Don’t Retreat Marketers. Ben Franklin to the Rescue.

What the heck is going on in the business world?

Judging by all the negative stories, one would think that a plague of incompetence has afflicted commercial teams across the country.

However, beyond the obvious blunders (e.g., United and airport security personnel), some of the backlash is a bit perplexing.

Are corporations and their marketing teams failing at higher rates or is something else going on?

I suggest the latter. That’s partly because social media has, for better and for worse, totally disrupted the way so many now get and process their information.

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Stories Make a Difference – Expert’s 6 Points for Great Storytelling

“Stories create connections that are emotional and inspiring.”

That’s what Kristian Aloma reminded an audience of marketers at a recent MENG (Marketing Executives Networking Group) event in New Jersey.

Kristian Aloma. Credit: Brandtrust.

Kristian Aloma. Credit: Brandtrust.

Mr. Aloma is the Client Partner, Group Director of Client Service at Brandtrust. “He’s been pivotal in building Brandtrust’s storytelling services and training sessions, which are extremely popular among clients looking to more effectively influence their customers and organizations.”

An important reason for business communicators to use stories is that “presenting a story helps everyone understand the same point.”

In his New Jersey presentation, Aloma offered “how to” pointers and demonstration examples for telling effective stories in the business world and beyond. He also challenged the group by stating that the “best storytellers win.”


6 Points for Great Storytelling Continue reading

You Want Change, Sit in the Same Office

On Monday, Lands’ End announced that its CEO had “stepped down” effective immediately, after only 19 months on the job.

There will be plenty of time for all the post-mortems to be written and dissected. However, I will chime in right now about a glaring aspect of Federica Marchionni’s abrupt departure.

It seems there was a serious disconnect between what she wanted to accomplish and where she was physically located. And that provides an important lesson reminder.

Credit: Lands End

Credit: Lands End

As background, Ms. Marchionni was tasked with evolving the company and the brand. Note this statement from the Chairman of the Board when she was hired:

“We are confident she will build upon the Company’s legacy as a classic American brand with a keen eye toward its future as a global lifestyle brand.”

That implies change. According to The Wall Street Journal, “she tried to fashion broad changes at the catalog retailer.” But: Continue reading

With Rolling Stone a Memory, General McChrystal Now Inspires Business Leaders

There’s much more to know about General Stanley McChrystal than what happened with Rolling Stone magazine.

Granting inside access to a journalist turned out to be a disaster, and the magazine essay led to the end of his military career. But don’t let what happened in 2010 diminish the superb business advice General Stanley McChrystal offers in his book.

Credit: McChrystal Group

In “Team of Teams – New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World,” the retired 4-star general and his colleague writers share ready-to-implement ideas on  leadership, teamwork and organizational effectiveness.

The book’s origins come from McChrystal’s leadership of the Joint Special Operations Task Force and the efforts to defeat Al Qaeda in Iraq. It’s an easy read, and one I recommend.

To get you started, I’ve organized five salient points that I particularly like and believe to be effective. 
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Movie “Burnt” Depicts Both Ugly & Good Teamwork Lessons

If you want a vivid training primer on how teamwork and collaboration make a winning recipe for business success, cut-up a few scenes from the movie “Burnt.”

Credit: Burnt Facebook movie page.

Credit: Burnt Facebook movie page.

Starring Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller, the culinary-themed drama features a two-star Michelin chef (Cooper) trying to rebuild his life and career. He receives unexpected wisdom and inspiration from his sous chef (Miller) in his quest for a third star.

Three scenes stood out from a business perspective. Each one depicts a critical behavior and corresponding performance lesson for leaders and teams.

Plus, keep reading for my Ten Leadership, Collaboration & Teamwork Lessons.

Scene 1.  The kitchen is notified that Michelin reviewers are in the restaurant. Chef Cooper (not yet recovered from a beating inflicted for unpaid drug debts) takes charge in a crazed, dictatorial manner that completely unsettles the cooking team.  Not the way to instill camaraderie in pursuit of a shared objective! That Cooper is undone by the sabotage of a team member seeking revenge, and the diners are just plain businessmen, is not the point. We’ve all seen some version of this team leader dysfunction play-out in the workplace. It’s never positive. Continue reading