Monday, February 22, 2021

Content Will Always be the Fuel to Push a Brand Forward and More #SocialMediaTips

Over the last decade, thanks to social media, I have had the privilege to meet a variety of amazing leadership and marketing experts. A new connection with a shared passion for social media is Troy Sandidge from Chicago, and I'm thrilled to welcome him to my blog in a Q&A. Highlights of our discussion follow below his introduction.

Troy Sandidge is a Growth Marketing Strategist (aka, The Strategy Hacker) that skyrockets business growth through his C.L.O.V.E.R. Business Framework. He has 10 years of experience creating pathways and roadmaps to achieve next-level success, maximizing revenue, increasing brand authority, and developing social communities through cutting-edge growth marketing strategies and digital marketing solutions. His work portfolio includes Entrepreneurs, Thought-Leaders, Startups, Small-Medium Businesses, Nonprofits, and Fortune 500 brands. Troy is the Chief Strategy Officer at Vult Lab, the Founder & CEO of Strategy Hackers, and the Host and Executive Producer of iDigress Podcast. He is also an international speaker, a Twitter power user, and loves connecting with other people and learning about their zone of genius! He can be found on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube with @FindTroy and his website is

QUESTION: Your pinned Tweet on Twitter was shared in April 2015 and states, “#Imagination is the engine. #Content is the fuel. #SocialMedia is the highway. #Marketing is the roadmap. #Sales is the destination.” Please elaborate why it continues to be relevant today, nearly six years later.

TROY SANDIDGE: Yes, it’s amazing how that tweet still amazes and connects with people when they stumble upon it for the first time, even in 2021. I think it continues to remain relevant because the correlation doesn’t change even though the platforms, tools, terminology, and mediums change in popularity or out of necessity.

You will always need to have imagination to bring something creative to life. Any campaign, content piece, narrative, and so on stems from this. In the same way, whether it’s video, audio, articles, the content will always be the fuel to push a brand forward. And whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or the new kids on the block like TikTok, Clubhouse, and Twitter Spaces, social media will always be the most effective way to distribute your content to your desired audience at scale. Marketing is always the driver to attract, nurture, and compel people to achieve the goal being sales. And of course, the end results of all of this is sales, dollars and cents, getting adequate outcomes from all of the outputs.

And since 2020, I’ve added: “Culture is the GPS” because cultural trends and behavioral economics push what’s popular or in high demand. I also think when you look at this entire illustration as a whole, it suggests always being in a constant state of momentum, and to do so each of these things has its place to ensure you maintain that.

SHARE ON TWITTER: The content will always be the fuel to push a brand forward. ~@FindTroy #MarketingTip #SocialMediaTip #BrandTip

QUESTION: What is your favorite social media platform or platforms for brand-building, and why?

TROY SANDIDGE: I still think in 2021, all personal biases aside (since this is also my favorite platform), and looking at this from a pure growth marketer perspective, Twitter would be the platform of choice. You can connect more quickly and efficiently with desired individuals and brands you would like to work with, not including the same for PR and collaborators. It’s still the most public-centered platform where you can get a lot of exposure (coupled with the right timing, trends, attached media, and what audiences you’re entertaining). Plus I truly do believe that Twitter is the bridge to LEADS. You can even get your tweets indexed by Google to help with your brand search visibility by being consistent with posting on topics true to you and your brand, making sure your Twitter profile and bio match your website and other resources, and diligently providing value.

QUESTION: What three brands use social media the best when it comes to “social listening” and “engagement” with customers, fans, and stakeholders?

TROY SANDIDGE: Three are Domino's, Agorapulse, and Kleenex.
(1) Domino's is a brand that sets the bar pretty high when it comes to social listening and engagement. Domino's provides no less than 15 different ways to order their pizza and other items from their menu, ranging from voice command on home assistant devices like Google Home to sending an emoji over social media. The diversity and distribution of how they really want their customers to “have it their way” are taken literally with their preference to make their order. They were definitely ahead of their time by launching it as a campaign - and ahead of their competitors.

(2) Agorapulse is one that comes to mind as well. They do a phenomenal job using their literal audience as guests on their various shows, being part of groups to ask questions, educate, give value, and serve as a networking hub. So not only are they utilizing social listening to drive more sales, they are using it to be of service to their audience to help them acquire more leads and grow their brand authority.

(3) Kleenex is a good example of a brand that used social listening to make an impact on its community. I’ve been studying some of their campaigns and wanted to echo a source (YtC Studios) praising the brand about some of their campaigns during 2020: “The company used social listening to increase brand sentiment. Perhaps, the most unique initiative is its “Feel Good” campaign, in which Kleenex scoured Facebook for statuses from users indicating different degrees of sickness. Upon identifying these status updates, Kleenex leveraged the users’ online connections to obtain their addresses and send them specially prepared Kleenex Kits. Fifty lucky people received kits, and every single one of them posted about this special surprise. The result? Kleenex garnered over 650,000 impressions and 1,800 interactions between the brand and social media users.” This demonstrates how well they used/are using social listening to give their audience what they need most, which also serves as a powerful series of campaigns too.

QUESTION: You recently participated in a podcast hosted by @MakeAMarketer, where you discussed the importance of a marketing strategy for all brands. (A link is provided at the end of this Q&A.) Please provide a few highlights for those who missed the podcast.

“Likes, comments, and shares don’t pay the bills.” These are byproducts and secondary goals of a good social media strategy and should not be the main goal of one. Knowing how to decipher what such metrics are telling you as far as measuring how effective your campaign is doing, is key to hitting the goals you want like a higher click-through rate to your landing page for your product or service, a more engaging community, more traffic to your website at a lower bounce rate, more subscribers to your newsletter and so forth.

“Strategy isn’t over the moment I give you a blueprint.” A strategy is a living, breathing document or series of processes that need to have results/goals reassessed, direction and vision realigned, style and process evaluated, and so forth. As we experienced all through 2020, what worked yesterday, may not work today, and be irrelevant by tomorrow. So you must always be nimble and adjust your strategy the best you can.

“Get the right people in the right seats on the bus.” Make sure you know everyone’s capabilities, roles, responsibilities, and who the decision-makers are to make an adequate process that makes sense and maintains constant flow. You don’t want a good campaign to fail and a strategy not to be successful because you had the wrong people managing the wrong things. Over-communicate with everyone involved in your campaigns and marketing strategy will make things so much better and efficient.

The best and most effective marketing strategies and campaigns follow my C.L.O.V.E.R. Business Framework: Clarity. Leverage. Optimization. Vision + Value. Execution. Results. Make sure you have clarity around your goals, timeline, and audience. You have to leverage all of the resources you have at your disposal (internal team, external team, budget, audience insights, etc.). Recognize your marketing strategy is in a constant state of optimization. Have your vision and give value to your audience every step of the way. Execute. Execute. Execute. Execution is necessary to have success. So many get lost in getting everything perfect and never start making progress. And as everyone knows, what is all this work for you if you don’t get results? Results are necessary to know if your strategy and your campaigns are working. Make sure you have benchmarks that are relevant you can track to know you’re going down the right path.

SHARE ON TWITTER: Get the right people in the right seats on the bus. ~@FindTroy #BusinessStrategy #EmployeeExperience #EmployerBranding 

QUESTION: Lastly, what’s your favorite marketing campaign, and why?

TROY SANDIDGE: Brand awareness campaigns are my favorite type of campaigns. They are the most meaningful and can drive multiple things: brand authority, brand exposure, drive CTA (call to action), drive visitors to the website, gain more followers, increase community, lead to more PR opportunities and collaborations, among other things. It’s always necessary and needed for brand awareness. On top of that, brand awareness is typically aligned with your mission, your purpose, your story, your why, and how you help others. It doesn’t have the complication of a full-blown sales campaign and never feels like one. It’s fun and fulfilling as well. Not to mention, you can get positive ROI (return on investment) from brand awareness campaigns with or without paid media as long as the quality of the organic is of high quality and authentic.

An example I would like to highlight is Apple’s ongoing brand awareness campaign series “Shot on iPhone” which is to promote obviously their line of smartphones but through the lens of their consumer. One of the big things to realize is that the content is 100% derived from their target audience base for their target audience base. A plethora of original content (much of which that doesn’t make it as part of a commercial collage), serves as UGC (user-generated content) for the brand to repurpose and reshare using its own community to create as well as magnify. 

Their Instagram account is a living case study of how effective a brand awareness campaign when tied directly to a community. The #ShotoniPhone hashtag has over 18 million posts. Keep in mind, this is mostly an organic campaign with their community doing most of the work creating and distributing, and their social media marketing team is spotlighting and highlighting various ones on their grid, in their stories, highlights, and reels. It is quite powerful. This goes to show you that some of the most successful campaigns aren’t necessarily through paid media but simply by connecting what you do to a feeling, an emotion, or a result felt by a community.

My gratitude and appreciation to Troy for sharing his inspiring perspective about marketing, social media, and effective brand communications.

Image Credit: Quote by Troy Sandidge.


Here's the link that Troy referenced in Question #2:

Here's the link that Troy referenced in Question #3:

Here's the link for the podcast referenced in Question #4:

Here's the link for more info regarding Question #4:

Here are the two links that Troy referenced in Question #5:

Monday, February 15, 2021

The Glue Between Culture and Leadership

Anyone who spends time in social media has one or two favorite platforms. Some may prefer using Twitter, some may prefer using Instagram or Facebook, and some may prefer an obscure site that fits a specific industry. Many of us who use social media as a marketing tool to build our employer's brand or our personal brand have also met an amazing array of people. One new acquaintance is Paul LaRue, who I met on Twitter, and we recently had a discussion about corporate culture, leadership, and the impact of COVID-19 on both. Highlights follow below Paul's bio.

Paul LaRue is a leadership consultant with over 30 years in the hospitality industry. Aligning a focus on culture and connection within the workplace, his work is guided toward creating leaders who do what is right by their people while challenging conventional norms. His writing is featured on his blog The UPwards Leader, as well as the leadership sites Connection Culture and Lead Change Group. Connect and follow Paul on Twitter @paul_larue.

QUESTION: From your experiences since March, how has the Covid-19 pandemic impacted the employee experience?

PAUL LARUE: The current Covid pandemic has shifted everything that most leaders thought they knew. Security among the workforce has been shaken, and employees are looking for leaders who are more understanding of what individuals are going through than in staying the normal course of business. Employees want more assurance of security, not just from the changed workplace dynamics that the pandemic presents, but also in the tectonic shifts in society, having leadership who value differing viewpoints. The leader who balances this with navigating his/her/their organization through the coming year will be effective in meeting these converging and colliding needs.

QUESTION: What are the three key elements that a leadership team can do to create and maintain a positive corporate culture?

PAUL LARUE: First, is to keep your cultural values in front of you and refer to them at all times. The more that people reinforce culture on a conscious level, the more it will start to permeate into the subconscious and into the DNA of the individuals on the team. Whether reading them weekly, focusing on a core culture trait, or having culture checks among team members, this is usually the best foundation on which to build culture from.

Secondly, is to infuse culture into every goal, project, and task to help align the culture you want to sustain. When all work, in all departments, is aligned to culture, this will build the organization's culture and brand both externally as well as internally.

The last component is to hold each other accountable for culture. Accountability is always seen as top down, but the company and leadership that allow top levels to also be held accountable will create an equality of coachability where only a positive culture can exist.

TWEET THIS: Infuse culture into every goal, project, and task - this will help align the culture you want to sustain. ~@paul_larue. #LeadershipTip #EmployeeExperience


QUESTION: What book should every leader read, and why?

PAUL LARUE: Without a doubt, it has to be Michael Lee Stallard's "Connection Culture -- The Competitive Advantage of Shared Identity, Empathy and Understanding at Work." I just read Mike's latest edition, and a few weeks ago, we discussed how the book has evolved. When it came out about seven years ago, it was a book needed for the time. I believe it's even more imperative that every leader reads it now if we're going to meet the needs of employees that are committed and connected – if any sustainable success is to be had. People are lonelier in the workforce now than ever before, especially since Covid appeared, and the principles in this book are what every leader needs to achieve.

QUESTION: You wrote a blog post entitled, “Start the Week by Reinvigorating Culture.” What are the three most important things that a leader should do to reinvigorate his/her/their culture, and why?

PAUL LARUE: I would say it's almost exactly the same as the previous question about maintaining and creating a positive culture, but with more emphasis on the leader allowing others to hold themselves accountable. I applied that principle in my last role and it took a year-and-a-half for people to understand there was true accountability and willingness to learn from it and not be defensive. 

So many times, I see organizations where leaders speak to culture, but don't embody it themselves. This creates a hypocrisy and distrust that leads to disengaged employees and other toxic behaviors. 

I read a book years ago by an entrepreneur who created a culture that if they didn't support the values their organization was built upon, there were actions the employees could take to remove him. And this was the owner who created a culture where he needed to be aligned or he would be removed from his own company! Having that type of commitment to culture over any individual, even yourself, is what is needed from leadership today. (Note: the book referenced was “Made in America” by John McCormick.)

QUESTION: Whitney Johnson’s (@JohnsonWhitney on Twitter) best teambuilding advice is to be a CEO, defined as a Chief Encouragement Officer, because “You don’t win unless your team does.” How would you apply that advice when different departments work in silos and don’t share project updates?

PAUL LARUE: I think that largely depends on the dynamic of the individuals in each department, but encouraging each team to be open to another person from a different department is a common step toward breaking down those walls. Every time I've coached leaders to create this, the awakening of understanding from the person outside the department to truly hear and understand what the other team is doing becomes a cornerstone for empathy and teamwork. 

It seems as if once someone understands the pressures you and your team face, and the nuances of the work and skills dependent on the team, there becomes a validation that opens up a team in silo. 

Sometimes it happens quickly, sometimes it takes much longer, but having the outside employee be a positive, and not threatening, force to understanding the team and how to work cross-functionally is the best recipe for opening up the organization.
My gratitude to Paul for sharing his insights.

Image Credit: CulturePros ( / @LisaCulturePro on Instagram.

Blog post referenced in #4:

Monday, February 8, 2021

Some Monday Morning Quarterbacking about the Ads from Super Bowl 55


This year’s Super Bowl game was fun, especially if you’re a Tampa Bay fan, but the ads were not as exciting as the hype leading up to game day. There was no ad similar to Apple’s 1984 ad. There was no ad that was as memorable as Budweiser’s post-911 from 2002 with the kneeling Clydesdales. There were no animated Coca Cola polar bears, no Budweiser Clydesdales with their pal, the Dalmatian puppy, and no Budweiser frogs or lizards. And there was no Tweet timely or memorable enough to rival Oreo’s from 2013. 

The 2021 Super Bowl was a very different game and ad environment than any previous year. First, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the fans in the stands were essential workers, doctors, nurses, first responders, etc. These approximately 7,500 fans did not pay the exorbitant prices normally paid for Super Bowl tickets. Second, football fans submitted their photos to be made into large signs to be placed at empty seats so that the stadium would look full of people. And third, several brands who typically advertise during the Super Bowl chose not to advertise. These brands included Budweiser (no Clydesdales appeared in ads), Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Hyundai, Audi, Planter’s Peanuts, and Avocados from Mexico. Budweiser’s parent company, AB InBev, announced that, instead, it would donate some of its 2021 ad budget to the vaccine awareness work being done by the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative.

According to Derek Rucker, Marketing Professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, “A consideration this year is that fewer people will gather for Super Bowl parties (due to the COVID pandemic), which traditionally are the number two group party occasion, after New Year’s Eve. Watching a commercial alone, versus in a group, changes how people react to it because they don’t have social cues from others.”

And let’s not forget: “The thing is, by not being there, Budweiser is getting people to talk about them. That’s pretty brilliant,” according to Cait Lamberton, Marketing Professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

Planters will take the roughly $5 million it would ordinarily spend on a Super Bowl ad slot and instead route that money to recognize people doing charitable acts. The brand is calling them "acts of substance," a play on positioning the snack as a substantive alternative to options like potato chips. The brand is kicking off the campaign by giving $130,000 to Hook Hall in Washington, D.C. The owners of Hook Hall went "a nut above" by giving free meals and supplies to hospitality workers even when struggling themselves to stay afloat. Planters will also give away an additional $1 million to locally owned bars across the country that go above and beyond for their neighbors with the funds ensuring those establishments can continue to remain fixtures of their communities. Additional rewards for acts of extraordinary substance will continue throughout 2021.

So, what does this once-a-year advertising event cost? According to CBS, the cost for a 30-second commercial cost $5.6 million, which was the average cost of the same length ad for last year’s game. To put that number into perspective by Nielsen Media Research, the cost of a commercial during the first Super Bowl game in 1967 was $37,000.

Since this year’s event could easily be nicknamed, “A Pandemic Super Bowl,” according to Tim Calkins, Marketing Professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, “It will be a very different game this year, with few big parties, not many (live) people in the stands and no vast fleet of corporate jets winging in with big spending executives.” Additionally, according to Calkins, there were three trends to watch out for: different advertisers; pandemic messages reflecting the COVID-19 reality; and light, funny, upbeat, and positive messaging.

If you’re a marketing pro or a simply a fan of the ads, there’s much more activity regarding ads on Super Bowl Sunday than between the goal posts. This year marked the tenth anniversary of the #SuperBowlExp chat on Twitter hosted by Jim Joseph (@JimJosephExp), a famous advertising exec in New York. Participants chimed in with their commentary about the ads in real time, and I enjoyed participating for the eighth year! Jim’s fave five ads were: Jeep, Toyota, M&Ms, Indeed, and Bud Light Lemons.

This quote from Landor Associates is timeless: "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?”

I’d like to welcome Julia Carcamo (@jccarcamo) back to my Blog. Julia and I met in 2012 on Twitter. While separated by miles – I’m in California, and she’s in Louisiana – we’ve stayed in touch through the years and reconnect every year around Super Bowl time so we can discuss the ads after the game. The link to our first collaborative blog post appears at the end of this post. We reconnected again this year, and our five thumbs-up ads and five thumbs-down ads follow below.

DEBBIE LASKEY’s top five:
Jeep: This ad was reminiscent of Chrysler’s “It’s Halftime in America” that appeared in 2012. At a time that is so divisive in the country, the themes of “The Reunited States of America” and “the road ahead (not behind)” were excellent. While some may have thought the pitch was unusual and inappropriate for a car manufacturer, we need to remember that Jeeps are typically American – and that we can all find common ground in the middle.
Toyota: The themes of adoption and inclusion were well-done in this ad featuring Jessica Long, a Paralympian champion born without legs. According to Toyota, #LetsGoPlaces together because “there is hope and strength in all of us.”
GM: Whenever you see Will Ferrell, you know humor will be involved. He was upset that Norway had more electric vehicles per capita than the US, so he took his electric Cadillac to Norway but ended up in Sweden while friends ended up in Finland. (Note, this “No Way Norway” ad is even funnier the second and third time you watch it!)
Ford: With the pandemic on everyone’s mind, the Super Bowl provided a much-needed form of escapism. But this #FinishStrong ad from Ford reminded us that “soon we will be what we were – touching, loving, living.”
T-Mobile: If you’re ever watched “The Voice” on NBC, especially since the beginning, you know about the close friendship between competitive coaches Adam Levine and Blake Shelton. And if you’re a fan and have watched the show for several seasons, you know that Gwen Stefani met her fiancĂ© Blake Shelton through their involvement as coaches on the show. So, this storytelling about their first date combined with the lack of cell phone signal was humorous and memorable.

And the five that failed to hit the mark:
SquareSpace: While the rewrite of Dolly Parton’s famous “9 to 5” anthem became “5 to 9,” and was just as catchy, the vignettes portrayed in the short ad did not capture the essence of the brand. When there are only 30-seconds, an ad has to tell its story and showcase its strengths quickly, or it will lose its audience.
Hellman’s: Amy Schumer as the “Fairy Godmayo” had potential but fell flat. Just think of all the creative sandwiches she could have helped to make.
Miracle-Grow: If you took your eyes off your television or other device for a few seconds, you may have missed John Travolta and his daughter dancing. And what exactly was the tie-in between the brand and the dancing? However, if the ad had featured John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John repeating their dance moves from the film “Grease,” then maybe the ad would have had more potential for success.
Indeed: While this ad featured the tune “Rise Up,” it’s important for employers to understand that the onboarding process begins with the interview – and that interviews are a two-way street. I think that message got lost in the ad.
Sam Adams: No one should be including Clydesdales horses in their ads (other than Budweiser). That should be an unwritten rule of Super Bowl advertising!


There were some shining lights in what I think was a pretty gloomy ad collection. Without further ado and in no order, here are my top five.
M&Ms: They are always entertaining. They always find a unique way of telling the story of the chocolate candies in a way that humanizes them, and always with a great twist at the end that makes you laugh.
Door Dash: I’ll admit I pretty much like anything with Daveed Diggs. I think he’s such a talented artist. I am constantly blown away by him. Door Dash did a great job. They didn’t just cast a great actor. They took a concept that we all grew up with from Sesame Street. The neighborhood connects us all, and there is no time like now to remind everyone. But they took the concept even further in supporting our local neighborhood small businesses. To me, everything fit together in this one.
Indeed: Looking for a job can be a gut-wrenching experience. There are so many different channels, and you never really know which one is going to be your best investment of time. But whether you’re just starting out or an executive looking for a new role when they least expect it, knowing that you have found the right place to put yourself out there is key. Indeed somehow managed to say we work with everyone, but they still managed to talk to people individually in the spot.
State Farm: This spot was just pure fun. I’m dying to know how much money they spent on all those influencers.
Jeep: I remember the first time Chrysler came out with one of these heartstring-pulling spots. Remember Paul Harvey telling that story of the American farmer. Each Super Bowl since then, Chrysler has managed to tell this amazing story of the American fabric. I think it touches everybody. All the rumors about Bruce Springsteen being in the spot apparently were true, and I guess this late game placement was a big payoff for fans.

I wish I could say picking losers was hard. Unfortunately, what was hard was picking only five!
Oatly: I don’t even know where to start with this commercial. The CEO singing and playing the keyboard? Or is it the constant no cows message? I’m not sure what it is, but this commercial just really hit me wrong.
GM: When did car commercial stop being fun and exhilarating? This was just weirdness to the nth degree.
Uber Eats: Everything Door Dash did with their commercial Uber Eats did wrong. They both took something nostalgic. They both tried to apply it in a new, fresh way, but Uber Eats failed. I felt like it was the same old humor over and over again.
Huggies: Whatever happened to diaper commercials being about making sure your baby stays dry or making sure they can sleep through the night? Now apparently, we’re making sure they can “go” whenever they want.
Draft Kings: This was by far…far the most disappointing of any of the commercials. Maybe it’s because I work in the same industry. They have so much in terms of reach and resources. I just imagined more. More excitement. More pizzazz. This was what they put out for Super Bowl? I would’ve lost my bet that they would’ve had the best commercial. At least when I ran in the Super Bowl, I put our chairman on the rooftop of our hotel!

According to Saatchi & Saatchi Chief Creative Officer Jason Schragger, an industry veteran who worked on Toyota’s ad this year, “We had a lot of conversations on every single word and every single piece that is part of this, to say, Is it okay? Is it the right thing? Are we not acknowledging some people’s suffering? Are we not acknowledging other things? How can we do something that actually helps people through this time without being flippant or needlessly inspirational? It is a really tough one.” According to USAToday, Schragger’s team considered a few different approaches before landing on a heartwarming theme for its 60-second spot, which spotlights 13-time Paralympian gold medalist Jessica Long and her adoption from a Russian orphanage.

And lastly, Jacques de Cock, a faculty member at the London School of Marketing, said the game will have been watched in half of US households. "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."

My thanks to Jim Joseph and Julia Carcamo for sharing their advertising, marketing, and branding insights on Twitter and here on my Blog – and for making Super Bowl 55 a fun marketing day!

Are you counting the days to Super Bowl 56, scheduled for February 6, 2022, at the new SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles? What are the odds that the Rams or Chargers will play host in their home stadium, like Tampa Bay did this year? Or, have you had enough expensive ad watching and would rather plan a visit to Walt Disney World instead?

Image Credit: Thanks to Tom Fishburne for use of his cartoon with this post. Tom is the Founder and CEO of Marketoon Studios, a content marketing studio that helps businesses reach their audiences with cartoons. Check out his work at and follow on Twitter @tomfishburne.


For more commentary on the Super Bowl’s ads, I recommend the following:

A Pandemic Super Bowl by Tim Calkins:

For all the Tweets from the #SuperBowlExp on Twitter from 2/7/2021, visit Twitter and search for the hashtag #SuperBowlExp.

2012 Super Bowl Ad Review featuring Julia Carcamo:

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

If you wonder if the Super Bowl ads are effective, read this commentary:

Does a Strong Super Bowl Ad Carry Over into the Year-Ahead? 

If you’d like to see the Kellogg School’s Super Bowl Ad Review: 

If you’d like to watch all the ads again, here’s a link:

Monday, February 1, 2021

Leadership Is ALWAYS About Those You Lead!

Thanks to Twitter, back in 2018, I met Katherine Spinney, a fellow advocate for effective leadership. We collaborated on a post here on my Blog in August 2018, and we also collaborated on a TweetChat on Twitter in April 2020 (both links appear at the end below). 

I invited Katherine to return to my Blog for a Q&A due to workplace and leadership changes resulting from the current COVID-19 pandemic. Highlights from our discussion follow Katherine’s bio.

Katherine Spinney has spent over a decade in executive leadership positions and now has the great privilege of supporting leaders to more effectively develop themselves and their teams. Through a trademarked model of leadership, Lead with Your MIND, Katherine goes beyond the traditional model of skill development and combines it with work around mindset, investment and desire. Katherine's vision is to help build leaders' confidence and impact to better serve their teams to ultimately better serve their clients. Work should provide a source of satisfaction, and she is confident that it can and should be possible for everyone. Visit her website at and connect and follow on Twitter and Instagram @CoachKat2017 and on Facebook /CoachKat2017.
QUESTION: Based on your experiences since March 2020, how has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted leadership?

COVID-19 has affected leadership in a number of ways. Generally, those who were strong leaders before the pandemic remained strong leaders throughout and adjusted where necessary. Those who were less effective leaders largely remained so. This year provided an opportunity for leaders to step up and adapt to what has been a dramatically different work environment for the majority of people.

Effective leaders responded with empathy, implementing effective health precautions, both physically and mentally and providing flexibility to people in challenging if not impossible situations. Additionally, effective leaders adjusted to their clients' needs and provided service in a responsive way.

It has been a time of great challenge, and those who have stepped up and supported their teams while continuing to serve their clients have provided a strong example of how it can be done.
QUESTION: In a post on your blog entitled, "When Poor Leadership Goes Unchecked: The Cautionary Tale of the Washington Redskins," you wrote: "Whether you run a team, a department or a Fortune 500 company, your responsibility as a leader is to serve your clients by supporting your employees. When you face challenges in your leadership, as you most certainly will, examine yourself first, and surround yourself with people who will help reveal your blind spots." What do you recommend an employee do if/when leaders do not welcome feedback about their blind spots?
It is important to always be open to new connections and opportunities. In the case that you have simply had enough of a job, you will be in a much better position to transition than if you wait until you reach that point.

If you find yourself in a position where your leadership does not welcome feedback regarding their blind spots, it's important to ask yourself, "Is there someone else I can talk to at the organization? Do I want to stay here but perhaps work for someone else? Am I fulfilled enough in the position that I am okay with leadership that will not change?"  

If you have exhausted your options of impacting change, you need to decide if you are okay living with it, or if it's time to go. If you decide to stay, accept the things you cannot change and do the best you can.
QUESTION: On your blog, you wrote "How to Build a Leader" by listing 17 ingredients. Which of those 17 do you consider the most important, and why? (The full list can be found on the link at the end below.)
It's so hard to choose just one because they are all important. And my caveat is that I think skill is just one of the components of effective leadership (in addition to mindset, investment and desire), but if I have to choose one, I will choose relationship-building.

The days of a disconnected boss in the corner office dictating orders are long gone (though too many organizations continue to operate this way). True leadership requires authentic relationships at all levels: with colleagues, with organizational leadership, with clients, with stakeholders, and, of course, with staff. At the core of effective leadership is the strength of these relationships.

TWEET THIS: The days of a disconnected boss in the corner office dictating orders are long gone. True leadership requires authentic relationships at all levels. –@CoachKat2017 #LeadershipTips #EmployeeExperience

QUESTION: When President Obama introduced Janet Yellen as the new Federal Reserve Chair in October 2013, he said, "Janet Yellen is a proven leader who knows how to build consensus, the kind of person who makes everybody around her better." What three characteristics do you think are necessary to create a consensus-builder?
I used to work at an organization that did consensus hiring. In an organization of nearly 40 staff, this was not easy. Ultimately, what I learned from that process and what research has reinforced, is that in order for consensus to work, there needs to be (1) a clear, shared understanding of what the desired outcome is, (2) a willingness to listen and be open to all the voices in the room and (3) an appreciation and respect for the person with the most knowledge and the person who will be most affected by the decision.

In the case of hiring, we strove to be upfront about who we were looking to hire, be open to all voices in the room, and if there were disagreement or challenge coming to consensus, ultimately defer to the department doing the hiring.

Consensus is hard and it will be rare for an entire staff to be in complete agreement on anything, so it's important to recognize the common moments when, not everyone will agree but they are comfortable deferring and getting on board with the decision.
QUESTION: Lastly, one of my favorite quotes about leadership is from Arnold Glasow, an American businessman often cited in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and other publications: "A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit." What does this quote mean to you?

This quote is a great illustration of what leadership is all about, which is, the people you lead. It isn't about you and your needs but first and foremost, the needs of those you have the great privilege of serving. Be generous in recognizing others and humble in taking ownership of mistakes, even when they are not yours alone. When you try to deflect in an attempt to save face, it only serves to undermine your leadership. Act with integrity and show your staff that you put them first. When your staff know you have their best interests at heart, they will generally return that loyalty.  

TWEET THIS: Leadership isn't about a leader’s needs but first and foremost, the needs of those you have the great privilege of serving. –@CoachKat2017 #LeadershipTips #EmployeeExperience

My gratitude to Katherine for appearing here on my Blog and sharing her insights and perspective.

Image Credit: Katherine Spinney’s Blog.

Blog post referenced in #2
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Blog post Q&A in 2018
TweetChat highlights in 2020