Monday, February 20, 2023

Let's Celebrate #NationalLeadershipDay!

Today, February 20, is National Leadership Day. According to National Day website, "The aim of National Leadership Day is to inculcate the values of leadership in each one of us. A good leader not only leads but inspires those around him/her/they to be the best versions of themselves. Anyone can be a leader — you just have to show up and encourage others to do the same...On this day, businesses across America organize leadership workshops to get more people into leadership roles. We know that an organization is only as good as its leaders, which means that having empathetic and just leaders at the top who lead by example creates an environment in which everyone is inspired to be their best. This improves productivity and makes the workplace truly wonderful."

Whenever I think about leadership and its impact on the employee experience, I think about Eric Jacobson. We met through our work with MicroMentor in 2009, and since then, Eric has appeared on my blog four times as a featured guest and countless times with memorable quotes. Eric has more than a quarter-century of experience in successfully leading employees and teams through periods of revenue growth, new product development, and re-engineering. He is an experienced mentor and coach and holds an MBA Degree from Keller Graduate School. His passion is helping individuals to become effective leaders at work, within organizations, and wherever they are called upon to lead and inspire.

Today is an especially appropriate day for Eric to appear on my blog. Our conversation centered around leadership inspiration, and highlights follow below. Links to previous Q&A posts featuring Eric are provided at the end of this post. Be sure to check out Eric's Blog ( and follow him on Twitter @EricJacobsonKC.

QUESTION: I asked you this question back in 2011, and I’m curious if your answer has changed: What companies do you admire for their overall leadership and customer service?

Eric Jacobson: My answer has changed in that I don’t know first-hand much about current leadership at all that many companies. So, I’ll answer this way: I admire companies where leaders practice and/or abide by the following:

* Being a good communicator: That means effectively communicating promptly and consistent messages during good and bad times and knowing how and when to be a good listener. Communicating is critical. Employees must hear from their leaders, and, hearing from their leaders in person versus email and written memos is much more effective.
* Being a servant leader: Put your employees and your company first. A senior-level leader who makes self-serving decisions will lack followers and bring the company down.
* Being adaptable: Today, more than ever, a leader needs to be able to adapt. That means being able to adapt to competitive and industry situations. It also means being willing to change your decisions if new information or circumstances warrant the change.
* Being decisive: Leaders who are not decisive and who cannot make a decision will spin their organization into a frozen state where employees are unmotivated, discouraged, and frustrated.
* Being motivational: Smart, decisive, engaging, tough yet fair, personable, and encouraging leaders are motivating. These leaders motivate employees to deliver their best for their leaders and their companies.

Rounding out my answer is that I admire Marriott for its customer service. This July 17, 2022 article from Forbes by Shep Hyken (@hyken on Twitter - who incidentally, has also appeared here on my blog a few times) sums up Marriott’s winning approach to customer service:

Marriott delivers excellent customer service by following these practices (further described within the Forbes article):
* The fundamentals of customer service happen one person at a time.
* Understand your customers: understanding starts with listening.
* Mistakes handled well can create a stronger bond.
* Embrace the digital customer experience.
* Employees must be empowered to take care of customers.

QUESTION: Many people believe that leadership is only possible with a title. But there are many ways to lead and be a leader. Can you explain some?

Eric Jacobson: You definitely don’t need to have a leadership title to be a leader. Here are 30 ways to be a good leader at work or away from work. The more of these you do, the stronger a leader you become:

1.    Build trust with your colleagues.
2.    Be courageous, quick, and fair.
3.    Constantly challenge your team to do better.
4.    Celebrate your employees' successes, not your own.
5.    Communicate clearly and often.
6.    View every problem as an opportunity to grow.
7.    Summarize group consensus after each decision point during a meeting.
8.    Praise when compliments are earned.
9.    Be decisive.
10.    Say "thank you" and sincerely mean it.
11.    Teach something new to your team.
12.    Show respect for all team members.
13.    Follow through when you promise to do something.
14.    Respond to questions quickly and fully.
15.    Give credit where credit is due.
16.    Take an interest in your employees and their personal milestone events.
17.    Mix praise with constructive feedback for how to make improvement.
18.    Foster mutual commitment
19.    Admit your mistakes.
20.    Show trust.
21.    Encourage individualism and welcome input.
22.    Be willing to change your decisions.
23.    Be a good role model.
24.    Be humble.
25.    End every meeting with a follow-up To Do list.
26.    Explain the process and the reason for the decisions you make.
27.    Encourage personal growth and promote training, mentoring, and external education.
28.    Seek guidance when you don't have the answer.
29.    Don't interrupt.
30.    Ask questions to clarify.

QUESTION: What inspiring leadership books have you read recently?

Eric Jacobson: A very inspiring leadership book I’ve read recently is Compassionate Leadership: How to Do Hard Things in a Human Way by Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter. This book is timely and compelling.

A favorite key leadership takeaway from the book is where Hougaard and Carter explain how to unlearn management and relearn being human. That entails:
* Remembering the Golden Rule.
* Putting yourself in their shoes.
* Listening intensively.
* Always giving more than you take.
* Asking yourself, How can I be of benefit?
* Stretching people to help them see their greater potential.
* Helping people to see what they really need to be happy.

Another favorite recent read is, Leading with Heart, by John Baird and Edward Sullivan. They share that heart-led companies have:
* Lower turnover.
* Decentralized decision-making.
* Healthy and constructive creative conflict.
* Rigorous debate and truth-seeking in meetings.
* Strategic alignment.
* Sharing of resources to support company goals.
* Seamless flow of crucial information leading to early problem detection.

And, for a different perspective on where to learn leadership lessons, check out Joseph Lalonde’s book, Reel Leadership. He delves into the leaderships lessons one can find in movies. First, he sets the stage by chronicling the history of film, the history of leadership, and the science of learning, and then he shares some of the best leadership lessons from his vast catalogue of movie watching through the years. If you are a movie buff and hungry for leadership lessons, this is a quick, entertaining, educational read.

QUESTION: If you could dine with any three leaders - from history or business - who would they be, and why?

Eric Jacobson: I would like to have dined with Nelson Mandela and Maya Angelou from history and Herbert Kelleher from business.

I would want to learn so much for Nelson Mandela about his years in prison, his passion for activism, and all about his philosophy on leadership. It’s his leadership quotes like these that I find inspiring, and I feel I could have learned much from him:

* "Lead from the back - and let others believe they are in front."
* "The greatest glory in living lies not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall."
* "It always seems impossible until it's done."
* "I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles."
* "I've learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."
* "Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again."

Maya Angelou: I find equally inspiring and imagine I would have learned a lot from her while dinning together. Through her long and extensive career that included poetry, plays, screenplays for television and film, directing, acting, and public speaking, she certainly learned much that I would be interested in hearing more about. Furthermore, she was authentic, dignified, courageous, and enduring – often a voice of reason, and a leader with many lessons and experiences worth hearing about.

From business, I always wanted to meet Herbert Kelleher. He was the co-founder, later CEO, and chairman emeritus of Southwest Airlines until his death in 2019. In general, Southwest and its company culture have always intrigued me. From what I’ve read, Herbert (Herb) was a strong, visible, caring leader that shaped a culture that set Southwest apart from many other air carriers and many businesses overall. Under his leadership, Southwest has consistently been named among the most admired companies in America in Fortune magazine’s annual poll. He helped create a corporate culture which made Southwest employees well known for taking themselves lightly but their jobs seriously.

SHARE THIS: Lead from the back - and let others believe they are in front. ~Nelson Mandela via @EricJacobsonKC #LeadershipTip #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: Erika Andersen, a leadership expert and author, wrote, "Great leaders don't do it alone...they get help." What does this quote mean to you?

Eric Jacobson: I believe this quote means great leaders seek honest and open feedback and then use that input to become better leaders. In addition, great leaders know that they must rely on their teams to achieve optimum performance and results. That means being a leader that:
* Does not micromanage.
* Is not a bottleneck.
* Focuses more on outcomes, not minutiae.
* Allows prudent autonomy.
* Talks more about values than rules.
* And, most importantly, develops new leaders.

SHARE THIS: Great leaders seek honest and open feedback and then use that input to become better leaders. ~@EricJacobsonKC from quote by @ErikaAndersen #LeadershipTip #DebbieLaskeysBlog

My thanks to Eric for once again appearing on my blog and sharing his amazing insights for effective leadership and successful employee experiences.

Lastly, check out the links to Eric's previous Q&A appearances on my blog.

How Leadership Crafts the #EmployeeExperience
May 1, 2018

Leadership Doesn't Have to Be Hard
May 3, 2016

The Importance of Mentorships
March 11, 2013

The Importance of Training, Customer Connections and Leadership
March 21, 2011

Image Credit: Southwest Airlines.

Monday, February 13, 2023

A Recap of the Ads from Super Bowl 57

What do you remember from Super Bowl Sunday? This year, the game went down to the final seconds, so for football fans, the game was a genuine contest. Also, at the conclusion of the National Anthem, for the first time in Super Bowl history, an all-female team of US Navy aviators conducted the pregame flyover, commemorating 50 years of women pilots in the US Navy. But for marketers and those who watch the game specifically for the ads, there was not as much applause.

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

The difference this year from previous years was Twitter. Since Elon Musk took over in late 2022, many users left the platform, and some chose to not participate in the real time chats as in previous years. While some chatted on Mastodon, some remained on Twitter and discussed the ads using familiar hashtags #SuperBowlAds, #BrandBowl, #AdBowl, and #KelloggBowl.

According to Statista, the cost of a 30-second ad during Super Bowl 57 was $7 million. According to Forbes, the match-up between the Kansas City Chiefs (now 2023 Super Bowl champs) and the Philadelphia Eagles was the third most-watched Super Bowl, and 113 million Americans watched.

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

Here were the ads that stood out to me from this year’s group:

DUNKIN DONUTS: This ad featured actor Ben Affleck working in the drive-thru surprising customers. The final customer was his wife, Jennifer Lopez, who asked why he was working there and asked for a glazed donut. This ad was funny and a surprise. Brands can never be sure if the use of celebrities will be a hit or a miss, but this ad worked.

This ad featured actor Sylvester Stallone in a similar storyline to his film Cliffhanger. His three daughters were also a part of the ad. Again, the use of celebrities can be a hit or a miss, but the point was that Paramount Plus is a way to watch films, so the ad worked, and was also funny – since Stallone fell off the mountain into snow when he sneezed.

T-MOBILE: Two ads were laugh-out-loud funny. One featured actor Bradley Cooper with his mother. His mother could not read her lines correctly, and the two were nearly hysterical with laughter – causing the audience to laugh. The second ad featured actor John Travolta singing a famous song from Grease, whose antics are usually funny. Both ads were memorable.

AMAZON: This ad featured a dog that tore up everything in the house, so its family ordered a dog crate from Amazon, and a new puppy arrived – hopefully to entertain the dog. The ad tugged on the heartstrings. This ad also reminded viewers to watch the Puppy Bowl if they taped it for later viewing.

While AVOCADOS FROM MEXICO featured an ad that did not wow me, throughout the game, the brand’s Twitter feed was full of Tweets that addressed other ads. The Tweets were ALWAYS on brand and memorable. Therefore, big applause to this brand’s Twitter team!

And lastly, a few words about M&M’S. Prior to the game, the brand made a big deal and announced that actress Maya Rudolph would take over for the colored spokescandies, who were taking a break from their duties, which always included participating in an ad during the Super Bowl. In the days leading up to the Super Bowl, the name of the candy was changed, the inside of the candy was changed, and to be honest, it was hard to keep up with all the drama. But then, at the end of the Super Bowl, the spokescandies held a news conference, and all was right with the world: The candies/characters/brand ambassadors announced their return.

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

There were some other interesting brands that stood out during the game:

EMPIRE STATE BUILDING: During the game, the building changed the color of its lights based on which team scored a touchdown, and at the end of the night, the top of the Empire State Building was red for the Kansas City Chiefs.

VIRGIN VOYAGES: This brand was a scoreboard at sea and showed updated scores on the side of its ship throughout the game and at the end.

Let’s not forget the friendly wagers made by these brands before the game:

PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF ART: Since the Chiefs won, the Philadelphia Museum of Art will now have to display a piece of art from the Nelson-Atkins Museum.

PHILADELPHIA ZOO: Since the Chiefs won, the iconic elephant statue will wear Chiefs-branded attire.

Are you counting the days to Super Bowl 58, scheduled for February 11, 2024, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas? I am – with hopes that we’ll see an ad or two that will go down as the best of all time!

Image credits: Debbie Laskey.

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

To watch all the ads from Super Bowl 57, here’s the link:

Friday, February 10, 2023

Marketing News of the Week: Super Bowl Is Hours Away and More

This week, there were many news stories with marketing and personal branding overtones.

With the Super Bowl game and expensive ads on everyone’s minds, there are also friendly wagers. The Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City have kicked off #MuseumBowl23 because a battle for art masterpieces will also be at play. In the wager, the winning city’s museum will receive the other museum’s painting on loan.

According to the Philadelphia Zoo, “Here’s the wager: If the Eagles win, “Polar Mahomes” has to sport some Eagles gear. If the Chiefs win, we’ll give our iconic elephant statue some Chiefs gear to wear.”

Mike Parson, Governor of Missouri, a lifelong Chiefs fan and 57th Governor of Missouri, met with Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro. Here’s the wager: The Governor of the losing team will fly the other team’s flag at its state capitol. Parson also made a prediction for the final score: 30-27 Chiefs victory.

Governor Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania also made a wager with Governor Laura Kelly of Kansas. He said that if the Chiefs win, he will send Philly’s finest soft pretzels, cheesesteaks, and Eagles mini donuts.

Governor Laura Kelly responded that she would clean out her refrigerator so it would have plenty of space for all the Philadelphia goodies she’ll receive if the Eagles lose the Super Bowl. She also said she would throw in two of her favorite things from Kansas: Creekstone Farms black angus beef and chocolate-covered sunflower seeds.

Quinton Lucas, Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, offered up some famous Gates BBQ, Boulevard Beer, Charlie Hustle Company shirts, and coffee from the Roasterie to the Mayor of Philadelphia, Jim Kenney. He also made a forecast of the big game’s final score: 27-24 Chiefs victory. Mayor Kenney responded by saying, “It’s a deal. I’m proud to wager a couple of Philly favorites: a large pie from Down North Pizza, and a six-pack from Philly Brewing. And if our Eagles win, you can make a donation to MANNA Nourishes (a nonprofit that is revolutionizing healthcare through nutrition using the power of food as medicine).”

When you see raindrops falling, the song, “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” probably goes through your mind. This week, composer and songwriter Burt Bacharach passed away at age 94 – the composer of that timeless song as well as countless others. According to CNN, “One of the biggest and most impactful hits was “That’s What Friends Are For,” the charity collaboration between Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder that topped the charts in 1986 and raised millions for AIDS research.”

Bacharach’s songs were emblematic of many eras, and his talent will be missed.

This week, Los Angeles Lakers legend or GOAT, LeBron James, broke the NBA all-time scoring record and surpassed LA Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, whose record stood for 39 years. The passing of the torch was witnessed on the basketball court when Abdul-Jabbar handed a basketball to James. According to James, “The scoring record was something I never made a goal of mine or set out to do – it just happened…and I credit great teammates and great coaches that allowed me to be me.”

Many basketball fans refer to King James as the greatest player of all time – will this latest accomplishment affect his personal brand and how he is marketed?

President Joe Biden gave his second State of the Union speech in the House chamber in Washington, D.C., on February 7. Even in the face of open hostility, his message was one of optimism, which was witnessed when he said he looked forward to working to new House Speaker Republican Kevin McCarthy, “Mr. Speaker, I don’t want to ruin your reputation, but I look forward to working together.”

How will collaboration be marketed in American politics versus divisiveness? Will one or the other be attached to specific politicians and their personal brands?

The ultimate award in Hollywood is achieving an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony (also known as an EGOT). There are 18 actors, producers, directors, and composers who have earned all four. This week, Viola Davis joined the select group when she won a Grammy for an audio book that she explained, “I wrote this book to honor the 6-year-old Viola. To honor her life, her joy, her trauma, everything. And it has just been such a journey – I just got an EGOT!”

How will Viola Davis’ latest award impact her future roles and personal brand?

Alas, the famous Budweiser Clydesdales – and favorite brand spokes animals – will not appear in any ads this year. However, four Clydesdales born in January and named Barron, Seargeant, Stinger, and Razor, will host a Super Bowl party that is already sold out. Called the “Football and Foals SBLVII Super Bowl Watch Party,” the celebration marks the first time that Anheuser-Busch has hosted a bash at Warm Springs Ranch in Boonville, Missouri. This ranch is located 140 miles west of St. Louis and is the official breeding facility of the Budweiser Clydesdales. Football fans who purchased a $100 ticket for the event get to meet and take photos with the four foals while watching the Super Bowl game. According to the St. Louis Dispatch, these young horses could make a future Budweiser ad.

Budweiser has used Clydesdales in its advertising since 1933. Who doesn’t recall the Budweiser ad in the 2002 Super Bowl when the horses knelt down while looking toward where the World Trade Towers stood in New York City?

Here’s the ad called “Respect”:

What will we be talking about after the Super Bowl? Which brand will win the Brand Bowl, also known as the Ad Bowl? Will you be following and commenting on the ads in real time on Twitter, as in years past? Will you use Mastodon? Will the ads out score the big game? Tune in next week for some Monday morning quarterbacking about the ads.

Image Credits: Budweiser and Los Angeles Lakers.

Friday, February 3, 2023

Marketing News of the Week: Disney100, Covid, and More

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

This week marked the beginning of the celebration of The Walt Disney Company’s 100th anniversary. According to David Gonzalez, “To celebrate the huge milestone, the “Happiest Place on Earth” (Disneyland and Disney California Adventure) is decked out in platinum-infused d├ęcor, which includes statues and “Disney100” medallions. Visitors will be able to get their hands on new merchandise and themed food and drinks. But you can’t forget about Mickey, Minnie, and their friends, who will be joining in on the festivities wearing new, sparkling outfits to mark the occasion.” Will you visit and purchase new stuff?

This week, President Biden announced that his administration will end the COVID-19 national and public health emergencies on May 11. This would be a major step to signal that the crisis is over. According to a senior official, “This decision is based on what is best for the health of our country at this time. We’re in a pretty good place in the pandemic, we’ve come through the winter, cases are down dramatically from where they were the past two winters.”

This week, actress and comedian Cindy Williams died. She was best known as the prim and proper half of TV’s “Laverne and Shirley,” a big TV hit during the 1970’s when 1950’s nostalgia was successfully portrayed on television. In addition, the “Laverne and Shirley” characters were very reminiscent of two other famous funny ladies, Lucy and Ethel from the 1950’s. The overall theme of the show was friendship – something truly universal.

So many television channels, too little time. This week, Showtime and Paramount+ merged as one streaming service. According to Bob Bakish of Paramount Global, “With Showtime’s content integrated into our flagship streaming service, Paramount+ will become the definitive multi-platform brand in the steaming space.”

Have you watched the OTHER BOWL during Super Bowl Sunday? If you love dogs, the annual three-hour Puppy Bowl – this year will be Puppy Bowl XIX – is an adorable way to combine puppy antics with toys in the spirit of the “other game.” The actual purpose of the event is to raise awareness about pet adoptions using shelter pups who play for either Team Ruff or Team Fluff. In addition, the Puppy Bowl’s halftime show features adorable kittens and their antics.

What other marketing news stood out to you this week? Have you cheated and watched any Super Bowl ads yet? Only 9 more days until the best day for ads – and football too!

Image Credits: Disney and CNBC.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Twitter and 2023’s Super Bowl


With all the buzz surrounding Twitter, this year’s Super Bowl is bound to be very, very different than years past. The reason is simple for those who live and breathe in the Twitterverse and can be explained with two words: Elon Musk. Since Musk officially took over Twitter in October 2022, the Twitterverse has changed dramatically, and the Super Bowl will be one example of the drastic change.

Many users left Twitter – some migrated to Mastodon, and others simply took a hiatus from the real time news and commentary social media platform.

Many brands stopped advertising on Twitter and put a pause on their tweets.

But the most disappointing change for this marketer will be the loss of a real time conversation during Super Bowl Sunday about the ads. Whether the hashtag is #SuperBowlAds, #SuperBowlAdvertising, #BrandBowl, #Ads, or any other marketing or branding hashtag, the conversation is bound to be substantially smaller than in years past, if at all.

Remember the Oreo tweet during the 2013 Super Bowl? When the electricity went out in the stadium, the Oreo marketing team pivoted quickly with a great idea and tweeted: “Power out? [Photo: No problem. You can still dunk in the dark.]”

In response, Lowe’s home improvement stores tweeted: “Hey dome operators at the Big Game, there are a few Lowe’s nearby if you need some generators.”

And also in response, PBS (public television TV channel) tweeted: “This might be a good time to think about alternative programing. #SuperBowlBlackOut”

And remember the Apple Ad during the 1984 Super Bowl that introduced the Macintosh computer? No ad has rivaled that one in terms of impact except, perhaps, the 2002 Budweiser ad in which the Clydesdale horses knelt in memory of the lives lost on September 11, 2001.

So, what will happen off the field during this year’s Big Game? Where will the most interesting conversations take place to discuss the ads? Your guess is as good as mine – but be sure to check out my blog on the morning after the game on February 13, for my annual review of the ads.

Image Credit: Debbie Laskey.