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Jeffrey J. Fox on the Future Transformative CEO

Recently, I had the great pleasure of hosting a podcast with Jeffrey J. Fox on Total Picture Radio. Over the years, Jeffrey’s books have been a tremendously positive influence on me.  He did the crisp and clear short book to perfection before it became fashionable and without losing meaning.  As I study the book business and art and craft of making a book myself, I’ve become further impressed by not only his achievements but also his longevity.

I’m excited about his most current book for a variety of reasons:

– Leadership – For a long, long time many have focused on doing the same activities harder, better or with tiny improvement. This book gives permission to do something in a different way.

– Inspiration – Leaders need to be inspired to take that first step to lead change consistently. The first step is often the hardest.

– Permission – Leaders need permission to know that letting go of the past to take another path is OK. All too often this serves as a roadblock.

Why else am I excited about this book? Put simply, this book’s message stimulates demand for the services and abilities I have to offer businesses align their operations and business models to grow revenue, cashflow and market share. It is an exciting time in that regard.

The Board of Directors, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer of all companies need to take immediate action to start the long  journey of recreating customer focused organizations that serve a need, in a way that is better than anyone else in their industry, do it in a way that is effective and empowers people across the organization to make incremental, real-time decisions. This is the model and culture that existed at BlackRock during it’s hypergrowth phase and it the the model culture that any organization can strive to build.

There is a long journey ahead, it will be successful for those who take action while others stand still. It is time for the Transformative CEO. I look forward to traveling with those who chose to go on it.



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Suddenly in Charge : Roberta Chinsky Matuson Book Interview

Suddenly in Charge by Roberta Chinsky Matuson
Suddenly in Charge by Roberta Chinsky Matuson
Suddenly in Charge by Roberta Chinsky Matuson

Recently I read Roberta Chinsky Matuson’s Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down and Succeeding All Around(Niocolas Brealey). Really unique book, especially the managing up part, as I’ve never seen extensive writing about that issue previously. Insightful stuff. Roberta was kind enough to grant an interview.

In the chapter on Office Politics you mention the three issues power affects most: allocation of resources, administrative succession and organizational structure. Some assert that many offices are becoming more political overall. If that were true in an individual case what is generally causing that and what should executive teams do to start to rectify it?

There is a direct correlation between resources and office politics. When resources are plentiful, there is no need to go to battle for what you believe should be yours as there is plenty to go around. Of course the opposite is true as well. When resources are tight, savvy workers will do what is necessary to claim the resources they need to get their jobs done and to obtain highly prized promotions.

It’s funny that you should ask what executive teams should do to rectify this as those on the executive team are often the most political. That being said, executives can make sure people have the resources to do their work. They should also promote people based on ability, rather than on likeability.

In Chapter 5 of the Managing Up portion of the book you discuss the concept of positive self-promotion. Could you elaborate on why you consider this concept to be so important?

In today’s workplace, there is so much competition for attention. You have to toot your own horn to be heard in a sea of cubicles. Pump up the volume and make enough noise so people in the organization know who you are and what you are capable of doing.

Operating under the assumption that your work will speak for itself is wrong. If that were the case, then why is it that so many great artists never got noticed until they died? I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be recognized and rewarded while I’m alive.

Two chapters later you mention how to handle those who might seek to cheat shareholders and how to deal with them…what advice would you give to someone in a less explicit situation such as someone protecting a pet project or seeking to maintain funding for an activity that is no longer optimal for most organizational stakeholders?

Do you really have all the information you need and the expertise to determine if a project is optimal for most organizational stakeholders? If the answer is no, then I would recommend you continue to work on the assignment. If the answer is yes, then you have to weigh out your options. The person who is protecting a pet project isn’t going to be easily swayed by someone challenging their project, so most likely you will have to go above their head. You will need to examine what might happen if you do so, before you take your case further.

Roberta Chinsky Matuson - Human Resource Solutions
Roberta Chinsky Matuson – Human Resource Solutions

Why do organizations struggle to hire the optimal people with the right skills?

There are many reasons why organizations struggle to hire the optimal people with the right skills. In my new book, The Magnetic Workplace: How to Attract Top Talent that Will Stick Around (Nicholas Brealey, 2013), I talk about how there has never been a better time to hire top talent, but employers are taking too long. Many are operating under the assumption that nothing has changed in the employment landscape. In my book, I discuss the importance of removing barriers that may be slowing your company down in the hiring process, as in this new economy; speed will be of utmost importance.

Employers focus too much on skills and not enough on fit. You can train the right people to do most skills, but you can’t really train a forty-year old to play nice with others or to be extremely detail oriented. I recommend hiring on fit and training for skill.

Over the years, I’ve taught thousands of people how to hire for fit. It’s a skill that is easily learned. Like most skills, the more you practice, the better you get.

In your acknowledgement section you state, “My deepest gratitude goes to my mentor, Alan Weiss, who has offered guidance and support throughout my consulting practice.” (I’ve interviewed Alan Weiss previously.) Could you please expand on type of mentorship he has provided to you and how it has impacted you?

I have been a part of Alan’s community for years and have enrolled in his mentoring program numerous times. Having access to someone who has achieved what you are trying to achieve is priceless.

Through my work with Alan, I’ve learned that mentorship and coaching is one of the fastest ways to create change and to help people reach their full potential. I now offer these services to my clients and am always thrilled to see how quickly they are able to attain the results they seek. I believe this is so because they are fully committed to their personal and professional growth. Of course having someone to help keep them accountable certainly doesn’t hurt!

What did you learn from the process of publishing a book?

I learned many things from the process of publishing a book. Here are a few of those things in no particular order.

Determination is key. If you want something bad enough and you are willing to put in the work, then anything is possible.

When you engage an agent, it’s a partnership. You have to trust that your agent knows what he or she is doing and that they have your best interest in mind. If you don’t trust your agent then look for another agent.

Bigger isn’t always better. In my dreams, I always imagined I would be with a big publishing house. But in the end, it was a small publisher who agreed to publish Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around. In retrospect, being with a smaller house gave me opportunities that I never would have gotten with one of the larger publishers. For example, I was the one who suggested we flip the book (one side of the book is on managing up and the other side is on managing down.) Rather than discard the idea, my publishing team said they would see if it was possible. The unique format of Suddenly in Charge has helped my book stand out from a crowded field of management books.

Many people don’t realize that publishers pay for the space in airport bookstores. Of course the authors who don’t need all that much visibility (e.g., Danielle Steele, Marshall Goldsmith, etc.) are the ones who the publishers are willing to make that kind of investment in. My publisher invested in me, and my book was distributed at WH Smith Stores in airports and train stations around the globe. I still recall the day when a colleague snapped a photo of my book next to Sir Richard Branson. His book was charting at number nine and mine was number ten!

The process of writing a book is only the beginning. Just as you catch your breath you receive the edits, which may require some rewrites. You take another breath and it’s time to find people who are willing to endorse your book. Next comes the promotion of the book, which is usually on the shoulders of the author. And then it all starts again when you decide like me to write another book.

What are the three trigger events that should lead to someone contacting you about your services?

1. Your company is experiencing growth and you recognize that the people you have on board don’t have the skills needed to take the business to the next level.

2. You or someone on your team has just been tossed into a leadership role.

3. Your company is going through an acquisition or a merger.

For more information, please visit Roberta’s website,

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THE MACKAY MBA OF SELLING IN THE REAL WORLD Last year Harvey Mackay visited Chicago for a media tour for his previous book last year and I got to travel from media outlet to media outlet with him for a day as he did so. The experience would be hard to describe beyond that it will never be forgotten as long as I live and was amazing media training. His focus on others is always present as he seeks to learn every detail of the life of his next interview. Harvey is truly a one of a kind individual and I consider myself fortunate for having spent a day with him.

His lasted book is THE MACKAY MBA OF SELLING IN THE REAL WORLD (Portfolio, 2011). The wonderful publicity folks retained by Mr. Mackay were kind enough to grant me an email interview after I read the book. His answers below build on a great read and create the basis for a larger conversation that the world desperately needs to have. Harvey is part of an increasingly rare breed of business leader who understands that people, human capital and organizational transformation are vital to success. For our society to survive as we know it, we must rapidly work to reverse this trend and create a new generation of leaders with these all too rare skills. You feel the sense of urgency in his answers below. I can’t wait to spend another day with Harvey Mackay, the mutual learning would be overwhelming.

You stated “Fostering employee loyalty is the first step to creating customer loyalty” in Chapter 4. Over the past two decades, many companies have treated employees as disposable assets. How would you convince management to reverse this unfortunate trend?

Harvey Mackay: Our company mission statement is to be in business forever.  That means no compromising … not compromising your core principles and taking any shortcuts.  It is virtually impossible to stay in business over a long period of time if you treat your employees as disposable assets.  In 50-plus years in the business world, I know of no one who stayed in business with a revolving door of employees.  It’s sad to say, but in these difficult economic times there are still too many businesses that still don’t get it.

Chapter 15 states, “Your past is not your potential” and “Far too many people exist in a world of “what is” rather than applying their energies to “what can be”.” Today skills are dynamic and changing; this has implications for returning to the basics of recruiting naturally curious lifelong learners based with the vision to lead change. How can companies best stop the practice of picking leaders of the past?

Harvey Mackay: I have hired over 500 people in my career, and the single most important word in the dictionary that I look for and demand is trust.  Once I have established that, then I immediately look for capacity and willingness to learn.  I can’t begin to tell you how many people out there in the marketplace and disciples of the Peter Principle.  There has been a seismic shift in the business world.  The great classical business principles still hold true but they need to be fused with cutting edge internet technology.  That’s the kind of leaders that companies should be looking for.

Fred Smith got a “C” on his term paper for his idea for Federal Express. Mike Bloomberg was told his idea for what became the Bloomberg terminal would never work by his former employer. Why is it often so difficult for most executives to grasp paradigm changing business ideas?

Harvey Mackay: It’s way easier to stay in the comfort zone, especially when things are going good than to go out on a limb and take some risks.  My philosophy is exactly the opposite:  Sometimes it’s risky not to take a risk.  And remember, if you walk backwards, you will never stub your toe.  One of the most difficult things in life for any individual or business is to accept and adopt change.

So, as you like to say, “People don’t know what they don’t know?”

Harvey Mackay: The way I like to fine tune this statement that I made up in college is – I know that you don’t know, but you don’t know that you don’t know!  By that I mean there are three reasons why individuals and businesses fail:

1.    Arrogance

2.    Arrogance

3.    Arrogance

There has been a consistent, gradual decline in ethical business practices in the United States for about 50 years, and it reached new extremes in the “daisy chain” of the sub-prime mortgage industry in the period of 2002-2008.  This was caused by executives getting chapped lips from kissing the mirror too much, which is a perfect example of how arrogance set in.

You discuss the importance of listening, what is the best way for a salesperson to use the obtained information to create a successful sales?

Harvey Mackay: First of all you can’t learn anything if you are doing all the talking.  Sales people should always be developing their earQ, not their IQ.  The only way to create a successful sale is to understand that knowledge (from listening) does not become power until it is used.  And ideas without action are worthless.

You talked about enthusiasm, what is the best way to maintain it in the face of adversity?

Harvey Mackay: First of all, I have never yet met a successful person who hasn’t had to overcome either a little or a lot of adversity in his or her life.  If life there is a lot of lumps and bumps … a lot of throttling up and a lot of throttling down.  Failure is not falling down, but staying down.  Therefore, you have to ignite your own enthusiasm.  The ten most powerful two-letter words in the English language are:  If it is to be, it is up to me.  Be active, be energetic, be enthusiastic and you will accomplish your object.  I agree with Ralph Waldo Emerson who said, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

In chapter 67 you cut the world-famous Mackay 66 to the Mackay 25, Please share more about why you changed it…

Harvey Mackay: The Mackay 25 does not replace the Mackay 66.  Rather it is a streamlined version, which gets you to an instant snapshot of the prospect or buyer’s attitude and expectations.  It gets to the heart of what is commonly known today as relationship selling.

In a recent blog post you stated that you are always surprised when you ask who their customers are and they say everyone. Rob La Gesse (@kr8tr) asks who is your customer?  Have you decided who is not?  If so, you have already self-limited your ability to affect change?

Harvey Mackay: You can’t be all things to all people.  In most businesses the company will have what I refer to as nitch-picking.  In short, virtually everyone has their own niche within an industry.

I had the distinct pleasure of spending the day with you during your Chicago media tour in 2010. I was amazed by the way you prepared for each interview. You were seeking to learn about each interviewer and worked to bring that into the on air conversation. What can aspiring radio and TV guests learn from your techniques?

Harvey Mackay: I call this humanize your selling strategy.  I attempt to do a Mackay 66 Question Customer Profile on everyone I meet throughout my life.  That means customers, employees, suppliers, competitors, audiences, radio and TV talk-show hosts and journalists.  This is what I teach our sales force and the people I mentor, and that is that every single person I encounter I have a deep-down burning desire to learn what turns that person on and what he or she is most interested in.  In any relationship, you must find a common denominator.


Thank you Harvey! Every CEO, board of directors member and business leader should read this interview and distribute it (and his book) to their teams and then talk about these meaty issues! I welcome the world changing conversation.

Learn more about Harvey at

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Alan Weiss Interview – Million Dollar Referrals Book

Alan Weiss Million Dollar Referrals
Bestselling Author Alan Weiss

Alan Weiss has written over 45 books. Absorb that for a minute. That is a heck of alot of books.

His latest is Million Dollar Referrals (McGraw- Hill). A timely title about one of the most unique marketing art forms, referrals. Why timely? With constant changes in media and the rise of new channels such as social media, referrals can make or break many kinds of businesses. It is certainly an under-managed areas of marketing strategy in most organizations that has potential to improve business results. Like most marketing it requires your value proposition to be crystal clear as you are asking someone else to explain it to someone else. I can say from experience that many people skip this step.

Million Dollar Referrals is a clearly written, thought provoking read. The kind folks at McGraw-Hill were kind enough to set up an interview with Alan Weiss, the conversation is below….

The opening chapter discusses “Business Relationships are a Process, Not an Event”. You could replace the word relationships with many other concepts. Making that switch requires changing personal habits and or corporate culture. What is the best way to create this behavior change?

Alan Weiss: It merely requires educating your buyer and client. Culture change is a rubric, signifying less than nothing these days. Demonstrate to the client the nature of the relationship and partnership in terms of ongoing interaction and support.

What are the typical issues that can lead to a consulting provider being replaced? Can referrals be used effectively to ignite that need for a change in provider?

Alan Weiss: Trust that is violated. It’s very difficult to replace a highly respected consultant in a client. You can use referrals to become an additional resource as opposed to a replacement.

If you were starting a new consulting company from scratch today what areas would you take extra care to distinguish unique value in today’s highly competitive and global landscape?

Alan Weiss: Responsiveness; intellectual property; testimonials; global applicability; thought leadership; contrarianism.

You discuss that for referrals to be successful, clear communication of both targets and mutual benefit need to be present. What is the hardest part about consistently achieving this?

Alan Weiss: Being afraid to ask, failing to follow up, taking “no” too readily, not adequately demonstrating the win/win/win nature.

The are many new areas of strategic consulting involving technology convergence, search marketing, mobile, etc. What is the best way to convey certain value for new services where the price is not well established?

Alan Weiss: Price has nothing to do with it. The key is to show the value in terms of the buyer personal needs as well as the organizational need. Every client knows what he wants; few know what the need. Consultants should identify the needs.

Is there any way to create referrals when you are working with a client under a non-disclosure agreement?

Alan Weiss: Sure. You can be referred outside the industry, or without regard to the nature of the work, and without revealing that the source was a client.

Is there any major issues you think people over look with referrals?

Alan Weiss: They don’t prepare their clients or the environment, and fail to consistently ask because they are embarrassed.

I understand you occasionally put on some unique seminars? Is anything upcoming?

Alan Weiss: Just finished Thought Leadership at The Breakers in Palm Beach. Million Collar Consulting® College next week. Australia speaking tour after that. The Art of the Referral Workshop in Newport on Nov. 30.





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Twitter Gate – Buy More Twitter Followers Free Instantly – Business Marketing Strategy Implications?

This week there are stories raging in political circles with allegations the Newt Gingrich (or more likely his Internet strategists) bought or acquired Twitter followers. Seeing a concept I’ve seen whispered in the back of the room at Internet conferences being discussed in a broad and general way in Time magazine makes one wonder if we are witnessing an important inflection point moment.

The article brings something in the bright, bright light that had been hidden in the darkness, the TIME article states, “…Newt’s numbers are way out of the ordinary – even for a politician. While about 8% of his followers are real, other politicians were deemed to have anywhere 20% to 30% of “real” followers. In comparison, the average Twitter user, like you and me, have anywhere from 35% to 60% real people following them.”

It makes one wonder where all these non-real followers are coming from and more than a few CEOs are likely reading this article and asking the question, “Is all this investment in social media justified and an activity that will grow my business and improve the bottom line or are there wiser marketing investments to be made?” The answer is not one that will immediately be answerable completely. Before we get into that, a little history is required. Twitter has API’s that allow people to interact with their data to build other tools. For reasons that are completely unclear, the API allowed people to automate certain actions like posting, retweeting, even creation of new accounts via automated programmatic methods.  This appears to have helped Twitter grow users to create user adoption rates that were shown to venture capitalists. Some have suggested that certain due diligence steps were missed, I don’t know whether it is true or not. Time will tell.

What this incident has a potential to do is bring this conversation into the boardroom and have serious questions asked like are these 80,000+ Twitter follower social media experts really experts at anything at all? Are all of these investments in social media justified? Shouldn’t I be focused on a well diversified portfolio of relevant marketing activities? What does Klout’s influencer score of 72 for @NewtGingrich say about fake retweets being counted as real and will Klout eventually become the solution with verified users and replace Twitter altogether (if Twitter doesn’t buy it someday soon)? How many reports of social media ROI are sitting in executive boardrooms right now that are not true representations of actual real world reality? How many marketers departments will have new and different leadership 90 days from now due to questions raised due to this incident? Will people across the globe stop looking at the number of Twitter followers as the Holy Grail of social media efforts?

The answers to these questions aren’t fully clear yet, but I wanted to raise some of the most important ones. I can confidently say that the goal should always be one of diversified marketing strategies that reach relevant demographics and real, actual target customers.

It’s time for CEOs to rewrite the job spec of the CMO to the creation of relevant business results instead of hype, buzz and hocus pocus. This needed migration is just an idea in most boardrooms today, it needs to one day become reality. It’s time for businesses to adapt their organizations to perform in this environment which is something that must be customized for each company in solutions provided based on the markets that they serve.

How big is this marketplace? According to Google’s Keyword External tool over 3,361,550 queries on Google occurred on the term Twitter Followers. This quantifies 1) the amount of people researching how to improve their Twitter followers is large and 2) it means that social media people seeking Twitter followers are not talking to their friends via Social Media about this, they are using a search engine called Google, which is the primary tool that most people use for this research as well as what the majority of the population uses at the moment they are seeking highly relevant information.

Keyword    Global Monthly Searches
how to get twitter followers    90500
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Total monthly Google queries for the term Twitter Followers on Google Keyword External Tool    3361550

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Earthquake User Generated Content : Lessons for Digital Marketing Strategy

[tweetmeme] Last month I watched the coverage of the Christchurch, New Zealand earthquake with amazement. When looking over the list of major earthquakes since 2005, it was the first with heavy damage to occur in a wealthy nation with lots of digital devices since the dawn of Youtube and user generated content(UGC) ability to share on social media sites. The video below shows a person in their living room taken video during the actual earthquake itself, at the time I remember thinking that is the first user generated content video I’d seen during an actual earthquake.

This month, one of the largest earthquakes in the modern history of the world took place in Japan. As you may know, Japan is one of the highest penetration rates of digital camera and digital phones in the world. Since most of the areas affected by the earthquake are without power and without Internet and mobile connections this content is going to ever so slowly trickle out instead of hitting instantly. It will likely become a torrent of video over time. This amazing video of the tsunami was obtained by Russia Today:

Many more of these videos will show the massive magnitude of this event in Japan and the insignificance of our species when compared to the forces of nature.

OK, what does this have to do with digital marketing strategy? Everything.

Marketing Department Organizational Structures Are Still Aligned to the Pre-Internet Era – budgets, the position spec of the CMO, marketing channel management, lack of understanding of the need to change communication formats. Embrace UGC, rather than resisting it.

Executive Leadership Teams Are Not Actively Managing Marketing Budgets – The commoditization of content and creative due to globalization, Apple computers, digital cameras and the creation of sites like create opportunities for management teams to significantly change business results. The portfolio of marketing channels is not naturally efficient. It requires highly specialized skills to optimize properly. These opportunities can only be realized when these assets are managed to the the proper business result objectives instead of branding measurement objectives that were appropriate in the 20th century.

My your preferred higher power bless the people of Japan during this difficult time. I only wish that the great coverage that the Los Angeles Times was doing about the earthquake and tsunami right now was just as focused, just as strong on the tsunami of change affecting the world of business gradually everyday across the world. The majority of the world has yet to see the drivers of the damage and are not properly responding to realign to new realities.

The time to act is now!