Monday, January 30, 2023

Notable Deaths in 2022 and Some #PersonalBranding Tips

While many notable deaths happened during 2022, we were left with a myriad of personal branding tips. Join me in learning from the legacies of these 13 inspiring individuals.

The Queen’s reign of 70 years will probably never be matched. She led a Commonwealth of 54 nations, had a ceremonial seat in Parliament, and met with the British Prime Minister on a regular basis. She traveled around the world and met with countless international leaders including 12 American Presidents. Her legacy will be her exemplary example of teamwork, collaboration, and service.

PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: Be of service to others.

The voice of the Brooklyn Dodgers and then the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team was as much a part of the team as the players on the field. He announced games for 67 years, a feat that will be hard to beat. Vin served as an inspiration for broadcasters, players, and fans in his knowledge of the game as well as his kindness, which was heard in his opening remarks for every game, “Hi everybody, and a very pleasant good evening to you, wherever you may be. It’s time for Dodger baseball.” He clearly represented the Dodgers but also served as a broadcaster for football and other sporting events. His name will always be synonymous with having a passion for one’s job.

According to the Dodgers, “Vin was the voice of the Dodgers, and so much more. He was their conscience, their laureate, capturing their beauty and chronicling their glory from Jackie Robinson to Sandy Koufax, Kirk Gibson to Clayton Kershaw. Vin Scully was the heartbeat of the Dodgers, and is so many ways, the heartbeat of Los Angeles.”

PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: Be passionate about your job – and you won’t work a day in your life.

Known for her portrayal of Nyota Uhura in the 1960’s TV show STAR TREK and its film sequels, Nichelle Nichols was an actress, singer, dancer, and later, activist. Her portrayal of Communications Officer/Lieutenant Uhura (freedom in Swahili) was groundbreaking for African American actresses on American television, and when she tired of the role and wished to pursue a career on Broadway, a chance encounter with the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. convinced her to stay in the role. In later years, she became an ambassador for NASA whose recruitment efforts resulted in more than 2,600 applications from women and minority astronaut hopefuls including Sally Ride, the first American woman in space.

PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: Sometimes, you don’t see the importance of your role until much later, but it’s important to stick to it.

Known for the term “glass ceiling,” Marilyn Loden coined the term when speaking on a panel at the 1978 Women’s Exposition in New York City. According to the Washington Post, “When her turn came to speak, she thought about how she had been tasked at her company to explore why more women weren’t entering management positions. She had gathered enough data that she felt confident that the problem extended beyond what her colleagues were wearing or saying. Loden explained, ‘It seemed to me there was an invisible barrier to advancement that people didn’t recognize, a glass ceiling.’” While it’s been more than 40 years, the problem persists. Many well-known women have used the term including Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Aretha Franklin, and Oprah Winfrey.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton said during her concession speech to President-elect Donald Trump, “Now, I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling, but someday, someone will.”

PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: Be bold. You never know how the future will tell your story.

Known as the first female US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright was a trailblazer for those who followed her term (1997-2001): Condoleezza Rice (2005-2009) and Hillary Clinton (2009-2013).

According to Wikipedia, “She was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, and immigrated to the United States after the 1948 communist coup d'├ętat when she was eleven years old. Her father, diplomat Josef Korbel, settled the family in Denver, Colorado, and she became a U.S. citizen in 1957. She graduated from Wellesley College in 1959 and earned a PhD from Columbia University in 1975. She worked as an aide to Senator Edmund Muskie from 1976 to 1978, before serving as a staff member on the National Security Council under Zbigniew Brzezinski. She served in that position until 1981, when President Jimmy Carter left office. Following the 1992 presidential election, Albright helped assemble President Bill Clinton's National Security Council. She was appointed US Ambassador to the United Nations from 1993 to 1997, a position she held until elevation as Secretary of State. Secretary Albright served in that capacity until President Clinton left office in 2001.”


Margaret Keane was an American artist who mainly painted women, children, or animals in oil or mixed media – and her subjects all had big eyes. The artwork was originally attributed to her ex-husband, Walter Keane, but after their divorce, Margaret claimed credit. A resurgence of interest in her work followed the release of Tim Burton’s film called BIG EYES, released in 2014.


Known as an actor, film director, and diplomat, Sidney Poitier was the first black actor to win the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1964 for the film Lilies of the Field, playing a handyman helping a group of German-speaking nuns build a chapel. He rose to prominence when the civil rights movement was beginning to make headway in the United States.

According to Wikipedia, “Poitier's family lived in the Bahamas, then still a Crown colony, but he was born unexpectedly in Miami, Florida, while they were visiting, which automatically granted him U.S. citizenship. He grew up in the Bahamas, but moved to Miami at age 15, and to New York City when he was 16. He joined the American Negro Theatre, landing his breakthrough film role as a high school student in the film Blackboard Jungle. In 1958, Poitier starred with Tony Curtis as chained-together escaped convicts in The Defiant Ones, which received nine Academy Award nominations; both actors received nominations for Best Actor, with Poitier's being the first for a Black actor. They both also had Best Actor nominations for the BAFTAs, with Poitier winning…Poitier was granted a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II in 1974, and in 2009, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States, by President Barack Obama.”

PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: Be humble. As Poitier wrote, “History will pinpoint me as merely a minor element in an ongoing major event, a small if necessary energy. But I am nonetheless gratified at having been chosen.”

Known as a film, TV, and Broadway actress, the role that made Angela Lansbury a household name was her 1980’s TV show, MURDER SHE WROTE. The show was about a widowed mystery writer who solved crimes in her spare time. The role of Jessica Fletcher marked a turning point for female characters on television because she was an older, self-sufficient career woman. It was Lansbury herself who insisted that the character remain single so that she could represent female independence.

PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: Stick to your perspective – it just might be the best decision for everyone involved in a project.

Known as one part of the singing duo THE JUDDS, Naomi gained fame with her daughter Wynonna. However, sadly, a day before the duo’s induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, Naomi killed herself. Her senseless death brought depression, mental illness, and suicide into the public discourse. Despite the success a person may have, there can always be different beliefs behind closed doors.

PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: Fame and success do not always make people happy, so practice compassion for others.


Known as a singer and dancer from Australia, Olivia Newton-John’s claim to fame was her role of Sandy in the 1978 film GREASE co-starring John Travolta. In the years following the film, she continued to sing and act, but no songs or films were as successful as GREASE. However, she embraced her fame from GREASE and did not resent it.

PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: One role may define a career, so embrace it.

Known as a comedian and actress based on her role of Rebecca Howe in the 1980’s TV show CHEERS, Kirstie Alley was able to jump into a well-established team (well-oiled machine) so well that her talent was able to shine brightly.

PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: Be a team player, and you may shine brilliantly.


Known as the founder of the advertising agency Wieden and Kennedy, Dan Widen was the brains behind memorable marketing campaigns for big brands such as Old Spice, Procter and Gamble, and Coca-Cola. But his biggest claim to fame came in 1988, when he created a slogan for his newly-formed ad firm’s first client, Nike. He created the tagline JUST DO IT for the small sportswear brand based in Oregon. The tagline took on a life of its own and has become known around the world.

According to Nick DePaula, and NBA feature writer at ESPN, “Not only was the slogan great, and also approachable and vague enough that anybody could apply it to whatever it was they were trying to aspire to do.”

PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: Go with your gut. An idea may seem ridiculous, but it could take on a life of its own.

On the eve of 2023, all were saddened by the news that trailblazing journalist Barbara Walters had passed away.

In 2000, Oprah Winfrey presented her with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. “Had there not been Barbara Walters, surely all of the other women who have followed in her footsteps, including myself, could not stand where we stand and do what we do in this industry today,” Winfrey said.

In 2014, part of ABC News' Headquarters in New York was renamed “The Barbara Walters Building.” During the ceremony, Walters accepted the honor, saying, “People ask me very often, 'What is your legacy?' and it's not the interviews with presidents, or heads of state, nor celebrities. If I have a legacy, and I've said this before and I mean it so sincerely, I hope that I played a small role in paving the way for so many of you fabulous women.”

PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: Pave the way for others – and be humble.

And, last but not least, let’s not forget BETTY WHITE, who passed away on the cusp of 2022: December 31, 2021. She was a pioneer of early television, with a television career spanning almost seven decades. And she also was a tireless supporter of animals and wildlife conservation.

PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: Humor is important for a long, happy life.

What else did you learn from those we lost during 2022? Chime in and share.

Image Credit: Debbie Laskey.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Marketing News of the Week: Lunar New Year and Much, Much More

This week, there were many marketing-related news stories.

Gung hay fat choy, or translated into Cantonese: “Wishing you great happiness and prosperity.” The year of the rabbit began this week. However, on the eve of the annual celebration, tragedy struck Southern California. A gunman killed 10, with another victim later dying – in what would become the worst mass shooting in Los Angeles County, according to LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn.

Vice President Kamala Harris visited the Monterey Park community and said, “We will always, as a compassionate nation, mourn for the loss and pray for those who survive and are recovering. But we must also require that leaders in our nation who have the ability and the power and the responsibility to do something, that they act.”

Then more death and tragedy struck a suburb of San Jose and San Francisco, Half Moon Bay. Naturally, some celebrations were canceled as a result.

However, many brands had created Lunar New Year-themed/Chinese New Year-themed products long before these events became the dominant news stories. Mattel partnered with Chinese couturier Guo Pei to create a special 2023 Lunar New Year Barbie doll. Coach unveiled a 2023 Lunar New Year series of purses featuring a rabbit, carriage, and hearts. Fossil created a Lunar New Year watch. And Estee Lauder unveiled a lipstick featuring a rabbit. Let’s not forget that the US Postal Office always unveils a stamp to commemorate the Lunar New Year – of course, with the cost now 63 cents to mail a first-class letter, email may be the best option for communication.

While many networks have disappeared despite adding a plus sign to their name, this week saw the launch of another. According to PC Magazine, "Formerly known as EPIX, MGM+ is a revamped, Amazon-owned video streaming service with a classic cinematic brand. When you hear the big, golden lion roar, you know a good movie is about to start. The service’s rich film library does justice to this pedigree, with old classics alongside modern hits and original shows. After a seven-day free trial, MGM+ costs $5.99 per month or $50 per year. Few streaming services offer such an affordable and straightforward way to watch so many great movies. Its strength is its library.”

This week, M&M’s posted this news on Twitter:

“America, let's talk. In the last year, we've made some changes to our beloved spokescandies. We weren't sure if anyone would even notice. And we definitely didn't think it would break the internet. But now we get it - even a candy's shoes can be polarizing. Which was the last thing M&M's wanted since we're all about bringing people together.

Therefore, we have decided to take an indefinite pause from the spokescandies. In their place, we are proud to introduce a spokesperson America can agree on: the beloved Maya Rudolph. We are confident Ms. Rudolph will champion the power of fun to create a world where everyone feels they belong.”

According to the Chief Marketing Officer for Mars Wrigley North America, “Ms. Rudolph, the new chief of fun and our spokesperson, will appear in a campaign ad that will debut during the Super Bowl LVII broadcast on February 12. The original colorful cast of M&Ms spokescandies are, at present, pursuing personal passions.”

How can candy be divisive? Without a doubt, this has to be a marketing first!

Promoted as Amazon’s philanthropic arm, AmazonSmile launched in 2013 and was a way for users to donate a portion of their sales toward their favorite charities. The appealing tagline read: “You shop. Amazon gives. Support your favorite charity every time you shop.”

According to CNN, “Amazon will shut down its SMILE charity donation program on February 20, 2023, as the company cuts costs and rethinks its strategy…AmazonSmile donated a small percentage of sales made on eligible purchases to a charity that shoppers chose. In total, $500 million has been donated since the 2013 launch, with an average donation of less than $230 per charity.”

However, I personally donated that amount to my favorite charity, Best Friends Animal Society, so as a typical Amazon shopper, I wonder, did Amazon mean, “less than $230 per shopper?” Otherwise, that statement was incorrect.

It turns out that museums now wish to re-brand ancient Egyptian remains. According to CNN, “There are among the most popular exhibits in museums worldwide, with a name so resonant, that blockbuster films have been built on it. But some museums in Britain are now using words other than “mummy” to describe their displays of ancient Egyptian human remains. Instead, they are adopting terms such as “mummified person” or the individual’s name to emphasize that they were one living people.”

Who says words and language don’t have power?

This week, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it is considering a major shift in its COVID-19 vaccine strategy. The goal will be to simplify vaccination against COVID and adopt a similar approach to the flu vaccine, with annual updates to match whatever strain of the virus is circulating. Does this mean, goodbye to quarterly or more frequent booster shots? We shall see.

Tech folks always remind us to back up our computers, update our software and operating systems, and update our passwords. It’s better to be hyper aware than lose our data or be the victim of a breach.

The big game is less than three weeks away, and many brands are already announcing their plans for their 30-second ads that cost an estimated $7 million. FOX Sports predicts that brands will spend a record-breaking $450 million on 2023 Super Bowl ads.

In addition to the introduction of M&M’s new spokesperson Maya Rudolph in its ad, some of the other advertisers will include Molson Coors, Avocados from Mexico, Procter & Gamble’s Downy, Hellmann’s, Pringles, Kia,, Doritos, FanDuel, TurboTax, and Tillamook County Creamery Association.

Also, as the week came to an end, we remembered Kobe Bryant, who passed away three years ago this week. And lastly, I celebrate my dad, who would have been 89 years young this week.

Image Credits: Mattel, Amazon, Fossil, Coach, MGM+, and Estee Lauder.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Feedback and Talent in the Post-Covid Era

Do you know what today is? If you answered, “National Compliment Day,” then you are correct. In 1650, the Italian noun “complimento” determined the spelling, and its definition is “an expression of respect and civility.” Do you compliment your team, co-workers, and other employees? It’s amazing what a few positive words can do to improve employee morale. To celebrate today, I’ve invited Julie Winkle Giulioni to return to my blog for a discussion about employee feedback, leadership, and the overall employee experience. Highlights follow Julie’s introduction.

Julie Winkle Giulioni has championed workplace growth and development throughout her career. She operates with the belief that everyone deserves the opportunity to reach their potential – and she works with organizations and leaders who want to make that happen. She is the co-author of the international bestseller, Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Organizations Need and Employees Want, which has been translated into seven languages; and recently launched her second book, Promotions Are So Yesterday: Redefine Career Development. Help Employees Thrive. Julie is a sought-after keynote presenter and contributes articles on leadership, career development, and workplace trends to numerous publications.

QUESTION: There are many new titles for the head of personnel, aka Human Resources, including: Chief Happiness Officer, Chief People Officer, Chief Talent Officer, Chief Encouragement Officer, to name a few.

One of our leadership/employee engagement/workforce culture colleagues, Marli Rusen from Canada, has said, “The title of Human Resources covers the myriad of responsibilities performed by the HR department. The other titles you mention are too limited in scope and fail to recognize the many roles and responsibilities assigned to those who work in this field. For me, what’s more important than the title is that employees and leaders clearly understand the mandate of the HR department in their organization.”

What are your thoughts to change the title in order to improve the position’s value to all employees?

JULIE WINKLE GIULIONI: Human resources was a popular improvement over personnel, the term commonly used in the past. It was intended to elevate the role and acknowledge that people were as valuable and important as machines, materials, and other resources required to meet an organization’s mission. In recent years, I sense that many feel that the resources part of the title has been emphasized over the human part.

While I personally like to see terms like ‘people’ and ‘talent’ in the new and evolving titles, what matters more to employees than what it’s called, is what it does. Is the function ensuring fairness in treatment, compensation, and the like? Is it promoting equity? Is it keeping them safe and secure? Is it facilitating meaningful work and enabling the growth and development that people crave? If the answer is ‘yes’, then those in this role will be called heroes regardless of formal titles.

QUESTION: You appeared on my blog in April 2021, in an inspiring Q&A about employee engagement and leadership. During our convo, you said, “The most effective leaders are the ones that enable excellence.” What are some ways that effective leaders accomplish this?

JULIE WINKLE GIULIONI: Enabling excellence isn’t a “one size fits all” exercise. Leaders who do this do it one person at a time, getting to know individual motivations, needs, talents, and aspirations. They can then create an environment uniquely suited to allowing individuals to shine.

Some practices that leaders may want to consider when putting together their custom cocktail include:
•    Setting a clear vision, laying out the big picture, and painting individuals into it.
•    Cultivating a culture of collaboration because, given the complexity of today’s workplace, excellence is rarely a solo endeavor.
•    Model authenticity, transparency, and respect.
•    Build and extend trust.
•    Listen hard and nurture generous feedback loops.
•    Engaging people in the decisions that affect them.
•    Offer the resources and support people need to thrive.

SHARE THIS: Enabling excellence isn’t a “one size fits all” exercise. ~@julie_wg #EmployeeExperience #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: During this challenging time of “quiet quitting” and the “great resignation,” what are some ways that leaders can support their employees who work from home?

JULIE WINKLE GIULIONI: During the covid pandemic, and since things have begun to return to normal, remote and hybrid work raised the stakes for leaders everywhere. And when we add the current dynamics around engagement and retention, it’s only elevated the importance of the manager’s role in organizational success.

The good news is that the practices required to capture the hearts and minds of employees haven’t changed. We just need to practice them with greater discipline, care, and intention.

We can support those who may be working remotely by:
•    Getting to know them on a human level – understanding their broader lives, priorities, and motivations.
•    Understanding how they’re really doing – monitoring for stress, burnout, and the need for greater support.
•    Appreciating that many people want and/or need a different relationship with work – and offering the flexibility, sense of purpose, or whatever else is required to make that relationship work.
•    Demonstrating appreciation – because without those organic opportunities in the office, ‘thank you’ may not be agendized the way it should.
•    Ensure humane workloads (and stress-loads) and the resources required to enable them.

QUESTION: During this challenging time of “quiet quitting” and the “great resignation,” what are some ways that leaders can provide feedback to their employees who work from home in a constructive and non-combative manner?

JULIE WINKLE GIULIONI: Offering the helpful information people need to remain aligned and on track (which is essentially what feedback is) has only become more vital in remote and hybrid workplaces. The lack of environmental cues and organic opportunities means that managers must apply the same skills and sensibilities they’ve developed working with co-located employees to those who work at a distance – but doing so even more proactively, frequently, and intentionally.

This means:
•    Initiating the conversation as promptly as possible after an event worthy of feedback.
•    Stating your positive intent for sharing the information.
•    Succinctly (in 60 seconds or less) offering specific observations and the impact of the employee’s behavior or performance.
•    Making it a dialogue by quickly engaging the employee with questions like, “How do you see it?” or “What was your experience of that?”
•    Collaborating on a plan as necessary and offering the support required for success.

It’s also important to remember that feedback doesn’t come in just one flavor. We tend to default to associating feedback with problems, issues, and performance shortfalls. But, if feedback is simply the information people need to remain aligned and on track, then generously calling out what’s going well and working for the employee is helpful – regardless of where people might be working.

SHARE THIS: Feedback doesn’t come in just one flavor. ~@julie_wg #EmployeeExperience #LeadershipTip #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: As you explain on Twitter, “For decades, promotions have been the default definition of career development, setting unattainable and unsustainable expectations for employees.” Can you please explain other ways to grow from your book #PromotionsAreSoYesterday?

JULIE WINKLE GIULIONI: Research I conducted for my latest book, Promotions Are So Yesterday, suggests that there are seven other development dimensions that offer more interesting ways for employees to grow than the classic climb up the corporate ladder.

They include:
•    Contribution: Making a difference, being of service, or aligning with purpose.
•    Competence: Building critical capabilities, skills, abilities, and expertise.
•    Connection: Cultivating relationships, deepening networks, elevating visibility.
•    Confidence: Enhancing confidence, certainty, and trust in one’s talents and abilities.
•    Challenge: Stretching beyond what’s known and comfortable.
•    Contentment: Finding satisfaction, ease, balance, and joy in one’s work.
•    Choice: Exercising control, autonomy, flexibility, and decision-making authority.

These seven dimensions offer leaders who are committed to ensuring that everyone grows the tools they need to facilitate meaningful development – even with those who have little interest in promotions. For instance, a new role is not required to introduce interesting and meaningful challenges into someone’s work life. People don’t need a different title to expand their network and learn from and through different people. A position change isn’t a prerequisite for changing up one’s work to offer greater value or contribution. Employees don’t have to go anywhere to experience the powerful learning that comes along with making greater or more complex decisions.

And the good news is that these seven dimensions – unlike promotions – are completely within a manager’s and employee’s control and offer development opportunities that are available right within their current role.

SHARE THIS: A new role is not required to introduce meaningful challenges into someone’s work life. ~@julie_wg #PromotionsAreSoYesterday #DebbieLaskeysBlog

My gratitude and appreciation to Julie for sharing her inspiring perspective about feedback and the employee experience.

Image Credit: Sheri Silver via Unsplash.

Check out the previous Q&A featuring Julie here on my Blog:
How Can Leaders Become Architects of Unbeatable Brands?

Connect with Julie at these links:
Twitter: @Julie_WG
Facebook: /JulieWinkleGiulioni.Author

Friday, January 20, 2023

Marketing News of the Week: End of a Music Era, MLK Day, Pepsi, and the Super Bowl

This week saw some interesting marketing news.

On the eve of last week's recap post, Lisa Marie Presley, the only daughter of rock and roll legend Elvis Presley, died in a suburb of Los Angeles. What made the news so shocking was that Lisa Marie was young, only 54 years of age, but her life had been full of heartbreak beginning with the death of her famous father when she was 9 years old, four marriages that ended in divorce, and the death by suicide of her only son in 2020. She will be buried at Graceland, Elvis's estate in Memphis, Tennessee, alongside her father, son, and other Presley family members. This week, according to the Los Angeles County coroner, the cause of death is unknown, and more tests have been ordered before making a determination.

Earlier this week, we celebrated the life of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. The third Monday in January has become known as MLK Day, and as Angelia Williams Graves wrote, "We must not reduce MLK Day to a day off or a quote on social media. Today, we celebrate the great Martin Luther King, Jr. and remember his legacy as we continue to advocate for equity, freedom, and voting rights. We're not there yet." The most impressive reports during the day's newscasts were of young people reciting the "I Have a Dream" speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., and sharing their thoughts as to the speech's meaning.

Some people used the day off from work as an opportunity to volunteer for their favorite charity or learned about a new nonprofit to support.

Pepsi announced that it will promote its zero-sugar soda in its first Super Bowl ad in three years. The revamped flavor relies on a different sweetener system, resulting in a product that consumers found more refreshing, according to early testing.

Speaking of the upcoming Super Bowl, marketing pundits wonder how the Twitter chaos will impact Super Bowl advertising. Twitter is usually a no-brainer for Big Game advertisers, but this year is different under Elon Musk's ownership. Will advertisers show up on Twitter? Will people follow the conversations about the ads on TV in real time as in years past? Or, will Twitter be invisible during the Big Game? I guess we'll have to log in to see what happens.

Image Credit: Twitter via AdAge.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

How #CX Has Evolved Since 2014 – And A Look Forward

Today is “Get to Know Your Customers Day,” a reminder to businesses to reach out to customers to get to know them better. Search social media platforms using the hashtag #GetToKnowYourCustomersDay, and you’re bound to see many ways that organizations are recognizing the day. Some may ask customers questions about specific products or services, some may follow up on a purchase, and some may ask for improvements.

To recognize today’s importance, I’ve invited David Jacques to return to my blog for a Q&A about customer experience, customer journey maps, customer experience management, and commentary about famous quotes by Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos. Highlights of our conversation follow a brief introduction, and the link to our Q&A from 2014 is provided at the end of this post.

David Jacques, based in Canada, is a senior executive, speaker, author, and pioneer in the field of customer experience management. He has over 20 years of international experience in customer research, strategy, design, and innovation in multiple industries including financial services, consumer products, and travel. Based on years of consulting and various internal roles, he has developed a framework for organization-wide, cross-departmental, multi-channel Customer Experience Management. David’s framework cohesively brings together every aspect that affects the entire customer experience including people, processes, products, policies, and culture.

QUESTION: Back in 2014, I asked you to define customer experience. How has your definition evolved, 8 years later?
DAVID JACQUES: My definition of customer experience has indeed changed over the past few years. When I created the first definition of customer experience in Wikipedia many years ago, I specified that customer experience was the result of direct and indirect interactions with organizations. But where my view has changed is specifically on what direct and indirect mean.

An experience is an occurrence that leaves an impression on someone. After decades of researching customers, I came to realize that what affects an impression of an organization on someone, therefore their experience, is not limited to interactions WITH the organization but extends to third parties, including some that the organization doesn’t even have visibility on. Third parties are often an integrant part of an organization. This is one of the most overlooked parts of the experience and brings customer experience management to the next level.

QUESTION: Back in 2014, I asked you to provide three examples of brands that understood customer experience. You were hard-pressed to find three. How about now, 8 years later?
DAVID JACQUES: There are many companies considered leaders in customer experience based on surveys or expert opinion. But these are based on old views of customer experience. If we look at customer experience from a broader perspective, at all interactions that affect the perception of, and experience with, an organization (including third-party interactions), very few companies are doing very well.

But one company that was considered great before, and still is, even in light of a broader view of customer experience that includes third parties, is Amazon. An example I use in my coming book is with Amazon’s delivery. Although they use third parties to deliver products, they will take accountability for the third-party experience. If a package gets lost or arrives damaged, they won’t dismiss it as being the responsibility of the shipping company, they will take accountability for it.

Another example I use to illustrate the idea of managing third-party interactions is with Tesla. They may not provide a great experience, or impression, all-around, but they have found ways to eliminate pain points associated with third-party interactions in multiple ways. Most remarkably, they have set up their own electric car supercharging stations, eliminating the need for customers to charge with third parties, therefore entirely taking ownership of the charging experience. They have also set up their own car insurance.

QUESTION: You mentioned that you're writing a book about customer experience. Can you share some brief highlights?
DAVID JACQUES: I’m delighted to share some highlights. The book, entitled “Seamless,” is a redefinition of customer experience and is focused on two major points.

The first one which I just discussed is that customer experience, from the customer’s perspective, is not limited to interactions with touchpoints that the organization owns and manages. It includes interactions with third parties.

Second, and maybe more controversial, is that what makes a great experience is not an experience filled with “wow moments” and positive individual experiences, but instead, a seamless experience. I explain that what customers want first and foremost is to get things done, and they want them done without any pain, thus, in other words, seamlessly. Supported by many examples, I explain what seamless experiences are and why seamless, more than anything else, is the greatest driver of customer loyalty and business growth.

SHARE THIS: What makes a great experience is not a “WOW” moment, but instead, a seamless experience. ~@DavidJacques #CX #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: A favorite tool of many in the CX arena is referred to as "customer journey maps." What do you think of them, and how would you explain and recommend them to organizational leaders?
DAVID JACQUES: Journey maps have indeed become one of the favorite tools in CX management and for good reasons. They can really understand the customer’s journey and identify opportunities to make journeys more seamless. But journey mapping has become a victim of its own popularity, and many organizations have started producing journey maps on an ongoing basis, without understanding how to best make use of them. Journey mapping is only as useful as how it is conducted and how it is used.

I touch on this in my upcoming book and explain that journeys – where they start, where they end, and what affects the experience – is very different from the organization’s perspective than from the customer’s perspective. Many organizations will come up with journey maps based on their assumptions of what customers really experience. But the only way to really understand the journey is by speaking to customers directly, preferably observing them as they go through their journeys.

However useful journey maps may be, they are insufficient to understand the customer experience in its entirety. They provide a narrow view of the experience. Interactions in one journey may have effect on other journeys later in the relationship. This is something that is often missed when looking at journeys individually.

Organizations still need a broader view of the total customer experience to identify root cause of the experience and effects or interactions across the relationship and over time. This is a model I describe as the Customer Experience Lifecycle which I touched on in an article years ago and provide an update on in my book.

QUESTION: There is a lot of buzz surrounding the addition of a new C-Suite position, the "Chief Customer Officer." This demonstrates that organizations want all employees to create an excellent customer experience. However, there should also be a new C-Suite position called the "Employee Experience Officer." What are your thoughts? And if you could be the Chief Customer Officer for any brand, which would it be, and why?

DAVID JACQUES: I strongly believe customer experience management across the organization needs to be centralized in one function. Customer experience is delivered by every function in an organization so, my view is that customer experience management and the Chief Customer Officer should be an independent function, just like the CFO and Finance department have a view of budgets and spending across the organization.

There is a lot of talk linking employee engagement to customer experience. But it really depends on what employees are engaged in. It’s matter of organizational culture. And that, I believe, is something that HR should already be managing. There is nothing wrong with creating an Employee Experience Officer position focusing on employee engagement and experience, but for it to have a positive impact on customers, it must focus on engaging employees in the customer experience.

It's difficult to pick a brand for which I would like to be Chief Customer Officer. Whichever it is, it would need to be a brand that does not only say it cares about customer experience but really means it. It would also need to be a brand that I admire and in which I believe. Finally, I tend to prefer working with new brands because they tend to be nimbler, so change happens more quickly, and you can set the experience right from the start.

However, a couple of names come to mind including luxury electric vehicle brand Lucid Motors, whose mission states the focus on the human experience; and Virgin Galactic, whose mission is purely about an experience – of traveling to space.

SHARE THIS: For an Employee Experience Officer position to have a positive impact on customers, it must focus on engaging employees in the customer experience. ~@DavidJacques #CX #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: According to Bill Gates, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” Have you ever had an experience that began horribly and ended by your becoming an enthusiastic advocate for the brand?
DAVID JACQUES: I totally agree with that quote. It’s great to listen to satisfied customers and advocates, but these only explain why customers stay. If an organization wants to grow, they must understand those who don’t buy from the company or have left. They need to listen to dissatisfied customers and identify their pain points. Even the best organizations can’t always create a seamless experience. Service failures and experience breakdowns can happen even with the best organizations, but it’s how the organizations handle them that makes or breaks the experience. More than once I’ve had issues with organizations. I’m no longer a customer of those that didn’t fix the issue, but probably still am with many of those that did. When organizations go out of their way to make things right for the customer, it creates gratitude resulting in a strong bond.

QUESTION: Those of us who live in the marketing and customer experience worlds have heard the Jeff Bezos empty chair story many times. What does it mean to you?

(Read about the story at this link:

DAVID JACQUES: The empty chair story is a reminder to all organizations that the customer needs to be at the table in every business decision. But this concept needs to be pushed even further. Some organizations will interpret the empty seat as the need to think about the customer, meaning to “wear the customer’s hat.” They will make assumptions on what the customer wants and which problems to solve, but that is insufficient.

Because organizations and customers often see things very differently, what organizations need to do is literally “walk in the customer’s shoes.” The empty chair needs to be filled with real insights from real customers.

My gratitude to David for sharing his customer experience insights and for appearing again here on my Blog.

Image Credit: 420FourTwoO and Ryan Plomp via Unsplash.

Connect with David at these links:
Twitter @DavidJacques
David’s Blog:

Interested in reading my original Q&A featuring David from 2014? Here’s the link: 

Monday, January 16, 2023

2022 Was the Year of #BrandIdentity Changes


Was your brand in the news during 2022? If not, don’t despair. There were many other brands that made headlines during 2022.

Here’s a recap of 35 interesting brands that either reappeared, 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 2022.

*The television show that made creator Dick Wolf a household name and started a franchise of shows beginning in 1990, LAW & ORDER, returned with its first series. After an 11-year hiatus, the 21st season premiered with two original cast members, and New York City was again featured prominently in weekly episodes. According to Susan Rovnar of NBCUniversal Television, “Law & Order is quite simply one of the most iconic shows in television history, and the idea of continuing its legacy and partnering with Dick on an all-new season is nothing short of exhilarating. This is great news for NBC as well as TV fans everywhere.” (February 2022)

*The Washington football team finally chose a new name. As Co-CEO Dan Snyder explained, “As we kick-off our 90th season, it is important for our organization and fans to pay tribute to our past traditions, history, legacy, and the greats that came before us. We continue to honor and represent the Burgundy and Gold while forging a pathway to a new era in Washington. Today may mark the first day for the Washington Commanders, but we are and always will be Washington.” The final name selection ended an 18-month search after the team dumped its old name, the Redskins, in 2020, after a half-century of pressure from Native Americans. (February 2022)

*Facebook shifted its strategic focus to building an immersive version of the Internet that it calls the “metaverse,” and changed its name to Meta. As a result, employees formerly known as Facebookers became Metamates. (February 2022)

*KFC partnered with TikTok to fight hunger across the United States. The partnership developed a fund with the aim to give away half a million dollars in cash grants to nonprofits fighting hunger across the country. The campaign used the hashtag #KentuckyFriedGivingChallenge and was TikTok’s first-ever grant program to benefit nonprofits. (February-March 2022)

*Coors Light announced that it would ditch the plastic rings on its six-packs and replace them with an environmentally friendlier option. Beginning later in 2022, the beer cans will be packaged in cardboard wrap carriers that are recyclable and sustainably sourced. (March 2022)

*The last large Sears department store closed. (March 2022)

*Stolichnaya vodka announced a rebrand and would be sold and marketed as Stoli. In 2020, the founder was exiled from Russia due to his opposition to Russian leader Putin, and the vodka’s production facilities moved to Latvia. (March 2022)

*Minnie Mouse exchanged her timeless and familiar red and white dot dress for a dark blue pantsuit with black stripes and polka dots, a new outfit designed by British designer Stella McCartney. Announced by Disneyland Paris in January 2022, the wardrobe change would be part of the French theme park’s 30th anniversary – and would be worn by Minnie during March in honor of Women’s History Month. (March-April 2022)

*CNN+, the cable news network’s streaming platform, shut down one month after its launch. The shutdown of the service followed a merger between Discovery and CNN’s parent company WarnerMedia that formed Warner Bros. Discovery. (April 2022)

*The parent company of Facebook and Instagram took on a new role as a brick-and-mortar retailer with the launch of the first Meta Store on its campus in Burlingame, California. At the store, customers and employees could demo products and try apps. (April 2022)

*Known as a gas-guzzling vehicle for extreme speed, GM’s Chevrolet Corvette is going electric. (April 2022)

*Cracker Jack unveiled a line of limited-edition bags featuring Cracker Jill, a new character meant to celebrate women who break barriers in sports. The bags were available in ballparks across the United States on Major League Baseball’s Opening Day (April 7). (April 2022)

*Starting in late 2022, IKEA announced that it would sell solar panels. The line of home solar products is a result of a collaboration between IKEA and SunPower, a California-based solar company. (May 2022)

*While Juneteenth is now a federal holiday, some brands are selling products to commemorate that day. Walmart tried to sell Juneteenth ice cream and learned the hard way – bad publicity – that it was a bad idea. According to Christina Ferraz, founder and head consultant of public relations agency Thirty6five, “There were several missteps with this. When you collectively look at all these missteps – the branding, the marketing, the visual rhetoric – you understand that there weren’t Black creatives in the room that had a voice at the table.” (June 2022)

*To celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s 70 years of dedicated service, a specially commissioned Land Rover Defender 30 was designed and donated to support the British Red Cross. (See September reference to Land Rover.) (June 2022)

*Kellogg split its company into three separate companies. The snacks portion of the company became Global Snacking, which accounted for 80 percent of all sales, and was based in Chicago. The cereal business, which accounted for 20 percent of sales, formed North American Cereal, and the plant-based food division was tentatively named Plant Co. Those two businesses were based in Battle Creek, Michigan. (June 2022)

*Kraft Macaroni & Cheese announced that it would have a new name: Kraft Mac & Cheese. Three syllables were dropped from the name. The logo was redesigned, the same colors were kept on packaging, but a “noodle smile” was added. (June 2022)

*Turkey will now be known as Turkiye at the United Nations. (June 2022)

*Even though toy brand Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy and closed all of its 800 stores in the United States four years ago, it opened shops in every Macy’s in America this year. (July 2022)

*Mattel’s Barbie and Habitat for Humanity partnered to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Barbie DreamHouse to complete 60 projects around the world. According to Mattel, “Together, we’re giving real families real houses, and fulfilling dreams.” The campaign’s hashtag was #BarbieDreamHouse60. (August 2022)

*As the country of New Zealand confronts its troubled past with colonization and denying the Maori people their rights, a petition collected more than 70,000 signatures to change the island nation’s name to Aotearoa. (August 2022)

*Pottery Barn launched 150 pieces of furniture for people with disabilities. (September 2022)

*With all the chaos in Russia as a result of the war in Ukraine, Starbucks and many other brands pulled their business out of Russia. Once Starbucks left, another company entered in its place: Stars Coffee. In addition to the similarity between the names, the logo and menu were also nearly identical. (September 2022)

*A new M&M chocolate candy character was introduced. The purple peanut M&M was the first new character in 10 years. According to Jane Hwang, Global Vice President, “Purple has been in the works for a very long time, for years. This was about ensuring the entire crew, the entire cast of spokescandies, were reflecting the world that we’re living in…Purple has a specific personality: quirky, confident, and just a little awkward. Her debut comes with a song, ‘I’m Just Gonna Be Me.’” (September 2022)

*While there were many brands associated with Queen Elizabeth II, throughout her life, she was pictured behind the wheel of a Land Rover. The Land Rovers weren’t just ceremonial cars, but they were the cars that the Queen and Prince Philip drove themselves on their estates. (September 2022)

*Charles, formerly Prince of Wales, kept his name when he became the British monarch (like his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, did) and became King Charles III. According to Keith Roy, a spokesperson for the Monarchist League of Canada, “He’s quite comfortable in his own skin, his own name, and his own identity. His own reputation is strong enough that he can maintain his name.” (September 2022)

*President Joe Biden declared the covid pandemic “over” in a Sixty Minutes TV interview, but his covid team explained that it was more complicated. Many people still refuse to get vaccinated, and there is widespread covid fatigue. (September 2022)

*General Motors created a new energy business to sell batteries, battery packs, EV chargers, and solar panels with the goal to dethrone Tesla. The new company was named GM ENERGY. (October 2022)

*Barilla Pasta was sued in a class-action lawsuit because it allegedly misled consumers that it was from Italy and made from ingredients sourced from Italy. The brand’s products feature the tagline on their label with the Italian flag: “Italy’s #1 Brand of Pasta.” It turns out that the pasta products come from Illinois. (October 2022)

*Frontier Airlines dropped its customer service toll-free phone line. Customers would have to rely on other forms of contact including a chatbot on its website, a live online chat available 24/7, and its social media channels. (November 2022)

*Lena Horne became the first black woman to have a Broadway theater named after her. The former Mansfield Theatre now bears her name. (November 2022)

*KIA launched a redesign of its logo, but unfortunately, it was unreadable, and according to Google, 30,000 people a month search for “KN.” (November 2022)

*The French baguette was added to the United Nations cultural heritage list. Due to the bread’s new status, the French government plans to create a baguette day to connect the French with their heritage. (November 2022)

*Janet Yellen, the first female United States Treasury Secretary, has signed American currency. (December 2022)

*Users, advertisers, and brands are leaving Twitter in record numbers due to Elon Musk’s purchase of the platform, crazy policies, and lay-offs. (October 27, 2022-end of 2022)

With all these changes, one wonders if brands that don’t make changes have staying power. Do logos need to be refreshed every so often? Do brand names need to change every so often? How do these changes impact brand equity and customer/fan/stakeholder recognition? These are important questions to consider before making any strategic branding changes.

What brand will make brand identity news during 2023? Another brand identity recap will appear here on this blog in January 2024 – only a year to go!

Image Credit: Bright Pink Agency.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Marketing News of the Week: Frontier Airlines, Prince Harry's Memoir, and Professor Hillary Clinton


This week saw some interesting marketing news.

Frontier Airlines is known for featuring animals on the wings of its airplanes who serve as representatives of their species, but this week, its advocacy and passion for wildlife conservation went one step further. The airline offered free flight vouchers for people who adopt one of three kittens from the Las Vegas Animal Foundation. The kittens will be adoption-ready once they hit six weeks of age. The person who adopts "Spirit" or "Delta" will be gifted two flight vouchers, each valued at $250, for a total of $500 per forever (furever) family. And the pet parents who adopt "Frontier" will receive four $250 vouchers for a total value of $1,000. This type of marketing is a purr-fect way to attract cat and animal lovers.

According to CNN Style:
"Prince Harry has set a record with his tell-all memoir SPARE after the English language version sold more than 1.4 million copies in its first day of publication. Sales included all formats of the book (paper, audio and electronic) in the United States, Canada and the UK, according to a statement issued Wednesday, January 10th, by the book's publisher Penguin Random House. The first full day of sales of SPARE represents the largest first-day sales total for any nonfiction book ever published by Penguin Random House, the world's largest trade publisher. Random House also said the first United States printing of Harry's memoir was 2 million copies, and now the book has gone back to press for additional copies to meet demand. SPARE went on sale in 16 languages worldwide."

Will readers be surprised by the Prince's honesty, and will they tire of his complaints and finger-pointing at the dysfunctional Royal Family?

New York City's Columbia University announced that former Secretary of State, First Lady, and first female candidate to run for President in the modern era Hillary Clinton will join as professor of practice at the School of International and Public Affairs and as presidential fellow at Columbia World Projects in the 2023-2024 school year. She will focus on supporting female leaders and engaging women and youth around the globe. She explained, "Columbia's commitment to educating the next generation of U.S. and global policy leaders, translating insights into impact, and helping to address some of the world's most pressing challenges resonates personally with me. I look forward to contributing to these efforts." How will the addition of Clinton impact Columbia's marketing efforts during the next year? Time will tell.

Due to this Ivy League university's exciting news, here are a couple of my favorite Hillary Clinton quotes:

"You're never too young to change the world. You just have to get started."

"We still have not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling. But some day, someone will."

What other marketing news stood out to you this week?

What will be the marketing buzz next week? Tune in to read all about it.

One final note from "The first woman to actively pursue the country's highest office was Victoria Woodhull, a stockbroker, newspaper publisher, and champion of social reform who ran for the presidency in 1872, nearly 50 years before women throughout the United States gained the right to vote. Woodhull was an outsider candidate in more than a few ways. Not only was she a female candidate at a time when women could not vote, but also, at age 31, she was four years too young to serve as president, according to the requirements of the U.S. Constitution. However, the mostly middle-class advocates of women’s suffrage, notably Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, carefully distanced themselves from Woodhull, whom they considered an eccentric."

Image Credits: Frontier Airlines, Penguin Random House, and Columbia University.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Barbie Made News in 2022

During 2022, Barbie dolls made news. Usually, the international doll is not very newsworthy, but Mattel introduced five new Barbie dolls during 2022 to celebrate important women, their accomplishments, and their views.

But first, a little history about Barbie…

In 1945, Ruth and Elliot Handler started their company, Mattel, combining Elliot's name with the last name of their partner, Harold Matson. In 1956, the Handlers took their two teenage children, Barbara and Ken, on a trip to Europe, and during the trip, they saw a doll that looked like an adult woman. This doll was much different from the baby dolls that most little girls played with back in America.

Ruth was inspired, and three years later, Mattel’s version of the adult doll, which she named after her daughter, was unveiled and became a big success. The Barbie doll also had a wardrobe of outfits that could be purchased separately. In 1960, the Handlers took Mattel public, and Barbie quickly became an icon, with a wardrobe and career options that mirrored women’s changing goals.

Ruth Handler said in a 1977 interview with The New York Times, “Every little girl needed a doll through which to project herself into her dream of her future. If she was going to do role-playing of what she would be like when she was 16 or 17, it was a little stupid to play with a doll that had a flat chest. So, I gave the doll beautiful breasts. And Barbie kept pace with the times. During Camelot, she sported a Jacqueline Kennedy hairdo. During the 1970’s, her career choices and outfits begin to change to include a doctor, astronaut, and veterinarian, among others. My whole philosophy of Barbie was that through the doll, a girl could be anything she wanted to be. Barbie always represented the fact that a woman has choices.”

Mattel has created numerous Barbie dolls as part of its Inspiring Women Series to honor both historic and contemporary heroines with the hope of inspiring “generations of girls to dream bigger than ever before.” 

Here are the five that were introduced during 2022:

Ida B. Wells:
An educator, journalist, anti-lynching activist and NAACP Co-Founder. Her doll was accompanied by a historically significant accessory: a miniature replica of the Memphis Free Speech, the newspaper where she became editor and co-owner in 1889. (January 2022)

Queen Elizabeth II:
Dressed in royal attire, the doll celebrated the monarch’s Platinum Jubilee. John Lewis, the British retailer, sold out its supply in three seconds. The doll was just one of the lucrative memorabilia items created to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee – spanning everything from fine China to teddy bears, tea towels, fridge magnets, food tins, and more. (April 2002)

According to Kate Williams, a London-based history professor, “It’s incredibly important for children to see female leaders who have impacted history in their dolls, from Frida Kahlo to Amelia Earhart and now the Queen. It brings home the importance of women’s contributions to the world, the impact of women as leaders, creators, and pioneers, that women’s achievements are important and should be celebrated.”

Laverne Cox:
An actor, author, and LGBTQ rights advocate, and the first transgender person to have a Barbie designed after her. Launched on Cox’s 50th birthday, a Mattel spokesperson said the company was “proud to highlight the importance of inclusion and acceptance at every age with this doll.” (July 2022)

Gloria Estefan:
The doll celebrated the 33rd anniversary of the Grammy Award-winner’s chart-topping 1989 hit, “Get on Your Feet.” The doll marked the singer’s 65th birthday and was unveiled on the eve of National Hispanic Heritage Month. (August 2022)

Madam CJ Walker:
The first US self-made female millionaire, known for her entrepreneurial skills as she built her haircare and cosmetic brand from scratch. She was also known for her philanthropic and social justice efforts including her contributions to the NAACP anti-lynching movement. (August 2022)

To quote the BBC, “It is estimated that over a billion Barbie dolls have been sold worldwide in over 150 countries, with Mattel claiming that three Barbie dolls are sold every second.”

These inspiring dolls from 2022 are not just toys, they teach. Who will Mattel introduce in 2023?

Image Credits: Mattel.

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Leaders Don't Have to Be the Star of the Show!


Today, in honor of the final game day of the 2022 football season, I welcome Ron Oltmanns to my Blog for a Q&A discussion about leadership with a final question that relates to football. As a member of the Twitterverse for more than 13 years, I always enjoy meeting new people and learning from them. To quote Matthew Kobach (@mkobach), "Twitter is a key that unlocks thousands of doors, some of which you never even knew existed." Highlights of my conversation with Ron follow a brief introduction.

Ron Oltmanns is the founder of Leadskill, a consultancy specializing in developing leaders and teams for business impact. He has more than 25 years of experience in consulting and education with much of that time spent coaching and training business people. Based on his work in the corporate arena, small businesses, and startups in the United States and Asia, he has developed deep perspective on what makes people successful and what gets in their way. Leadskill has conducted workforce assessments, psychometric testing, and leadership development programs in multiple countries. Born in Venezuela, Ron grew up in the United States, and also lived in Asia for eight years. Now a Texan, he lives in Houston, with his wife Angela, and they have two grown sons.

QUESTION: You use your Twitter introductory space to say, "The best investment a leader can make is their self awareness and their team's emotional intelligence." Can you please elaborate?
RON OLTMANNS: Self awareness is a tricky thing. Most people would say they have it, and way more than half of the leaders that I talk to think they have above average self-awareness, which is impossible. How could 80-90% of leaders be above average?!

I have found that ALL leaders (myself included) could benefit from greater self-awareness. When leaders admit that they aren’t as self-aware as they’d like to be, but they’re working on it, something interesting occurs. I’ve noticed that it almost always results in their team's paying more attention to their own emotional intelligence. Greater emotional intelligence (EQ) pays a big dividend. People take better care of customers, and they work better together when they grow their EQ.

[Note: According to Wikipedia, Emotional intelligence is most often defined as the ability to perceive, use, understand, manage, and handle emotions.]

QUESTION: You feature something called a FEELINGS WHEEL on your website. Can you please explain?
RON OLTMANNS: A key part of emotional intelligence is being aware of what you’re feeling. Research at UCLA several years ago proved that when you can name what you’re feeling, you’re much better able to manage your emotions.

Most of us have a pretty limited working vocabulary for what we’re feeling. A feelings wheel has an expanded set of feeling words arranged in a logical way so that you can find the right word to express what you’re feeling. Just doing that can increase your self-awareness, and when you are able to share specifically what you’re feeling with others, it creates a more empathetic and supportive environment at work. The feelings wheel is a great tool for making emotions more discussable.

[Readers can learn more at this link:; and there are also several different versions of the wheel for beginners to advanced users in the online shop.]

QUESTION: On a post on your blog entitled "The Myths of Leadership," you wrote, "Leaders are only as strong as the people who follow them." Can you please share highlights from that inspiring post?

[Read the full post here:]

RON OLTMANNS: As I grew in my career and interacted with more leaders, I found that the usual stereotypes of leaders that I carried in my head were just wrong. Myths, like leaders, are just born that way, or “leaders” are loud and powerful people are two misconceptions. I shared a couple more in that post.

We tend to think of leaders as powerful and charismatic people that can move a group of people. That’s sometimes true. But I’ve noticed it’s much more common to find leaders who are pretty ordinary people who are surrounded by bright and talented people.

When people are willing to follow or yield to a leader, that gives them power. When people become unwilling to follow or trust a leader, they lose their power. I encourage leaders to work hard to be worthy of the trust that people are placing in their hands.

SHARE THIS: When people are willing to follow or yield to a leader, that gives them power. ~@ronoltmanns #LeadershipTip #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: If you could have dinner with any three leaders from history or the current era, who would you choose, and why?
RON OLTMANNS: This is a fun question! Of course there are many I’d like to have dinner with, but here are three that come to mind.

[1] Socrates. He was famous for asking questions and guiding people to examine the flaws in their beliefs. According to his students, he was a great dinner guest and maybe he was the first real executive coach.

[2] Confucius. I got to live and work in China for several years, and they have the oldest living civilization on the planet. There are many myths about Confucius, and I’d like to really meet the man himself and see what he would say about China today as well as his views on modern society and how we could make it work better for everyone.

[3] Margaret Thatcher. Besides being the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, she had a great influence in the 1980’s when I was growing up. The UK was not the most powerful nation on earth, and I’d like to talk with her about how to lead with influence when you can’t command people and just flex your power.

QUESTION: One of my favorite leadership quotes is from author and consultant Mark Herbert (@NewParadigmer on Twitter): "Leadership doesn't require you to be the smartest person in the room. It requires you to block and tackle for others." What does this quote mean to you?
RON OLTMANNS: In American football, blocking and tackling are fundamental skills you have to learn and drill. Blocking is how you run plays, whether it's rushing or passing the ball. Tackling is fundamental defense; unless you tackle the guy with the ball, they’re going to score on you.

So, the quote says you don’t have to be the smartest person in the room, meaning the leader doesn’t have to be the star of the show. If they block for others or tackle the opponent, they’re creating a team. Leaders realize that a good team can run circles around a lone superstar. Without blocking and tackling, you don’t have a functional team — just 11 individuals on the field. Leaders with a good functioning team will mow down individual stars every day.

SHARE THIS: The leader doesn’t have to be the star of the show. ~@ronoltmanns #LeadershipTip #DebbieLaskeysBlog

My thanks to Ron for sharing his leadership insights and for appearing here on my Blog...who else is looking forward to the Super Bowl and the ads? Check back following the Super Bowl game for my annual review of the ads.

Image Credit: Barry Weatherall via Unsplash.

Connect with Ron at these links:

Friday, January 6, 2023

Marketing News of the Week: Prayers for Damar and GM


This week saw some interesting marketing news.

After the nation watched Buffalo Bills football player Damar Hamlin collapse on the field during the Monday Night Football game between Buffalo and Cincinnati, everyone held their breath. In an unprecedented sight, players on the field of both teams kneeled and prayed together. Minutes ticked by, followed by the appearance of an ambulance, and then the ambulance took Damar to a local hospital. Broadcasters were speechless. The NFL ultimately postponed the game, and fans in the stands and viewers at home knew that something terrible had happened. While sports fans awaited news over the next few days, all 32 NFL teams changed their Twitter profile pictures to Damar’s name and number. This show of support proved that “Sports is important. And suddenly it’s not,” according to ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt. In addition, the hashtag #PrayersforDamar trended on Twitter. How can the NFL go forward with its marketing following this event? Perhaps, there will be a very memorable ad during the Super Bowl - and if Damar recovers by then, perhaps, the ad will feature him.

According to CNN, “One year after losing the title it held for nearly a century as the top car seller in America, General Motors is back on top.” GM reported US sales of 2.3 million vehicles, which was a lower number than in past years because production was impacted by a shortage of parts, primarily computer chips. How will this news impact GM's marketing during 2023?

What other marketing news stood out to you this week?

What will be the marketing buzz next week? Tune in to read all about it.

Image Credits: Buffalo Bills and General Motors.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Words and Terms that Told the Story of 2022


Many marketing and news commentators have talked about books and films of the year, person of the year, color of the year, and notable deaths of the year. However, let's not forget memorable words and terms of 2022.

Word of the year was WOMAN, "one of the oldest words in the English language; one that's fundamental not just to our vocabulary but to who we are as humans. And yet it's a word that continues to be a source of intense personal importance and societal debate. It's a word that's inseparable from the story of 2022." During the Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson in March 2022, she was asked, "Can you provide a definition for the word 'woman?'" She responded, "Not in this context - I'm not a biologist." In addition, women in Iran led massive demonstrations and became TIME Magazine's Heroes of the Year. And last but not least, the 1973 landmark decision Roe vs. Wade was overturned in June 2022.

Word of the year was GASLIGHTING, defined as "the act or practice of grossly misleading someone especially for one's own advantage."

Term of the year was GOBLIN MODE, defined as "a type of behavior which is apologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations."

Term of the year was RETURN-TO-OFFICE. Since many employees preferred working from home or working in a hybrid capacity, employers continued to have conversations with employees about returning to their offices. Calls for employees to be back at their desks were met with pushback.

In both the United States and globally, the most-searched term was WORDLE, a five-letter guessing game owned by The New York Times. According to Google, its annual Year in Search examined "the moments, people, and trends that sparked our collective curiosity on the search platform," noting that Wordle was the "top trending search globally, as guessing five-letter words every day became a way of life."

The WHO renamed monkeypox as MPOX because the disease's original name played into "racist and stigmatizing language." Both names will be used simultaneously for one year while monkeypox is phased out. According to NPR, "The one-year delay is necessary so that publications and records can be updated, and the delay should ease experts' concerns about potential confusion over renaming a disease that's currently causing an outbreak."

In addition, MERRIAM-WEBSTER added many new words this past year. Here are some that stood out:

*Pumpkin spice (thanks to Starbucks and competing coffee shops)
*Metaverse (thanks to Facebook, or Meta)
*Booster dose (thanks to the Covid pandemic)
*Video doorbell (thanks to home security systems)

And some terms were part of everyday conversations and news reports during 2022:

*Great Resignation: This term was coined by Anthony Klotz, a professor of management at University College London's School of Management, in May 2021. But the Great Resignation is an ongoing economic trend in which employees have voluntarily resigned from their jobs en masse, beginning in early 2021 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

*Quiet Quitting: an alternative to resigning. According to The New York Times, "It's a rejection of the idea that work has to take over your life and that you, as an employee, should be going above and beyond your role." While the term may be new, the behavior used to be called "presenteeism" and "lack of engagement." According to Marlene Chism, "It's a story about the unempowered employee and the giant corporation...The antidotes to quiet quitting is to face issues head on - to stop avoiding and start leading."

*Quiet Firing: when employers intentionally treat employees so badly that they will leave their job. Some examples include: being overlooked for meaningful tasks; lack of wage increases; decrease in communication/facetime with supervisors; workload at unmanageable levels; making work-life balance impossible to manage; and overall poor work environment.

As the famous writer Joseph Conrad wrote, "My task which I am trying to achieve is by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel - it is, before all, to make you see. That — and no more, and it is everything."

What words and terms will define 2023? We'll have to wait and see.

Image Credit: Calimedia via

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Top Ten Marketing Highlights of 2022

With 2022 now history, it's time for my annual “Top 10” marketing highlights post – incredible that this is my 13th post featuring annual marketing highlights.

What do you remember from the 2022 marketing reel? What stood out as marketing innovation, and what will go down in history that was as memorable as Apple’s 1984 Super Bowl ad? Without further ado, let’s get to it!

With a nod and thank you to David Letterman for the format, here's my list:

NUMBER 10: Roe vs. Wade, the landmark piece of legislation that made access to an abortion a federal right in the United States, was overturned by the United States Supreme Court. The decision dismantled 50 years of legal protection and paved the way for individual states to curtail or ban abortion rights. This will impact all sorts of promotions and future elections. (June 24, 2022)

NUMBER 9: Two amazing firsts by inspiring African-American women.

*First African-American woman became an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court: Ketanji Brown Jackson. (She was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Joe Biden on February 25, 2022; confirmed by the United States Senate on April 7, 2022; and sworn into office on June 30, 2022.)

*First African-American woman was elected Mayor of Los Angeles: Karen Bass. (Defeated Rick Caruso in November 8 election and inaugurated December 12, 2022.)

NUMBER 8: TV talk show host Ellen DeGeneres ended her 19-year run of hosting a successful daily talk show. (Final episode aired on May 26, 2022.)

NUMBER 7: Major league baseball celebrated the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers and breaking the color line in baseball. In recognition of this historic event, on “Jackie Robinson Day,” all players wore Jackie’s number “42” on their uniforms. (April 15, 2022)

NUMBER 6: The United States Mint unveiled its American Women Quarters Program, beginning in 2022 and continuing until 2025. The five quarters issued in 2022 featured: astronaut Sally Ride, poet and author Maya Angelou, Native American activist Wilma Mankiller, educator and suffragist Nina Otero-Warren, and Chinese-American movie star Anna May Wong.

NUMBER 5: In honor of International Women’s Day and the 30th anniversary of Disneyland Paris, the theme park dressed Minnie Mouse in a pantsuit instead of her timeless red and white polka dot dress. Minnie wore a blue polka dot pantsuit designed by Stella McCartney, and in true marketing fashion, a limited-edition Minnie Mouse t-shirt was available online and at Stella’s stores. (March 2022)

NUMBER 4: Russia invaded Ukraine. While there does not seem to be a diplomatic or military end in sight, many brands stopped doing business in Russia, and some raised money for the Ukraine. North Carolina’s Mythic Brewing, Texas’ Palindrome Beer, Pittsburgh’s Bash Brew, and Spain’s Island Brew Mallorca used a “Make Peace Not War,” a customizable peace-sign label to raise funds for Ukraine relief efforts. Apple, Chanel, Prada, McDonalds, and Starbucks closed stores and restaurants in Russia. FedEx halted deliveries to Russia. ExxonMobil exited operations in Russia. Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Levi Strauss & Co., Samsung, Netflix, and Tik-Tok suspended operations in Russia. Car companies including Rolls-Royce, Toyota, Ford, General Motors, and Volkswagen stopped shipping vehicles to Russia. Hollywood studios including Disney, Paramount Pictures, Sony Corp., and Universal Pictures halted or postponed the release of movies in Russia. (On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine in a major escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War, which began in 2014.)

NUMBER 3: Social media platform Twitter began to unravel following Elon Musk’s purchase in October. Several haphazard decisions to change the platform were made as well as a majority of staff were fired or let go. As a result, many users migrated to other platforms, and one specifically, Mastodon, added millions of users in a short period of time. In addition, many brands stopped advertising on Twitter. (The acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk began on April 14, 2022, and concluded on October 27, 2022.)

NUMBER 2: The founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, who previously expressed his reluctance at amassing wealth, gave away his company to help fight climate change. He explained, “We’re making Earth our only shareholder.” The outdoor apparel company is now in the hands of a trust and a nonprofit organization, and all future profits will be donated to fight climate change. (September 2022)

And NUMBER 1 on my 2022 Marketing Highlights List:

Drum roll please...

NUMBER 1: Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Platinum Jubilee during the summer of 2022, and then sadly, she passed away at the age of 96 on September 8, 2022. Her reign of 70 years and 214 days was the longest of any British monarch and the longest verified reign of any female monarch in history, according to the BBC. This led to her eldest son Prince Charles becoming King Charles III, and his eldest son Prince William becoming the Prince of Wales. While all are predominantly ceremonial roles, the monarch still appears on all forms of postage and currency throughout the British Commonwealth which includes 54 countries around the world. So, consider the costs in changing from the likeness of the Queen to the likeness of the King – plus all the promotional items created as a result of the transition.

According to Charles Scarlett-Smith, Director of Brand Finance Canada, “When we’re thinking about Queen Elizabeth II’s brand, we really are being synonymous with the royal family and the monarchy. That brand alone ranks among the most valuable in the world. For a rough value comparison, putting the royal family’s impact up to a similar list of major corporate brands, the monarchy would rank fourth in the world, behind Google, Apple, and Amazon.”

And finally, to quote Camilla, the Queen Consort, “Queen Elizabeth II carved her own role as a solitary woman on a world stage dominated by men.”

What would you add to this list? Here's to 2023 and another year of marketing highlights. Happy New Year!

Image Credits: Ellen DeGeneres TV show, DisneylandParis, Walkers shortbread cookies, US Mint, and Major League Baseball.