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Start From A Winning Place – Right Here Right Now

When we try to lead change from a reactive mindset, we perceive problems as threats and fear of failure drives us toward a quick fix, as evident in our annual penchant for making (and breaking) New Year’s resolutions to “fix” bad behaviors. This vicious cycle yields low results.shutterstock_380256889

In contrast, a creative mindset sees problems as opportunities and seeks solutions via vision, action, and passion. The Creative mindset, or “operating system,” plays to win; the Reactive mindset, or OS, plays not to lose.

How can we transcend the reactive and opt for the creative approach to leading change?

Over the years, we’ve witnessed thousands of people receive multi-rater 360 feedback using The Leadership Circle assessment. For many, it’s a gut-wrenching experience, one that can be either a catalyst for growth or impetus for inertia. Negative feedback challenges our sense of self or core belief. It’s challenging to reframe that belief, change it and move on. We all wrestle with reactive responses daily as we face fear, doubt, criticism or inner conflict.

Having run our own company, we know how easy it is for leaders to be reactive. When we are managing all the time, we struggle to see our patterns of thought and feel at risk when we are challenged. However, when we interrupt the reactive response and start seeing deeply into our inner operating system, we start seeing our pattern. We realize that we don’t have to continue along that track any more — we can be free from it and move on. But every time we meet a new edge, that fear resurfaces again as strong as ever. We can gain perspective on it by noticing it sooner and managing it, not taking it so seriously, but that doesn’t mean we’re not scared. When we’re caught in reactive mode, it has us. We sense that everything’s at stake here.

When we operate in a creative mode, we see that our fear is unfounded. We show up differently, more effectively, when we recognize the pattern to be reactive and choose to be creative. Our impact and influence on others and the organization increases.

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Without this awareness, the more leaders rise in position and the more complexity they face, the higher their fear level grows — even to the terror level. Awareness of the fear is critical to move through the reactive stage or operate well in it. Since most leaders aren’t aware of how much fear is inside them, when they face challenge or change, their old self and old way of operating are threatened.

As leaders, we tend to define our life on other people’s expectations of high performance, or technical wizardry and genius, and never stop to ask ourselves what we really want — the heart of the creative operating system. Self-authored vision is the central organizing principle: “This is what matters to me.” “This is where I stand.” “Here’s the organization I believe in and want to build.”

 

In creative mode, we stop chasing short-term results long enough to ask, “What would you do if you could?” In creative mode, we play to create the future we want or believe in versus trying to move forward by playing not to lose — it’s a very different approach to life and leadership.

To boot up our leadership capabilities and operate consistently in creative mode, we need to run on a self-authoring mindset. Making that shift is challenging, and it’s where many people get stuck in sort of the schizophrenia between the inside self-definition versus the outside definition, and the fear that might be attached to declaring that inside-out definition.

When we move to creative mode, we face uncertainty — everything seems questionable and up for grabs. Old definitions simply don’t work, and new ones may not have arrived yet. So, uncertainty and fear are prevalent in the early creative stage.

If we’re not accustomed to that open space or lack access to a coach who knows that terrain, we find it easy to fall back or slip back into a more reactive, less effective way of leading.

It takes courage and resilience to stay in creative mode and advance. If the questions — “What do you want?” “What would you do if you could” — continue to haunt you, you’ll stay in the game and proceed; but if you lose sight of those questions, you will likely give into the fear and caution and revert back.

Your organization is likely designed for and supports the reactive style. When you move into creative mode, you become an alien, without the old support community.

shutterstock_380256889As we coach leaders who are in transition from reactive to creative stage, we find that they all experience two major shifts:

  1. Optimizing the tension between purpose and safety
  2. Shifting identity from the outside-in to the inside-out

As we orient on what we most want, we face what we most fear. Always, our purpose and passion await our commitment. Always, fear lurks inside, cautioning us not to move toward — it seems too risky. But if we do not live at the edge of our creativity and passion, we become toxic to those around us and to ourselves. Our biggest wants are met with our biggest fears. We either move through the fear toward our passion, or we slowly and inexorably die.

Most of us are looking for a safe path through — a safe place to be great. There isn’t one. There is no safe way to be great, and, there is no great way to be safe. The safe paths have all been taken. The paths left to us require risk. Leadership is inherently risky because leadership is the act of creating outcomes that matter most.

If we orient our lives on safety, we remain constantly insecure. If we orient on that which seems to want to have its way with our lives, we live into the futures we were born to create. And that brings with it its own security.

In leadership positions, more people get fired for their caution than for their courage. If we play for purpose, we accept the inherent risk of leading, of living full-out, and that brings with it a sense of security that is not rooted in powers outside ourselves, upon which our future seems to depend, but in our capacity to create the future to which we aspire.

If we orient primarily on safety, we live and lead reactively. If we orient on the pull of purpose and vision and accept the inherent risks, we evolve the Creative Mind. The core of the creative operating system is a play-on-purpose game based on faith and love. In this game we orient on what we love enough to risk for. It is designed to create the future to which we aspire.

Outside-in leadership is focused not on vision, but on removing, fixing, or reducing problems and threats. It is run by fear, motivated to reduce the internal conflict generated by the problem. Behavior is a reaction to this internal conflict, and the focus of behavior is to get rid of the problem.

Reactive Leadership is like a balancing loop that creates an oscillating pattern of results around a set point to maintain equilibrium or homeostasis. We set goals and then act in ways contrary to our commitments because we have competing commitments, which are often run by internal beliefs that drive behavior designed to maintain current equilibrium. Beneath our pattern of results are powerful unseen beliefs, operating on autopilot and structured from the outside in (how other see us defines us). We are the effect of the assumptions we adopt earlier in life — because they made sense at that time.

Since these assumptions may not match the complexities of our life, they become the structural limit to what is possible for us. They seek to maintain a state of equilibrium and often drive behaviors that compete with our vision and commitments.

With thanks to SmartBrief for sharing this insight from the Lead Change Group.

Six Digital Trends in 2017 That Will Redefine Influence for Marketers

In 2016, we’ve seen mobile completely redefine how people interact with one another as well as with brands. And while social and mobile have had an indisputable impact on marketing, communications and business, in 2017, we’re going to see old dogs with new tricks in areas such as content mixed with new dogs who want to change the game all together.  With thanks to Kevin King, global practice chair of Edelman Digital, in AdWeek, December 2016.

Here are a few areas identified as part of Edelman Digital’s annual trends predictions for 2017.

Conversational experiences
Messaging apps are becoming the new second home screen. Why now? There’s a chatbot revolution going on, and it’s primarily being fueled by the adoption of chatbots by major social and messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger, Google, Microsoft Skype, Salesforce, Slack, Twitter DM, WeChat, Kik and Line. Now that there are billions of daily users of messaging platforms who are accustomed to engaging with brands in the feeds, the platforms hope they will enable marketers with the ability to scale creative 1-to-1 engagement opportunities called “conversational experiences.” These conversational experiences will bring together past revolutions in ecommerce and text services while highlighting the potential of artificial intelligence.

Immersive content
2017 is going to mark a turning point in the way audiences interact with and consume video content. Through the releases of the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, PSVR and Niantic Labs’ Pokemon Go on Unity, virtual reality and augmented reality became important technological breakthroughs in 2016. In 2017, we anticipate significant improvements in immersive devices as well as software. Also, look for efforts from brands with skin in the game to make using a headset culturally acceptable.

Influencer marketing
According to eMarketer, 2017 is predicted to mark a major milestone for digital advertising—for the first time, digital spending will surpass that of TV. So where will those dollars go? Considering the challenges marketers face with bot fraud, ad blocking, social algorithms and general skepticism, influencer marketing will play a renewed and central role in the marketing mix for 2017. Influencer marketing isn’t new, but it will mature in 2017 as we see brands not only partnering with digital savvy Snapchatters and YouTubers but co-creating original content that can’t be found anywhere else.

Blockchain
What Uber did for on-demand auto transformation Blockchain promises to do for financial transactions. And with $1.4 billion in venture-capital money in the past three years, 24 countries investing in Blockchain technology for government services, 90-plus central banks engaged in related discussions, and 10 percent of global GDP to be traded via Blockchain technology by 2025-2027, it is important that marketers understand the potential implications for their business. We believe Blockchain technology will be a part of The Next Great Flattening and removal of middle-layer institutions.

B2B
Under increasing pressure to demonstrate tangible ROI on marketing and communications investments, business-to-business brands continue to adopt techniques including account based marketing, or ABM, marketing automation and advanced targeting. In 2017, we see B2B marketers aggressively moving away from basic awareness metrics toward identity-based KPIs that attribute high funnel marketing activities to downstream sales engagements and revenue generation. While some B2B brands will continue to experiment with emerging consumer-oriented technologies and platforms, we believe ROI pressure will lead marketers to seize ownership of the overall customer experience and create strategic alignment across marketing, communications, sales and IT.

Sizzle meets steak: balancing what works today with what will work tomorrow
There will be no shortage of steak or sizzle in 2017. As influencer marketing for example matures, brands will measure it with the same rigor applied to traditional, or “tradigital,” media. Content that has largely become a commodity for brands and consumers will strive to dazzle us in multiple dimensions, seeking to stand apart from the crowd.

For marketers and brand managers, our remit is clear—we must master both the shiny and the substantial as part of our everyday roles and responsibilities. 2017 will be a year when we are tested on both fronts: being able to execute what we know works today with what we believe will work tomorrow.

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During The Holidays The Consumer Is At Your Fingertips – Be Fun, Be Colorful, Be Interesting

Reach out and touch your holiday shopper!  Increases in Content Sharing, e-Shopping Help Brands Reach More Buyersshutterstock_339813557

Because of consumers’ increased online shopping, media consumption and social sharing, marketers and communicators have one of their best opportunities yet to reach more potential buyers during the 2016 holiday season, according to new research from data-driven marketing tech firm RadiumOne. The company recently released the results of its Holiday Consumer Behavior Data Report, highlighting how retailers can capitalize on online consumer behaviors during the holiday season.

In fact, the report found that connected devices play an important role in holiday research and shopping, with more than a third of gift givers researching or buying presents online. It also revealed that media consumption increases significantly during the holidays, as most consumers will spend more time online, watch more TV and go to the movies more often. Additionally, one in three consumers will share more content during the holidays than the rest of the year, with 82 percent of all online holiday sharing activity coming from dark social channels such as email, instant messaging and text messaging.

“Consumers are spending a significant portion of their time online, which has created billions of data points that help marketers identify and predict interest and intent,” said Bill Lonergan, CEO at RadiumOne, in a news release. “Because consumers spend an increased amount of time online during the holiday season, retailers can increase the likelihood of acquiring new customers by aligning their strategy to what consumers are doing. By engaging consumers through all channels, marketers can maximize their holiday shopping campaigns, allowing their dollars to go further.”

SHOPPING HABITS

The report dove into consumers’ shopping habits during the holiday season and revealed that 38 percent of consumers will research and purchase presents online, with only 8 percent of consumers reporting that they will research and shop exclusively in-store. However, 28 percent of gift givers wait until the final month to start planning for holiday gifts, with 5 percent waiting until the final week.

The study also found that 29 percent of online shoppers will use multiple devices for shopping and research. Desktop was the most common device used (37 percent), followed by tablet (15 percent) and mobile (12 percent).

MEDIA CONSUMPTION HABITS

Findings from this report discovered almost half of consumers will spend more time online during the holiday season. Where consumers increase their time on devices the most television (59 percent) tablets (53 percent) and smartphones (53 percent).

SOCIAL SHARING HABITS

The research found 72 percent of consumers share content online during the holidays.

The research found 72 percent of consumers share content online during the holidays. The most commonly shared content includes festive pictures (65 percent), festive videos (49 percent) and gift ideas (45 percent). The majority of sharing happens through dark social, compared to only 8 percent on Facebook, 3 percent on Twitter and 7 percent on other channels.

Not surprisingly, sharing activity on Black Friday and Cyber Monday is twice as high as the average for the rest of the holiday season.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Through its findings, RadiumOne identified three primary methods for marketers to maximize their marketing promotions during this busy time of year:

  • Understand consumers’ holiday shopping behaviors: Know the importance that smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops play in both researching and purchasing holiday gifts
  • Increase promotions across all screens: While TV advertising is certainly effective during the holidays, marketers cannot ignore the increased media consumption on smartphones, tablets and other devices
  • Deliver holiday content that consumers will want to share: Make it easy for consumers to share pictures, videos, gift ideas and other festive content

The report looked at the online activities of 1,000 consumers who celebrate the holidays.

Source: PR Newswire; edited by Richard Carufel

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GENERATION Z – A New Generation And A New Marketing Approach

In 1996 the first member of what is called Generation Z came into our world.  And in the very near future they will become a big part of the world of marketers.Image result for generation z

Numbering 23 million, there are 1 million more members of Generation Z (born between 1992 and 2011) then the Millennials (born between 1980 and 2000)

gen-z-2Here’s how to get ready for a generation just now entering their peak buying years and very different from Millennials and Boomers – but a lot like those born between 1925 and 1942 – the parents of the Boomer generation and known as the Silent Generation who saw a series of major world wars in their lifetimes.

Generation Z doesn’t just stand out in terms of how they relate to brands; they’re also spending their money differently and will take this into their adult years.

A survey by Lincoln Financial Group of 400 members of generation Z aged 15 to 19 found that they are saving far earlier than than older generations: 60% of them already have savings accounts and 71% say they are focused on saving for the future.

Their top three priorities are getting a job, finishing college, and safeguarding money for the years to come.

They rate these goals above spending time with friends and family, working out, or traveling. Jamie Ohl, president of retirement plan services at Lincoln Financial, says that we’re seeing similarities between this young generation and the one that emerged in the years following the Great Depression. “When I think about the ‘greatest generation’ having gone through the Depression and how they taught their children, the boomers, to save, that’s what this generation of parents is teaching generation Z,” she says.

But while generation Z is realistic about the challenges ahead, 89% of them remain optimistic about their futures, which is higher than any other generation on record.

For the past several years, the media has been obsessed with millennials, the most studied group ever. But as Generation Z grows up and gets ready to enter the workforce, corporations are paying more attention to this crop of young people born between 1996 and 2011. At 60 million strong in the United States, they outnumber millennials by 1 million. It would be easy to assume that they are just an exaggerated version of the generation that came before them, spending even more of their lives on social media, doing even more of their shopping online, and demonstrating an ever greater collaborative nicer nature.

But generation Z grew up in a starkly different historical context than millennials, which has given them a distinct outlook on the world.

Millennials were internet pioneers. They invented Facebook, shopped from their smartphones, and smoothly transitioned from satellite TV to Hulu and Netflix. Generation Z, meanwhile, doesn’t remember life without these basics of 21st century life. Millennials helped elect a black president and legalize gay marriage; many generation Zers see these milestones as the norm. Millennials came of age during a time of economic expansion and were shocked to find a diminished, unwelcoming job market after college; generation Z has been shaped by the recession and is prepared to fight hard to create a stable future for themselves.

They sure sound like a great generation in their own rite and as marketers we should be making changes right now to accommodate their outlook, wants and needs.

 

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Look Like You Mean It and Other Research On How To Apologize! … Two Recent Studies Tell What It Takes (Take Note Presidential Candidates)

In this political year, we have an excellent opportunity to watch public figures as they move through high roads, low blows and the need to apologize – all priceless lessons for corporate PR and marketing professionals.

What to never do?  No smiling, no laughing and never a joke

What works?  Looking sad, sounding like you mean it.animal with apologetic face

Where?  Do not be behind a desk, peeking around a door or anywhere that looks like a resort.

How?  Apologize on all platforms – in front of the person you hurt, on TV if possible, via social media, respond to all media inquiries and say the same message and mean it every time.

Most important?  Acknowledge the mistake, take responsibility, apologize, explain and fix.

Best tip?  Don’t wait, apologize immediately.

With thanks to Sarah Green Carmichael, a senior associate editor at Harvard Business Review, for article below and for passing on lessons from two new research studies on what makes for an effective apology.

“Straight up, we made some mistakes,” Whole Foods co-CEOs John Mackey and Walter Robb said earlier this year in response to an overcharging scandal.

“We weren’t prepared for the crisis and we dropped the ball,” wrote AirBnB CEO Brian Chesky in 2011, after a guest trashed a host’s home.

“This should never have happened. It is simply unacceptable,” said Mary Barra, CEO of GM, in one of several public apologies in the wake of safety scandals at the automaker.

The corporate apology, once a relative rarity, has become a normal part of business discourse. Stuff happens, and then we say we’re sorry for it. But just because corporate apologies have become commonplace doesn’t mean they’re all created equal.

First, Leanne ten Brinke of the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business and Gabrielle S. Adams of the London Business School examine how expressions of emotion affect corporate apologies. Publishing in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, they present the findings of two studies.

In the first study, they looked at how investors reacted to real apologies from executives. They examined 29 online videos of apologies made between 2007 and 2011. Using an established system for distinguishing facial expressions (the Facial Action Coding System, or FACS), their researchers watched each video second by second, without sound, and tracked the expressions that flitted across the executives’ faces. Were they frowning? Smiling? Looking sad? Then Brinke and Adams looked at what happened after the apology to the company’s stock price. They found that for those leaders who had apologized with a smile, the stock dropped—perhaps because the leader seemed insincere delivering his apology, or even seemed to be enjoying the suffering his company had caused. The more the person smiled, the worse his company performed.

For the leaders who appeared genuinely contrite, at first it seemed like there was no impact on stock price—the company neither performed worse, nor performed better. “Normative emotions simply allow the company to move forward,” they write.

But then the researchers took a closer look at CEO apologies, specifically—16 out of the 29 cases. They found that when an apology was delivered by a CEO who looked sad, the company’s stock price actually rose post-apology. “A good apology can build investor confidence,” especially in the long term.

To investigate this further, Brinke and Adams conducted an experiment in which they hired an actor to portray an airline CEO apologizing for a computer malfunction that canceled 140 flights, stranding thousands of passengers—a scenario based on a real Alaksa Airlines snafu. They made sure his fictional apology contained all the verbal elements of a good apology—the components previous research has identified as being central to repairing relationships (see sidebar). They then recruited subjects to watch this fictional CEO apologize—either happily, sadly, or neutrally. When the CEO appeared sad, participants rated him as more sincere and were more likely to want to reconcile with him. When the CEO delivered his apology with a smile on his face—or, interestingly, a neutral expression—the study participants were less likely to trust him, and the apology even seemed to exacerbate their negative feelings.

The 5 Elements of a Complete Apology

An effective apology includes up to five elements, according to psychology researchers.

An explicit “I’m sorry.” Linguists call this an “Illocutionary Force Indicating Device.”

An offer of repair. This is where you offer to make it up to the person, eg, “I’m so sorry I spilled on your suit, can I pay for the dry cleaning?”

An explanation. Here’s where you explain how the mistake happened. But, it’s important to note that a complete apology also includes…

Taking responsibility. Without this, an explanation just sounds like an excuse.

A promise of forbearance, eg, “I promise it won’t happen again.”

Even seasoned leaders are likely to find delivering an apology to be an uncomfortable experience, and when we feel uncomfortable, a normal reaction is to grimace, laugh awkwardly, or even try to break the tension with a joke. Leaders (especially Americans) may also feel they can’t show too much sadness or anguish but instead must present a positive front at all times. The research by Brinke and Adams reminds us how these understandable impulses can backfire.

Another paper appearing in the Journal of Corporate Financeadds an interesting wrinkle to this subject. Researchers Don Chance, James Cicon, and Stephen P. Ferris examined 150 press releases from 1993 to 2009 to examine how companies fared when they blamed themselves for poor performance as opposed to blaming external factors. They found that while companies are twice as likely to blame external factors when things go wrong, passing the buck results in continued financial decline. Conversely, companies that take responsibility for their missed earnings stabilize and eventually see an uptick in financial performance. (Interestingly, both groups were about equally likely to fire their CEOs.)

Why? After eliminating numerous factors, the researchers conclude that being honest and specific about the source of the problem—both characteristics of self-blaming statements—not only cheers up investors, it likely helps the company turn around the issue more quickly. Conversely, the companies who blamed external factors were often vague (blaming “economic forces” for instance) and seen as less honest (since many of their wounds had actually been self-inflicted).

The message is loud and clear: when you mess up, admit it. And look appropriately sad about it.

 

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It’s Spooky – But True! Halloween Is The Latest “IT” Holiday For Marketers

shutterstock_154500236Huge Halloween Brand Opportunities: Holiday Spending to Reach $8.4 Billion, Highest in NRF Survey History – Pets and People Go Big For This Fun Holiday

Is Your Brand On Pinterest?  It’s the Top Influencer for All Things Halloween

Americans are looking forward to splurging on their favorite candy and costumes this Halloween season, and brand PR and marketers are poised to take advantage of the biggest black-and-orange holiday opportunities on record—according to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, total spending for Halloween is expected to reach $8.4 billion, an all-time high in the survey’s history.

U.S. consumers are expected to spend an average of $82.93, up from last year’s $74.34, with more than 171 million Americans planning to partake in Halloween festivities this year.

“After a long summer, families are excited to welcome the fall season celebrating Halloween,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay, in a news release. “Retailers are preparing for the day by offering a wide variety of options in costumes, decorations and candy, while being aggressive with their promotions to capture the most out of this shopping event.”

According to the survey, consumers plan to spend $3.1 billion on costumes (purchased by 67 percent of Halloween shoppers), $2.5 billion on candy (94.3 percent), $2.4 billion on decorations (70 percent) and $390 million on greeting cards (35.4 percent).

When it comes to preparation, 71 percent of consumers plan to hand out candy, decorate their home or yard (49 percent), dress in costume (47 percent), carve a pumpkin (46 percent), throw or attend a party (34 percent), take their children trick-or-treating (30 percent), visit a haunted house (21 percent) or dress their pet(s) in costume (16 percent).

Searching for the perfect costume inspiration will lead consumers to sources such as online (35 percent) and in-store (29 percent). Social media is the fastest-growing influencer for the perfect costume, particularly Pinterest(17 percent), which has seen 133 percent growth since 2012. Some other places for inspiration include friends/family (19 percent), Facebook (17 percent), pop culture (16 percent) and print media (14 percent).

“Consumers are eager to celebrate Halloween, especially given that eight in 10 Americans will shop by mid-October. That is the highest we have seen in the survey history,” said Prosper Insights principal analyst Pam Goodfellow, in the release. “Americans will enjoy taking advantage of early-bird promotions both online and in-store as they kick off the fall season.”

When it comes to where consumers will shop for the season, 47 percent of shoppers will visit discount stores to buy their Halloween-related items this year and 36 percent will visit a specialty Halloween/costume store, up from 33 percent last year. In addition, 26 percent of customers will visit grocery stores/supermarkets, 23 percent will visit department stores and 22 percent will shop online.

The survey asked 6,791 consumers about Halloween shopping plans. It was conducted September 6-13 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.

Source: Business Wire; edited by Richard Carufel

ORANGE is the color of action! Buy, Sell and Let’s Show Some Orange Enthusiasm!

What color is the logo of the organization you represent?  Do you share qualities with other brands of the same color?

According to Fast Company. “The implications of color’s effect on people’s emotions are far reaching, and understanding your customers’ connections to certain colors could increase the effectiveness of your company’s branding methods.

Heading into Fall and the harvest, ORANGE is this month’s color to explore.

Pumpkins, the color of the harvest moon and one of the colors of the University of Florida Gators!

logo color 2015 ORANGE

Research complied by web design and marketing company WebPageFX, people make a subconscious judgment about a product in less than 90 seconds of viewing, and a majority of these people base that assessment on color alone. In fact, almost 85% of consumers cite color as the primary reason they buy a particular product, and 80% of people believe color increases brand recognition.”

What can be learned here?  I’d love to hear what you think!

With thanks to Fast Company for this great article –infographic from WebPageFX, written by Rachel Gillett.

Here is a beautiful Fall image with orange as the dominant color.shutterstock_1945459