Friday, June 14, 2024

SPRING LEADERSHIP SERIES – Featuring Zen Yinger

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 Zen Yinger, and following a brief introduction, Zen shares some nontraditional ways to think about leadership!

Zen Yinger is the CEO of ZenConsult, whose goal is "To Transition, To Transcend, and Transform Business Using Simple and Smart AI." ZenConsult helps problem solve and create new opportunities for SMBs, start-ups, and personal brands who want to lean into the future of business by making the simplest and smartest use of AI. She also coaches entrepreneurs and professionals who are in the process of making a delayed entry into the digital world. She has been recognized in Onalytica’s Top 100 for Social Media Marketing Influencers and Top 100 PR Influencers. She is passionate about #WomensAdvocacy, #WomenSupportingWomen, #HeForShe, and #TechForGood.

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.
ZEN YINGER: TED LASSO, the TV show on Apple TV left me inspired and wanting for more.

Ted Lasso is the epitome of leadership in the series and crafts a unique brand of inspiration rooted in genuine positivity and unwavering empathy. His character becomes a beacon of hope, navigating challenges with an infectious optimism that transcends the soccer pitch. What sets Ted apart is his commitment to building a team culture founded on communication and personal growth.

The series artfully weaves a narrative where each character's journey reflects the transformative impact of Ted's leadership. Be it the comedic camaraderie or the poignant moments, Ted Lasso's approach to leadership is a refreshing departure from conventional portrayals. In a world often fixated on success at any cost, Ted stands out by emphasizing the human side of leadership, creating a memorable and uplifting experience for viewers.

Here are some inspiring quotes from Ted in Season 1 and Season 2:

Season 1: "I believe in hope. I believe in belief." In a pivotal moment, Ted expresses his unwavering faith in positivity and belief, setting the tone for his leadership style.

Season 1: "I think that you should always be curious, 'cause you never know when you're gonna find yourself in a moment of pure discovery." Ted emphasizes the importance of curiosity and openness to new experiences, fostering personal growth within the team.

Season 2: "Every breath is a chance to make things right." Ted's perspective on redemption underscores the series' theme of continuous improvement and second chances.

Season 2: "Success is not about the wins and losses. It's about helping these young fellas be the best versions of themselves on and off the field." Ted redefines success, emphasizing personal development over mere victories, reinforcing his holistic approach to coaching.

QUESTION: Which film showcases leadership in a memorable way?
ZEN YINGER: As an English Literature fan and student, who also had an inspirational English Literature professor, I am compelled to choose the film DEAD POETS SOCIETY.

The film tells a captivating tale of leadership personified by John Keating, an English teacher portrayed by Robin Williams, who gives a brilliant performance. Keating's unconventional teaching methods breathe life into the study of poetry, breaking free from traditional norms. He instills in his students the profound philosophy of "Carpe Diem," urging them to seize the day and embrace individuality, creating a compelling narrative around the power of living authentically. The film beautifully captures the essence of artistic expression, emphasizing the transformative role of poetry in self-discovery.

Keating's leadership is a beacon of empowerment, encouraging students to discover their voices and pursue their passions fearlessly. With a commitment to cultivating critical thinking, he challenges societal norms and fosters confidence, laying the foundation for personal and intellectual growth.

Beyond the classroom, Keating's leadership extends into personal connections, where he understands the fears and dreams of each student, creating an environment of trust and loyalty. The story unfolds with a powerful exploration of consequences, teaching resilience and the importance of facing challenges head-on. Even after Keating's departure, his legacy of inspiration endures, revealing the timeless impact of authentic leadership that transcends immediate circumstances.

Dead Poets Society is a poignant journey that resonates with the human spirit, inviting viewers to reflect on the profound influence of a leader who dared to ignite the flames of individuality and seize the poetic beauty of life.

QUESTION: Which work of fiction showcases leadership in a memorable way?
ZEN YINGER: TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE left an indelible mark on my life from when I read it almost two decades ago. The book unfolds a profound leadership narrative through Morrie Schwartz's lessons.

Morrie's wisdom extends beyond academics, emphasizing emotional intelligence and the prioritization of meaningful relationships over societal expectations.

Facing mortality becomes a transformative journey, prompting readers to reflect on life's purpose and spiritual growth.

Morrie's open communication fosters vulnerability, creating connections that endure.

His legacy, rooted in timeless insights, challenges us to consider the impact we leave on others.

Morrie's unique time management philosophy values quality interactions, inspiring a reevaluation of how we spend our time.
Acceptance, forgiveness, and authenticity define his leadership, encouraging readers to lead with grace and embrace their true selves.

In essence, Tuesdays With Morrie offers a human-centric leadership guide, urging us to live authentically and leave a meaningful legacy.

QUESTION: Which product, or product line, stands out as a symbol of leadership?
ZEN YINGER: As a longtime social media fan, consultant and currently looking for new opportunities, I eat, breathe, sleep LINKEDIN!

LinkedIn isn't just a platform; it's a symbol of leadership in the professional landscape, a space where connections transcend borders, and careers are shaped. It stands out for being more than a networking site – it's a hub of knowledge, a stage for thought leadership that inspires and educates.

As professionals, we find unparalleled opportunities for growth and connection on LinkedIn. LinkedIn's global reach opens doors to a diverse network of professionals, fostering a sense of community that transcends geographical boundaries.

For businesses, LinkedIn isn't just a recruitment tool; it's a showcase of culture and values. Company pages become windows into the soul of organizations, building trust with professionals and clients alike.

The platform's user-friendly interface ensures accessibility for professionals at all levels, creating a welcoming space for sharing ideas, achievements, and experiences.

LinkedIn's commitment to ongoing learning is evident through LinkedIn Learning, offering a treasure trove of courses across various domains. This dedication to knowledge contributes to a culture of continuous improvement and professional development.

As leaders, whether shaping careers or businesses, LinkedIn stands as a symbol of leadership, providing a stage to share, connect, and inspire. It's not just a platform; it's a community that empowers leaders to navigate the ever-changing landscape of the professional world, fostering growth, connections, and a collective journey toward excellence.

SHARE THIS: LinkedIn's global reach opens doors to a diverse network of professionals, fostering a sense of community that transcends geographical boundaries. ~@zenyinger #SpringLeadershipSeries #DebbieLaskeysBlog


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?
ZEN YINGER: AMAZON is top of mind to me because it's become an important and useful part of my everyday life. I buy my staples on Amazon. Last year, I published an ebook on Amazon, and I am putting together a product line to launch on Amazon. It stands as the epitome of an industry leader, capturing hearts and homes globally, including mine!

What sets Amazon apart is not just the convenience it offers, but the unwavering dedication to customer satisfaction. It's a dynamic ecosystem that caters to diverse needs, mirroring modern lifestyles. In the realm of innovation, Amazon is a trailblazer, shaping the future of commerce and technology.

From the seamless experience of Amazon Prime to the intelligence embodied in Alexa, the company continually raises the bar, weaving technology seamlessly into the fabric of our daily lives.

The strength of Amazon lies not just in its vast product catalog but in the marketplace model that empowers countless entrepreneurs. It's a community where dreams find expression, and small businesses flourish alongside industry giants, creating a harmonious blend of choices for consumers.

Beyond the algorithms and logistics, Amazon's leadership radiates from a people-centric core. The company's commitment to a diverse and inclusive culture, coupled with leadership principles emphasizing ownership and innovation, fosters an environment where individuals are empowered to think big and push boundaries. Amazon is a global connector, understanding and catering to the unique needs of people around the world.

The ability to adapt its business model to diverse cultures reflects a leadership that embraces the richness of human experiences. Initiatives like "The Climate Pledge" showcase Amazon's dedication to environmental stewardship, reinforcing the idea that true leadership extends beyond profits to leave a positive impact on the world.

In essence, Amazon isn't just a company; it's a symbol of customer-centric leadership, innovation, inclusivity, adaptability, and responsibility. It represents the evolution of an industry leader that not only meets - but anticipates - the needs of a dynamic and interconnected world.

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


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

Connect with Zen at these links:
Website: https://www.zenyinger.com
Blog: https://www.zenyinger.com/blog
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/zenyinger
Twitter/X: https://www.twitter.com/zenyinger
(Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest also as Zen Yinger)

Check out Zen's previous appearance here on this blog:

Tips to Establish Your Digital Brand (October 2021)
https://www.debbielaskeysblog.com/2021/10/tips-to-establish-your-digital-brand.html


Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Sharing Lessons in Brand Communication

We all receive too many promotional emails and texts - so many, in fact, that we probably develop negative feelings toward some brands.

Recently, I received a letter via snail mail from Macy's, and here's what the letter said.

Dear valued Macy's customer,

We wanted to let you know that the Macy's (specific location) store has closed. You can still find us close by at (and five locations were listed).

Some good news: You can continue to shop the styles and brands you love any time online at www.macys.com and in the Macy's app.

Here's a 20 percent off coupon any day you choose now through July 15, 2024. It's just our way of saying thank you for shopping at Macy's.

With gratitude from Chief of Stores

In today's post-covid era, many retail stores have suffered from loss of sales, and unfortunately, had to close their doors. So, when possible, how many have taken the time to thank customers and ask for future business at other locations? I would venture to say, not many - which makes this outreach from Macy's definitely stand out.

According to MarketingEggspert, "Brand communication is an interaction between a brand and its stakeholders. A brand can engage in communications through numerous approaches, like TV commercials, online newsletters, business cards, billboards, or direct marketing. Brand communication helps people to understand a brand better and makes them able to connect with it."

So, what do you think about Macy's outreach to me? Would you use the coupon to solidify your brand loyalty?

SHARE THIS: Brand communication helps people to understand a brand better and makes them able to connect with it. ~MarketingEggspert #brandcommunication #brandexperience #DebbieLaskeysBlog


Image Credit: Marketingeggspert.

Monday, June 10, 2024

SPRING LEADERSHIP SERIES – Featuring Susan Gardner

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 Susan Gardner, and following a brief introduction, Susan shares some nontraditional ways to think about leadership!

Susan Gardner's background is centered in recruiting and human resources in both public and private companies. As her career evolved, she contributed to startups and turnarounds that were undergoing transformative change in both tech and non-tech fields, such as, healthcare, e-commerce, fashion, and telecommunications. She's worked as a board member, marketing specialist, change manager, and indie film producer. Her interest is positive transformative growth and change - people and positivity centered cultures drive this!

QUESTION: Which TV show or TV series showcases leadership in a memorable way?
SUSAN GARDNER: I've chosen STAR TREK and STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION as examples of leadership at different stages in an organization. These TV shows showcase two captains of the Federation Starship USS Enterprise, Captain James T. Kirk and Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Both explored space while encountering many and varied cultures and peoples.

Kirk was the early captain and, as such, focused on considered action and allowing his officers and staff to contribute and do the job at hand getting optimum results. He partnered with them as a daily, active, on-site participant traveling to planets as an "away team" member.

As the Federation matured, Captain Picard took on a diplomatic posture and supportive partnership stance for the officers and staff under his command. Fewer new cultures were encountered, and relationship development became - and continued to be - paramount to success.

If you have an opportunity, catch Captain Picard's encounter with the Borg! Fabulous episode! (Editorial Note: The Borg were first encountered in The Next Generation's second season, episode 16, entitled, "Q Who?," and presented as so unstoppable that Picard had to swallow his pride and beg Q for help to escape them. The episode ended with the Borg presumably on their way to Federation space and time running out on finding a way to stop them.)

QUESTION: Which film showcases leadership in a memorable way?
SUSAN GARDNER: Two films come to mind.

First, ERIN BROCKOVICH, a true story turned into a film starring Julia Roberts in the title role. Erin has three children, and because of a car accident, contacts lawyer Ed Masry to plead her case. She becomes a paralegal for him at her urging as they pursue - with dogged determination - a class action suit against Pacific Gas & Electric for ground water contamination in Hinckley, California. Her attention to detail, creative problem solving skills, people skills, and grit won a $333 Million judgment for the 634 plaintiffs. In leadership and life, it’s always "keep moving forward." Erin is currently continuing her stellar career in environmental activism. The film received five Oscar nominations.

The second film is MICHAEL CLAYTON that featured actor George Clooney as Michael Clayton. Michael is a "fix-it" lawyer for a prestigious New York City firm handling a class action suit for their client, U-North, accused of selling a carcinogenic weed killer. Michael Clayton masterfully exposes the firm's client as totally aware of the danger of this weed killer. In the process, he grows spiritually, emotionally, and financially, and embraces the concept of "doing the right thing" is essential in business and life. It's a key leadership tenet. The film received seven Oscar nominations.

SHARE THIS: The concept of "doing the right thing" is essential in business and life. It's a key leadership tenet. ~@SEGStaffing #SpringLeadershipSeries #DebbieLaskeysBlog


QUESTION: Which work of fiction showcases leadership in a memorable way?
SUSAN GARDNER: I've chosen Ian Fleming's Bond books about JAMES BOND. Each describes a Bond adventure pitting James Bond, fictional MI6 agent 007 against a masterful and evil wrongdoer. Fleming drew on his WWII Naval Intelligence Division service, which added depth and authenticity to his novels. And the film success of his novels is undeniable! Bond leads himself and others with character, creativity, and humor. His tech gadgets are legendary. It's good versus evil at its very best. One of my favorites is GOLDFINGER, which established James Bond as a brand that's definitely here to stay!

QUESTION: Which product, or product line, stands out as a symbol of leadership?
SUSAN GARDNER: I have to choose STARBUCKS, a favorite of mine for many years. Starbucks has led the coffee revolution, establishing their brand as a favorite to meet friends and colleagues for a quick meeting or in-depth discussion while drinking their favorite coffee beverage. Many use their friendly and open stores to work on personal and business projects. And Starbucks has expanded the brand masterfully into food and veggie plates. They pursue excellence with passionate dedication!

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?
SUSAN GARDNER: I have to choose APPLE, my computer and phone choice. To me, the products are easy to use. And the philosophy, dedication, and Apple creative problem-solving strategies ring throughout. You can always reach out to Apple with questions or info. Steve Jobs shines through to this day! He espoused, "It's not about technology, it's about people!" Thank you, Steve!


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


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

Connect with Susan at these links:
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/segardner
Twitter/X: https://twitter.com/SEGStaffing

Saturday, June 8, 2024

Marketing News of the Week: Product Naming, Product Pricing, and More

During the past week, there were news stories that reflected producing naming, product pricing, product launches, brand purchases, personal branding, brand identity, philanthropy, and more.

MANHATTANHENGE

According to Headout, "Manhattanhenge is a nod to Stonehenge, a prehistoric monument in England where the sun aligns with the stones on the summer solstice. New York astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson re-coined the term for New York! Manhattanhenge is a twice-yearly natural phenomenon in which the setting sun aligns perfectly with the Manhattan street grid...where the sun and the city's skyline come together for a breathtaking spectacle." This year, the event occurred May 30th and will also occur on July 11th.

According to the Farmers Almanac, "The colloquial usage of 'henge' refers to any place where the rising or setting sun lines up with the surrounding architecture."

DOLLAR TREE AND 99 CENTS ONLY STORES

Dollar Tree has confirmed that it acquired the rights to 170 99 Cents Only store locations in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Texas. The announcement followed news that 99 Cents Only would close more than 300 store locations and would file for bankruptcy.

T-MOBILE AND US CELLULAR

T-Mobile announced that it will acquire most of US Cellular's wireless customers and stores. According to Mike Sievert, CEO of T-Mobile, "With this deal, T-Mobile can extend the superior Un-carrier value and experiences that we're famous for to millions of UScellular customers and deliver them lower-priced, value-packed plans and better connectivity on our best-in-class nationwide 5G network." According to Laurent Therivel, CEO of UScellular, "T-Mobile's purchase and integration of UScellular's wireless operations will provide best-in-class connectivity to rural Americans through enhanced nationwide coverage and service offerings at more compelling price points."

DR PEPPER NEWS

After years of slowly gaining market share, Dr Pepper inched ahead of Pepsi as the number two soda brand in the United States, according to Beverage Digest. FYI, Coca-Cola leads the sector by a comfortable margin. Founded in 1885 in Waco, Texas, Dr Pepper established a small but devoted following in the American South. Today, Dr Pepper experiments with new flavors including Strawberries & Cream and Creamy Coconut.

COSTCO'S HOT DOG PRICE

Costco announced that the price of its hot dog will remain at $1.50. Costco has been selling its hot-dog-and-soda combo for $1.50 since it first hit menus in the mid-1980s. The price tag has held steady over the years despite inflation — otherwise it would be closer to $4.40 today.

According to Jamie Loftus, author of Ray Dog: The Naked Truth About Hot Dogs, "It's a good PR move for Costco to not change the price...it's like a PR slam dunk for them, it's like, 'No, we're not going to change the price. We've got your back.'"

According to NPR, "The $1.50 hot dog and the $4.99 rotisserie chicken are what experts have called an example of loss-leader pricing - a strategy in which companies sell certain products below their market cost in order to get customers in the door and, ideally, putting more profitable goods in their carts."

TRUMP'S FELONY CONVICTION

In a historic decision on May 30, a New York jury found former President Donald Trump guilty on 34 counts of falsifying business records, marking the first criminal conviction of a United States President. While the legal repercussions are still to be determined, so, too, is the impact on his personal brand.

According to AdWeek: "On February 17, as former President Donald Trump prepared to face 34 felony counts in his hush money trial in New York, he found time to head to Philadelphia to attend Sneaker Con. And there, standing at the podium, he announced the launch of his new Trump-branded sneakers. Price: $399. The Never Surrender hightop in gold lamé — a limited edition of 1,000 pairs — sold out almost immediately. Weird? Not really. Having licensed his name for everything from condo towers to mail-order steaks over the years, Trump has long fashioned himself as a commercial brand. He is also a presidential brand, as is current President Joe Biden.

But will last week's ruling against Trump in federal court hurt his personal brand? Experts say it may do the opposite. Ever since Trump's famous escalator ride into presidential politics nine years ago this month, he has built his brand around the image of an anti-politician who promised to drain Washington's swamp and give the working man a voice. But after the four criminal indictments filed last year, "He positioned himself as a victim and does a remarkable job of trying to turn his victimhood into a strength," said Kate deGruyter for think tank Third Way. In that context, these most recent guilty verdicts may have strengthened Trump's brand positioning."

Time will tell on November 5th!

UKRAINE'S OREO PRODUCTION

Ukraine's Oreo production is back in business after snack maker Mondelez repaired its war-damaged factory (in Trostyanets) that was badly damaged during Russia's invasion two years ago. According to CNN, Oreos, chocolate wafers with a creme vanilla filling, are one of Mondelez's biggest brands. The company said that products made in the Trostyanets factory are exported to Eurasian countries such as Georgia and Kazakhstan in addition to being sold in the domestic Ukrainian market.

JEEP ELECTRIC VEHICLE UNVEILED

Jeep unveiled its first electric SUV and joined the congested segment already featuring GM, Honda, Kia, and Hyundai. Jeep's new Wagoneer S, will go on sale this fall, and shares little with its gas-powered namesake. The EV utilizes the same architecture as the upcoming Dodge Charger EV, and its starting price tag will be $72,000.

SPECIAL K'S LATEST PACKAGING

In an amazing first, Special K features a pregnant woman on its cereal box. The box, which shows Molly Baz with an exposed pregnant belly, is available for purchase on the Kellogg website. It's part of the brand's "Special for a Reason" marketing campaign, which features "inspiring individuals."

MEXICO'S PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

Former Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum won a landslide victory to become the country's first female president and the country's first Jewish head of state. According to Reuters, "Victory for Sheinbaum is a major step for Mexico, a country known for its macho culture and home to the world's second largest Roman Catholic population, which for years pushed more traditional values and roles for women." Women have only voted in Mexico since 1953. "Sheinbaum has a complicated path ahead. She must balance promises to increase popular welfare policies while inheriting a hefty budget and low economic growth...And among the new President's challenges will be tense negotiations with the United States over the huge flows of US-bound migrants crossing Mexico and security cooperation over drug trafficking at a time when the US fentanyl epidemic rages."

WOMEN PHILANTHROPISTS

Melinda French Gates is following in the steps of MacKenzie Scott, ex-wife of Jeff Bezos, who has chosen to disburse money from her divorce as fast as she can. French Gates revealed in a New York Times essay that her first project, after leaving the foundation that she co-founded with her ex-husband Bill Gates, would focus on advancing women's rights around the world. According to Amy Pasic, the dean of the Indiana University School of Philanthropy, citing research from the Women's Philanthropy Institute, "Women tend to be more social in the way that they approach giving, and they're more collaborative."

BRITISH BANKNOTES WITH KING CHARLES III

Banknotes featuring King Charles III entered circulation in the United Kingdom this week. This marked the first time that the Bank of England changed the monarch on its notes, and this is only the second time that the monarch has appeared on banknotes issued by the Bank of England - the first was Charles' mother, Queen Elizabeth II. Charles' portrait appears on the 5, 10, 20, and 50 pound notes; and the rest of the design remains the same as the current notes that feature the late Queen Elizabeth II on their fronts. The Bank of England expects the new notes "to enter circulation very gradually."

According to the British Retail Consortium, "Fewer Brits use cash. In 2023, there was an increase in cash usage for the first time in a decade, making up about 19 percent of total transactions. Cards still make up the overwhelming proportion of money spent, at 85 percent."

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: CNN/Lucy North/PA/AP and Business Insider.


Read more about Manhattanhenge:

https://www.amnh.org/research/hayden-planetarium/manhattanhenge

Read more about Trump's conviction:

https://www.bu.edu/articles/2024/trump-convicted-felon-what-does-that-mean/

Read: 22 Experts Predict What the Trump Conviction Will Mean for 2024 and Beyond 

https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2024/05/31/trump-trial-verdict-conviction-consequences-00160933

Friday, June 7, 2024

SPRING LEADERSHIP SERIES – Featuring Melanie Bell

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 Melanie Bell, and following a brief introduction, Melanie shares some nontraditional ways to think about leadership!

Melanie Bell is the Co-Founder of Strategic Piece, a company that helps B2B businesses generate outstanding revenue growth by bringing together their marketing, sales, and service teams around an information-driven customer experience. However, Melanie is not only about marketing. She founded Leaders Who Fiction, a virtual monthly book club (where we met!), while running Strategic Piece. Through Leaders Who Fiction, Melanie helps people develop leadership skills by reading fiction and participating in intellectual, business-oriented conversations centered around a selected novel. Prior to Strategic Piece, Melanie was President of Marketing Interface, which she founded in 2014, after serving as Director of Marketing at SURGE Accelerator/SURGE Ventures. Melanie earned a BA in International Development from McGill University in Montreal and an MBA from Rice University in Houston.

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.
MELANIE BELL: How could I not call out the charming series of TED LASSO? I was late to the game in watching it, but I'm so glad I did. There are all sorts of leadership dynamics between the team owner and her employees (I love her story line), the head coach and his assistant coaches, the coaches and players, aging team captains and new hotshots. I could go on; it's absolutely FULL of leadership lessons, plus it's hilarious if you don't mind some salty language.

Humor has such a unique way of reaching us. Actually, one of the first leadership skills presentations that I attended included humor as one of the top ten skills a leader should have.

SHARE THIS: Humor is one of the top ten skills a leader should have. ~@bell_melanie_a #SpringLeadershipSeries #LeadershipTip #DebbieLaskeysBlog


QUESTION: Which film showcases leadership in a memorable way?
MELANIE BELL: Reaching a few years back with this reference, but TITANIC is it for me. I realize what happens in the movie is based on historical facts, but perhaps, that makes it all the more gut-wrenching when the man who made the call to push the limits of the boat and ignore safety warnings gets into one of the lifeboats when the ship was sinking. It showcases leadership in a way of what not to do. Talk about lack of integrity!

(Note: The designer of the Titanic went down with his ship, whereas, the man whose company owned the Titanic left on the last lifeboat.)

QUESTION: Which work of fiction showcases leadership in a memorable way?
MELANIE BELL: I'm a little biased answering this question because most works of fiction have leadership takeaways. For Leaders Who Fiction, we read THE FINAL REVIVAL OF OPAL AND NEV by Dawnie Walton. One of the most liked characters is the band's former manager, but he's one of the reasons that the band fell apart. He had no spine, he cared more about being liked and appeasing tough personalities than he did about making sure that the group was set up for long-term success. That balance of being liked and being respected is something that I've struggled with in leadership roles, so that resonated with me on a personal level.

Okay, I can't pick only one! So, I'm going to cheat and also highlight ENDER'S GAME by Orson Scott Card because I read it after finishing my MBA and thought, "This is what we should have been reading in leadership classes in business school."

QUESTION: Which product, or product line, stands out as a symbol of leadership?
MELANIE BELL: The first product that came to my mind was SAMSONITE luggage because I associate it with business travel and with quality. I'm not even sure how much their luggage costs compared to the competition, but my perception links their product to leadership and things that leaders do.

QUESTION: Lastly, which brand is the best embodiment of an industry leader, and why?
MELANIE BELL: As I think about this question, the following criteria come to mind: who creates the best customer experience, who is innovative in ways that competitors either copycat or react to, and who takes risks that don't always pay off.

I considered Google, Apple, both Canva and Adobe, and Disney when thinking about this question, but for me, STARBUCKS wins this competition. I'm not saying Starbucks has the best coffee (it's not great, in my opinion), but they have had a major impact on our consumption patterns and have created an addictive customer experience.

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


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

Connect with Melanie at these links:
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/melanieabell
Website: https://www.strategicpiece.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/leaderswhofiction
Website: https://www.leaderswhofiction.com

Check out Melanie’s LEADERS WHO FICTION's appearance on my blog:

The Best Book I Read in 2023 (February 2024)
https://www.debbielaskeysblog.com/2024/02/the-best-book-i-read-in-2023.html

Monday, June 3, 2024

SPRING LEADERSHIP SERIES – Featuring Susan Friesen

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 Susan Friesen, and following a brief introduction, Susan shares some nontraditional ways to think about leadership!

Susan Friesen is a visionary brand strategist, entrepreneur, and founder of British Columbia’s premiere boutique web development and digital marketing agency, eVision Media. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, she’s an expert in helping businesses to establish their online presence and create a strong brand identity. Her passion for empowering female entrepreneurs to succeed in the digital world has earned her a reputation as a leading authority in the marketing industry.

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.
SUSAN FRIESEN: I am often drawn to TV shows where the female lead is portrayed as a strong leader. I just finished watching the final series of THE CROWN, and even though Queen Elizabeth II could have made different choices throughout her incredible reign, she displayed strong leadership skills. For instance, she was clear on her objective and role in the Institution, never waivered in her resolve to what was best for the country, and consistently strived to be fair and impartial in all matters that she had to deal with.

It was also interesting to witness her realize she was getting behind in the times and knew changes had to be made within the Monarchy, but most every suggestion was shut down by close confidants and family members. No one likes to change, and that was too big of a boulder to move all by herself.

QUESTION: Which film showcases leadership in a memorable way?
SUSAN FRIESEN: A couple of movies like The Godfather and Braveheart come to mind, but the one that really resonated with me is ERIN BROCKOVICH. Erin demonstrates the importance of perseverance, fortitude, and determination in leadership.

Despite facing numerous challenges and setbacks, Erin remains steadfast in her pursuit of justice, working tirelessly to gather evidence and build a strong case against the polluting company.

Throughout the film, Erin exhibits a genuine concern for the affected community members, earning their trust and support. She listens to their stories, empathizes with their struggles, and forms personal connections, essential in building a strong and united front in their legal battle.

The film teaches us the importance of standing up for what is right, even when faced with powerful opposition. Erin demonstrates the courage and conviction required to challenge the status quo and fight for justice for those wronged. These leadership lessons from Erin Brockovich emphasize the value of persistence, determination, empathy, trust-building, and standing up for what is right to bring about positive change and make a meaningful difference (and impact) in the lives of others.

QUESTION: Which work of fiction showcases leadership in a memorable way?
SUSAN FRIESEN: Even though it is controversial, the one that really resonated with me was ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand. Some call this book propaganda masquerading as art, but I disagree completely.

The protagonist Dagny Taggart is met with opposition at every turn in managing the railroad. But she learned at an early age that it was more important to be competent than to be liked. The leadership qualities are many and include: ignore the haters, don’t argue, just do, and always praise good work.

QUESTION: Which product, or product line, stands out as a symbol of leadership?
SUSAN FRIESEN: As a marketer, nothing stands out more than Nike.  Nike's early leaders were distinctive and tough, relying more on their intuition than strict rules. This all changed when they ditched the unstructured approach and went to marketing planning.

Initially, the concept was applied to the running product line, and then it gradually expanded to include all product categories. The company found that adopting a comprehensive marketing planning approach was really helpful in bringing all resources together and keeping everyone focused on the same goals.

As a result, it had a significant impact on Nike's incredible journey to become the most valuable apparel brand in the world. Their leadership style was, in fact, partnerships and was the forefront of today’s influencer marketing rather than just being plugged by a celebrity. Their leadership embodies being part of a story relevant to the times even if that story is controversial or even bordering on quirky.

SHARE THIS: Nike's leadership style was the forefront of today’s influencer marketing. ~@eVisionMedia #SpringLeadershipSeries #DebbieLaskeysBlog


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?
SUSAN FRIESEN: Again Nike. Their leaders use meticulous attention to creating a flawless customer journey is a blatant example of its ability to comprehend its users. Because they prioritize audience research, they are able to find and connect with users on the platforms and channels they prefer instead of using a generic approach for everyone. In addition, Nike's customer service is responsive and informative, and they offer support to customers all around the world.  This leadership quality is contagious down to the very bottom tiers of their organization.

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


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

Connect with Susan at these links:
Website: https://eVisionMedia.ca
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/susan.evisionmedia/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/evisionmedia/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eVisionMedia
Twitter/X: https://www.twitter.com/eVisionMedia
Free Branding Gift: https://www.facebook.com/eVisionMedia

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

FALL BACK TO READING SERIES – Featuring Susan Friesen (October 2023)
https://www.debbielaskeysblog.com/2023/10/fall-back-to-reading-series-featuring_02107667638.html

Digital Engagement Tips to Attract Customers and Fans (November 2022)
https://www.debbielaskeysblog.com/2022/11/digital-engagement-tips-to-attract.html

The Importance of Brand Identity (November 2021)
https://www.debbielaskeysblog.com/2021/11/the-importance-of-brand-identity.html