Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

My Five Greatest Mistakes as A Leader: 30 years of painful data (that might help you)

October 24th, 2018

In my field, we often speak of “data-driven decisions.” But for the leader, sometimes the most important data is derived from a source that evades our metrics platforms. Indeed, such data can only be gleaned through brutal self-confrontation.



The philosopher Kierkegaard reflected that “… the artist goes forward by going backward.” It is a paradoxical concept and yet an apt observation.

If the leader wants a different outcome than the one he is currently achieving, he may do better to look backward rather than forward.

For me, this means doing the hard work of reflecting on my most significant failures, and in particular, the root causes of these failures. This is especially painful because the “root cause” of the “root causes” of my organization’s failures lies within ME.

Looking back over 30+ years of (my) leadership data, I can see patterns … negative patterns. This observation leads to an inevitable question: What can I do to prevent their recurrence?

There is a complex answer; there is a concise answer. Here is the latter.

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Marketing Management: 6 lessons from The Walking Dead for your team and marketing efforts

October 20th, 2015

For decades, people have been pulling leadership and life lessons from film and television. From sports and war inspired movies to law dramas and comedies, we see characters make tough decisions, lead their teams to victory or support them through the losses.

For me, apocalypse stories often have some of the most dynamic and interesting characters to watch. To survive in such circumstances, they often learn important lessons that you just don’t think about or encounter as dramatically in a normal day-to-day life. Stripping them of their modern conveniences and the restraints of society and laws, you quickly get to see who they really are as a person.

Even though the office place doesn’t require the same life-or-death decisions, we can still draw out valuable lessons from the decisions these characters make.

The Walking Dead fans like me know that Season 6 has finally arrived. To celebrate, I’ve rounded up six lessons marketing leaders can take away from the drama and apply to their teams.

6 lessons from The Walking Dead for your team and marketing efforts


Lesson #1. Don’t let your guard down (and keep testing)

“You’re not safe. No matter how many people are around, or how clear the area looks, no matter what anyone says, no matter what you think. You are not safe. It only takes one second. One second and it’s over. Never let your guard down. Ever. I want you to promise me.”

—    Rick Grimes, Season 5 

You might be asking how this relates to marketing. Replace “you” with “your webpages” and switch “safe” to “bulletproof.” Your webpages are not bulletproof.

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Gaining Business Leader Buy-in: 7 CEO personas

June 21st, 2012

You may have an incredible plan to improve your company’s marketing performance, but unless you can do a little selling, you’re never going to be able to start marketing.

I’m talking about internal selling. Often, when marketers want to make significant changes to their company’s marketing performance, it takes some budget to get the ball rolling. That may be budget to buy a new tool or platform, work with an agency, or hire some new employees.

If you want to get that budget, you have to convince the CEO (or perhaps CFO or other executive, depending on where you are in the organization) that you can deliver some serious ROI.

And yet, ironic as it may seem, marketers are usually not the best at selling, especially internally.

At last week’s Optimization Summit 2012, I had the pleasure to introduce Kristin Zhivago, President, Zhivago Management Partners, when she presented “How to Optimize Your CEO’s Anointing of Your Marketing Efforts.”

Her top piece of advice was, “You have to be the one in the company that has the personal knowledge of your customers.”

Much of your internal ability to get things done will come from being the trusted advisor who can speak on behalf of the customer to the CEO and business leaders.

To do that, she recommends actually calling customers and interviewing them. “Sales people are dogs. Marketers are cats. We’re shy,” Kristin acknowledges. But she encourages marketers to overcome their inherent introversion and get customers on the phone.


Your CEO’s ‘functional persona’

Beyond knowing your customer, Kristin advises marketers to know their CEO as well. In this presentation, she broke down CEOs (and, really, all business leaders), into seven “functional personas” to help you understand how to work with, and become a trusted advisor to, your business leaders.

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