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I read an article in Forbes magazine a few years ago about purpose-driven branding, which spoke to the difference between a brand promise and a purpose. The article went on to say that while every brand makes a promise, not every brand has a purpose. Brands with purpose forge deeper relationships with their customers, differentiate themselves from their competitors and are worth paying more for.

Your brand promise is ultimately how customers will experience your brand. Your brand promise is a statement of what you will do for your customers. A brand promise is to your brand what features are to your product.

Without a purpose to support it, a brand promise is empty. The brand purpose is the "So what?" of the promise. It answers the question, "Why?" Why do your employees come to work every day? Why do customers buy your products? It speaks to the benefits your customers will receive when they buy from your brand.

Consider the example of a hybrid automobile.

While the brand promise might read something like, "We make lower fuel consumption and emissions possible," it does not speak to the "So what?" of the promise. The purpose speaks to how customers will specifically benefit from the lower fuel consumption and emissions that are being promised. Define that purpose (e.g., We make our customers' lives better through cost savings and cleaner, healthier air) and it becomes easier to see why customers would want a deeper relationship with a brand that genuinely cares about their financial and physical well-being. It's also a good reason why customers might be willing to pay more for a hybrid automobile.

Just as a good salesperson knows the importance of articulating benefits in the sale of premium products, a good marketer knows the importance of defining a purpose for his or her brand.

There is one day left to register (click here).  Here's the top 10 and a bonus reason why you should register right now and not miss this!

1.  Don't miss the best entrepreneur author and business speaker expected in dc this year,
2.  Unleash your why to inspire, align and resonate with your clients - catapult your growth
3.  Enjoy the great entertainment by business owner and EO member Jim Reznikoff's jazz group "The Rez experience"
4.  Win a chance to get coffee one-on-one WHY TIME with Ridgely before he leaves DC
5.  Get to see behind the scenes at the inspiring and fun Performing Arts Center, The Atlas
6.  Get to know one of the hottest growing DC neighborhoods: the hopping H Street corridor - before the streetcar comes online!
7.  One of the top 50 business books will be being handed out too!
8.  Get $100 worth of free tickets for you and a date to a performing art event in dc - or for you to handoff to your executive team!
9.  Lock in the steepest discount available for the next Ignition Shift event.
10. Join several DC entrepreneur and thought leaders of EO YPO VISTAGE and CEO groups who will be here
11. Meet the handful of business owners flying their teams in from other cities just for this event - they are all growing extremely fast - learn their secrets!




As a business leader, you know how important it is to have alignment between your team, staff, and your vision. The alignment comes from truly understanding the "Why." And the challenge is to turn your vision into specific steps your team can take to discover, understand, and unleash the power of your why to make your business grow. You have to get your whole team rowing the boat in the same direction at the same time.

Simon Sinek (FaceBook) (TED presentation) talks about Learning your Why. How would you like to experience your own "Why" discovery?


Next Wed, on June 18th (register here), one of the best entrepreneurial minds and authors, Ridgely Goldsborough, is joining us for a one night only IgnitionShift event with the tools, exercises, and direct coaching we guarantee will drive you and your executive team to:

a) Discover your "why" -- your passion for what you do and why you do it
b) Understand how your "why" can catapult your business forward in specific ways
c) Align your team and get the right people in the right seats based on their "why"
d) Connect on a powerful level with your clients and your marketplace

Join fellow high growth CEOs from Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO), Young President's Organization (YPO), and other regional leaders - along with their executive teams - for this one time only experience.

* Learn how to dramatically stand out from your competition.

** Sponsors will be providing door prizes and give-aways. The first 50 guests to arrive will receive a special gift. **

Register for the event before it fills up! Grab space for you and your team today! Early bird rate ends tomorrow, June 11.


IgnitionShift is my (along with fellow charter members) ongoing event series and educational platform for high-growth companies.

On June 1st, Timothy D. Sands took office as the 16th president of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (more commonly known as Virginia Tech). In a recent discussion about faculty promotion and tenure, he spoke of the importance of patents and other signs of innovation and entrepreneurship. He cited these as "evidence of impact," which he defined as "how that work changes the marketplace, how it changes the technology, and how [it enables] people to do things they couldn't do before."

It's easy to see how this notion concerning "evidence of impact" can be applied to marketers. For example, if you've spent the last few years researching, developing and implementing your organization's new marketing strategy, what evidence of impact can you provide? How have you changed the marketplace? How have you changed the way technology is used in your industry? How are you enabling your customers to do things they couldn't do before? Are you inventing the future or are you just following everyone else?

The answers to these questions are potential game changers. They look beyond more traditional measures of sales and revenue growth, profitability and ROI. They are what differentiates market leaders from their competitors.

As I have said before, activity is interesting, results matter. It may be time to look at your results and what lies beyond them. What evidence of impact can you provide?

As a speaker, I have a very high bar before I recommend other speakers. Ridgely, without question, exceeds the bar. He's personal, insightful, warm, and an expert at what he does. I had the pleasure of being in Ridgely's program several months ago sponsored by Entrepreneur's Organization in Baltimore (Ridgely's bio is below).

We were able to get him to come to the Washington, DC area to present his "Unleash the Power of Your Why" on Wednesday, June 18, 4:30 to 8:30, in Washington, DC.

Join us for an entertaining and transformational workshop where you will:

- Discover your WHY in an interactive format—yes, you will learn the exact process you can apply at home and at the office
- Create WHY-based messaging for your marketing
- Learn how neuro-science drives behavior and how you can use that in your personal life as well as your business
- Use your WHY to build an inspired organization—a WHY-focused organization
- Know how your WHY can drive the culture of your company


Click to register. The event is hosted by IgnitionShift. This is my (along with fellow charter members) ongoing event series and educational platform for high-growth companies.


altAbout Ridgely Goldsborough

Author and international speaker, Ridgely Goldsborough, known in the Latino market as Richeli, has spent the last 20 years as an expert in personal growth and development. Much like Napoleon Hill did in the early part of the last century, Ridgely has interviewed titans of business and industry in person, for his television show and on the radio. Based on the principles learned from these interviews and his own personal journey, Ridgely continues to write books and create audio and video programs to help us all on our journey to success.

In Business
- Started his first enterprise at the age of 16. In the past three decades, he has created 36 companies, with 400 employees in 35 countries.
- Founded, as the publisher, Network Marketing Lifestyles, the first ever four-color glossy magazine distributed on the newsstands for the industry of direct sales and multilevel marketing, in addition to three other magazines.
- Continues to develop various businesses in a diverse array of industries, with a passion for personal growth, particularly in the Latin market.

As a Writer
- Written nine books, including The Great Ones, The Power of Belief, Masters of Success, Skinny, Happy and Rich and four others.
- Shares his columns and inspirational articles, in English and Spanish, on over 30,000 websites.
- Created over 60 audio programs on personal and professional development.

As a Speaker
- In the last twenty years, Ridgely has given thousands of presentations on motivation, personal and professional development and business education, on five continents, in both English and Spanish.
- Conducted well over 100 interviews with titans of industry on the themes of success, prosperity and wealth accumulation.

Radio and Television
- Created 50+ inspirational and educational programs entitled A View From The Ridge that played on the radio across the Midwestern United States.
- Created his own television program, Modest To Millions based on interviews of successful business men and women who shared their keys to prosperity and wealth.

In Summary
If you are looking for a first class speaker with years of experience in both the English and Spanish markets, who entertains, motivates and educates all at the same time—and who is one of the world’s premiere experts in personal growth, prosperity and wealth accumulation, contact us today to book Ridgely for your next event!

Ridgely splits his time between Latin America and Pensacola, Florida, where he lives with his wife Kathy and their four children.


Brokerage firm E.F. Hutton was best known in the 1970's and '80s by the advertising tag line, "When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen." Their television commercials typically involved a conversation between two people. When one of them mentioned his broker was E.F. Hutton, the others around them would suddenly stop what they were doing and listen intently to the one who was talking.

If you are talking on social media, are people listening? Do you have "E.F. Hutton" credibility among your community of followers? Are you posting content on social media networks like Twitter and Facebook that people are acting on? How do you know?

One way to tell is by measuring your Klout. Klout is an online measure of your brand's social media influence. It measures influence based on your ability to drive action. The more influential you are, the higher your Klout score (as of June 2013, the average Klout score was 40).


Why is online social media influence important?

As you may recall from the E.F. Hutton television commercials of 30 years ago, the market landscape included so many competing sources of financial advice that it was often difficult to break through the noise. The same is true of today's highly competitive content marketplace. Even if your content is amazing, it won't have an impact if no one is listening.

For other insights on Klout and how you can increase your brand's online influence, please see:
Why a Good Social Media Marketing Strategy Includes Content and Engagement
5 Insights for Marketing Your Brand On Social Media
Does Your Brand Have Klout?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

My #FirstTweet

Everybody has to start somewhere.

I reached a few social media milestones last week and it got me thinking about my own start on Twitter. When did I send my first tweet? What did I say? Was anyone even listening?

Luckily for me, the good folks at Twitter recently launched a website, called '', that lets users search for their own (or others') first tweet. Turns out, my first tweet was sent on December 30, 2009 and it was a New Year's wish acknowledging the previous year and decade.


Over 5,500 tweets and 3,900 followers later, I've come a long way. I guess someone was listening, after all. My active social media accounts now include Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, Foursquare, Snapchat, Klout and Kred. More importantly, my social network consists of thousands of followers, professional connections and friends who I've had the privilege of sharing some really great content with since December 2009.

These last four years have been a period of rapid growth for me and my personal brand. My Twitter community has grown at an annual rate of 46%. My online social influence, as you might expect, has also seen tremendous growth. Kred, a tool that measures social media influence, now ranks me in the top 5% of influential social media users in the Global Kred community (i.e., all of Twitter). 

It's been an exciting time for me and I've enjoyed the ride. If you're not on the social media bandwagon, why not climb aboard and join me for the rest of the ride? If the past is any indication, it's going to be a fast one!

For some of my earliest blogs on social media, please see:
Social Media – Are You Connected?
Are You Embracing Social Media?
Business Storytelling for Social Media
Make Your Personal Brand Stand Out in LinkedIn
• Extend Your Brand's Reach with Twitter

If you're like me, you unlikely suffer from email overload. Multiple email accounts (I have 4) across multiple devices (I have 5, including an iPad and an iPhone) and not enough hours in a day to actually read all of the emails I do receive. It would be easy to conclude from what I've just told you that email, as a marketing channel, is no longer an effective way to acquire and retain customers like me.


Not so fast. 

As I was researching material for an upcoming guest lecture I'm going to be giving on digital marketing, I discovered evidence to suggest the opposite may be true. Here's why...

"...research shows old-fashioned email is still far more effective than social media in attracting customers to your business online."
     - Forbes, 'Why Email Is Still More Effective Than Social Media Marketing,' October, 1, 2013

"Email subscribers can also deliver something that traditional websites and social media struggle with: loyalty."
     - Adweek, 'Don't Count Out Email Newsletters,' April 15, 2014

A 2013 e-commerce study by predictive analytics firm Custora found that customer acquisition via email has quadrupled over the last 4 years. Email marketing is a growing trend in e-commerce, with increasing numbers of retailers building communities, collecting email addresses and converting email subscribers to customers. The study also found the Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) from customers who arrive through the email channel is 12% higher than average.

If you're a marketer, be sure to include email in your marketing mix. And visit us again next week when I share some tips with you for optimizing your email marketing strategy.

Howard Schultz, the Chairman and CEO of Starbuck's, once said "The most powerful and enduring brands are built from the heart."

I added a Pin that included this quote to the 'Brands I Love' board on my Pinterest account a few months ago. Since then, I've garnered 8 likes and over 50 repins.


The Pin, which featured an inspirational message about life, provides us with a simple illustration of how branding often imitates life. As in life, we are drawn to brands that are sincere and authentic. Powerful and enduring brands, like people, are not simply imitators content to blend in with the crowd. They stand out. They differentiate themselves through innovation.

If you want to build a powerful and enduring brand, stop trying to find yourself. Start creating. And do it from the heart.

Since I was a little kid, I can remember fondly playing Monopoly over the years with family, friends, colleagues, and strangers. Every time. Every time there was a twist on the rules. If I was a gambling man, I would hazard a guess that I never followed Monopoloy's written rules.

When I learned that Hasbro is revitalizing the Monopoly brand through a clever social media campaign, I read with interest. Hasbro created a Facebook page where anyone can post and vote on their favorite "house rules." These are rules made up by individuals to suit personal styles of play. The top house rules will become part of the next official rules.

With "more than 6bn little green houses and 2.25bn red hotels 'constructed' since 1935" and "more than one billion people" playing the game, the giant in the board game industry is breathing new life into its product.

Leveraging social media and word-of-mouth is a brilliant idea. Social media is built for this kind of outreach. Here is the request, the call-to-action from Hasbro. It's simple, short, and spurs action.

We all know there are many ways to play Monopoly…and they’re not always according to the rule book. Here’s your chance to see your favorite house rule become a part of the Monopoly game! The top global house rules are up for debate over the next ten days.

State your case to Mr. Monopoly for why this house rule should be added!

As of time of publishing this blog post, the Monopoly Facebook page has over 11 million likes with nearly 21,000 people "talking about this." There are quite a few adamant fans, the purists, touting the joy of following the rules. And many, many more sharing their love of the game with a variety of house rules.

What creativity can you bring to a product or service that is perhaps lagging, peaking, or not meeting expectations?


Here are a few of my favorite comments:

I have helped Mr.Monopoly enough I bought 52 different monopoly boards over the years !! And I want the new 75 anniversary edition of {The Wizzard Of Oz}

I've occasionally deliberately chosen someone's favorite token just to disorient them and throw them off their game. (Ira's note:  does the token really matter that much?)

You are my #1 most favorite bored game from when I was little till now. Don't ever change. Love u

One other rule that we thought was a rule but it isn't (and should be) is that when you are in jail, you cannot collect any rent. Otherwise, there is too much incentive late in the game to stay in jail to avoid paying rent, while collecting it yourself.

Here are a few of my favorite house rules:

Land on go collect $400.00 instead of $200.00. But if you pass go but do not land on it just collect the usual $200.00 (Ira's note: I play this way)

Land on a train station, you may pay the owner of the station 50.00 to ride to the opposite station. If it is not owned you may ride for free. If you own the station you may ride for free. This helps players avoid Mayfair and or other hotel heavy sections of the board.

$500 dollars from the bank is placed in Free Parking after anyone lands on it.

If someone lands on a property you own, YOU must ask for the rent. Otherwise, no rent is owed once the dice are rolled again.

1) When owning both utilities, you could put one house on each to represent a power station, and then the rates went up to 15 or 20 times what was shown on the dice
2) A house got put on jail, representing the jailhouse, and increased the cost for getting out of jail to $100.
3) When you own all 4 railroads, you could put a single house each to represent a train station. This would double the cost of rent when you landed on it to $400 instead of $200



Here is more scientific proof that great visuals are integral to great presentations.  You need both. You need great stories, great messages, great content. And you need to ensure your PowerPoint/Keynote are also done well to ensure your audiences remember and act on what you say.

"As it turns out, there is merit to the Chinese proverb 'I hear, and I forget; I see, and I remember,'" says graduate student James Bigelow. James and his colleague Amy Poremba PhD recently published "Achilles’ Ear? Inferior Human Short-Term and Recognition Memory in the Auditory Modality" in the Journal PLOS ONE, which "features reports of original research from all disciplines within science and medicine."

Medical News Today writer David McNamee, summarizes the study nicely. "We have a harder time remembering things we have heard, compared with things we have seen or felt." He goes on to quote the study: "We tend to think that the parts of our brain wired for memory are integrated,' says Professor Poremba. She also says the team's findings may indicate that the brain uses separate pathways to process information. Even more, our study suggests the brain may process auditory information differently than visual and tactile information, and alternative strategies - such as increased mental repetition - may be needed when trying to improve memory."

About this time last year, I wrote a post on brands with low customer retention and the likely causes of it. I used a then-recent experience I had with my purchase of landscaping mulch to illustrate the importance of differentiation in selling a commoditized, low-interest product.

Earlier this year, I received a personalized email from my mulch supplier asking me to consider another purchase. The email included a chart that showed what I purchased last year and how much it would cost me to purchase the same quantity this year. It mentioned nothing about the scores of other mulch suppliers in my neighborhood or how their prices compared. Instead, it spoke to the things that mattered to me: a simple order process, easy payment terms, an early and convenient delivery.

I share this story because it is a telling example of how great branding and sales strategies intersect. Every great sales pitch begins with a clear and compelling brand promise…a brand promise that differentiates and communicates real value: "simple, easy, early and convenient." My mulch supplier’s brand promise is what makes their mulch special and worth paying more for.

Brands who lack differentiation and whose products are viewed as a commodity are forced to compete on price. Without the brand promise I just mentioned, the email I received from my mulch supplier might have included a chart that compared their price to those of one or more other suppliers (which would have invited me to shop around for a lower price). It might not have included information on last year’s purchase and how that equated to this year’s (which would have made it harder for me to make a buy decision). And it might have come from someone I didn’t know and trust (which would have decreased the likelihood of my opening and reading the email in the first place).

What makes you and your products different? How effective are your brand’s sales pitches against those of your competitors?

For more branding and sales insights, please see:
Great Brands Really Are…Different
If You’re Selling, Are You Showing or Telling?
If You’re In Sales, Tell Me Something I Don’t Know
What Makes Your Company Different?
How to Tell the Difference Between Sales and Marketing

"The U.S. Military Academy Class of 2015 gathered inside Washington Hall [at West Point] January 18, 2014 with invited guests and academy leaders to celebrate 500th Night. The night recognizes the milestone for cadets as they count down the final 500 days until their graduation and commissioning into the U.S. Army. Admiral William H. McRaven, the ninth commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command addressed the class at the banquet." (from the West Point Public Affairs Office Press Release)

If you are looking to be inspired, spend about 20 minutes watching the video or reading the transcript below. If you are in the military or related fields, you will be inspired. The Admiral uses figures of speech, vocal variety, readily understood concepts, active voice/verbs, and relevant personal stories. As a U.S. Army veteran, my continued thanks go out to the active duty, reserve, guard, and veteran service members for their service.


A Sailor’s Perspective on the United States Army
Admiral William H. McRaven, Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command
Address to U.S. Miltary Academy West Point Class of 2015, 500th Night
18 January 2014

Good evening General and Mrs. Caslen, General and Mrs. Clarke, General Trainor, Col Brazil, Command Sergeants Major Duane and Byers, distinguished guests and most importantly Class of 2015. I am truly honored to be here tonight to address the future leaders of the United States Army.

But, as a graduate of a state school in Texas, who majored in journalism because I couldn’t do math, or science, or engineering or accounting, I am somewhat intimidated by the thought of giving any advice, to any cadet, on anything. Nevertheless, after almost 37 years in the service, much of that time with the Army, there may be something I can offer.

So tonight, as you begin the final 500 days of your time at the United States Military Academy, I would like to give you a Sailor’s Perspective on the Army; not the Army of the Hudson, not the Army of the history books, not the Army portrayed in the countless murals across campus, but the Army you will enter in 500 days—the Army upon which the future of the Nation rests; the Army that you will shape and the Army that you will lead. So, if you will humor this old sailor, I will tell you what I’ve learned in my time serving with the Army.

In the past twelve years I have worked for the great Generals of this generation; Dempsey, Petraeus, Odierno, McChrystal, Austin, Rodriguez and Dailey. All graduates of the Military Academy, each man, different in his own way.

Dempsey, a man of great humor and compassion, whose quick wit, and keen tactical sense allowed him to secure Baghdad as a Division Commander, lead the Central Command as a three star, and today, as the Chairman, he presides over the greatest change in our military since WWII and he does so with tremendous reason, intelligence and with a song in his heart.

Petraeus, whose understanding of the strategic nature of war was unparalleled.  Who saw opportunity in every challenge and who dared greatly in hopes of great victories.  His daily command decisions in Iraq and Afghanistan unquestionably saved the lives of thousands of young soldiers.

Odierno, a soldier’s soldier, who as a Division and Corps commander in Iraq, fought with a fierceness one would expect of a great warrior and then as the Commander of all forces in Iraq combined that fierceness with the diplomat’s subtle hand to lead and shape the future of a sovereign Iraq.  And today, he leads the greatest Army the world has ever known.

Austin, the quiet bear of a man, whose deep intellect and incomparable combat experience allowed him to think through every complex problem and to succeed where others might have failed.

McChrystal, whose creative mind and intense drive for perfection, changed forever how special operations would fight on the battlefield and changed how SOF would forever be perceived by the Nation—and in doing so, likely changed the course of the Armed Forces as well.

Rodriguez, the everyman’s general who proved time and again, that character matters--that hard work, perseverance, persistence, and toughness on the battlefield are always traits of success.

And Del Dailey, whose boldness and innovation, coupled with a Night Stalkers sense of teamwork and aggressiveness, began the revolution in special operations.

What did I learn about the Army in watching these men and other great leaders like Keith Alexander, Chuck Jacoby, Mike Scaparrotti, John Campbell, Bob Caslen and Rich Clarke?   Well, I learned first and foremost that your allegiance as an officer is always, always to the Nation and to those civilian leaders who were elected by the people, who represent the people.

The oath you took is clear; to support and defend the Constitution, not the institution-- not the Army, not the Corps, not the division, not the brigade, not the battalion, not the company, not the platoon, and not the squad—but the nation.

I learned that leadership is hard.  Karl von Clausewitz once said that “everything in war is easy, but the easy things are difficult.”  Leadership sounds easy in the books, but it is quite difficult in real life.  I learned that leadership is difficult because it is a human interaction and nothing, nothing is more daunting, more frustrating more complex than trying to lead men and women in tough times. Those officers that do it well earn your respect, because doing it poorly is common place.  You will be challenged to do it well.  

I learned that taking care of soldiers is not about coddling them.  It is about challenging them .  Establishing a standard of excellence and holding them accountable for reaching it.  I learned that good officers lead from the front.  I can’t count the times that I saw Petraeus, without body armor, walking the streets of Mosul, Baghdad or Ramadi, to share the dangers with his men and to show the enemy he wasn’t afraid.

Or McChrystal, jocking-up to go on a long patrol with his Rangers or SEALs in Afghanistan; Dempsey on a spur ride in Iraq; Austin at the head of his Division during the invasion of Iraq; Odierno, cigar in mouth, rumbling through the streets of Basrah; Rodriguez and Dailey always center stage during the tough fights in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I learned that if you are in combat, move to where the action is the hottest .  Spend time with the soldiers being miserable, exhausted and scared.  If you’re a Blackhawk pilot or a tank commander, spend some time on the flight line or in the motor pool with the maintainers and the wrench turners. Whatever position or branch you are in, find the toughest, most dangerous, job in your unit and go do it.

I learned that you won’t get a lot of thanks in return.  I learned that you shouldn’t expect it.  Your soldiers are doing the tough job every day, but I guarantee you, you will learn a lot about your troops and they will learn a lot about you.

I learned that the great leaders know how to fail.  In the course of your Army career you will likely fail and fail often.  Nothing so steels you for battle like failure. No officer I watched got it right, every time.  But the great ones know that when they fail, they must pick themselves up, learn from their mistakes and move on.  

Rudyard Kipling, the great British storyteller, poet and soldier once wrote, in part, “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you. If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowances for their doubting too. If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two imposters just the same. Yours is the earth and everything that’s in it and which is more-- you’ll be a man my son.”

If you can’t stomach failure, then you will never be a great leader. I learned that great Army officers are risk takers, but the greatest risk is not on the battlefield, but in standing up for what’s right.  

I have seen a young lieutenant stand up to a colonel when that officer’s behavior was out of line.  I have seen a captain challenge a general about a flawed battle plan.  I have seen many a general privately confront their civilian leadership and question the merits of the national decisions. All Army officers are expected to take risks in battle.  The truly great officers know that real victory is achieved when men and women of character take professional risks and challenge the weak - kneed, the faint of heart, the indecisive or the bullies.

And finally, in watching Army officers, young and old, I learned that the great officers are equally good at following as they are at leading. Following is one of the most underrated aspects of leadership and each of you will be asked to follow someone else.  The strength of a good unit rests more on how well the officers follow the commander, than how well they lead their own soldiers. I have seen many a good Battalion and Company underachieve because someone in the officer ranks thought the Commander was incompetent and quietly worked to undermine his authority.

I guarantee you, that in the course of your career you will work for leaders whom you don’t like and don’t respect.  It will be easy to make fun of their idiosyncrasies, their receding hair line, their soft chin or their spouse.  Be very careful about getting too smug, too opinionated and too righteous.  As long as the actions of y our commander are moral, legal and ethical, then do everything you can to support the chain of command and avoid the rolling eyes, the whisper campaigns and junior officer dissension.

I learned that the great Army officers know how to follow. And what about the soldiers that you will lead? In my career I have been fortunate to have served beside soldiers from the Screaming Eagles of the 101st Division, the paratroopers of the All American Division, the 1st Armored Division, the 1st Cavalry Division, the10th Mountain Division, the 1st, 3rd and 4th Infantry Division, all Groups of the Special Forces Regiment and my beloved Army Rangers.

I learned that the greatest privilege the Army can bestow upon you is to give you the opportunity to lead such magnificent men and women. These soldiers are not without their challenges.  Your soldiers will, at times, question your authority.  They will undermine your actions.  They will mislead you, frustrate you, disappoint you, and occasionally fail you. But, when the chips are down, I mean really down, your soldiers will be there and they will inspire you with their courage, their sense of duty, their leadership, their love and their respect.

In difficult times, your soldiers will be everything you dreamed they would be—and more. All one has to do is look at the citations that accompany the actions of Sergeants Sal Giunta, Leroy Petry, Robbie Miller, Ty Carter, Jared Monti, Ross McGinnis, Paul Smith, and Clinton Romesha.  Men whose unparalleled heroism, above and beyond the call of duty, was only apparent moments before their brothers were threatened. I learned that your soldiers are at their best when their brothers and sisters in arms are threatened.  They are at their best when life deals them the hardest of blows and their indomitable spirit shines through.

In 2007, I visited the intensive care unit in Landstuhl, Germany, where the Army was sending all of its most critically injured soldiers from Iraq. As I walked into the sterile room, clad from head to toe in clean white garb, a man lay naked on the bed in front of me.  Missing one leg above the knee and part of the foot on the other leg, he was swollen beyond recognition from the blast of an IED.

The doctor in attendance didn’t know the man’s unit or service.  I asked the man in the bed if he was a Marine or a Soldier.  Unable to talk, he pointed to his thigh.  There on what was left of his thigh, was a tattoo; the 1st Infantry Division. “You’re a soldier,” I remarked.  He nodded.  “An infantryman.” I said. He smiled through what was left of his face and then he picked up a clipboard upon which he had been writing notes. He looked me in the eye and wrote on the paper.  “I –will—be— infantry—again!”  Exclamation point.  And somehow I knew that he would.

Just like the young Ranger in the combat hospital at Bagram who had both his legs amputated and was also unable to speak.  The nurse at his bedside said that he knew sign language.  His mother was deaf and the soldier had learned to sign at a young age.  He was so very young and a part of me must have shown a small sign of pity for this Ranger whose life had just been devastated.   With a picture of hand gestures in front of me, the Ranger, barely able to move and in excruciating pain, signed, “I will be okay.”

And a year later I saw him at the Ranger Regimental Change of Command. He was wearing his prosthetic shorties, smiling from ear to ear and challenging the Rangers around him to a pull up contest.  He was okay. Just like the young female sergeant who I just visited at Walter Reed this week.  She was seriously injured in a parachute accident.  With her father by her side, she laughed off the injury like it was a scratch.  She’s been in the hospital for two months and has years of rehabilitation ahead of her.  She has no self- pity, no remorse, no regrets, just determination to get back to her unit.

These soldiers and tens of thousands like them will be the warriors you lead in 500 days.  You had better be up to the task, because I have learned that they expect you to be good. And, most importantly, I also learned that y our soldiers expect you to hold them to high standards.  These soldiers joined the service to be part of something special and if they are not held to a high standard, if their individual efforts are no more important, no more appreciated than the efforts of a slacker then it will directly affect the morale of the unit.

And I learned that nothing is more important than the morale of a unit. MacArthur once said of morale, “…that it cannot be produced by pampering or coddling an Army, and it is not necessarily destroyed by hardship, danger, or even calamity…It will wither quickly, however, if soldiers come to believe themselves the victims of indifference or injustice on the part…of their leaders.”

The great leaders in the Army never accept indifference or injustice and they only judge their soldiers based on the merit of their work.  Nothing else is important.  Not the soldier’s size, not their color, not their gender, not their orientation, not their religion, not their ethnicity— nothing is important, but how well your soldiers do their job.

I am confident that history will reflect that the young American’s who enlisted in the Army after September 11th, were equal in greatness to their grandfathers and their great grandfathers who fought in the World Wars—and in 500 days you will inherit these incredible soldiers.  Be ready.

Finally, in watching the Army for most of my career, I learned that no institution in the world has the history, the legacy, the traditions, or the pride that comes from being a soldier.  I am envious beyond words. I learned that whether you serve 4 years or 40 years you will never, ever regret your decision to have joined the United States Army. You will serve beside the finest men and women in America.  You will be challenged every day.

You will fail.  You will succeed.  You will grow. You will have adventures to fill ten life times and stories that your friends from home will never be able to understand. Your children and their children and their children’s children, will be incredibly proud of your service and when you pass from this earth, the Nation that you served so very well will honor you for your duty.  And your only regret will be that you could not have served longer.  

And if for one moment you believe that because Iraq is over and Afghanistan is winding down that the future holds few challenges for you, then you are terribly, terribly mistaken.  Because as long as there are threats to this great Nation, the Army upon which this Nation was founded, will be the cornerstone of its security, it’s freedom and its future.  And you, as Army Officers, will shape that future, secure our freedoms and protect us from harm.     

So what has this sailor learned?   That there is no more noble calling in the world than to be a soldier in the United States Army. Good luck to you all as you complete your final 500 days.  May God bless America and may we always have the privilege to serve her.  Thank you very much.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sharing the Moment

Last week, I wrote about brand storytelling in the collaborative economy. I touched on the human relationship between brands and their customers, along with the importance of sharing in that relationship. And I included this quote from SnapChat, which said, "It's about the moment, a connection between friends in the present, and not just a pretty picture."

The recent Oscars gave us yet another powerful example of how brands are using social media to create and share moments like the ones envisioned by the founders of SnapChat. When host Ellen DeGeneres handed a white Samsung smartphone to actor Bradley Cooper so he could take a "selfie" of himself and other Hollywood stars surrounding her, she created a moment. She invited the audience to share in that moment by asking us to retweet the selfie during the show, eventually setting a record for the most retweets (over 2 million retweets during the show, including one by me).


Since the Oscars, much has been written about Ellen's now famous selfie. Was it planned or unplanned? Was it a brilliant answer to the ad-skipping now prevalent with digital video recordings? Or a great story about product placement in a show that was watched by 43 million viewers here in the U.S.? Which brand received the most mentions on social media? Was the overall sentiment on social media positive, negative or neutral? All excellent questions.

For me, though, it was about the moment and why so many people like you and me felt compelled to share in it. It was fun, entertaining and engaging. Instead of just watching the Oscars telecast, Ellen invited us to actively participate. With a simple and spontaneous retweet, over 2 million of us helped create and share in a memorable and historic moment. And for that, we have The Ellen Show, Samsung and, of course, the Oscars to thank.

I attended a roundtable for senior marketing executives recently that featured a panel of social media thought leaders. The roundtable was appropriately titled, "Social Media Outlook 2014," and the keynote speaker and panelists shared their insights on the latest marketing and social media trends.

Among the insights that were shared...  
• The collaborative economy is not just buying and selling, it's sharing (@rohitbhargava).
• Brands must think of themselves as "H2H," rather than B2B or B2C (@LeighGeorge).

The panelists spent much of the early part of the discussion talking about Snapchat – the next big thing in social media marketing. Snapchat is a new way to share. As Snapchat will tell you, "It's about the moment, a connection between friends in the present, and not just a pretty picture."


We learned from Leigh George, VP/Digital Strategist with Ogilvy Washington, that Snapchat provides a way for brands to share previews, behind-the-scenes stories and more intimate moments with their target audiences. A recent article in Ad Age talked about how brands like McDonald's, Taco Bell, HBO and Juicy Couture are reaching Millennials by connecting short-lived images and video clips to form and tell larger stories.

The economy is evolving and social media marketing is changing with it. Is your brand up to the challenge of storytelling in the collaborative economy?

Backstory:  I had the honor and pleasure of doing a keynote program for the National Wood Pallet and Container Association's (NWPCA). I have known the executive director for years as I did a keynote for him several years prior.This keynote was all about the convergence of sales and storytelling. The article below iwas originally written it NWPCA's international magazine, Pallet Central, January/February 2014 Issue.


Increase Sales with Better Storytelling
© 2014. The Chief Storyteller®, LLC.
Ira J. Koretsky
March 20114

Great leaders are great storytellers. Successful sales professionals are also great storytellers. Using personal stories to illustrate important ideas builds trust and improves likability. The old business adage of “All things being equal, people prefer to do business with someone they know, like, and trust” is true for executives who tell great stories.

Every business leader should use personal stories with specific business messages in meetings with staff, prospects, and customers. Start thinking about experiences in your personal lives that can translate into relevant business messages. Whether personal or professional, we live through each other’s stories.

Why is this important?  2014 will continue to be a time of cautionary spending. Combined with technology advances and increasing influence of social media, differentiation is more important than ever. Differentiation comes both from what your audiences say and don't say about you, and what you say and don't say to your audiences.

One of my all-time favorite quotes is from the famous novelist Joseph Conrad:  "I have no use for engines. Give me the right word...and I will move the world." It is a perfect match to NWPCA's "Pallets Move the World."  Make 2014 the year of the story. What stories will you tell to differentiate your and your company?  Attend my March 3 presentation at the NWPCA Conference and leave with the ability to tell personal stories in business situations to make a bigger, lasting impact with staff, partners, prospects, and customers.


Ira Koretsky is the president of The Chief Storyteller®, a boutique marketing and sales consulting firm. He has delighted audiences around the world helping them achieve better business outcomes and accelerate their revenue with highly effective written, spoken, and social media communications. With over 25 years of experience, he is a sought-after global speaker, columnist, consultant, and executive coach. Find him on Twitter, LinkedIn®, and YouTube.


My wife and I recently ordered a surprise Valentine’s Day delivery of cookies for our son who is away at college. Not surprisinlgly, he told us the warm cookies he received were “great!” What did surprise me, however, was the amazing customer experience I had with Campus Cookies in spite of a heavy snowfall that threatened to delay their Valentine's Day deliveries.



Customer experiences like the one I had with Campus Cookies don't just happen. Let's look at some of the elements that make them.

You need more than an outstanding product. You need a solution. For Valentine's Day, my wife and I wanted to do something special for my son who is away at college. We wanted to put a smile on his face. And because of the distance between us, we were looking for a way to deliver a personalized experience that did not require us to be there. We found a solution with Campus Cookies, a small business specializing in the delivery of warm, gourmet baked goods to college campuses like his.    

Your communications need to be personalized, timely and relevant. The first emails I received about my gift order on Valentine's Day were from the owner of Campus Cookies, Scott Davidson. He was writing to let me know that because of the heavy snow that had fallen, there was a possibility of a delayed delivery, even in spite of their best efforts. I continued to receive email and text updates on the status of my order throughout the afternoon. As the sun began to set, I received an email telling me my order had been scheduled for an evening delivery and the team would bake the cookies right before they were delivered. I received another email after that confirming my order had been completed.

Costs vary and positioning yourself as the low cost provider is not always the best approach. I can get chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies almost anywhere…and probably for less. What makes Campus Cookies special and worth paying more for is they are "baked with love and sent from the heart." The text message I received as the driver was heading out to deliver my gift order read, "Duane, Your order was prepared by Chandler, Erin, Chloe, Kevin, Caitlyn and Austin, and is now on the way to your recipient with our delivery driver, Alec." Awesome!

Everything about the Campus Cookies experience is designed around customer convenience. Delivery times are scheduled in advance at the convenience of the recipient, so when the cookies arrive they taste like they just came out of the oven. They are delivered warm and with a smile. Orders can be placed anytime, anywhere and from any device. Communications are timely and relevant and are also accessible from any device.

If you look closely at each of these elements, you might notice a secret ingredient...people. Every great customer experience starts with people. While the CEO or owner is responsible for creating a culture that enables his or her employees to deliver an amazing customer experience, it's a team effort by people who are passionate about their business and who take pride in delighting their customers. Successful brands like Campus Cookies know relationships with their customers are important and go the extra mile to build and sustain those relationships.

How would your customers characterize your brand’s personality? Is it corporate, formal, standoffish and perhaps a little too impersonal? Or is it casual, friendly, engaging and human?  If you were to ask your customers to use pictures to describe your brand’s personality, which images would come to mind?

Your brand communications – direct mail, email, website, blog and social media posts, advertising, sales pitches, job ads, etc. – are all windows into your brand’s personality. Your personality is what sets your brand apart from others in your market or industry. It’s why people choose and remain with your brand.  It plays a role in how people perceive your brand and its reputation. And it’s a foundational element in building trust and a community of passionate brand advocates.

Perhaps it’s time to take a closer look at your brand communications. Is the content original, relevant, engaging and friendly? Is it from a recognizable person within your organization or a generic title or department? Do your blogs and social media posts include an image of a person’s face (with a smile, hopefully) or corporate logo? Are your communications one-way or interactive? Are your customers telling others about your brand and, if so, what are they saying?

For more on brand communications and personality, please see:
• Great Brands Really Are…Different
• Just Having Fun In My Lifetime
• How Human Is Your Brand?
• Your Customers Are Talking. Are You Listening?
• Your Tone and Voice Are Your Brand

If you unfamiliar with Tripp and Tyler, they "are a sketch comedy duo most known for their hilarious and viral YouTube videos" (website link). Leadercast, a business leadership event and information company, "commissioned the comedy duo of Tripp & Tyler to create this hilarious take on a conference call in real life" (blog link).

I agree 1000% that the video (YouTube, A Conference Call in Real Life) is hilarous and captures the very real essence of bad telephone conference calls. Where the video becomes disconnected, and consequently the message, is at the ~3:30 minute mark. Once the conference call is over, the video transitions to Tripp talking about the Leadercast annual leadership event.

The video should transition and make it abundantly clear the connection between the good natured fun of mocking the conference call and the annual event, which Tripp has hosted for the past five years.

One sentence...just one sentence would have made it clear. I was confused. As such, I clicked on the Leadercast website link, and explored. Did I do what the Leadercast marketing team wanted me to do? Nope. It has to be more than just click a link. It has to be more than just going viral (5,246,688 views in ~3 weeks). It has to be about generating action, generating activity by your target audiences with the information provided--a call, a request, an email, signup, something.

Do you think video was effective?


I tweeted this quote by American humorist Will Rogers the other day: “People’s minds are changed through observation and not through argument.”

If you’re selling (and, if you really think about it, we’re all selling something), this quote speaks to what it takes to close the deal among an increasingly skeptical and informed buying audience. Most people I know say they don’t want to be “sold” on something; they want to see how a decision to buy is going to impact their lives, the lives of others around them or their business. They want to see proof that what you are telling them is going to happen. And they want to feel good about their decision to buy.

As you are crafting your sales strategy, look beyond the message (the “tell”) and focus on the proof (the “show”). Tell your story with endorsements, testimonials, facts and figures, and images and videos that let your customers see for themselves. Give them a reason to believe in you and what you are selling. Doing so just might make the difference between a hard sell and an easy one or a short and costly customer relationship versus a long and profitable one.

Sustainability marketing is fast becoming a business best practice.

With its focus on social justice, economic prosperity and environmental protection, sustainability is really all about addressing the needs of people, profits and planet. Sustainability marketing, when done right, is a holistic marketing strategy that enables a brand to do good things for people in the community, make a profit, save people money and reduce environmental footprints.

Yet some brands pursue sustainability strategies with a singular focus on the environment. Their marketing strategy is built around products that are green, a premium pricing strategy for green products, promotional events that bring people together in support of the environment and distribution channels that meet green certifications and standards equivalent to the brand's.

Green marketing is a niche strategy. Its appeal is limited to a targeted segment of the population consisting of active environmental stewards. Sustainability marketing is a broader strategy. With a more holistic focus on people, profits and planet, it is more likely to appeal to a wider, larger group. Millenials, as an example, will have enough buying power to become the largest U.S. consumer group by 2017. The millennial generation understands and values lifestyle choices that enable them to help others, save money and reduce their environmental footprint.

Brands that recognize the big picture and pursue a sustainability marketing strategy are likely to see larger growth opportunities than those that limit themselves to a smaller niche.

For more insights on sustainability marketing, please see:
• Sustainability Marketing: Driving Change with the Right Message
• How Doing One Good Thing Is Making a Difference
• Beyond Green: The Transformative Nature of Sustainability

While doing some searching on the Internet, I came across an article on public speaking. The speaker said early in every presentation, he tells people

“This presentation is for you. So don’t hesitate to interrupt me and ask questions. In fact I encourage you to argue with me.  I’m here for you. In fact, I challenge you to throw me off.  That’s what makes this fun.”

While his intent is positive, how I could not DISAGREE more with most of what he said. Sentence by sentence, here are my comments and suggestions:
a) This presentation is for you
> I like it

b) “So” don’t hesitate to interrupt me and ask questions.
> “So” is a filler word. It is one thing to say it and another to write it. Don’t include it in your writing. One thing to note, “so” is one of my filler words and I continue to work on removing it from my speaking

c) “don’t hesitate to interrupt me and ask questions”
> “interrupt” is a negative word, 1,000%. It means to stop someone from doing what they were doing. No one likes to be interrupted.
> instead, say something like, “don’t hesitate to ask questions” or make it more positive by saying, “please ask questions at any time.”

d) In fact I encourage you to argue with me.
> Really, you want people to argue with you? In public? In front of everyone else in the room? In front of your superiors, colleagues, friends?
> I find this statement illogical. Can you think of any time in your personal or professional life you wanted to be sitting next to or standing next to two people arguing? People run from conflict…it’s human nature.
> Part of his audience are global professionals. There is a huge disconnect here as global audience members never ever, never ever, challenge the speaker.
> Make people feel good about interacting with you, the speaker. Perhaps something like, “if you have experiences different than what I am talking about, please share them. Different perspectives are helpful to everyone.”

e) I’m here for you
> It’s okay

f) In fact, I challenge you to throw me off.
> see comments under (d)

Here’s my suggestion for a revised introduction.

“This presentation is for you. Please ask questions at any time…don’t hesitate. If you have experiences different than what I am talking about, please share them. Different perspectives are helpful to everyone. Hearing from you is what makes this fun.”

What do you think?

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year 2014

Everyone at The Chief Storyteller® wishes you a warm, safe, and relaxing holiday season. Here's a little humor we shared years ago with our first holiday greeting card.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Brand Storytelling…In a Word Cloud

I had the privilege of delivering a guest lecture on personal branding at one of the local universities last week.  One of the key messages I tried to convey to the students of Professor Murphy’s marketing class was the importance of telling their brand story in a way that is meaningful and easily understood by their target audience.

Although a succinct, well-told story does help to increase the visibility of your brand,  its real purpose is to create a desire among the members of your target audience that gets them to say, “I want you.”

Here at The Chief Storyteller®, we’ve helped many of our clients harness the power of storytelling to more effectively and quickly accomplish their objectives. One of the communications elements we specialize in is your elevator speech (a succinct answer to “What Do You Do?”).  A good elevator speech will tell your brand story in a meaningful and easily understood way…in 30 seconds or less.

Word (or message) clouds like the one I created for my personal brand and shown above are a visual representation of your elevator speech. Key elements of my brand story (e.g., branding, strategy, sales, marketing, storyteller) are noticeably more prominent than some of the less celebrated ones (e.g., fitness, sustainability, outdoor, leader, explorer). Like a well-told elevator speech, a good word cloud will leave your target audience with a meaningful and easily understood impression of your personal 30 seconds or less.

As I told the marketing students, every one of us has a personal brand and word clouds are another good way of telling your brand’s story to drive the results you want.        

"Charlie" (name changed) shared this change of address post card with me. The design is nice and well-formatted. The message is light and engaging. There's just one problem...I noticed it right away...can you? Scroll down to the bottom for the answer.




No where on this postcard does the name of the company appear. Oops! The new address in and of itself does not offer any clues. Charlie is stumped and a little frustrated. Because of the mystery postcard, Charlie is focusing on the negative, something humans tend to do. What will Charlie think of the firm once a) he figures out which firm it is or b) the firm reaches out to rectify its mistake? Sometimes missing even the little things has a negative (big) impact.

Most mistakes happen because of two reasons:  a break-down in the review cycle or the project was rushed. Before going-live with your next important marketing materials, here are some suggestions:

- Outsource a review to an editor
- Outsource a review to a firm (e.g., marketing, PR, and advertising)
- Upon completing the final version, wait several days and review again before going live
- Ask colleagues outside of marketing/communications for their review
- Do not cut any corners or skip individuals in your review cycle. If you are under a time constraint, conduct a group review with as many participants as possible in a conference room

Peter Drucker, hailed by many as “the father of modern management,” saw marketing as “the whole business seen from the customer’s point of view.” It’s a simple definition with a clear focus on a single stakeholder – the customer and his or her perspective.

Marketers looking to integrate sustainability into their brands might find this definition useful. Sustainability marketing, when viewed in this context, is the formation of long-term customer relationships that help promote social justice, economic growth and environmental protection. With the right message, authentic and honest brands can become powerful motivators in driving change from conventional consumer purchasing and consumption behaviors to choices that are more sustainable.


A recent study by the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI) estimates more than 60% of mainstream Americans have some interest in and are willing to consider sustainable choices. What, exactly, are their points of view? Is there a "right" message for motivating consumers in this target group to act?

Let's start with saving the planet. Or the "go green" call to action. The message here, albeit a somewhat dire one, might focus on the need to protect the environment from some catastrophic event like global warming; e.g., how customers can achieve a lower carbon footprint by consuming products that are less reliant on fossil fuels. A message like this would have limited appeal, resonating in particular with green consumers who would be willing to pay a premium for an environmentally-friendly product in order to save the planet.

Now let's talk about saving money and conserving resources. This message of giving something up in exchange for something in return might focus on financial considerations and the need to consume less; e.g., how using public transportation or driving a car that costs less at the pump and emits fewer harmful gases can help people save money while preserving the environment. A message like this might appeal to consumers who care more about getting a better deal (i.e., the lowest price) than saving the environment.

Let's finish with promoting health and wellness. This message of warmth and caring might focus on the personal benefits of a product to consumers and their loved ones; e.g., how the use of non-toxic household cleaning and personal care products will lead to healthier skin and fewer toxins in the environment or the role organic foods can play in nourishing a family and the planet. Health and wellness messages appeal to consumers who value lifestyles of health and sustainability (LOHAS) and are at the heart of what many of us place the greatest value on – the well-being of ourselves, our families and our environment.   

For this reason, brands who wish to be leaders in sustainability marketing would do well to focus their message on promoting health and wellness. Of the three messaging examples I’ve mentioned above (e.g., save the planet, save money/conserve resources, promote health and wellness), the third is most likely to have the broadest appeal among the segment of mainstream consumers who might be willing to consider a sustainable purchase. Why? Because it positions sustainable products as better choices for them, their families and the environment. Brands who show customers they genuinely care about them are better able to build meaningful and lasting relationships with their customers while promoting more sustainable purchase and consumption choices.


For more on sustainability marketing and customer relationships, please see:
• How Doing One Good Thing Is Making a Difference
• Beyond Green: The Transformative Nature of Sustainability
• All Customer Relationships Are Personal

I have come to learn and be a fan of The American Freedom Foundation several years ago.Its "mission is to honor the men and women of America’s armed forces, raise awareness for their service and sacrifice and raise money for organizations that serve and support our Veterans, active duty military and their families." AFF has partnered with AUSA to hold a Warriors to the Workforce event at its annual convention in the Washingont, DC area Oct 21 to Oct 23.

Guy Timberlake, CEO, of The American Small Business Coalition, (I'm a member) connected me to AFF. I'll be presenting on 10/23 a program on the importance of your personal "Tell me about yourself" story and business storytelling in general.

The event is free of charge.


 American Freedom Foundation’s Warriors to the Workforce
Hiring Event at AUSA Announces Workshop Sessions  

12 Workshop sessions will take place at October 21 – 23 to provide resources and information for veterans and transitioning military 

The Warriors to The Workforce Hiring Event presented by SourceAmerica™ during the 2013 AUSA Annual Meeting & Exposition at the Washington DC Convention Center on October 21 – 23, 2013 will include workshops featuring some of the top speakers in the country providing resources and information for veterans and transitioning military.   

Presentations will include topics such as mental readiness, confidence building, networking and presentation skills, resume writing, interviewing techniques, job searching, career planning through goal setting, translating military skills and training into civilian life and corporate experience, among others.

In addition to these transition workshops, veterans will have the opportunity to meet with some of the country’s largest and most veteran friendly employers including ADS, Inc., Aerotek, ATK, Inc. BAE Systems, Ball Aerospace, Calibre, Camber, CSC, EMCOR, ESRI, First Command, Fluor, General Dynamics Information Technology, Geneva Software, HP, Kaplan, Kelly Services, L-­?3 National Security Solutions, Lockheed Martin, Marriott International, Navy Federal Credit Union, Northrop Grumman, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, SAIC, SourceAmerica, Troops Into Transportation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Verizon, Vets Group and Veterans Administration.

This morning I was driving my daughter to school. Out of nowhere she says, "Why is that man not smiling?" I look around car to car to car without seeing any man scowling. As such I said to my four year-old, "what man?" And she pointed right in front of my car and said, "the man on the car."

It then hit me. I am bombarded with images every day. The bad ones pass me by. This is a great example of a bad advertisement. I grabbed my handy smart phone and took the picture below.

Changing the name of the agent, website, and telephone number, can you see the man's face?  I wouldn't say he is grumpy or scowling. I also wouldn't say he is happy either. To me, in the world of customer service, a smile means everything, whether in person or on the phone.

Ensure you provide appropriate guidance, advice, and coaching to your sales/service/outreach teams to ensure your target audiences don't say the equivalent of "Daddy. Why is that man not smiling?"


The Latino Hotel and Restaurant Association, LHRA, is on of the preeminent organizations representing the business interests of Latino hotel owners, operators and developers. Internationally, members own and operate hotels representing more than 20,000 rooms, employing over 15,000 individuals, and whose assets are valued at more than $2 billion.

Over 300 people from the US, Mexico, Central and South America will be attend. Members are influential, decision-making executives.

If you are in the hotel or restaurant industry, join me and hundreds of professionals from around the world.  I will be delivering Thursday morning's keynote, "Get Funded: Design and Deliver the Perfect Investor Pitch."

Top 5 Reasons to Attend

1. Forecasting. We cannot predict the weather in Florida, but our expert speakers and panelists can make educated predictions on how they think hotels and restaurants will preform in 2014!

2. Education. Two action packed days of presentations and panels focusing on industry trends that will help attendees boost their performance.

3. Networking with colleagues. Mix with other successful hospitality business professionals at our unique receptions and breaks.Last year we had a chefs competition to close the event...this year savory dishes will kick it off!

4. Legacy Building. Join LHRA as they hosts this year's Battle of the Brands - High Stakes Golf Tournament to support Latino students seeking careers in the hospitality industry! Compete in this stimulating golf tournament and help us raise money for student scholarships!!!

5. Industry Recognition. Meet owners, operators, developers and industry suppliers who have proven themselves worthy of LHRA recognition at this year's Estrella Awards!


Tuesday, September 03, 2013

It’s Time to Innovate

Are you starting a new business? Building a brand? Seeking to turn around a declining brand? Then innovate.


Steve Jobs once said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” Innovation is what makes you, your culture, your value proposition, your products and services, your customer experience and everything else about your brand unique. It’s what makes you memorable. It’s your source of competitive advantage.

Instead of following someone else’s best practices, take the lead. Create the future. Write your own best practices. Take some risks. Innovate.

For more on the impact of innovation on your branding strategy, please see:
• How Innovation Drives Sustained Growth for Your Brand
• What Makes Your Company Different?
• Accelerate Growth and Innovation - Encourage a Culture of Risk-Taking

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