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Over the holiday, I had a major revelation: I may be the toughest boss I’ve ever had. Not the toughest in terms of being difficult, tough to read, or vindictive, but the toughest boss in terms of having ridiculously high expectations. I’m at the Business Marketing Association Unleash conference this week in Chicago. It will be a great learning experience, Seth Godin is doing a luncheon session, and there are a variety of panels on creativity, innovation, and other topics presented by lots of great business-to-business practitioners. It’s not a financial stretch for me to attend, and it’s a great opportunity to be away from the office and soak in a lot of stimulating marketing and business content.

Yet Monday night, before leaving, I told Cyndi of my concerns about not getting the full value out of the Business Marketing Association Unleash experience. Perhaps it was not being diligent enough about scheduling pre- and post-conference appointments to use every minute of time while in Chicago. Maybe I won’t make THE contact I’m supposed to or will pick the wrong breakout session instead of the one which would be most valuable. It could be not striking up conversations effectively when presented with opportunities to do so.

Wow.

If a boss had ever dumped all that negativity on me before going to a conference, I’d have tried to get away from him or her as quickly as possible.

Yet, I dump all that damaging talk on myself almost as if it’s the most normal thing in the world to do.

You can’t run away from yourself, though. You have to simply reflect on what you’ve done well in similar situations previously and realize you’re still the same “you” who created success before.

And keep telling yourself about it over and over.

How about you? Do you ever feel like you’re the toughest boss you’ve ever had? If you do, how do you deal with it?Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your brand strategy and implementation efforts.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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One of the most famous tag lines in advertising history is Avis Rent a Car’s “We try harder.” It is basically the quintessential brand promise. Though it seems to have largely disappeared from the Avis Rent a Car marketing communications (eight references on the website, most historical in nature), for many it is still at the heart of what they think of when they think of Avis—and it is still part of the company’s mission statement.

It is a concise, easy to relate to, unambiguous statement of what you can expect from the brand. It also seems that it is kind of hard to live up to.

My son goes to school in Denver and I visit half dozen times a year. These long weekend trips are somewhat spontaneous/last minute in nature, so I nearly always drive. I’ve done the math, and for a trip of that length, renting a car costs far less than driving your own.

I usually rent from Hertz or Enterprise, but this time I found a deal on an Avis car that, while slightly more expensive than Enterprise, allowed me to (theoretically ) start on my trip 30 minutes earlier. Normally that wouldn’t make much difference, but this time I had an appointment to make in Denver and half hour would make it much easier.

I get to the rental car location a few minutes after it opened, but after another customer. There is only one person working and he hasn’t prepared any cars for this morning and people are coming in with issues from yesterday already.

Long story short, it is another 30 minutes before I am on my way. The car is bigger than I wantand, as I am to find out, much less fuel efficient— and it looks like a flock of birds have been using it for target practice, but I am finally headed west.

Monday I have two emails from Avis, one welcoming me to their preferred service and the other containing an e-invoice. When I open the invoice I find I have been charged 15% more than I had expected. Customer service says I was charged for an upgrade, a change I didn’t request and, in fact, had probably already cost me around $25 more for gas. Did it say that on the rental agreement? It might have, I didn’t read, I just initialed here and here, and signed there and took the keys. After all I had already lost my 30 minute edge. Certainly the agent had made no mention of the upcharge.

In the end, Avis gave me the original rate, but they also probably lost a potential future customer. If you are going to make a brand promise such as “We try harder,” you either must live up to it or face the fact you will likely disappoint a lot of customers.

Is your brand making promises it can’t keep? Barrett Sydnor

 

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your brand strategy and implementation efforts.

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7

We all hit breaking points where frustration makes you question your direction, what’s important, and why you seem to be stuck in a current situation. If this weekend finds you at a professional or emotional crossroads, maybe it’s time to step back, look at some of your self-imposed constraints, and say, “To hell with it!”

Where to start?

If you’re dealing with anything on the list below, one or two of them would be a good place to start.

Consider saying, “To hell with . . . “

  • Over-preparing for presentations, projects, meetings – whatever it might be.
  • Trying to make equal time for ALL the objectives you think you need to reach.
  • Attempting to perform to your overly high standards.
  • Volunteering again for something you’ve already volunteered for multiple times.
  • Buying something you’d usually buy without thinking twice.
  • Taking on a project where you’re not going to get paid what you’re worth.
  • Complaining and worrying about things you can’t change.
  • Networking with people you can’t meaningfully help and who can’t really help you either.
  • Ignoring the need to focus on a big, tough goal while spending time on a bunch of easy, distracting goals.

For me, this weekend has less frustration than usual because I didn’t volunteer again for a project which once provided learning and development but wasn’t going to anymore. In my case, saying, “To hell with it,” was difficult when I did it, but it feels great today!Mike Brown


If you’d like to add an interactive, educationally-stimulating presentation on strategy, innovation, branding, social media or a variety of other topics to your event, Mike Brown is the answer. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how Mike can get your audience members Brainzooming!

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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8

Here are a few of the topics I was tweeting about this week:

The Rapture didn’t happen last weekend. The lesson? When the boss tells you NOBODY knows the answer to a question, don’t be a brown-noser and try to answer the question anyway.

The labels YOU place on yourself can either free you or close off opportunities. Be careful which, if any, you pick!

There’s no policy that says you have to let everything that happens in your life define you. Be a Teflon person and protect yourself.

When you’re getting ready for a difficult conversation with someone, think about the challenging points you’re going to need to make. How many of them apply to you also?

Whenever and whatever you edit, leave lots of white space.

It’s easy to be busy. It’s hard to be productive.

Trust me – it’s not always advisable to pick the first words that show up at your mouth.

If you’ve dealt with a challenging client, write down what was challenging. Re-read it next time they call you about working with them.

Sometimes the project you’re working on is trying to tell you it’s done. You’re simply not listening.

Watching the first Oprah shows I’ve seen in something like a 150 years this week, “Oprah Behind the Scenes” was a lot more engaging than her regular show. The “how do they do that” element really got me interested.

Having said that, Oprah shared some decent life lessons in her wrap-up show (paraquoted here) – Get yourself-perceptions out of the way to be able to see your blessings. Every single person you meet is looking for validation. Every person wants to be heard. God’s voice is with all of us. We decide whether we ignore it or do something about it.

Remember – a platitude gets tweeted halfway around the world before something of substance has a chance to be ignored.Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your brand strategy and implementation efforts.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help your organization make a successful first step into social media.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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7

This list of warning signs your organization’s culture isn’t ready for social media isn’t comprehensive, and I’m not offering a model today for organizing these issues or a prescription for solving them. But based on challenges we’re seeing in developing and implementing social media strategy (let alone getting social media to take hold), seeing any of these warning signs (or “red flags” as we call them) in your organization, indicates you’re in for a struggle to make real, meaningful progress on implementing social media.

How many of these warning signs sound familiar in your organization?

  • A secretive culture that doesn’t readily share information
  • Senior executives talking about social media in generalities with great urgency
  • A general fear of customers and the power they potentially hold over the brand
  • An overly concentrated business with relatively few customers
  • A distrust of employees and the judgment they use
  • Complete confidence in senior managers and the judgment they use
  • Disconnected customer interaction points (in plain English – customer service has no idea what sales is doing with a customer and vice versa)
  • Inaccessible (or uninterested, uncooperative, etc.) content owners (i.e., subject matter experts)
  • Slow and unpredictable approval times for traditional communications materials
  • Multiple layers of approval for most communications materials
  • Regulatory pressures which threaten open interactions with customers
  • No one on the internal legal team assigned permanently to marketing who “gets” how marketing is trying to help move the business forward
  • The internal legal department is a black hole where documents go in, but are nearly impossible to get back out

How did you organization do?

If you found a number of these warning signs in your business and you’re trying to get social media incorporated into your organization, call us. We’re using the strategic Brainzooming approach in helping organizations successfully deal with all these types of red flags! Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help your organization make a successful first step into social media.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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10

When we do strategic creative sessions, similes are tremendously powerful tools to allow session participants to make strategic connections between familiar and potentially less familiar concepts. These strategic connections quickly open up new thinking and lead to significant innovations. Here are similes addressing aspects of social media. Some of these similes have surfaced already as Brainzooming blog posts. Others will likely find their way into future blog posts to potentially unlock new strategic thinking possibilities. Some may send younger readers to Wikipedia since the intent is to make connections more tenured business executives will remember!

What other similes would you add to the list? What’s social media like for you? Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help your organization make a successful first step into social media.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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