Friday, March 1, 2024

Are You the Type of Leader Who Speaks Last?

If you’re not familiar with the name Hortense le Gentil, get ready to be inspired by some valuable leadership take-aways. She stands out wherever she appears in the digital landscape, whether as a guest writer, her own website, or on Twitter/X (where we met) - and now, here on my blog. Recently, Hortense and I had a discussion about leadership, and highlights follow a brief introduction.

Hortense le Gentil is a world-renowned executive leadership coach, speaker, and author. Her coaching work focuses on CEOs and senior executives on their journey from hero leaders to human leaders. She is the author of the widely acclaimed book Aligned, and recently released her latest book entitled, The Unlocked Leader: Dare to Free Your Own Voice, Lead With Empathy, and Shine Your Light in the World. Le Gentil’s thought leadership is informed by 30 years in business, working across industries including media consulting and advertising, and as an entrepreneur. Her thought-leadership has been featured in Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Fast Company, Inc., Business Insider, and Le Gentil grew up in France, where she was a competitive show jumper during her youth.

QUESTION: You included an inspirational quote in an article for Fast Company: "The most effective human leaders are those who have successfully re-positioned their role from quarterback to coach. Their job is no longer to handle the ball and score points; it is to inspire and support the players to give the best of themselves and make sure they play as a team so together they can score points. In other words, leading requires different attributes and behaviors than managing." Can you please elaborate as to how this plays out in office scenarios where office politics, silos, and big egos exist.

(Read full article here: “Why leaders should always speak last” at

HORTENSE LE GENTIL: It's a profound shift from being a "doer" to a "facilitator." In the throes of office politics and strong egos, it's the leader's duty to create an empowering atmosphere where each person feels safe to express themselves and knows that their contributions are valued and heard. This requires a leader to adopt new tools and skills. A clear vision is paramount — as the captain of the ship, you must communicate this vision to your team. You must become adept at listening and understanding – speak less, and when you do, speak last to ensure everyone's voice is heard. Leadership is about understanding what drives you and your team. Be like a real-life Ted Lasso! This is not just a change of actions but a transformation of mindset.

SHARE THIS: As a leader, speak last to ensure everyone's voice is heard. ~@hortenseleg #LeadershipTip #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: Your book is entitled, THE UNLOCKED LEADER. What are three take-aways you hope every reader has?
HORTENSE LE GENTIL: I hope readers will embrace three key takeaways: first, that being a human leader requires immense courage — it's not a sign of weakness but of strength. Second, I want readers to be able to identify the mindtraps that are holding them back, the places where they're stuck. And finally, the goal is to initiate a mindshift, a change in mindset that opens the door to self-discovery and allows people to begin writing their own story in their own authentic voice.

QUESTION: You describe your mission as "helping executives on their journeys from hero leaders to human leaders." Those can be very different types of individuals. What are some of your secrets?
HORTENSE LE GENTIL: My work guiding executives from hero leaders to human leaders is rooted in empathy. I listen intently, strive to understand their challenges, and help them confront their fears without any judgment. My role is to accompany them on their journey, providing a space where they can be vulnerable, and discover their own authentic leadership style.

QUESTION: You are originally from France, and my summer internship during graduate school was in the Consumer Marketing Department at Disneyland Paris. How are corporate cultures different in France (from the United States); and how are leaders different in the two countries?
HORTENSE LE GENTIL: I hesitate to generalize, however, I've observed that France, with its rich history, tends to be more anchored in the past than corporate culture in the United States. The U.S., with its diverse immigrant heritage, generally exhibits more openness to reinvention. While it's an oversimplification, French leaders tend to lean toward a more traditional "hero" leadership style, whereas. in the United States, there's a greater embrace of "human" leadership approaches. Of course, both countries have a mix of both styles!

QUESTION: Which three leaders from business or history inspire you, and why?
HORTENSE LE GENTIL: The leaders who inspire me include Gandhi, for his inspiring story of abandoning a life of comfort and embarking on a journey to deeply understanding the heart of his country before leading it to change. In terms of business leaders, I find two particularly inspiring: Satya Nadella, for his humility and ability to transform the culture of Microsoft informed by personal experiences; and John Donohoe, who exemplifies resilience and empathy, creating a narrative of success through collaboration. Each of these leaders showcases the power of human leadership to inspire and enact meaningful change.

My gratitude and appreciation to Hortense for appearing on my Blog and for sharing her inspiring leadership insights.

Image Credit: WordSwag and Hortense le Gentil.

Connect with Hortense at these links:
The Unlocked Leader Book:

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Does Your Brand Celebrate Leap Year?

The rarity of February 29, also known as Leap Day causing the year to be referred to as a Leap Year, appears on the calendar every four years and has long inspired marketers to get creative.

But first, a little history about the day. According to PieceofCakeMarketing, "The tradition of adding an extra day to the calendar during leap years, specifically on February 29th, has its origins in Roman superstitions. It was considered an inauspicious day for many activities. Some Romans believed that it was a day of bad luck, which led to the tradition of avoiding major events, such as, marriages and business transactions on that day. Today, Leap Day serves the practical purpose of keeping our calendar in sync with the Earth’s orbit."

Here are some promotional themes for your brand to use on Leap Day:

(1) Leap Day happens once every four years, so use "once every four years" messaging

(2) February 29 is an "extra day" in the month, so customers can take advantage of "extra" savings

(3) Since Leap Day is the 29th day of February, promote a product or service at the $29 price point or offer $29 off a regular price; offer free shipping with a minimum of $29 spent; highlight products or services with "29" in their prices (e.g., $299, $2,900, etc.), or if appropriate, promote a "buy one and get two for $29"

(4) Add the concept of "leaping" into your brand messaging, e.g., "leap into" the spring fashion collection, garden accessories, etc.

(5) Because of the association between Leap Day and frogs (hence the term "leap"), incorporate a leaping frog into your marketing promotions

(6) Add a new hashtag to your marketing, e.g., #LeapDay2024

(7) Offer ridiculous promotions for your lucky customers with birthdays on February 29th - the chance of someone having this rare, once-every-four-years birthday is only 1 in 1,461

(8) Make a difference/Pay it forward: In some cultures, it is considered a tradition to perform acts of charity or kindness on Leap Day. People might make an extra effort to help those in need, donate to charity, or engage in random acts of kindness. Perhaps, your leadership team might close the office early ‌in order to do volunteer work.

Who are some brands with Leap Day promotions this year?

The Seattle Kraken hockey team will play the Pittsburgh Penguins in a special "Leap Year Night" presented by Pitchbook on February 29.

Jeremiah's Italian Ice, the premiere frozen dessert brand based in Orlando, Florida, is "hopping" back through time during February with its new Leap Back campaign, designed to celebrate the brand's journey over the past three decades by giving back to its guests. The brand's first-ever Leap Back campaign includes a full month of promotions for J-List loyalty members, culminating in a Leap Day celebration at all locations, with throwback pricing of $0.96 treats all day long for J-List members to honor the year it all began: 1996 (another Leap Year).

Home Run Inn, Chicago's very own thin crust pizza, announced a National Pizza Day offer for those with a Leap Year Birthday of February 29th. To mark the holiday, Home Run Inn will give away FREE pizza for a year, to the first 29 leap year babies whose birthday is on February 29. To redeem the offer, the first 29 customers must present a valid ID showing their birthdate as February 29 to Home Run Inn's Instagram page ( by 11:59PM CST on February 29th to receive 12 frozen classic crust pizzas on the house. This offer is valid from February 9 through February 29, 2024.

Who could forget what Zappos did to celebrate Leap Day in 2016?

Zappos asked fans and customers to sign the petition to make Leap Day a national holiday. According to Digiday, Zappos gave "all of its employees a paid day off in hopes of inspiring employees and consumers to #TakeTheLeap and use it to do something they’ve always wanted to do."

And who could forget what Krispy Kreme did to celebrate Leap Day in 2020?

According to FoxNews, "Krispy Kreme announced its new nationwide delivery program to launch on February 29 with partner DoorDash to facilitate delivery from nearly all of its 350-plus U.S. locations, to folks within 10 miles of a doughnut shop. And because this promotion launches on Leap Day, Krispy Kreme is planning to send special deliveries to hospitals' maternity wards within the delivery range. To receive the doughnuts, families or staffers at those hospitals are required to share news of their Leap-Day deliveries, using hashtag #KrispyKremeSpecialDelivery and tagging @KrispyKreme on Twitter and Instagram."

Dave Skena, Chief Marketing Officer of Krispy Kreme, explained, "Krispy Kreme doughnut delivery is pretty sweet, and so are Leap Day babies. Using 2020’s extra day to make the leap to national delivery, while celebrating Leap Day babies, will be a fun moment for our brand and fans."

Some final words from PieceofCakeMarketing, "February 29th provides a golden opportunity to think creatively and connect your product or service with the spirit of leap day. With thoughtful planning and execution, your campaigns can earn valuable media coverage, drive user engagement, and foster brand loyalty."

So what will your brand do to leap apart from the competition on Leap Day?

SHARE THIS: February 29 provides a golden opportunity to think creatively and connect your product or service with the spirit of #LeapDay. ~@POCakeMarketing #DebbieLaskeysBlog

Image Credit: Home Run Inn and Jeremiah's Italian Ice.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Recent Marketing News: Product Launches, Banking, Social Media and More

During the past few weeks, there were news stories that reflected new product launches, personal branding, corporate sponsorship, and more.

Remember the marketing news discussed here on this blog back on January 22nd? I wrote, "Golf legend Tiger Woods and Nike ended their advertising partnership that began in 1996. According to Tiger, "Over 27 years ago, I was fortunate to start a partnership with one of the most iconic brands in the world. The days since have been filled with so many amazing moments and memories...Phil Knight's passion and vision brought this Nike and Nike Golf partnership together, and I wanted to personally thank him." I asked, "Does this mean that another co-branding and advertising partnership is on the horizon?"

Well, less than two months later, here's the announcement according to GolfWeek: "The worst-kept secret in golf was officially unveiled: Tiger Woods and TaylorMade have partnered to launch a new premium active-lifestyle apparel and footwear brand. According to TaylorMade CEO David Abeles, "This was not an endorsement, but instead, a full-blown, unequivocal partnership with Tiger...We're going to sunrise a brand, Sun Day Red, as a standalone business."

Coca-Cola has launched its newest flavor, Coca-Cola Spiced, to cater to tastes changing along with America's demographics. The company explained that the new Spiced flavor blends the traditional Coke flavor with raspberry and spiced flavors. It will be available both in full sugar and zero-sugar varieties as well as in both cans and bottles. According to Coke's VP of Marketing for North America, Sue Lynne Cha, "Spiced was selected because it's all about being responsive to our consumer preferences. Consumers are looking for more bold flavors and more complex flavor profiles. That's a trend we started to see in food, but also in beverage, and we thought that was a unique space for us to play in."

William "Bill" Post recently passed away, and while you may not recognize his name, you will definitely recognize his claim to fame: He was credited with inventing the beloved Pop Tart breakfast treat. He was one of seven children born to Dutch immigrants in Michigan, and at the age of 16, he went to work at the Hekman Biscuit Company. After serving in the military during World War II, he returned to Hekman and worked in various divisions of the business. After 20 years, he was plant manager of Hekman, later known as the Keebler Company, and he invented the concept of "a shelf-stable toaster pastry" that was brought to market in the span of four short months. Pop Tarts made their debut in 1964 with four original flavors: strawberry, blueberry, brown sugar cinnamon, and apple-currant; and today, 60 years later, there are between 20-30 flavors at any time with new flavors constantly in development.


Starbucks customers who use a Bank of America card will now get additional cash back for their purchases as part of a new partnership between the two companies. However, in order to be eligible for rewards and cash back, a customer must be a member of the Starbucks Rewards program and either use Bank of America online banking or Bank of America Mobile Banking.

Capital One announced that it will acquire Discover Financial Services for $35.5 billion in an all-stock deal; and the deal will close in late 2024 or early 2025. Discover is considerably smaller than the other three major credit card networks in the United States: Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. But with the acquisition of Discover, Capital One will have a major leg up against competing credit card-issuing banks, such as, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Citigroup.

According to the Daily Mail, "The Chicago Cubs were forced to rapidly change their marketing campaign ahead of the new MLB season after fans claimed its slogan resembled an X-rated term. Four days before their spring-training schedule begins, the Cubs released a promo video on their social-media pages to build anticipation for the 2024 season. However, fans were quick to poke fun at the team for using the hashtag: 'YouHaveToCIt'. What seemed a clever marketing tweak to the phrase 'you have to see it' quickly backfired as several users on X (formerly Twitter) pointed out the rude meaning it could have if read as an unfortunate typo. And after realizing their error, the Cubs later edited their post to include a new hashtag of 'YouHaveToSeeIt'."

When you watch a professional baseball game, do you pay attention to the uniforms? Most of the time, the home team wears white. Other teams, such as the Colorado Rockies, have four different uniform color choices. For the 2024 season, Major League Baseball hired Nike to design new uniforms, and they are being manufactured by Fanatics. However, many players are complaining about the poor quality, the smaller letters and numbers on the jerseys, and the fact that the pants are see-through!

According to MLB officials, “The new uniforms improve mobility by providing 25 percent more stretch and will also dry 28 percent faster. The lettering, sleeve emblems, and numbering are less bulky in an attempt to make uniforms more breathable and comfortable.” Players and fans hope improvements are made before Opening Day so that the everyone can focus on the brand (baseball games) versus product packaging (the uniforms).

Strikes can impact local economies, and more so, if the people who go on strike work at a tourist attraction. The Eiffel Tower in Paris welcomes nearly 7 million visitors each year and is the defining image of the French capital and the “city of lights” brand. So how can workers who maintain the Eiffel Tower go on strike? Eiffel Tower employees went on strike for six days and demanded changes to the landmark’s business model and better maintenance of the structure, which is showing widespread traces of rust. Since the Paris Olympics are set to begin in July, the 135-year-old attraction will feature prominently (in tourist visits as well as in all forms of media coverage).

How valuable is a name? If you’re a well-known international brand, there is incredible equity, association, and positioning resulting from a brand’s name – think of Disney, Nike, Coca-Cola, to name a few. But in the case of X, other than Elon Musk, who will admit to calling the social platform X? The reality is that most of us refer to the social platform as “X, formerly known as Twitter.” This is certainly not what Musk envisioned when he changed the name in July 2023 and rebranded the platform – especially since the URL continues to be and even redirects to the original link. According to Wikipedia, “A few days after the rebrand took effect, an AP Stylebook update recommended that journalists refer to the platform as “X, formerly known as Twitter;” and in September 2023, The Harris Poll noted that the rebranding had not publicly caught on, with the majority of users as well as notable brands still referring to X as Twitter.”

According to CNN Business, “Twitter pervaded every part of online life and popular culture. In 2011, the phrase “tweet” was added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, and “retweet” was added to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary in the same year.” According to Ramon Jimenez, Global Principal at brand consultancy Wolff Olins, “Twitter became one of the few companies with a product experience so unique that its brand name has become synonymous with a behavior. We tweet, we Google, and so on.”

And, did you hear that an estimated 123.4 million people watched Super Bowl 58 on February 11, 2024, across all platforms? That number was the most-watched American television broadcast in a generation, so large, in fact, that it approached the all-time most-watched television broadcast in the United States set in 1969, when an estimated 125 to 150 million viewers watched the Apollo 11 moon landing, according to ABC News.

Of course, we could chalk up the reason for the high viewership to the ads - even though the football game was probably the most exciting of all Super Bowls, since the winner was decided in the final seconds of OVERTIME. But again, there were those $7 million ads!

What other recent marketing buzz caught your attention? There's always something happening that impacts marketing, so tune in to #DebbieLaskeysBlog for the scoop!

Image Credits: Tiger Woods/TaylorMade, Coca-Cola, and Pop Tarts.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Celebrating Post Number 600 on #DebbieLaskeysBlog!

I have enjoyed writing blog posts and sharing my commentary about marketing and leadership for many years, since 2009 to be exact. Post number 500 was written and published with no trumpets blaring and no big celebration - however, not 600. For post number 600, I've decided to share a recap of my favorite topics, posts, and guest experts. So find a comfortable chair and join me on a journey down memory lane.

My first post was published on October 9, 2009, and was entitled, "GM Hired a Woman to Lead US Sales - Yes, a Woman." I vividly recall my discussion with my company's web designer at the time as we discussed this exciting announcement. He suggested that, if I felt strongly about the news, I should start a blog to share my commentary. I did, and my blog is going strong nearly 15 years and 600 posts later.

As the URL evolved into the name of the blog, Debbie Laskey's Blog, it was time for a hashtag to also appear, thus, the creation of #DebbieLaskeysBlog in August 2021. It has since accompanied all posts on Twitter/X, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Threads, and Mastodon.

As I wrote in November 2009, "Should You Blog? Blogs have been around since the early 1990’s, but should you have one? If you answer YES, then find your voice. If you are an individual, write as you speak and share your expertise. If a company, determine your company’s voice and make sure that the senior management team approves. Second, develop a timeline for updating your Blog. Daily may be too much work – weekly or monthly may be better options. Third, create a strategy for content. Decide on key themes or topics. Future topics will be derived from visitor feedback, and research industry-specific venues for additional ideas. Now, start blogging!"

Some memorable posts include the following about brand identity, brand strategy, personal branding, leadership tips, and brand promotions:
*April 2016: When Creating a Product Name, ONE WORD Can Make a Difference
*October 2016: Three Branding Lessons from Binge Watching
*November 2016: Five #LeadershipTips from the 2016 Presidential Election
*November 2016: Six Branding Tips from the LA Auto Show
*February 2020: What's Your Favorite Valentine's Day Brand?
*April 2020: What's Your Favorite Easter Brand?
*April 2021: Does Your Brand Recognize April Fool’s Day?
*November 2022: What Brand Stands Out on Thanksgiving?
*December 2022: What Are Your Favorite Holiday Ads?
*December 2022: Five Personal Branding Lessons from Santa
*December 2022: What's Your Favorite Brand the Day After Christmas?
*December 2022: What Are the Most Famous Brands on December 31st and January 1st?
*April 2023: Don't Fool Your Customers TOO Much on April Fools' Day
*December 2023: Happy #NationalChampagneDay
*January 2024: "Top 10" New Year's Resolutions for Leaders

Beginning in December 2022, I created a weekly series called "Marketing News of the Week." From the health scare of Buffalo Bills Damar Hamlin and the amazing amount of donations to redesigned products promoting the Lunar New Year, these posts provided explanations as to how mainstream news impacted marketing. While intended to be a weekly series, these posts sometimes appear a couple of times a month.

As a lifelong fan of reading who has shared a myriad of book reviews on my blog, during the fall of 2023, I created a series called the "Fall Back to Reading Series" and invited 30 leadership, marketing, and customer experience experts to answer the same questions ranging from the three business books that made the biggest impact on their careers to their favorite authors to creative names for a nonprofit to promote reading to children and young adults. Series highlights appeared on my blog on January 31, 2024.

Each year while watching the Super Bowl, I also watched the ads, also referred to as the #AdBowl and the #BrandBowl. I sometimes annoyed family and friends because I took notes during the ads and asked my fellow game watchers to quiet down during the ads - not something easily accomplished during the year's most important football game. And then, the following Monday, while football experts played "Monday Morning Quarterbacking" about the game's highs and lows, I always posted my recap of the best (and sometimes worst) ads. To date, I've written 12 of these posts.

As a marketing pro, without a doubt, my favorite series has been my annual "Top 10 Marketing Highlights" posts. They were written with a nod to David Letterman for the format and appeared on the first day of each year. To date, I've written 14 of these posts.

Starting in 2022, I created an annual series called "(year) Was the Year of #BrandIdentity Changes." In this annual recap published in January, I provided details of interesting brands that either rebranded, changed their logo, changed their name, co-branded, formed an interesting partnership, created a unique hashtag to match a campaign, changed iconic packaging, or in some other way made branding news during the year. So far, I've written two of these posts.

Also starting in 2022, I created an annual series called "Words and Terms that Told the Story of (year)." In this annual recap published in January, I shared key words that appeared again and again in news broadcasts as well as the most searched term on Google. So far, I've written two of these posts.

Also started in 2022, I created an annual series called "Notable Deaths in (year) and Some Personal Branding Tips." In this annual recap published in January, I shared a list of individuals who passed away the previous year and why they inspired me. So far, I've written two of these posts.

Also starting in 2022, I created an annual series called "Barbie Made News in (year)." In this annual recap published in January, I provided details of the Barbie dolls released by Mattel during the year to celebrate important women and their accomplishments. Of course, during 2023, the blockbuster film made news. So far, I've written two of these posts.

From February 2013 through June 2014, I served as a writer for the "IBM Midsize Insider Program," and many of my posts during that time were written about marketing and social media put into perspective for midsize businesses. Those specific posts appeared first on IBM’s website, and once live, they then appeared on my blog.

Over the years, my blog has received some much-appreciated recognition. As a result of my posts, I was invited to be a "Featured Contributor" to, and I wrote unique posts specifically for that online community. In addition, my blog was included in the BRANDING category in James Strock's SERVE TO LEAD BLOGS LIST in 2021 and also in the Center for Management & Organization Effectiveness TOP LEADERSHIP BLOG LIST in 2014.

Lastly, 18 experts (authors/speakers/coaches) graciously appeared on my blog in Q&A formats several times. I'd like to give a BIG shout-out with applause to them now: Erika Andersen, Melanie Bell, Julia Carcamo, Susan Colantuono, Doug Dickerson, Amy Diehl, Kevin Eikenberry, Joni M. Fisher, Lee Goldberg, Mark Herbert, Rebecca Herold, Shep Hyken, Eric Jacobson, Jim Joseph, Michael McKinney, Katherine Spinney, James Strock, and Ron Thomas. These individuals have made a long-lasting impact on my blog and on me, and for that, I am incredibly grateful.

Writers often talk about writer's block or looking at a blank piece of paper with a big question mark. But this recap has shown that when you view the world through "marketing-colored glasses," then writer's block is not an issue. There are just too many marketing-related topics to write about. I wish to thank you for joining me on this trip down memory lane and for continuing to read my posts. See you next time on #DebbieLaskeysBlog - for post #601 and beyond!

Image Credit: Debbie Laskey.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Inspiring Tips to Celebrate #NationalLeadershipDay!


Today, February 20, is National Leadership Day. According to National Day website, "The aim of National Leadership Day is to inculcate the values of leadership in each one of us. A good leader not only leads but inspires those around him/her/they to be the best versions of themselves. Anyone can be a leader — you just have to show up and encourage others to do the same...We know that an organization is only as good as its leaders, which means that having empathetic and just leaders at the top who lead by example creates an environment in which everyone is inspired to be their best."

Therefore, today is an especially appropriate day for Erika Andersen to appear on my blog for a conversation about leadership. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Erika for many years, and she first appeared in a Q&A on my blog in 2011. She is the founding partner of Proteus, where she and her colleagues support leaders at all levels to get ready and stay ready to meet the future. Erika advises senior executives and also shares her insights through her books, speaking engagements, and social media. In addition to her latest book, Change from the Inside Out, she is the author of four previous best-selling books: Be Bad First, Leading So People Will Follow, Being Strategic, and Growing Great Employees. Erika is also a popular leadership blogger at, and the creator and host of the Proteus Leader Show podcast.

QUESTION: One of your inspiring quotes is, "Great leaders don't do it alone...they get help." What are some tips for new leaders in order to embrace this concept of collaboration?
ERIKA ANDERSEN: One thing that gets in the way of collaboration for new leaders is that they’ve often been socialized to think that "Leaders should have all the answers." Allowing yourself to get curious as a new leader – about your team, their likes and dislikes, their skills – is a pretty gentle first step toward collaboration. For example, when you’re meeting with your folks, either individually or as a group, ask curious questions: "What should I know about you as a team?" or "What do you think are your/our most important strengths?" or "How can we best help each other succeed?"

And how you respond is even more important than asking the questions. Listen carefully, and make sure you understand – either by asking clarifying questions, or by summarizing what you’ve heard to make sure you’ve got their main points. If you immediately dismiss or disagree with what you’ve heard, without considering it, that sends a strong message that you aren’t really interested in or open to what they have to say.

After making sure you’ve understood, ask them how you might incorporate their insights and opinions into the work you’ll be doing together. For instance, if a team member says, "I think one of our biggest strengths is that we look for ways to overcome even difficult obstacles," you might respond, "How do you think we could use that strength in reaching our current goals?"

Voila, you’re on the path to collaboration.

QUESTION: In a post you wrote for Linkedin, "This is the first time in history that four distinct generations are together in the workplace: Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z." What are some insights to help everyone work together?

[Post referenced:
What Planet Are You From? Five Ways To Get Along With People Who Aren't Like You]

ERIKA ANDERSEN: I think three of the five approaches I suggested in the article you’ve referenced are particularly helpful when working cross-generationally.

First, realizing that other people are not you. It might sound silly, but when we’re dealing with people who have different assumptions or outlooks, we tend to filter their responses as though those people are us. In other words, that their responses mean the same thing as they would if we were saying or doing them. An example: a few years ago, I was coaching a Gen X executive, who was very irritated with an extremely smart and ambitious Millennial employee. He had asked her how he could become a vice president, and she was complaining to me about it.

I asked, "Why do you think he was asking you that?"

She responded, "Because he thinks he should get promoted right away, and that’s just ridiculous – he’s just been promoted to manager."
I then said, "Maybe that’s what you would have meant by that, if you’d asked the same question at his age. And I’m betting you never would have asked it."

"Darn right," she grumbled.

I proposed, "But what if he was asking something very different. Millennials are used to being able to get all the critical information they need online, and he may be frustrated about the lack of a clear path to get from where he is to where he wants to be. He may just be asking for that pathway."

She acknowledged the possibility, and they went on to have a good conversation.

Leveraging complementarity vs. similarity is also an important tool in working with other generations. For example, Boomer and Gen X bosses can take advantage of most Gen Z employees’ knowledge of and comfort with AI and other forms of technology, and work with those younger employees to figure out how to best incorporate those technological advances for better and faster results.

Millennial managers - and now even newly-minted Gen Z managers – can leverage Boomer and Gen X team members’ experience and connections in an organization or an industry to smooth difficult negotiations and avoid unseen pitfalls.  

I’d encourage managers to do this "out loud," perhaps, by having a meeting where each person can share how they think the team could benefit from the strengths, skills, or knowledge they bring as a result of their age and the environment in which they grew up.

I predict people will find out a lot of interesting and useful things about each other, and it will also help to promote the final approach: starting from neutral. Unfortunately, one of the most common responses to differences between generations is to assume that different means WORSE. This seems to have been happening for most of human history: witness this quote from Socrates: "The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise."

If you can make a habit of saying to yourself, "This person sees things differently than me – I want to find out more about why," instead of "This ____ (fill in the generational blank) is so wrong/bad/unprofessional," then you’ll be well on your way to figuring out how to work with great people of any age.

QUESTION: You wrote a post for Forbes comparing great leaders to movie heroes. Who are some recent movie heroes that demonstrate effective leadership?

[Post referenced:
What Do Great Leaders And Movie Heroes Have In Common?]

ERIKA ANDERSEN: My husband and I rarely watch movies these days, but we do watch a lot of TV! There are so many really well-made shows these days, and we especially like good science fiction.

One show we’ve been enjoying is Strange New Worlds, the most recent show in the Star Trek franchise. I’ve really been enjoying Captain Christopher Pike, as played by Anson Mount. One thing I’ve noticed is that Mount, in contrast to earlier versions of the show - particularly the original with William Shatner – is much more vulnerable. He lets his crew know when he’s struggling with a decision, and invites their input. He’s also much more likely to listen when a crew member who he respects disagrees with him.

I find this heartening, because I believe that TV and movies tend to reflect the beliefs and mores of popular culture, and what this says to me is that we, as a culture, are generally starting to be open to more collaborative and egalitarian approaches to leadership (back to your initial question!) 

SHARE THIS: TV and movies tend to reflect the beliefs of popular culture, and what this says to me is that we, as a culture, are generally starting to be open to more collaborative and egalitarian approaches to leadership. ~@erikaandersen #Leadership #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: What inspiring leadership books have you read recently?
ERIKA ANDERSEN: A wonderful book, and one that I’d recommend highly, is "Speaking While Female," a compilation of 75 largely unknown speeches by American women over the past four hundred years. It was compiled and published by Dana Rubin, a speaker, coach, and consultant who runs the Speaking While Female speech bank. The speeches are inspiring, riveting, insightful, thoughtful and unexpected, and the book is one step toward redressing the imbalance in what we are all taught about who are/were the important figures in American History.

QUESTION: Lastly and sadly, Associate Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor passed away in December 2023. How did she embody effective leadership to you?
ERIKA ANDERSEN: Justice O’Connor was so thoughtful. Even though she was considered primarily a conservative, she ended up being a swing vote because, often, based on her research into a case and its issues, would vote with the more liberal judges.  

As the first woman on the Supreme Court, she focused on demonstrating that a woman could be as effective as a man in that role, and although she didn’t draw attention to herself as a woman on a regular basis, she quietly and firmly stood up for herself when necessary. For example, two years after she joined the Court, The New York Times wrote an editorial that mentioned the "nine men" of the SCOTUS. She wrote a letter to the editor, reminding the newspaper that the Court was no longer composed only of men.

My gratitude to Erika for sharing her leadership insights to make us ALL better leaders!

Image Credit: Debbie Laskey's design showcasing Erika Andersen's vision.

Connect with Erika at these links:

Check out Erika’s previous appearances here on my blog:

FALL BACK TO READING SERIES – Featuring Erika Andersen (October 2023)

How Magic and Happiness Impact Leadership (April 2023)

Tips to Become “Change-Capable (May 2022)

Three Leadership Secrets: Build Consensus, Be Open to Challengers, and Delegate (May 2021)

Review of: Leading So People Will Follow by Erika Andersen (October 2019)

Leadership + Strategy = Amazing Employee Experience (November 2018)

Review of: Be Bad First by Erika Andersen (October 2018)

Are You the Type of Manager or Leader YOU Would Follow? (January 2014)

Want to be Nicknamed Strategy Guru? (July 2011)

Thursday, February 15, 2024

My Favorite Marketing Terms

While marketing may be a single bullet point in your regular leadership team meeting agenda, how much time does your team actually apply to marketing your products or services? With all the buzz surrounding social media, traditional marketing has taken a back seat, and that’s a shame.

All types of business – whether B2B, B2C, or non-profit – should spend the time and effort to understand all elements that fall within the marketing pie, and one important piece of the marketing pie includes the terms that appear again and again.

While marketing dictionaries exist in print and online, here are my five favorite marketing terms:

With so many brands in the marketplace and so much noise as a result of social media, now marketers treat brands as if they had personality traits. When brands are given human personality traits, such as, creative, friendly, happy, etc., brands quickly stand apart from the crowd.


Years ago, people joked that if they had two minutes in an elevator with Bill Gates, they had to be prepared to articulate their company’s competitive advantage or their personal brand in two minutes or less in what became known as an "elevator pitch." The elevator pitch has gone the way of the Ford Edsel, and in its place, we now have the unique selling proposition. What makes a company unique? Why should a company stand apart from the competition? Why should a company be an industry leader? And for personal brands, for example, what makes Taylor Swift different from other singers?


Sprout Social has a wonderful definition: "Social listening involves analyzing conversations and trends related to your brand. These include conversations relevant to your company, competitors and industry at large. Insights from these conversations are used to make informed marketing decisions. Social listening is about more than tags and @mentions. Sure, listening involves acting on direct feedback from people. But it also involves reading between the lines."

Here's a breakdown of social listening:
(1) Who is your audience?
(2) What does your audience want?
(3) When is your audience engaging with you?
(4) Where is your audience active and engaged?
(5) Why does your audience talk about you?
(6) How can you better serve your audience?

Everyone in a marketing capacity should always sing this tune and provide this reminder. For every campaign, initiative, strategy, you must always have a call to action to attract prospective customers. Here are some examples: Subscribe now. Download this case study today. Complete this survey now. Sign up to receive a free gift today.

KEY PERFORMANCE METRICS (KPMs) (also Key Performance Indicators or KPIs):
This term is so important that it should be on the mind of every business person each and every day. All marketing campaigns must be evaluated to determine the return on investment. How many click-thru’s to your main website or campaign-specific landing pages resulted from emails? How many leads came as a result of tradeshow attendance or telemarketing? How many likes appeared on your Facebook page? How many mentions and retweets appeared on Twitter/X? How many of your videos were uploaded on YouTube? How many sales resulted from your social media activities? Don't implement any marketing campaign without first knowing how you're going to measure it's success.

What are your fave marketing terms? Please chime in and share.

Image Credit: Stuart Miles via

To read more:
Glossary of Branding Terms:

Branding Glossary - How Brands Are Built:

The Ultimate Marketing Dictionary of Terms and Definitions

The Ultimate A-Z Dictionary of Marketing Terms:

Monday, February 12, 2024

Monday Morning Quarterbacking the Ads from Super Bowl 58

What do you remember from Super Bowl Sunday? This year, the game went down to the final seconds in overtime yet, so for football fans, the game was a genuine contest. But for marketers and those who watch the game for the ads, there was not as much excitement.

There was no ad similar to Apple’s 1984 ad. There was no ad that was as memorable as Budweiser’s post-9/11 ad from 2002 with the kneeling Clydesdales. There were no animated Coca Cola polar bears, and there was no Tweet memorable enough to rival Oreo’s "dunking in the dark" from 2013. And one thing to note for this year's batch of ads: no brand mentioned the Covid-19 pandemic, which was a complete reversal from the ads during the 2021 game.

According to CBSNews, "This year's crop of Super Bowl ads featured dozens of top brands, from Anheuser-Busch's iconic Clydesdales to Uber Eats' spot featuring Jennifer Aniston and Victoria and David Beckham...This year's advertisers are not only spending $7 million to buy half a minute of airtime, but are also opening their wallets to secure stars like Jennifer Aniston and Snoop Dogg, as well as on glitzy productions. And many companies post their ads ahead of the Super Bowl, hoping to build buzz and capture attention."

According to Aimee Picchi, "Super Bowl ads command a premium because the game is typically the most-watched media event of the year. That gives brands a chance to reach more consumers at one time than anywhere else, and many companies use the opportunity to trot out new products or introduce a new slogan. There's another reason why brands are so willing to pay up: About 3 in 4 people say they are actually excited to watch the ads during the Super Bowl. Families and friends typically watch the game together, and often talk about the spots as well as the game itself — a discussion that can carry over at work the next day, experts say."

Jura Liaukonyte, marketing professor at Cornell University's SC Johnson College of Business explained further, "This shared experience can amplify the emotional resonance of advertisements, making them more memorable and effective. When viewers watch the Super Bowl, they are not just passive recipients of content — they are engaged in a communal event."

This quote from Landor Associates is timeless and worth repeating: "Here are three tips to help you, your dad, or even your football-crazed grandma decide which brands scored a touchdown with their commercials: Is the ad on-brand? Will you remember the brand tomorrow? And, does the ad speak to the times?”

Without further ado, here were the ads that stood out to me from this year’s group:

The theme of this ad was to support, encourage, and empower female athletes. The hashtag was #KeepHerConfident.

DUNKIN: This ad featured actor Ben Affleck, his friend Matt Damon, and his wife Jennifer Lopez. Since Affleck had appeared in previous ads for this brand, the appearance continued his brand storytelling and humor.

BEST FOODS MAYO: This ad featured a cat who became famous by saying MAY-O instead of meowing. For cat fans, this was a very amusing and memorable ad.

KIA: A young female ice skater wanted to skate in front of her father and someone else who was represented by an empty seat at a skating rink. It turned out that the girl's grandfather was in a wheelchair at home and unable to attend the performance at a rink. So the girl's father drove her to the grandfather's home and hooked up his EV9 vehicle to strands of lights to create a beautiful rink in front of the house. The girl and her father brought the skating performance to the grandfather, thanks to the EV9. This ad tugged at the heartstrings.

BUDWEISER: The brand's famous Clydesdale horses made a return appearance and also featured a dog, who helped guide the horses through the snow to make a beer delivery. While the horses and dog are wonderful brand ambassadors, this ad was not as memorable as previous ads.

Also, there seemed to be lots of movie ads, more than in previous years. However, I am looking forward to WICKED THE MUSICAL, the next Minions installment, the Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, and the next installment of Kung Fu Panda.

During the game, while sharing posts on Twitter/X, the following brands stood out with their posts: Pantone, National Park Service, Library of Congress, and Elmo. If you missed their posts, check them out.

A few timeless words from Jacques de Cock, a faculty member at the London School of Marketing: "The Super Bowl is a phenomenon unsurpassed in the world. It is one of the few national social events, which is also why social media traffic during the game is so high...What is also remarkable is that advertising is not viewed as something to skip but is seen by 77 percent of viewers as part of the entertainment, and therefore, more watched and engaged with than any other television advertising during the year."

A famous brand stood out in New York City and also on Twitter/X for those around the world:

EMPIRE STATE BUILDING: During the game, the building changed the color of its lights based on which team scored a touchdown, and at the end of the night, the top of the Empire State Building was lit up in red to celebrate the game's winner, the Kansas City Chiefs!

Today, the official countdown begins for Super Bowl 59, scheduled for February 9, 2025, at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, the 11th time that New Orleans has served as host city. Will we see an ad or two that will go down as the best of all time? We'll have to wait and see.

Image credit: Pantone.

To read any of my previous Super Bowl ad recap posts, search #DebbieLaskeysBlog using the term “super” to access all the links.

To watch all the ads from Super Bowl 58, here’s the link: