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:
Free Branding Gift:

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

FALL BACK TO READING SERIES – Featuring Susan Friesen (October 2023)

Digital Engagement Tips to Attract Customers and Fans (November 2022)

The Importance of Brand Identity (November 2021)

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