Archive for April, 2014

Brand As Verb A Brilliant Presentation

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Of all the articles and blogs written about the revolutionary changes in the world of branding,BrandAsVerb a  SlideShare presentation titled “Brand As Verb” stands out as brilliant. It clearly explains what organizations need to do to keep their brands relevant to their consumers by involving them in the process. Creating by Ben Grossman, strategic director of London-based Jack Morton Worldwide, the presentation lays out five essential principles of the new approach to effectively branding organizations and their products.

As you would expect, I especially love the stories of how some familiar (and some not-so-familiar brands) brands have excelled at garnering customer involvement. Exemplifying Grossman’s points, the stories describe inventive campaigns to inspire consumer participation in all aspects of developing and nurturing a brand. My favorites are the delightlfully creative HP campaign in Paris and the ingenious ordering system for home delivery created by Dubai’s Red Tomato Pizza.

Review the slide presentation at http:bit.ly/BrandAsVerb and then leave your comments.

What are your favorite ideas? Why?

Meaningful Storytelling A Top Responsibility of Leadership

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

An engaging article in “Forbes” online recently featured a discussion by David Slocum, professor at the Berlin School of Creative Leadership. Slocum analyzes the Hollywood version of business stories, as illustrated in the hit movie, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” with stories that exemplify authentic leadership. Slocum’s cogent article contrasts the “simple and dramatic” approach used by moviemakers (and arguably, rightly so if they want to succeed at the box office) versus the qualities that, in fact, are essential elements for effective storytelling in organizations.

Clearly dissecting the main character’s selective editing of his own story, Slocum points out that when Jordan Belfort wrote his book, on which the movie is based, he chose not to focus on how he made a fortune in penny stocks by manipulating the market–a transgresson for which he was convicted of securities fraud and money laundering. Instead, Belfort concentrated on describing the personal excesses of high living and wild partying afforded by the tens of millions he raked in. Likewise, the movie plays up the salacious details of a life run amok.

As Slocum explains, while businesses need to stay true to their mission, they also must adapt to market changes. Accordingly, their”…stories should convey essential truths about the business they describe while still having rough edges and opening out to continuing interaction.” The professor sums up by saying, “Although that doesn’t necessarily work in Hollywood’s scripts and productions, such openness and adaptability in meaningful storytelling about organizations and business activities are among the paramount responsibilities – and most powerful opportunities – of real leadership.”

Do you agree? Tell us what you think about how flexible businesses should be, or need to be, with their storytelling.

 

Word Choices Determine Whether A Story Soars or Bores

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

When I lead workshops–whether the focus is Corporate Storytelling, media relations, or business writing–one of the key components is a segment on developing–and especially, editing–the participants’ core stories. Just as story construction can make or break a good tale, so can word choices. They determine whether your story soars, bringing the audience along for a spectacular ride, or bores, losing the audience to the multitude of distractions surrounding us all 24/7 (or even worse, putting some to sleep).

Here are a few tips from a colleague in South Africa, Graham Williams, that I particulary endorse. He included these in an article about word choices in a recent issue of his e-zine, The Halo and the Noose.

1. If there’s a choice between a long word and a short one, use the short one.
2. If a word isn’t necessary to convey the message, cut it out.
3. Whenever possible, use the active form of a verb instead of passive.
4. Never use a foreign phrase, scientific word or jargon if there’s an everyday term that will work.
5. Ignore any of these rules if following it complicates your story or makes it sound awkward.

I especially love the story Williams shared to illustrate his points. It’s from the book, Halo and Noose:The Language of Work, the Language of Story, written with Dorian Haarhoff. As Williams explains, We refer to a cartoon where Hagar and Lucky Eddie are exchanging ideas. One says to the other, “I can’t stand people who use big words. They are pretentious.” The other asks what pretentious means.

What simple, everyday word(s) would you use to simplify the first character’s statement?

A Values-Based Story about Canlis Restaurant in Seattle

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

A reknowned Seattle restaurant often rated among the best in the country as well as the world, Canlis is a third-generation family-owned business with an impressive values-based story. The family’s values guide the owners’ long-term plans as well as day-to-day operations. Those values, as explained by Chris Canlis, the second generation to run the elegant dining room, are simplified as TGD: trustworthy, generous, and other-centered.

Speaking recently with his son, Mark, at a meeting of the Seattle Philanthropic Advisors Network (SPAN), Chris was quick to explain, “I’m not an owner; I’m a steward, and it’s my job to care for it and pass it on.” According to the restaurant website, the family believes “everything we are, we were given.” Chris says their perspective is based on a Bible passage in the book of Proverbs: “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.” He added, “Generosity is not a decision; it’s a function of character. It isn’t conditional on how well you’re doing. The poorest of the poor can be generous.”

As an example, Chris said, his wife, Alice, grew up in a family that “had nothing material and all things familial.” He described her parents’ home as a place where “the door was always open and an unusually long dining table (which seated 18) always had room for one more.” He said most of what he knows about philanthropy he’s learned from his wife.

For more than six decades, Canlis’ generous philanthropy has helped many organizations, even when the economy slows and business suffers. Mark described a time when he was prepared to turn down a request for a donation to a community event during the recent recession–and then realized that even though times were challenging, the restaurant should still be generous. Among the beneficiaries of Canlis’ support is FareStart, a well-known Seattle restaurant that serves as a training facility to teach marketable skills to homeless adults and at-risk youth. Guest chefs from a range of Seattle restaurants are a regular feature at FareStart, giving trainees a close-up look at how to succeed in a service industry.

When Chris and Mark were asked how the parents have passed their values to the next generation, Mark, the father of three, jumped in. with an answer that befits his generation: “Living with three kids is like living on reality TV with three cameras in the house. They watch everything you do!”

Chris and Alice are still involved with the business, but turned over the reins to Mark and his brother, Brian, in 2005. The brothers have been careful to make incremental changes with an eye on retaining familiar features of the iconic restaurant overlooking Lake Union. Beloved by generations of Seattleites and sophisticated travelers, Canlis is consistently a top choice for celebrating special occasions. Exemplifying the family’s guiding values, the new generation of management is committed to continuing the tradition: delivering a fine-dining experience in every detail by focusing on the guests.