'm pushing something else - PACKAGING. How do you dress? Accessorize? Look? Are you 50 and look 60? 30 and look 18? Are you over-packaged? Under-packaged? Does your packaging DIFFERENTIATE you in any (positive!) way, from all the other brands out there?

Many people are uncomfortable with personal branding. I get that. 'Putting myself out there' is/feels like a big, unknown risk. However, we probably all need to keep this in mind: whether we participate in personal branding or not WE ALL HAVE a personal brand. We're already being talked about, slotted, respected, dissed or ignored.

I'd prefer to have some input to that discussion.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Umar Haque: The Scale Every Business Needs Now

I always enjoy reading Umar (see link below). He consistently beats the 'thick value' drum, seemingly on a one man mission to change the world of business. As shallow as I can be, I generally get his point.

Too many business exist just to exist - or to Umar's point, exist just to win. Other than being employers and beating up on competitors (sometimes), their value contributions and their ambitions seem limited.

Having worked with too many companies who ultimately were simply 'employers' - lacking the leadership, foresight, ambition and creativity to scale to anything, it's refreshing to see Umar's passion for achievement on a much grander scale - say like Google.

There are a myriad of reasons - all inter-related I guess (which came first, the chicken or the egg?) that lead companies to thin-value mediocrity - but over the years I've worked with truly visionary leaders who could never be accused of low ambition. So why did those leaders fail?

I've never been quite sure on this one but what I keep netting back to is this: their products or services were never good enough. Never good enough to be almost instantly loved by the market place on a mass scale (do you remember the first time you used Google - and it delivered?!). Never good enough to overcome limited investment capital. Never good enough to overcome egotistical and naive management. And never good enough to rise above all realities to stand alone as the best product or service out there. Period.

Achieving best product status is clearly a challenge. It seems to be a combination of massive brain power, dumb luck and good connections. At critical points, good management does seem critical. How many future Googles never make it beyond the entrepreneurial phase? Most?

I like Umar's thick value drum. It's a little/lot idealistic, but having a vision for business beyond driving to work every day seems like a good thing.




Umar Haque: The Scale Every Business Needs Now:

.... 20th Century organizations were built to have strategic intent. The point of a strategic intent is merely to best rivals. That's the opposite of an ambition: it's just combat. Yesterday's organizations were missing the burning desire to improve on yesterday in their very DNA. That's what reduced them to passionless machines — and it's what ultimately made our lives smaller, our economies less vibrant, and our societies poorer.

A real ambition, in contrast is a living expression of how an organizaton answers the four-word challenge of 21st Century economics. Twenty-first Century businesses have ambition — at giganto-mega-universe-sized scale instead. "To organize the world's information and make it universally accessible:" now there's an ambition at scale.

An ambition that scales is one that takes an organization already creating thick value, and expands it to affirmatively answer the three questions below:

  • Is it globe-spanning?

  • Is it world-changing?

  • Is it life-altering?

For most organizations, the answers are: maybe, nope, not a chance. For a few, even, worse; the answers are: yes, for the worse, for even worse. Most organizations have only the tiniest, puniest, most inconsequential of ambitions. And that, quite simply, is why most are obsolete.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Twitter Down: It’s Not Just You Seeing the Fail Whale

Ironic. This definitely gets in the way of being a good news source (see last post)!!



Twitter Down: It’s Not Just You Seeing the Fail Whale: "

It’s not just you: Twitter is completely down, and has been for at least 15 minutes. What exactly what took down the microblogging service, we don’t know (some speculate that a wave of tweets due to this morning’s 6.1 earthquake in Haiti could be partly responsible).

It’s late pacific time, meaning most of the Twitter team is probably asleep and a response to the situation will be delayed.

Since the attacks last August, Twitter’s been doing pretty well in terms of uptime (though it’s had its share of slowdowns).

We will update you when we learn what’s happened. In the meantime, you’ve got Facebook to update your friends on your frustrations, or our comments section below.


Tags: fail whale, trending, twitter



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How News Happens | Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ)

How News Happens

You know, this is an interesting study. It basically shows that (at least for one week in Baltimore) traditional media is by far the primary source of news still. And new media is for broadcasting and rebroadcasting news. So what does happen if/when traditional media (the news gatherers) gets wiped out?

One interesting exception in this study from one week in Baltimore. Twitter as a (minor) news breaking source. From personal experience I get that.

Over xmas I was traveling through YYZ. Thanks to the undiebomber, I knew the security situation at YYZ was out of control. How did I know exactly what was going on? Traditional media? Um. CP24 is good but they weren't inside security. But lots of people on Twitter were. So, by monitoring the twitter stream for yyz security and the airline I was flying, I had very good knowledge of what was happening. Basically a live feed.

Solving what's going on in traditional media now - declining ad revenues leading to scaling back and widespread failures - is a head scratcher. The void will be filled - but how and where the revenues to afford news gathering will come from isn't clear.

Of course, the world would probably be better off with less news anyways.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Email Newsletter Subs Trump RSS - Study

Really? People want more email? Here's my theory - based on observation. Despite the fact that RSS has been around for years, the majority aren't aware of how it works - or even what Google Reader or Feedburner are. Sure, there are times when I find my reader overwhelming - so there's NO way I'd resort to getting updates by email.


Email Newsletter Subs Trump RSS - Study: "



An unsurprising study out of Hubspot this morning reveals that email subscribers to many blogs factor in 12x larger than those who read through RSS. I am not seeing this in my own stats however. Only 1.5% of you read site feed via email. Still, I keep thinking about where RSS reading is going these days. I love the technology but have begun to explore other opt

Borrowing a page from Matt Cutts, for January I am trying a 30-day challenge - to reduce my use of RSS. I am trying to only dip into Google Reader as a data warehouse. I am finding that email newsletters, Gmail filtering and Twitter lists/Listimonkey maybe all I need. It simplifies my streams.

Anybody else seeing a shift to email newsletters? E-marketer reports that companies are increasingly integrating email and social media.






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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Jaime Diaz on Tiger Woods: 'What Happened?': Golf Digest Magazine

About a month after the Tiger story blew up I Googled Golf Digest and Sports Illustrated to find out how they had decided to handle the story of their Golden Goose (either in the magazines or on-line). At that time it was disappointing (I felt) to see that both had pretty much decided to treat it like the story didn't exist - as far as I could find, neither magazine had published any coverage or point of view on the Tiger subject (disappointing because Tiger Woods blowing himself up is totally relevant to the worlds of both sports and golf and acting like it didn't exist degraded the credibility of these magazines and furthers the stampede of readers and fans turn to the internet and other - 'more reliable' sources).

Now, it's good to see that Golf Digest has come around (I haven't checked SI but I'm sure it probably has by now too). The story is real. It's being covered on-line, and in the magazine. A position has been taken - his instruction articles won't be published, at least for the time being - and real, brutal letters to the editor have been published.

And this 'analysis' by Jaime Diaz published in the February issue seems like a good one. Without letting Tiger off the hook, it made me think - at least about what it would have been like to carry the entire golf world around for a bunch of years and the pressure that surely existed to do it perfectly. Intentional self-destruction seems entirely possible.

Posted via web from Jim's posterous