Archive for February, 2011

3 Simple Words to Your Brand Story

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

In a recent Fast Company article, branding guru Ken Carbone offers up $100,000 worth of advice on developing a brand story that works.

Strikingly similar to my advice on how to create a powerful corporate story (identify, clarify, magnify), Carbone’s three words are:




To read how he recommends enacting those three words, go to:

An Encouraging Story on U.S. Education

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

It’s exciting to discover that innovative teaching methods are being used in my home area. It’s especially fun to learn that Erin Hitchcock, the daughter of a friend, is on a team of teachers who are leading the way with project-based, collaborative learning. It’s a refreshing change from all the dire news we often hear about the U.S. educational system failing our children.

Check out this video report on MSNBC and share your thoughts:

Short Stories the New Norm?

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

“Say it quickly and get off the page (or stage)” is becoming the key to successful communication. As technology speeds up the pace of life, people’s attention spans continue to shrink markedly.

TED requires speakers to deliver thought-provoking ideas in no more than 20 minutes, is training us to say what we have to say in 140 characters or less, and e-readers are increasing demand for simpler, shorter books. Now TED may be setting a new standard for publishers by creating books between 10,000 and 20,000 words, which is roughly 40-80 pages of a trade paperback. The point is to enable readers to easily finish a book in just one sitting.

Would you rather slow down and take the time to dive into a book over a week or two or more–or demand shorter books so you can get the gist of the idea and move on to the next? Tell us which you prefer. We’d like to know!

The Top 50 Stories of Innovation

Friday, February 18th, 2011

“Fast Company” recently released its 2011 list of the Top 50 most innovative companies. If your company isn’t among them, what can you learn from what those companies that are?

Here are the magazine’s Top 5, with the reason for choosing each one:

#1–Apple “for dominating the business landscape in 101 ways”

#2–Twitter “for five years of explosive growth that have redefined communication”

#3–Facebook “for 600 million users, despite Hollywood”

#4–Nissan “for creating the Leaf, the first mass-market, all-electric car”

#5–Groupon “for reinvigorating retail–and turning down $6 billion” in a buyout offer

Each of these, as “Fast Company” says, has taken a “unique path,” which is often what leadership requires.

How about your company? What are you doing, or planning to do, that’s unique and will help you gain an edge over your competitors?

Virtual Training Increases Nearly Seven-fold at Deloitte Services

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

When budgets were cut several years ago at the beginning of the economic downturn, Deloitte Services began to use virtual classrooms for technical training. “We still had plenty of money for training, but our budget was cut year over year. That forced us to rethink our strategy around delivery,” explained Bill Pelster, a Seattle-based managing principal for talent development.

Before 2008, Deloitte’s virtual training sessions numbered approximately 900. Now the virtual classroom is used for nearly 6,000 classes per year. The best use of the virtual format, Deloitte has found, for updating technical skills or knowledge among auditors, financial advisers, tax experts, and risk-management specialists worldwide. Other U.S. companies have also discovered that virtual training can work well.

Despite some organizations’ belief that soft skills training doesn’t work well in a virtual environment, I’ve successfully delivered storytelling online and will be increasing the number of web-based presentations and courses in the future. The next one, a presentation to a board of trustees, is scheduled in early March.

How about you? If your company is offering virtual training, tell us how it’s been delivered and how well it’s worked.

Virtual Corporate Training Rising

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Corporate training departments have dramatically increased the percentage of training offered virtually, through both live and recorded online classes. Virtual classes rose from 8 percent of corporate training in 2008 to 13 percent in 2010. Shrinking budgets drove the change, and companies found that for certain types of classes, such as technical topics, online-based instruction can be highly effective.

According to the Corporate Learning Factbook 2001, a joint venture of Bersin & Associates and Workforce Management, virtual training may have reached its peak since employee engagement is more challenging in a virtual environment. Also, soft skills, such as communications and customer service, benefit from the synergy of an in-person classroom experience.

Management Training May Increase in 2011, Poll Says

Friday, February 11th, 2011
Investment in management training is likely to remain at current levels or slightly higher this year, according to a poll conducted by SMU Cox Executive Education. Nearly 100 percent of the HR professionals contacted indicated that their organizations would continue investing in leadership training, with the focus on equipping “high potential” personnel with skills needed for the future.
Training will focus on areas such as leadership and executive development, management accountability, interpersonal and organizational business skills, and aligning leaders with business strategy.

Two Storytelling Companies Among Fortune’s Best for 2011

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Two storytelling companies are featured in Fortune magazine’s list of “Best 25 Companies to Work For” in 2011. Featured in Around the Corporate Campfire: How Great Leaders Use Stories to Inspire Success, REI placed #9 on Fortune’s list and The Container Store ranks #21.

This year Fortune published verbatim quotes from employees of the featured companies, which helps readers understand why employees enjoy their jobs. The eight most-often-used words in employees’ quotes are these:
* people
* family
* time
* benefit
* team
* job
* help
* customer

Notice that salary is not among the reasons that people love where they work. Fortune also created interactive graphics that illustrate the relative rankings of the companies and their most-appreciated qualities. Check them out here:

Instant Online Buzz the Key to Super Bowl Ad Quality and Creativity?

Monday, February 7th, 2011

As ad executives opine on which commercials “won” the Super Bowl competition, one says that in our social media-driven world, the contest champs are those that are posted instantly and create the greatest buzz on and

In today’s Fast Company online, the chief creative officer at Grey New York observes that the buzz used to happen Monday morning at the office around the water cooler, but now “the minute an amazing ad hits, the Twitter world goes crazy.” Tor Myhren says he “personally believes the YouTube view count is the single most important factor in judging the success of a Super Bowl ad.”

What do you think? Social media are clearly overtaking print media as a chief source of news. Do you agree that they also are the prime measure of ad quality, as detemined by the speed and staying power of an ad’s online buzz?

Leadership A Key Area of Corporate Training

Friday, February 4th, 2011

“Learning needs to be continuous, and it needs to be everywhere,” according to Karen O’Leonard, author of the Corporate Learning Factbook 2011. Noting that in 2010 companies increased their training staffs for the first time in three years, O’Leonard reported that the number of learning hours delivered by each studies also increased.

More than one-fifth of training budgets (22%) went toward leadership programs that in some cases combined formal classroom instruction with online learning, followed by one-on-one executive coaching. The coaching sessions focused on “lessons learned” and included opportunities for leaders to demonstrate how they would use their new skills.