Thursday, April 18, 2024

Marketing News of the Week: Brand Identity, Billboard Ads, and More

During the past week (okay, couple of weeks), there were news stories that reflected brand identity, product pricing, billboard advertising, and more.

OAKLAND AIRPORT NAMECHANGE

On April 11th, the Port of Oakland announced that the official name of the Oakland, California, airport has been changed from "The Metropolitan Oakland International Airport" to "San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport." The airport code OAK and the visual brand would not change, however, San Francisco's International Airport (SFO) issued a press release indicating that it had "serious concerns" over the namechange. According to SFO Director Ivar Satero, "SFO has used San Francisco Airport or San Francisco International Airport since 1927, and there is potential for customer confusion resulting from the renaming."

The reason for the namechange, according to the Port of Oakland, was because "Market research and interviews with airline partners have shown that routes have not performed as well as they should have due to the lack of geographic awareness, making all carriers reluctant to sustain and add new routes in Oakland."

However, this may not be a done deal because the San Francisco City Attorney has threatened to sue Oakland for trademark infringement.

McDONALD'S BILLBOARD AD

Have you ever smelled a billboard? McDonald's has created a scented billboard in the Netherlands. It installed a tray of French Fries into the billboard and then used ventilators to suck and diffuse the scent. The billboard is also placed within 2,000 feet of a McDonald's restaurant so customers can follow the scent. According to the company's chief marketing officer, "Smell has been proven to be more effective at sparking clear and emotional memories than images."

STARBUCKS STORE NOISE

Has a Starbucks barista ever made your drink incorrectly? Is it because the coffee store is too noisy? If you answered yes, then Starbucks leadership hears you. As the company further expands around the globe, new and renovated stores will include baffles on the ceiling that help reduce background noise and reverberations. According to the company, "The baffles, which are a ceiling treatment that helps to absorb sound, will also help baristas at the register and customers who could miss their name being called in a noisy store."

JETBLUE LUGGAGE PRICING

The airline's new baggage fee will now depend on the day of departure or dates that the airline determines to be peak or off-peak. Peak dates will include half of the year including the busy summer travel season as well as the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday periods, mid-February, and most of April for Spring Break and Easter. According to the airline, "The cost of transporting bags has gone up significantly due to increased wages and higher fuel costs, and we remain unprofitable since Covid."

On a side note, Disneyland theme parks change their pricing due to the date, and airlines charge different rates for passengers based on the date of purchase and/or travel.

DISNEYLAND'S AUTOPIA RIDE

Plans are in the works to replace the gas-powered cars at Disneyland's Autopia ride. According to the company, "Since opening the park in 1955, Autopia has remained a guest-favorite most popular with young kids experiencing driving for the first time. As the industry moves toward alternative fuel sources, we have developed a roadmap to electrify this attraction."

END OF 99 CENTS STORES

On April 4th, the bargain store announced that it would close its 371 stores across the USA. According to KTLA, "The company, which employs around 14,000 people, cited financial challenges it says were brought forth by the pandemic, inflation, and changing consumer shopping habits. The company will liquidate all of its merchandise."

END OF TROPICANA HOTEL IN LAS VEGAS

The third oldest hotel on the Las Vegas Strip closed for business after nearly 67 years. The hotel will be demolished starting in October 2024 so that the city can build a new baseball stadium for the Oakland A's Major League Baseball team that will adopt Las Vegas and begin playing there in the spring of 2028.

OAKLAND A'S AND LAS VEGAS

On a related note, the A's announced that it would move to a new stadium at the end of the current 2024 baseball season while waiting for the new Las Vegas stadium to open. The choices were to remain in Oakland, move to Salt Lake City, or move to Sacramento. While the two choices other than Oakland were not Major League Baseball size stadiums, the attendance figures at the Oakland stadium were so dismally small that the team really had no choice but to leave. For die-hard fans, a trip to Sacramento (and Sutter Health Park) is not impossible.

DOVE ADVERTISING

According to Retail Dive, "Dove has pledged to NOT use artificial intelligence to represent women in its advertising and communications as part of its long-running Real Beauty platform. Dove is looking to differentiate from beauty competitors by committing to not use AI-generated models in lieu of real women in its advertising. The Unilever mainstay believes AI could amplify the Internet's already negative impact on confidence, with nine in 10 women and girls surveyed saying that they have been exposed to harmful beauty content online. The brand is also enlisting the help of celebrity ambassadors including Reba McEntire, Drew Barrymore, Beanie Feldstein, and Marsai Martin to raise awareness."

According to Alessandro Manfredi, Dove's chief marketing officer, "At Dove, we seek a future in which women get to decide and declare what real beauty looks like — not algorithms. As we navigate the opportunities and challenges that come with new and emerging technology, we remain committed to protect, celebrate, and champion Real Beauty. Pledging to never use AI in our communications is just one step. We will not stop until beauty is a source of happiness, not anxiety, for every woman and girl."

ROOM BEHIND ICONIC BUCKINGHAM PALACE BALCONY

For the first time, the room behind the iconic balcony will open to the public because the Palace's East Wing is set to be available to tour this summer during July and August. While tourists will not be able to stand on the balcony itself, they will be able to see the Centre Room, which leads onto the balcony. According to Town and Country, "It was Prince Albert who suggested to architect Edware Blore that a balcony be added when Buckingham Palace's East Wing was created. Queen Victoria then became the first royal to step onto it during the Great Exhibition in 1851, starting the tradition of balcony appearances...Royals have waved from the Palace balcony over the decades for weddings, jubilees, and perhaps, the most memorable, during VE Day in 1945. Balcony appearances have come to be symbolic of the royal family's connection with the public."

DUCHESS OF SUSSEX NEWS

Meghan Markle, also known as the Duchess of Sussex, has returned to social media and launched an Instagram account under the name "American Riviera Orchard." The logo features gold font on a beige background and features a crest with the letters "ARO" on top and "Montecito" beneath the script of the name. A website has also been reserved (www.americanriviera.com). The trademark application indicates that the brand could sell cookbooks, fruit preserves, jewelry, fragrances, pet accessories, and more.

BASEBALL AND PERSONAL BRANDING

Will LA Dodgers superstar Shohei Ohtani's personal brand be tarnished by the theft of $16 million by his interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara? Will the LA Dodgers brand be tarnished? Time will tell.

PLANET EARTH NEWS

A study in the journal NATURE wrote that clocks may have to skip a second, called a "negative leap second" in the year 2029, due to a faster spinning Earth. According to ABC News, "For the first time in history, world timekeepers may have to consider subtracting a second from our clocks because the planet is rotating a tad faster than it used to." Every four years, leap year presents marketing opportunities, so think of the marketing opportunities that this situation will present!

GENERAL ELECTRIC

According to CNN, "GE once did almost everything for the typical American family – from providing much of the television they watched, to the light bulbs and appliances they depended upon, the electricity needed to power those household staples, even the subprime mortgage that allowed many of them to buy their homes. No longer. With Tuesday's split into two companies (on April 2nd), the break up of the once mighty industrial icon is complete. The company was founded by Thomas Edison in 1892 and built into the world’s largest and most valuable company by the once legendary, but now oft-criticized CEO Jack Welch...In November 2021, GE announced plans to split into three separate companies – GE Healthcare, which was spun-off last year, GE Aerospace, which builds jet engines, and GE Vernova, which is comprised of its energy generation business."

ROSIE THE RIVETER

Eight decades after their wartime efforts, real-life Rosie the Riveters received the nation's highest civilian honor from Congress - the Congressional Gold Medal. 27 Rosies traveled from across the nation to attend the ceremony on April 10th. Nearly 30 women in their 90's and up to 106 traveled to DC to receive the honor.

Many Rosies consider their World War II work not only a contribution to the war effort, but an experience of growing their confidence and independence.

While Rosie the Riveter has not been given federal holiday status, Congress has passed resolutions in recent years designating March 21st as national Rosie the Riveter Day.

OLYMPIC TRACK AND FIELD ATHLETES

Track and field gold medalists in this summer's Paris Olympics will receive $50,000 in prize money from the sport's governing body, marking the first time that an international federation has paid athletes for Olympic success. According to The Athletic, "World Athletics, the international governing body overseeing track and field, said on April 10th, that a $2.4 million pot will be distributed across the 48 track and field events, with the money coming from the International Olympic Committee's revenue share allocation. Individual winners will receive the full $50,000 while top relay teams will split the prize money among members. World Athletics plans to expand the prize pool to include Olympic silver and bronze medalists at the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles...Many countries, including the United States, pay Olympic medalists. At the Tokyo Games, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee gave gold medalists $37,500, silver medalists $22,500 and bronze medalists $15,000. Seven of Team USA’s 39 golds in 2020 came from track and field events."

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said, "While it is impossible to put a marketable value on winning an Olympic medal, or on the commitment and focus it takes to even represent your country at an Olympic Games, I think it is important we start somewhere and make sure some of the revenues generated by our athletes at the Olympic Games are directly returned to those who make the Games the global spectacle that it is."

DEATH OF O.J. SIMPSON

On April 10th, O.J. Simpson died of cancer. While he was a football star who made a fortune in movies, television, and advertising, he will forever be remembered from the Trial of the Century. He was acquitted of killing his former wife and her friend in a 1995 trial that mesmerized the nation. In 1997, a civil case by the victims' families found him liable for the death of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, and ordered him to pay $33.5 million in damages. He paid little of the debt and moved to Florida. However, in 2007, he was arrested in Las Vegas when he and other men entered a hotel room and took sports memorabilia that he claimed had been stolen from him. After a trial, a jury found him guilty of 12 charges including armed robbery and kidnapping, and he was sentenced to 9-to-33 years in Nevada state prison. He served nine years and was released in 2017.

PARIS OLYMPICS AND NBC

Have you been watching NBC stations? If yes, have you noticed the NBC peacock logo combined with the Olympic rings? NBC wants to make sure all viewers are looking forward to the Games of 33rd Olympiad or Paris 2024 - and know where to watch it.

SOLAR ECLIPSE

And, last but not least, did you see the eclipse on April 7th? Some brands made news with their promotions including Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Vermont Teddy Bear, Doritos, and the Empire State Building.

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


Image Credits: Empire State Building and Vermont Teddy Bear.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

A Customer Experience Apology Tale

Has your brand ever apologized to a customer? If yes, what led to the apology? Did an employee make a mistake? Was a customer promised something, and your brand did not deliver? Was a communication sent in error? If your brand has never encountered this situation, then stop reading. If your brand has been in a situation requiring an apology, keep reading for an excellent example of doing it right.

One day, I received a letter in the mail (yes, via snail mail!) from the president of a nonprofit I support with the following message:

"Dear Debbie,

I'm writing to follow up on my letter of apology regarding your 2024 Partner Card.

As I mentioned, the card inaccurately reflected the number of years you have supported us and how long you have helped transform clients' lives. Receiving your first gift 18 years ago was cause for celebration then, and it is now. You are an amazing and critical part of the work we accomplish together.

Please accept your new Partner Card as a reminder of the many lives you positively impact every day. Your kindness inspires me.

Warm regards, President of Nonprofit"

Wow! How many times in your professional life have you seen any organization (for-profit or nonprofit) own an error and acknowledge that error in writing? I don't think I'm unique in counting the times on one hand.

However, I cannot remember receiving the first letter that was referenced in the above communication, which means that I would NEVER have known that an error had been made. This makes the second letter (whose content was shared above) even more remarkable, since the correct letter DID NOT HAVE TO BE SENT TO ME.

Now, let's applaud the Guide Dogs for the Blind for its one-of-a-kind efforts to own its error and correct it. Sounds like a donation is in order!


Image Credit: Salesmate.io.

Monday, April 15, 2024

SPRING LEADERSHIP SERIES – Featuring Ron Thomas

Last fall, I featured an inspiring series here on my blog called, "Fall Back to Reading Series." Nearly 30 leadership, marketing, and customer experience experts participated and shared their favorite books and their thoughts about the importance of reading.

Joseph Lalonde, one participant, wrote a book entitled, REEL LEADERSHIP, which focuses on nontraditional ways to think about leadership. After I read the book, the seeds for this "Spring Leadership Series" were planted. Today, I’d like to introduce Ron Thomas, and following a brief introduction, Ron shares some nontraditional ways to think about leadership!

Ron Thomas is a distinguished global leader and strategist acclaimed for his contributions to human resources and organizational strategy. As the Managing Director of Strategy Focused Group, he leverages his expertise across offices in Dubai and Singapore. His career has seen him excel as CEO of Great Place to Work-Gulf, CHRO of Al Raha Group, and VP of HR at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Recognized by CIPD as a top HR thinker in the Middle East, Ron holds awards for Global HR Excellence and is celebrated among Asia's 50 Most Talented Global HR Leaders. His voice resonates powerfully, meriting a place in the Power 200 Biggest Voices in Leadership.

QUESTION: Which film showcases leadership in a memorable way?
RON THOMAS: My choice would be THE GODFATHER (three-film series) because it covers so many key business principles:

(1) Strategic Thinking: Don Corleone is a master strategist. He uses calculated moves, like brokering peace between rival families, to strengthen his position and expand his territory. In business, we should be consistently analyzing markets, anticipating competitors, and planning long-term growth.

(2) Delegation and Trust: The Don surrounds himself with capable capos like Clemenza and Tessio, empowering them to handle specific tasks with autonomy. Translate this to building a well-organized team, assigning roles strategically, and fostering trust through empowerment.

(3) Adaptability and Change Management: The Corleones navigate changing political landscapes and adopt new ventures like gambling to stay ahead. Leaders should be able to adapt to market shifts, technological advancements, and evolving customer needs.

(4) Loyalty and Respect: The Corleones thrive on the unwavering loyalty of their soldiers. In business, cultivating trust and loyalty among employees and partners builds a strong foundation and fosters commitment.

(5) Building Alliances: Forming strategic partnerships with influential players opens new doors and strengthens influence. The Don's dealings with political figures and other families illustrate this principle.

(6) Understanding People: The Don possesses exceptional people skills. He reads emotions, anticipates needs, and builds rapport with diverse individuals. This translates to effective communication, empathy-driven leadership, and the ability to motivate and inspire.

SHARE THIS: In business, cultivating trust and loyalty among employees and partners builds a strong foundation and fosters commitment. ~@ronald_thomas #SpringLeadershipSeries #DebbieLaskeysBlog


QUESTION: Which work of fiction showcases leadership in a memorable way?
RON THOMAS: My favorite book is ALWAYS START WITH WHY by Simon Sinek. I think the significant misstep in change or persuasion is we do not give a strong WHY. Develop a WHY STATEMENT IS AT THE TOP of any change. The leadership team should ensure this statement aligns from the top of the org chart to the bottom.

QUESTION: Which product, or product line, stands out as a symbol of leadership?
RON THOMAS: My choice would be APPLE. What other brand can announce a new product (we are coming up on the 16th model of the iPhone!), and there is already speculation that no other product has that amount of gravitas. Apple leads the Mobile Category.

QUESTION: Lastly, since I’m a marketing professional, I would be remiss not to ask this question: Which brand do you consider the best embodiment of an industry leader, and why?
RON THOMAS: My other choice would be RIMOWA, a luxury luggage brand. There is almost a cult following. (I own four pieces.) The quality of the product, the warranty, the stores, the customer service experience. For all these reasons, Rimowa is my choice.

Did these questions open your eyes to thinking about leadership in nontraditional ways? That was the hope. My gratitude to Ron for appearing on my blog, and for sharing his leadership insights.

Image Credits: Debbie Laskey, iStockphoto, Amazon, and Classroom Clipart.

Note: According to Wikipedia, "The Godfather is a crime novel by American author Mario Puzo. Originally published in 1969 by G. P. Putnam's Sons, the novel details the story of a fictional Mafia family in New York City (and Long Island), headed by Vito Corleone, the Godfather. The novel covers the years 1945 to 1955 and includes the back story of Vito Corleone from early childhood to adulthood. The first in a series of novels, The Godfather is noteworthy for introducing Italian words like consigliere, caporegime, Cosa Nostra, and omertà to an English-speaking audience. It inspired a 1972 film of the same name. Two film sequels, including new contributions by Puzo himself, were made in 1974 and 1990."

Interesting links pertaining to this Q&A:
The Godfather Trilogy:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Godfather_(film_series)

The Godfather Named Best Business Film:
https://realbusiness.co.uk/the-godfather-named-best-business-film

What You Can Learn about Business from a Dozen Lines in The Godfather:
https://25iq.com/2016/12/24/what-you-can-learn-about-business-from-a-dozen-lines-in-the-godfather/

Rimowa:
https://www.rimowa.com/us/en/all-luggage/

Connect with Ron at these links:
Website: www.strategyfocusedgroup.com
Twitter/X: https://twitter.com/ronald_thomas

Check out Ron's previous appearances here on my blog:

How Will Your Team Decide If You’re a Good Leader? (January 2021)
https://www.debbielaskeysblog.com/2021/01/how-will-your-team-decide-if-youre-good.html

Lead and Then Get Out of the Way (February 2015)
https://www.debbielaskeysblog.com/2015/02/lead-and-then-get-out-of-way.html

Tactics for Welcoming New Employees, Increasing Productivity and Developing Effective Leaders (April 2011)
https://www.debbielaskeysblog.com/2011/04/tactics-for-welcoming-new-employees.html

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Celebrating #NationalUnicornDay with Caroline Stokes

Do you know what today is? Celebrated each year on April 9th, National Unicorn Day celebrates the mythical horse-like creature with a single, pointed horn growing from the center of its forehead.

According to National Day Calendar, "Unicorns have been a popular mythical creature since Ancient Greek times...Many now see them as a symbol of love, purity, enchantment, and magic. They also continue to find their way into fantasy novels alongside other mythical creatures."

Over the last 15 years, thanks to social media, I have had the privilege of meeting inspiring marketing, branding, customer experience, leadership, and social media experts. One of these experts is Caroline Stokes, a leadership expert based in Vancouver, Canada. Due to the alignment between the title of Caroline's book and today's holiday, she is an excellent choice to appear on my blog today. Highlights from our conversation about leadership follow a brief introduction.

But first, here's a quick description of Caroline's book, ELEPHANTS BEFORE UNICORNS: "Learn how to identify your elephants, the obstacles getting in the way of your success, before focusing on your unicorns, the key employees who will help move your business forward."

Caroline Stokes is an executive coach who helps leaders to stay a step ahead in an uncertain future. She helps leaders understand how their team or organization needs to adapt to remain creative and competitive across business innovation, talent attraction, retention, and growth to meet evolving employee, customer and stakeholder expectations.

Caroline spent more than 20 years working for corporations, such as, PlayStation, Virgin, and Nokia in Europe and Australia, and went on to run two public relations agencies in England and Canada. Since 2008, Caroline has led global executive search and talent development strategies for Real Networks, Autodesk, Microsoft, Amazon, Electronic Arts, and Disney; and spurred on by her international experiences, in 2014, she launched FORWARD with a vision to create a constantly-evolving human capital solutions company with an ethical and humanist foundation. She is regularly called upon to share her expertise in the Harvard Business Review, Newsweek, Fast Company and more.

QUESTION: My favorite quote from your book ELEPHANTS BEFORE UNICORNS was, "I define people leaders as anyone who manages people in any capacity. If you have even one direct report, you're a people leader!...Whether or not you realize it, you have a tremendous impact on the direction and success of your organization." What are three take-aways you hope all readers will have upon reading your book?

CAROLINE STOKES: Three takeaways I hope readers will learn:

(1) That leaders are not born, they're made.

(2) To create an environment where people can trust each other, which enables everyone to do the work they signed up for in the first place. You've got to constantly work on the frameworks in the book or work with a coach to get there. It's not a one and done box-ticking situation. Like a diet or an exercise regimen, put the program in place and stick to it, evolve with it, stretch yourself. See all the growth in your mind, with your team, and with the results.

(3) Always work on your EQ. It's not easy to be wrong. It's not easy to make mistakes. What we do with EQ is by having awareness that we have done what we have done and to adjust. It's a life-long journey, and the book helps. (Note: Emotional intelligence (or EQ) is the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict.)

SHARE THIS: I define people leaders as anyone who manages people in any capacity. ~@ocarolinestokes #NationalUnicornDay #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: How can members of the C-Suite and HR teams learn the importance of "Employer Branding?"

CAROLINE STOKES: I wrote ELEPHANTS BEFORE UNICORNS primarily for the C-Suite to wake up and see that their organizations were not  operating according to their mission statements - that future employees and customers had bought into. Since the book was published in 2019, we are acutely aware of many organizations that continue to say that their employer brand is one thing, but the exit interviews and Glassdoor reviews say another. 

Culture takes time to adapt. Start now with the human first methodologies and start to see the needle shift on employer brand sentiment, which comes from an engaged workforce and lower rates of attrition.

QUESTION: What three things should be part of every organization's onboarding process?

CAROLINE STOKES: Here are three:

Goal #1: The first 100-days coaching program that every hiring manager uses with new hires, which includes goals, vision, what good looks like on a quarter-by-quarter basis. Then do all of that again at the 100-days mark because economic, societal, environmental, and personnel factors will have changed, which means that the goals will have shifted.

Goal #2: OKRs relate to everyone. (Note: Generally attributed to Andy Grove, who introduced the approach to Intel in the 1970's, OBJECTIVES AND KEY RESULTS, or OKRs, is a goal-setting framework used by individuals, teams, and organizations to define measurable goals and track their outcomes.)

Goal #3: Agreement that 1:1s should happen every week to focus on growth to reach Goal #1.

QUESTION: What's your favorite interview question, and why?

CAROLINE STOKES: I don't have a favourite interview question, as it comes off as a trap. The person being interviewed instinctively knows deep inside that it's planted to see how they will behave. I wrote for HBR that interviewing is a two-way street. The power dynamics are all wrong in an interview, and it's unattractive. (Link to article at end of Q&A.) 

I prefer an environment where the hiring manager and the hiring team huddle in realistic environments - like a 1:1 - to discuss the challenges, opportunities, areas for development, goals, and how to get through them collectively to innovate and problem-solve.

QUESTION: A well-known quote is, "People don't quit companies, they quit managers." What are some actions that employees can take, and what are some actions that leaders/managers/ supervisors/bosses can take to reverse this from happening?

CAROLINE STOKES: Everyone needs to do the self-work and the team-work. Expecting offsites or individual training isn't enough. The collective need to get together, people need leadership coaches, team coaches, strategic workshops. 

Marriage is hard where it requires constant communication, clarification, and calibration to reach goals. It comes to the power dynamic again - without collaboration, insight, everyone going down the road as a collective, people quit and people fire those people that go off track. It's a cycle that can shift at the blink of an eye with some economic disturbance or power imbalance. Nurture it, or expect some style of professional divorce.

QUESTION: Despite the findings detailed in an article published by Harvard Business Review entitled, "Research: Women Score Higher Than Men in Most Leadership Skills," the percentage of women in senior leadership roles is declining. (Link to article at end of Q&A.) How can we change this?

CAROLINE STOKES: We all know why. This is the elephant in the room. I outline it in an interview with a CEO for an article published in Business in Vancouver (link at end of Q&A), where even men knew how important women were, yet patriarchal models weren't evolving fast enough to bring in diversity of thought and processes to achieve the results many people were looking for. Systems require assessment and BRAVE leaders to change the status quo.

QUESTION: If you could dine with five leaders from history or modern corporate America, who would you choose, and why?

CAROLINE STOKES: Here are my five: Robin Williams (leader in comedy), Barack Obama (leader of the people), Elon Musk (leader of moonshot ideas), Oprah Winfey (leader of empowerment), and Nicolas Thompson (leader of The Atlantic). Imagine the enthralling, enthusiastic, and boundary-less energy they would bring and the deep pockets of reality they would share!

My gratitude to Caroline for appearing on my blog and sharing her inspiring thoughts about leadership and the employee experience!


Image Credit: Meritt Thomas via WordSwag.


Connect with Caroline at these links:

Website: https://www.theforward.co

Twitter/X: https://twitter.com/ocarolinestokes

LinkedIn: https://ca.linkedin.com/in/ocarolinestokes

Blog: https://www.theforward.co/blog

Book: https://www.theforward.co/elephants-before-unicorns

TEDx: Why an emotionally intelligent company impacts growth: 

https://youtu.be/cPmoC506_cM?si=KfXLIB3FQA40lulW


Here are the links to referenced articles from this Q&A:

National Unicorn Day

https://www.nationaldaycalendar.com/national-day/national-unicorn-day-april-9

How to Tactfully Disagree in a Job Interview

https://hbr.org/2019/11/how-to-tactfully-disagree-in-a-job-interview

Opinion: Why Boards and C-Suite Leaders Must Cultivate a Sustainability Culture

https://www.biv.com/news/commentary/opinion-why-boards-c-suite-leaders-must-cultivate-a-sustainability-culture-8383445

Research: Women Score Higher Than Men in Most Leadership Skills

https://hbr.org/2019/06/research-women-score-higher-than-men-in-most-leadership-skills

Inspiration for final question: Debbie's Amazing Dinner Party of 15

https://www.debbielaskeysblog.com/2022/06/my-amazing-dinner-party-of-15.html


Monday, April 8, 2024

SPRING LEADERSHIP SERIES – Featuring David Burkus

Last fall, I featured an inspiring series here on my blog called, "Fall Back to Reading Series." Nearly 30 leadership, marketing, and customer experience experts participated and shared their favorite books and their thoughts about the importance of reading.

Joseph Lalonde, one participant, wrote a book entitled, REEL LEADERSHIP, which focuses on nontraditional ways to think about leadership. After I read the book, the seeds for this "Spring Leadership Series" were planted. Today, I’d like to introduce David Burkus, and following a brief introduction, David shares some nontraditional ways to think about leadership.

Dr. David Burkus is an organizational psychologist, keynote speaker, and bestselling author of five books on leadership and teamwork. His forward-thinking ideas and books are changing how companies approach leadership, teamwork, and collaboration; and his insights on leadership and teamwork have been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, CNN, the BBC, NPR, and CBS This Morning.

QUESTION: Which TV show or TV series showcases leadership in a memorable way? This could be due to a specific character and their actions, a series of events, the plot of one or several episodes, or a specific time reflected in history.
DAVID BURKUS: I really enjoyed (at least the first season) of Keifer Sutherland’s character in DESIGNATED SURVIVOR. Sutherland plays a man who becomes US President due to a massive terror attack and does not want the mantel of leadership but responds to the call with grace, humility, and also a powerful vision for unifying a divided country.

QUESTION: Which film showcases leadership in a memorable way?
DAVID BURKUS: It’s an incredibly violent film, but I’m still a sucker for Mel Gibson’s BRAVEHEART. William Wallace does not just join a rebellion but casts a vision of what a free Scotland looks like that inspires the entire country. And he does so by joining the fight and leading from the fight, in the middle of the battle.

QUESTION: Which work of fiction showcases leadership in a memorable way?
DAVID BURKUS: I honestly don’t read enough fiction (that isn’t turned into a movie or TV series) to say something original here.

QUESTION: Which product, or product line, stands out as a symbol of leadership?
DAVID BURKUS: I’ve always been fascinated with little green army men. It’s not the military thing (although I remember as a boy setting up massive “battles” with dozens of figurines on either side.) But it’s the way in which they never sold individual ones. You had to buy an entire team. And I think there’s a leadership lesson there. If leadership is lonely, you’re doing it wrong. It takes a team to make a dent in the universe.

SHARE THIS: If leadership is lonely, you’re doing it wrong. It takes a team to make a dent in the universe. ~@DavidBurkus #SpringLeadershipSeries #DebbieLaskeysBlog


QUESTION: Lastly, which brand is the best embodiment of an industry leader, and why?
DAVID BURKUS: Péla Case. The folks at Péla recognized that the constant upgrading of new phones was creating a massive amount of plastic waste. So, they worked to invent a cellular phone case that could bio-degrade if composted in order to be waste-free. Not satisfied with that, the same founders went on to create the world’s easiest-to-use home composter to eliminate even more waste.

Did these questions open your eyes to thinking about leadership in nontraditional ways? That was the hope. My gratitude to David for appearing on my blog, and for sharing his leadership insights.


Image Credits: Debbie Laskey, iStockphoto, Amazon, and Classroom Clipart.

Connect with David at these links:
Website: https://davidburkus.com
Twitter/X: https://twitter.com/davidburkus
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/davidburkus/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidburkus
Subscription to free weekly newsletter: https://davidburkus.com/all-resources/

Check out posts on this blog featuring David's books:

8 Business Books for Your Winter and Early 2024 Reading List (December 2023)
https://www.debbielaskeysblog.com/2023/12/8-business-books-for-your-winter-and.html

Summer Reading Recap: Business and Fiction (August 2018)
https://www.debbielaskeysblog.com/2018/08/summer-reading-recap-business-and.html

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Marketing News of the Week: Personal Branding, Brand Partnerships, and More

During the past week (okay, couple of weeks), there were news stories that reflected personal branding, brand partnerships, product pricing, and more.

PRINCESS OF WALES & ROYAL FAMILY

On March 29, 2024, Catherine, the Princess of Wales, put an end to the speculation about her disappearance from public life since abdominal surgery in mid-January. Despite cruel commentary in mainstream media publications in the UK and on social media, Catherine explained that she had been diagnosed with an unspecified form of cancer and that she and Prince William wanted time to discuss the news with their three young children.

This announcement was significant in several ways: 

First, it brought having a cancer diagnosis to the forefront for the second person in the British Royal Family - King Charles III announced that he was undergoing cancer treatment back in February. 

Second, the statement by Catherine put an end to all types of conspiracy theories including infidelity, plastic surgery, a coma, body doubles, and even a secretly dead king. However, some say that the media circus can be attributed to the Royal Family due to their lack of transparency. According to Yahoo Entertainment, "The Monarchy should have known what would happen in an information vacuum, but chose to let the rumors run wild regardless."

Third, following the video statement by Catherine, several UK newspapers ran apologies on their front pages. How often is this done, if ever?

Fourth, Catherine spoke herself. Her statement was not released by either Kensington Palace or other "official" spokesperson. The fact that the viewing public was able to see her looking as well as can be expected was important for her personal brand and for the Royal Family.

Fifth, with Catherine and King Charles III sidelined from their public duties, and with Prince William taking time off to care for his wife and family, the person now most visible is Queen Camilla. According to Professor Arianne Chernock of Boston University, "Queen Elizabeth recognized that the Monarchy is never just about the Monarch, it's about the family on the throne. Now is Camilla's moment."

The personal brands of all key members of the Royal Family are quickly evolving. Will the Monarchy survive?

MCDONALD'S AND KRISPY KREME

Beginning later in 2024, Krispy Kreme announced that its doughnuts will be available at McDonald's restaurants. Will you order a Big Mac, French fries, and a Krispy Kreme doughnut? Is this a good brand partnership?

DOLLAR TREE AND PRICING

Dollar Tree announced that its stores will increase the maximum price of items to $7. Will the store change its name to Seven Dollar Store? Not likely, since it could then be confused with Seven-Eleven!

COSTCO AND FOOD COURT

Costco announced that it will only sell its food court items, including hot dogs, pizza, soft drinks, and more, to members only. Will this lead to more members? Time will tell.

GAMBLING SCANDAL SURROUNDING SHOHEI OHTANI

Major league baseball team the Los Angeles Dodgers signed free agent Shohei Ohtani during the off-season for an insanely large amount of money, $700 million to be exact. While Ohtani was scandal-free for his six years with the Angels, a major scandal has erupted involving his translator and friend, who allegedly bet on sports teams and used millions of dollars of Ohtani's money to pay off his debts. We are just in the beginning phase of this story, but how tarnished Ohtani's personal brand will be - and if his new Dodgers fans will embrace him - are fodder for future chapters.

TITANIC MOVIE PROP

At a recent auction by Heritage Auctions of movie props, the wood panel from the 1997 movie TITANIC that saved Rose, but controversially, not Jack - was the most sought-after item - and sold for $718,750 (bidding had started at $60,000).

According to a press release from Heritage Auctions, "The Hero Floating Wood Panel played an iconic role in the 1997 blockbuster. As the Titanic sinks, stranding passengers in the frigid waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Kate Winslet's character Rose manages to lie afloat on the piece of a door while Leonardo DiCaprio's Jack clings to the edge, eventually succumbing to hypothermia. The biggest scene, really, the climactic scene if you will."

SOLAR ECLIPSE

And lastly, are you ready for the total solar eclipse, when the moon will cross directly in front of the daytime sun, on April 8th? If yes, have you purchased your proper eye protection to watch the solar eclipse? NASA estimates that 99 percent of people living in the United States will be able to see a partial or total eclipse. Precisely what kind of eclipse you will see will depend on your location and time zone. According to NASA, the next solar eclipse visible from the contiguous United States will be on August 23rd, 2044. So you may want to purchase those protective eye goggles!

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


Image Credits: McDonald's and Dollar Tree.

Monday, April 1, 2024

SPRING LEADERSHIP SERIES – Featuring Anthony Gaenzle

 

Last fall, I featured an inspiring series here on my blog called, "Fall Back to Reading Series." Nearly 30 leadership, marketing, and customer experience experts participated and shared their favorite books and their thoughts about the importance of reading.

Joseph Lalonde, one participant, wrote a book entitled, REEL LEADERSHIP, which focuses on nontraditional ways to think about leadership. After I read the book, the seeds for this "Spring Leadership Series" were planted. Today, I’d like to introduce Anthony Gaenzle, and following a brief introduction, Anthony shares some nontraditional ways to think about leadership!

Anthony Gaenzle is VP, Strategy and Content at Synapse Marketing. Additionally, he works as a personal brand consultant for executives, business owners, and others through Gaenzle Marketing. He is a two-time published author and digital marketing influencer. He has helped brands both large and small grow and thrive across multiple industries through strategic marketing campaigns and leveraging a powerful network of influencers.

QUESTION: Which TV show or TV series showcases leadership in a memorable way? This could be due to a specific character and their actions, a series of events, the plot of one or several episodes, or a specific time reflected in history.
ANTHONY GAENZLE: I appreciate the role that Tom Selleck plays in BLUE BLOODS. It shows the complexities of managing a major leadership role with public backlash, organizational issues, and all that, while also balancing complex family issues. Finding that balance is so important as a leader.

QUESTION: Which film showcases leadership in a memorable way?
ANTHONY GAENZLE: I’m a big fan of the Marvel films, although as of late, they have not been delivering quite as well. I think the SPIDER-MAN films are a great example of leadership. Peter Parker, at the end of No Way Home, makes the decision to have everyone who has ever known him, including his girlfriend MJ and his best friend Ned, forget who he is, so that the world can be saved. This selflessness is an excellent quality for a leader to possess.

QUESTION: Which work of fiction showcases leadership in a memorable way?
ANTHONY GAENZLE: I’m currently reading a book called The Chosen Twelve. I like to mix up fiction with educational, so I’m reading that and Good to Great again at the same time. The Chosen Twelve is a fun sci-fi story that has the world run by machines and AI while the human race was virtually wiped away. The machines are teaching the remaining 22 humans (organics as they call them) to build a society. Ultimately, only 12 will go to the planet they’re expected to re-populate, and it’s interesting to see the different leadership styles as they all come closer to the reality that only 12 of them will move on and the rest will stay behind. Some falter, others band together, and one becomes a true leader, bringing everyone together in the most dire of times.

QUESTION: Which product, or product line, stands out as a symbol of leadership?
ANTHONY GAENZLE: Richard Branson, to me, is an inspiring leader. He allows his team to make mistakes and learn from them. He seems to bring in the right people and then lets them do their jobs. This is hugely important. We hire smart people because they are experts in their space. As leaders, we need to realize our strengths and weaknesses and hire people who build up and make up for our weaknesses, and then trust them to do amazing work.

SHARE THIS: As leaders, we need to realize our strengths and weaknesses and hire people who build up and make up for our weaknesses, and then trust them to do amazing work. ~@AnthonyGaenzle #SpringLeadershipSeries #DebbieLaskeysBlog


QUESTION: Lastly, which brand is the best embodiment of an industry leader, and why?
ANTHONY GAENZLE: Tesla is impressive to me. While the leadership is controversial at times, ultimately, the fact that the brand spends virtually $0 on advertising and still sees over $60 billion in revenue is something to marvel at. The personal brand of its leader, the placement of Tesla stores in malls – all so amazing as well as the exclusivity of the brand.

Did these questions open your eyes to thinking about leadership in nontraditional ways? That was the hope. My gratitude to Anthony for appearing on my blog and for sharing his leadership insights.


Image Credits: Debbie Laskey, iStockphoto, Amazon, and Classroom Clipart.

Connect with Anthony at these links:
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Anthony-Gaenzle/e/B096WJ3DZ6/
Websites: https://www.gaenzlemarketing.com and https://www.synapseresults.com 
Twitter/X: @AnthonyGaenzle
Instagram: @anthonygaenzle/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anthonygaenzle/

Check out Anthony’s previous appearance here on my blog:

The Importance of Branding (May 2022)
https://www.debbielaskeysblog.com/2022/05/the-importance-of-branding.html


Monday, March 25, 2024

SPRING LEADERSHIP SERIES – Featuring Joseph Lalonde


Last fall, I featured an inspiring series here on my blog called, "Fall Back to Reading Series." Nearly 30 leadership, marketing, and customer experience experts participated and shared their favorite books and their thoughts about the importance of reading.

Joseph Lalonde, one participant and leadership expert, wrote a book entitled, REEL LEADERSHIP, which focuses on nontraditional ways to think about leadership. After I read the book, the seeds for this "Spring Leadership Series" were planted. Today, Joseph kicks off the series, following a brief introduction, and I hope you enjoy thinking about leadership in nontraditional ways!

Joseph Lalonde is experienced in all aspects of IT, leadership, project/sales, and design with a history of working with small businesses and individuals. He is also an award-winning leadership blogger ranked in the top 40 leadership blogs in the world. His book Reel Leadership showcases the intersection of leadership and entertainment.

QUESTION: Which TV show or TV series showcases leadership in a memorable way? This could be due to a specific character and their actions, a series of events, the plot of one or several episodes, or a specific time reflected in history.
JOSEPH LALONDE: The first TV show/series that came to mind is THE SHIELD. It stars Michael Chiklis as Detective Vic Mackey. He leads an anti-gang task force for the fictional Farmington police department in California. Mackey starts off as someone who wants to do good, be a family man, and more. However, he takes small and big actions that detour him from the man he wants to be into a ruthless and brutal detective. The Shield shows us how someone who wants to be a great leader can slowly move themselves over the edge into corruption.

QUESTION: Which film showcases leadership in a memorable way?
JOSEPH LALONDE: I believe almost any movie can showcase leadership. Movies are stories, and stories are memorable. Let me share one example from the recent film WONKA, the prequel to Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory. It tells the story of Willy Wonka before we meet him in Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory. In one scene, Wonka had promised to give Noodle, an indentured servant much like him, a lifetime supply of chocolate for her help. Noodle helped him, and he passed her a basket full of his delectable chocolates. When she asked him what he was doing, he said that he made a promise and meant to keep his promise. This exemplifies the fact that leaders have to be people who keep their word, despite the cost.

SHARE THIS: Leaders have to be people who keep their word, despite the cost. ~@JosephLalonde #SpringLeadershipSeries #DebbieLaskeysBlog


QUESTION: Which work of fiction showcases leadership in a memorable way?
JOSEPH LALONDE: When I think of a great piece of fiction with leadership lessons strewn throughout it, I have to go to LORD OF THE RINGS by JRR Tolkien. I think of the character Gandalf. He's a wise wizard who starts Frodo on his adventure. Throughout the book series, Gandalf weaves his story in and through Frodo's. He doesn't stay for long, but he leaves a lasting impact. What does this mean for leaders? We don't have to be a constant, overbearing presence on the people we lead. We can touch base, share our wisdom, and encourage our people. Be that kind of leader.

QUESTION: Which product, or product line, stands out as a symbol of leadership?
JOSEPH LALONDE: Here are two: BARBIE really redefined what a woman was capable of and gave girls of all ages something to aspire to, and GI JOE did something similar for boys and inspired them through the leadership of the characters and taught about career paths in the military and beyond.

QUESTION: Lastly, which brand is the best embodiment of an industry leader, and why?
JOSEPH LALONDE: To be frank, I'm hesitant to answer this question. Not because there aren't industry leaders out there, but because industry leaders change so rapidly that the brand I see as an industry leader today may not be around tomorrow. One brand that comes to mind though is Weaving Influence. They're an industry leader in the book promotion world. Becky Robinson and her team have carved out a corner in this niche industry, and they're the first organization that I think of when I think of promoting a book or idea. Their integrity is beyond reproach, they deal with amazing authors, and they give people a voice.

Did these questions open your eyes to thinking about leadership in nontraditional ways? That was the hope. My gratitude to Joseph for planting the seed for this leadership series, for appearing on my blog, and for sharing his leadership insights.


Image Credits: Debbie Laskey, iStockphoto, Amazon, and Classroom Clipart.

Here's a post on Joseph's blog about WONKA:
https://www.jmlalonde.com/quotes-and-leadership-lessons-from-wonka/

Here's a post on Joseph's blog about BARBENHEIMER:
https://www.jmlalonde.com/quotes-and-leadership-lessons-from-barbie-barbenheimer-1/

Connect with Joseph at these links:
Website: www.jmlalonde.com
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/josephlalonde
Twitter/X: @josephlalonde
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jmlalonde

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

8 Business Books for Your Winter and Early 2024 Reading List
Featuring REEL LEADERSHIP (12/2023)
https://www.debbielaskeysblog.com/2023/12/8-business-books-for-your-winter-and.html

FALL BACK TO READING SERIES – Featuring Joseph Lalonde (12/2023)
https://www.debbielaskeysblog.com/2023/12/fall-back-to-reading-series-featuring_01893009969.html

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Introducing the #SpringLeadershipSeries on #DebbieLaskeysBlog


Last fall, I featured an inspiring series here on my blog called, "Fall Back to Reading Series." Nearly 30 leadership, marketing, and customer experience experts participated and shared their favorite books and their thoughts about the importance of reading.

Joseph Lalonde, one participant and leadership expert, wrote a book entitled, REEL LEADERSHIP, which focuses on nontraditional ways to think about leadership. After I read the book, the seeds for this "Spring Leadership Series" were planted. During the next three months, 15 marketing and leadership experts will answer the following five questions here on my blog.

This exciting #SpringLeadershipSeries begins next Monday, March 25, and continues every Monday during April and May - and then every Monday and Friday during June - ending with my highlights post on June 20.

So, to introduce the series and with much gratitude to Joseph, my answers follow below. I hope you enjoy thinking about leadership in nontraditional ways!

QUESTION: Which TV show or TV series showcases leadership in a memorable way? This could be due to a specific character and their actions, a series of events, the plot of one or several episodes, or a specific time reflected in history.
DEBBIE LASKEY: My choice is Law & Order: SVU because Mariska Hargitay's lead character Olivia Benson has been part of my TV-viewing life for the past 24 years. She has been a police officer, detective, sergeant, lieutenant, and captain through her many years with the NYPD. She has climbed the corporate ladder and has broken some shards of the glass ceiling in a male-dominated industry (law enforcement) in the largest city in the country - and not only survived but became a captain of a challenging department (sex crimes). She has been kidnapped and gone undercover in prison. Bottom line: she is an inspiration.

In episode six during the first season, Benson corrected a lawyer when she said, "It's Detective, Not Miss." According to CBR, "Benson is right to call out the gender-discriminatory wording that the lawyer uses since male detectives aren't referred to as mister. Plus, becoming a detective is quite an accomplishment for any officer; hence, they always prefer to be addressed by their correct titles."

From a leadership perspective, Benson leads by capitalizing on the strengths of her team. She always asks for feedback, and she always reminds her team to think about their stakeholders, the victims. There is no doubt that she is a leader to admire, so who wouldn't want her as their boss?

However, I must also mention another wonderful TV show that elevated a talented female protagonist while simultaneously showcasing superlative writing and acting. The show was THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL, which ran from 2017 to 2023 on Amazon Prime Video. The timeframe for the show was the 1950's and 1960's, and as a result, viewers saw how a New York housewife made the jump into stand-up comedy - despite all the gender bias and other challenges she encountered. Actress Rachel Brosnahan was excellent in her portrayl of Midge Maisel, and actor Tony Shalhoub convinced viewers that he left MONK when he became Midge Maisel's father in the show.

According to Collider.com, "In an exciting turn of events for the final season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, the Mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, declared that April 14, 2023, would mark The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Day due to the show's success story and its positive portrayal of the Big Apple. Throughout its run, the series employed over 37,000 actors and craftspeople including: 344 dancers, 580 musicians, 981 dayplayers, and 35,619 background actors. Mrs. Maisel has also used the city as its set, filming in over 366 locations throughout the five boroughs, primarily in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Over its seven-year run, it played a role in boosting the economy, supporting local businesses and showcasing how beautiful and cinematic the city truly is."

Mayor Adams explained, "I love The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel because it showcases the beautiful streets of New York City, features a strong female lead character, and is the perfect example of how our city’s film and TV industry creates jobs, and generates economic activity for local businesses."

QUESTION: Which film showcases leadership in a memorable way?

DEBBIE LASKEY: My choice is "12 Angry Men," a film from 1957 that I first saw during a film appreciation class in high school. Years later, I saw a play in Los Angeles starring Richard Thomas (of The Walton's fame) in the title role.

The film showcases how one voice can change an entire room of other voices and opinions, in this case, a room of 11 jurors versus one juror. Henry Fonda was the sole juror who wanted to consider all evidence before finding an 18-year-old guilty. In the jury room, the jurors voted again and again, as Fonda's character convinced the jurors one by one to consider more and more evidence.

This film was an excellent example of how leadership can be quiet, unassuming, and effective. Fonda's character was a leader even though he was not the jury foreman. But he definitely made a difference in the life of the 18-year-old on trial.

An interesting side note from Wikipedia: "Speaking at a screening of the film during the 2010 Fordham University Law School Film Festival, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor stated that seeing "12 Angry Men" while she was in college influenced her decision to pursue a career in law."

However, when I think of movies and leadership, I have to include 9 to 5, starring three superstars, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton. The film's theme song has become immediately recognizable, thanks to Parton's long nails. But the sad part is that most women have encountered a boss like Mr. Hart in the movie, a male chauvinist pig who thinks all women employees - no matter their education or role - should simply make coffee and wear short skirts. Despite the film's shenanigans, women got the last laugh at the end.

QUESTION: Which work of fiction showcases leadership in a memorable way?
DEBBIE LASKEY: My choice is John Grisham's 2023 novel, "The Exchange, After The Firm." The creator of his own genre of legal thrillers has returned to the novel that made his name famous (not withstanding the feature film starring Tom Cruise back in 1993) with a story set 15 years after "The Firm" ended. Members of the legal profession, watchers of legal dramas on television, and readers of Grisham's novels all understand (too well) the caste system that exists in the legal profession,  or as Grisham calls  it "Big Law." Power trickles down, so named partners in law firms are the top dogs with decision-making power. In large law firms, executive committees or management committees often have the final say on major decisions affecting their firms.

Without giving away all the twists and turns in this particular story, Mitch McDeere's firm's management committee has a life-altering decision to make. But spoiler alert, the desired decision is not made. Both Mitch and the senior partner presented all the reasons why the desired decision should be made, but some people stayed away from the office so that they would not be forced to vote. (Sound like a stalement in the U.S. Congress?) This type of stalemate was bad. Even worse, a lawyer's life was on the line.

While most leaders would never encounter this type of scenario, they do find themselves making hard decisions on a daily basis. I would hope that they realize that their decisions make an impact on their employees, who are real people, rather than just a number on paper.

QUESTION: Which product, or product line, stands out as a symbol of leadership?
DEBBIE LASKEY: Without a doubt, my choice is Mattel's iconic Barbie doll, introduced in 1959. According to Mattel, "Barbie recognizes all female role models. The 'Barbie Inspiring Women Series' pays tribute to the incredible heroines of their time; courageous women who took risks, changed rules, and paved the way for generations of girls to dream bigger than ever before."

While some may think Barbie is just a doll, I beg to differ. She has evolved both in style and shape over the years, so much so that people don't notice or talk about her hourglass figure anymore. Instead, there are Barbie dolls who represent a myriad of professions and situations. In fact, since 2019, the Barbie line has expanded to include Barbie dolls with a wheelchair, prosthetic limbs, hearing aids, vitiligo, and more. In 2023, Mattel launched a Barbie with Down syndrome and worked closely with the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) to ensure that the doll's aesthetics, clothing, accessories, and packaging were accurate.

Also, she was the star of last year's blockbuster film, and people flocked to movie theaters, many people more than once, all wearing the color pink.

There is a reason that the Barbie doll tagline is "A doll can help change the world. You can be anything."

QUESTION: Lastly, which brand is the best embodiment of an industry leader, and why?

DEBBIE LASKEY: My choice is Starbucks, because Howard Schultz saw a popular coffee drinking industry in Europe and brought it to America. The coffee cafe industry re-energized the coffee industry, new products were introduced (for example, Pumpkin Spice Latte celebrated its 20th birthday in 2023), and other coffee cafes sprung up to offer competition for Starbucks.

According to MBAKNOL.com, "Is it possible to convince ordinary Americans who routinely open 3-pound value cans of coffee, shovel the grounds into a paper filter, push a button, and go about their business to suddenly change their ways? Will this eventually evolve into a $1400 per year habit of a latte each day? The answer to these questions, according to Starbucks, is 'absolutely!'"

Did these questions open your eyes to think about leadership in nontraditional ways? That was the hope.
 

Image Credits: Debbie Laskey, iStockphoto, Amazon, and Classroom Clipart.

Monday, March 11, 2024

Marketing News of the Week: Oscars and More


Oscars, Oscars, and more Oscars. Sure, the little gold statue made news this week, but there was some other marketing news too.

OSCAR CEREMONIES

According to MarketingDive, "Disney Advertising sold out of advertising inventory for ABC’s Oscars telecast Sunday. The film awards show’s 96th ceremony attracted brands representing 17 categories, including apparel, automotive, consumer packaged goods, entertainment and healthcare. Airbnb, Dunkin’, Procter & Gamble, Pfizer, Southwest Airlines and Walmart were among some of the brands who advertised. Healthy demand is a sign that advertisers continue to value live programming, and the Oscars, specifically, for the event’s ability to reach young, affluent, and multicultural consumers, according to Disney."

The "Barbenheimer" cultural phenomenon, the term created for both "Barbie" and "Oppenheimer" that were released last summer was a boon to studios and theaters that are still trying to recover from the post-pandemic slump and convince consumers that making the trip to multiplexes is worth the extra costs over streaming at home.

And yet, back to the term BARBENHEIMER...when was the last time that a movie got a different name by competing against other movies? Not in recent memory. Score one for brand marketing. According to Reid Goldberg at Collider, "The Barbenheimer phenomenon has become a global sensation and proven that cross-promotion can benefit competing blockbusters." And also stimulate the economy.

Lastly, what do you think of the winners? Did you see all the films nomimated for best picture? Although I saw BARBIE, OPPENHEIMER, and WONKA, I have to admit that the films did not live up to all the hype.

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY
March 8th was an important day on the equality calendar: International Women's Day, a global holiday celebrated annually to commemorate the cultural, political, and socio-economic achievements of women. It also brings attention to the women’s rights movement, focusing attention on gender equality, reproductive rights, and violence and abuse against women.

First celebrated in 1909 in New York City as "Women’s Day," the holiday was celebrated in 1911 by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland. International Women’s Day was adopted as a global holiday by the United Nations in 1977.

Some brands stood out by their celebrations. Here are a couple:

(1) One example was Vermont Teddy Bear, who wrote in an email, "Today, and everyday, we celebrate all women including the hardworking team of fierce females behind our Teddy Bears and Stuffed Animals."

(2) Another example was the Los Angeles Dodgers, who shared on Twitter/X a quote from a co-owner and former tennis star Billie Jean King, "International Women's Day puts focus on women and the importance of women in all our lives. Let's focus on our contributions to society and do positive things for all women."

WOLVERINE and #WOMANMADE
Accoring to MarketingDive, "Boot maker Wolverine is kicking off Women's History Month with a purpose-driven campaign centered around gendered language that undermines inclusivity in the skilled trades, namely the absence of 'woman-made' in the dictionary alongside 'man-made.' The effort includes a Change.org petition that seeks to add 'women-made' to the Oxford English Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, and Dictionary.com. Change.org petitions have remained a playful way for brands to draw attention to purpose-driven campaigns."

Lauren King, Director of Branding at Wolverine explained, "In addition to our goal of getting 'woman-made' added to the dictionary, we hope to inspire girls and women around the world to have the confidence to pursue any passion, especially within the skilled trades where women are drastically underrepresented."

Also, since statistics show that over half of American homes are sustained by women, yet they remain underrepresented in the skilled trades, Wolverine is partnering with Girls Garage, a design and construction school for girls and gender-expansive youths ages 9-18, and donating $25,000 to the organization. Founded in 2013, Girls Garage is the first-ever design and building workshop for female-identifying youth in the United States.

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

Image Credit: Pantone.

Change.org Petition by Wolverine:
https://www.change.org/p/add-woman-made-to-the-dictionary

Wolverine's Woman Made page:
https://www.wolverine.com/US/en/woman-made/

Friday, March 8, 2024

Celebrate International Women’s Day with Susan Colantuono


Over the last 15 years, thanks to social media, I have had the privilege of meeting inspiring marketing, branding, customer experience, leadership, and social media experts. One of these experts is Susan Colantuono, a leadership expert based in Rhode Island, who has graciously appeared on my blog several times and shared inspiring commentary about leadership and gender equality. Due to Susan's areas of expertise, she is an excellent choice to appear on my blog today.

Today, March 8th, is an important day on the equality calendar: it is International Women’s Day, a global holiday celebrated annually to commemorate the cultural, political, and socio-economic achievements of women. It also brings attention to the women’s rights movement, focusing attention on gender equality, reproductive rights, and violence and abuse against women.

First celebrated in 1909 in New York City as "Women’s Day," the holiday was celebrated in 1911 by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland. International Women’s Day was adopted as a global holiday by the United Nations in 1977.

To recognize and celebrate today’s significance, I welcome Susan Colantuono back to my Blog. Highlights of our conversation about leadership and gender equality follow a brief introduction.

Susan Colantuono is the founder of Be Business Savvy. She is an internationally renowned author, speaker, and mentor/coach. She discovered, developed, and introduced to the world a definition of leadership and four keys that have transformed women’s leadership development and initiatives to close the leadership gender gap - including The Missing 33 percent of the career success equation for women. Her TED Talk entitled, "The Career Advice You Probably Didn't Get" has nearly 4.5 million views.

QUESTION: Dictionary.com selected "woman" as its word of the year for 2022, because searches for the word doubled during 2022 when compared to previous years. During the Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, she was asked, "Can you provide a definition for the word 'woman'?" She responded that she could not. During 2022, Roe vs. Wade was overturned and women began mass protests in Iran. As this marketing news showed, words matter. What are your thoughts about this word selection, especially today on International Women's Day?

SUSAN COLANTUONO: First of all, celebrating International Women’s Day is exponentially harder for us in the U.S. than it was two years ago. Like everyone else, I see through my worldview, and right now, my particular worldview has me furious at the Republican war on women in the U.S. As far as the definition of the word "woman," the politicization of it infuriates me.

That's why, if pushed, I would say that a woman is anyone for whom giving birth is a possibility and the decision to give birth or not should be a private decision between her and her doctor. I realize that I’m leaving out those who identify and experience the world as women, but do not have a womb. And leaving out women who are infertile. This illustrates the difficulty of attempting to define the word.

QUESTION: What do you think Susan B. Anthony would think about the current state of American politics, especially since the The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear former President Trump's appeal of a judicial decision barring him from Colorado's Republican primary ballot in advance of the 2024 presidential election?

SUSAN COLANTUONO: As you would guess from above, I'd say she’d be appalled. Misogyny (including disastrous media coverage) and Russian interference lost the election for Hillary Clinton in 2016. As a result, women's rights, voting rights, and democracy are all under siege.

I follow the legal proceedings closely. It's not lost on me that the twice impeached, 91 times indicted former president is not arguing his innocence on the D.C. charges. His legal maneuvering is all about delaying the trial. The insurrectionist has no business being on the ballot in any state. Don't get me started on the ethics issues with SCOTUS.

QUESTION: I wrote a blog post introducing 15 people from history and the modern era who would be MY guests at an amazing dinner party. Who would you invite to YOUR dinner party? No limit to the number of seats at your table!

(Read the full post at this link: https://www.debbielaskeysblog.com/2022/06/my-amazing-dinner-party-of-15.html)

SUSAN COLANTUONO: I'm chuckling because my preference for introversion means I would never set a dinner table for 15 guests! So, for my more intimate dinners I would invite:

Dinner 1 = 5 former F500 women CEOs including: Anne Mulcahy (Xerox), Indra Nooyi (PepsiCo), Ursula Burns (Xerox), Andrea Jung (Avon), and Denise Morrison (Campbell Soup).

Dinner 2 = 5 global business thought leaders: Ram Charan, Renee Mauborgne, Henry Mintzberg, Rita McGrath, and Daniela Amodei.

Dinner 3 = 5 historical women: Boudicca, Joan of Arc, Barbara Jordan, Sojourner Truth, and Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

I get chills just thinking about sharing a table with these 15 amazing people.

QUESTION: When I was in graduate school in the mid-1990’s, one of my tenured professors said to the class, "Women don’t belong in grad school. They belong at home in the kitchen." How would you have responded?

SUSAN COLANTUONO: If I were as quick on my feet as U.S. Congresswoman Bella Abzug, I'd have replied, "Yes, women do belong in the House...and also in the Senate" - not to mention in grad school as faculty and heading up graduate programs.

But, alas, I'm not, so I probably would have just stammered something like, "That’s your biased and unfounded opinion, and I'm not the first to prove you wrong."

QUESTION: Marilyn Loden coined the term "glass ceiling" 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. How do you think women can shatter the "glass ceiling?"

SUSAN COLANTUONO: Let me be provocative here. Women can't shatter the "glass ceiling." But we CAN be prepared to capitalize on opportunities to rise above it and then change the dynamics that create it. But until we're above it, we can't shatter it. Managers (mostly men) create the glass ceiling, and we do women a disservice by calling on us to shatter it.

The conversation on women's advancement needs to put greater pressure on managers to end the formal and informal policies, practices and procedures that create barriers to women's advancement. It needs to shift to put pressure on managers to change their mindsets about women and men, leadership, and careers that disadvantage women and advantage men.

We need to continue to prepare women to prepare for, ask for, and accept opportunities. We especially need to foster the acquisition of business, financial, and strategic acumen so more women are seen as "partners in the business" and viable candidates for advancement.

SHARE THIS: Managers (mostly men) create the glass ceiling, and we do women a disservice by calling on us to shatter it. ~Susan Colantuono #DebbieLaskeysBlog


SHARE THIS: We need to continue to prepare women to prepare for, ask for, and accept opportunities. ~Susan Colantuono #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?

SUSAN COLANTUONO: For women, asking for help is a double-edged sword. Some managers will see it as an indication of ineptitude (see mindsets above). So we often have to be careful how we ask. I advise women to make Courageous ASKs - requests that are straightforward and made from a position of strength.

That said, every successful man or woman has gotten where they are because other people helped them. The former CEO of Coke, Muhtar Kent, once said at a conference that "asking for help" was a success factor in his career. Anne Mulcahy as CEO of Xerox asked for help with financial acumen from someone in her Finance department.

Whether we lead as individual contributors, first line supervisors/team leads, managers at whatever level, or executives - none of us can do it alone and be successful!

My profound thanks to Susan for returning to my blog and sharing her inspiring thoughts!


Image Credit: Hudson Hintze via Unsplash.


Check out previous appearances by Susan here on my blog:

Why Mentorship Is Important (July 2023)
https://www.debbielaskeysblog.com/2023/07/why-mentorship-is-important.html

Do You Use Your Voice to Lift Up Women Leaders? (December 2022)
https://www.debbielaskeysblog.com/2022/12/do-you-use-your-voice-to-lift-up-women.html

As We Celebrate 1920, Work Remains to See More Women in Top Leadership Roles (August 2021)
https://www.debbielaskeysblog.com/2021/08/as-we-celebrate-1920-work-remains-to.html

Connect with Susan at these links:
Website: https://bebusinesssavvy.com
Website: https://leadtosoar.network/landing
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/susancolantuono/

Here's the link to Susan's TED talk:
"The Career Advice You Probably Didn't Get"
https://www.ted.com/talks/susan_colantuono_the_career_advice_you_probably_didn_t_get

And the Transcript:
https://www.ted.com/talks/susan_colantuono_the_career_advice_you_probably_didn_t_get/transcript


Friday, March 1, 2024

Are You the Type of Leader Who Speaks Last?


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

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

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

(Read full article here: “Why leaders should always speak last” at https://www.fastcompany.com/90965196/why-leaders-should-always-listen-first-and-speak-last)

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Image Credit: WordSwag and Hortense le Gentil.


Connect with Hortense at these links:
Website: https://www.hortenselegentil.com
The Unlocked Leader Book: https://www.hortenselegentil.com/theunlockedleader
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/hortenselegentil
Twitter/X: https://twitter.com/hortenseleg
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hortenselegentil/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hortenselg/