The Top Soundview Live Webinars of 2015

In 2015 we have hosted 60 Soundview Live webinars with top business authors and leaders. So I went back to see which were our most popular. You may be surprised by those that made the list – or perhaps not.

Kory Kogon – The Path to Extraordinary Productivity: In this Soundview Live webinar Kory Kogon offers powerful insights drawn from the latest neuroscience and decades of experience and research in the time-management field to help you master your attention and energy management through five fundamental choices that will increase your ability to achieve what matters most to you.

Scott Eblin – Mindfulness Basics to Thrive in a 24/7 World: In this Soundview Live webinar Scott Eblin offers practical insights for the executive, manager or professional who feels like their RPM is maxed out in the red zone. By making the concepts and practices of mindfulness simple, practical and applicable, this event offers actionable hope for today’s overworked and overwhelmed professional.

Daniel Weiser – How to Become an Expert Negotiator: You may be a high-ranking CEO or a first day salesman, a service provider or self-employed. If you face encounters with your partners, clients, suppliers or employees, in which you want them to think differently at the end of the meeting and actually do what you want – this webinar is for YOU. The objective of this Soundview Live webinar with Daniel Weiser is to improve your negotiation skills and to move you one step closer to closing your deal.

Steve Shallenberger – How the BEST Leaders Ignite Energy and Fuel High Performance: In this Soundview Live webinar Steve Shallenberger will help you leverage the 12 principles that propel teams and organizations to the top! These tools and processes drive the kind of innovation that turns good teams and companies into industry leaders – all while living a well-balanced personal life. Steve will provide advice, tools and examples for turning your thoughts into action and bringing out the best in your teams and employees!

Daymond John – The Power of Branding: In this Soundview Live webinar Daymond John tells how four ordinary guys from Queens, New York, rose from street corners to corner offices and became the greatest trendsetters of our generation. He lays it all out on the line- his secrets to success, his triumphs, and his utter failures- to show what it takes to harness and display the power that resides in us all.

Marshall Goldsmith – How to Create Behavior Change that Lasts: In this powerful Soundview Live webinar, bestselling author and world-renowned executive coach Marshall Goldsmith examines the environmental and psychological triggers that can derail us at work and in life. Filled with revealing and illuminating stories from his work with some of the most successful chief executives and power brokers in the business world, Goldsmith offers a personal playbook on how to achieve change in our lives, make it stick, and become the person we want to be.

Ann Herrmann-Nehdi – Unlock the Power of Whole Brain Thinking: Filled with real-world examples and essential charts, exercises, action steps, and strategies, this Soundview Live webinar shows you how to rethink your business, prepare for the future, realign your goals, and reinvigorate your team — by putting your whole brain to work.

Neel Doshi & Lindsay McGregor- How to Build the Highest Performing Cultures: In this Soundview Live webinar Neel Doshi and Lindsay McGregor explain the counter-intuitive science behind great cultures, building on over a century of academic thinking. They share the simple, highly predictive new measurement tool—the Total Motivation (ToMo) Factor—that enables you to measure the strength of your culture, and track improvements over time.

Not surprisingly, six of the eight top events are about improving personal skills, rather than focusing on the business. Webinars are the perfect venue for personal development and that may have been their main attraction this year. If you had a favorite Soundview Live webinar this year, let us know by commenting on this blog.

From Outsourcing To Global Talent: Common issues

Our guest blogger today is Ernest Gundling, PhD, Managing Partner at Aperian Global, a consulting firm he co-founded in 1990, and coauthor of Leading Across New Borders: How to Succeed as the Center Shifts.


Many companies with established outsourcing operations have found that the talent picture is changing. Tens of thousands of employees in places like Bangalore, Hyderabad, Surat, or Noida were originally hired to crunch data overnight while their Western counterparts slept, or to write pieces of code that were parceled out by project managers located elsewhere. However, people who have been performing these roles for years now have become more technically adept and have greater business experience; younger employees are also entering the workforce with higher expectations from the beginning.

Employees in traditional outsourcing locations now often aspire to broader and more responsible roles: leading project teams, interfacing directly with customers, authoring entire reports, scoping and designing new systems. Firms that are able to meet these aspirations will retain their top talent; those that do not are likely to lose it. It is not easy to make the transition from existing outsourcing roles to a global talent approach that matches each employee’s developmental stage with the opportunities available around the world. Beyond simply placing an employee in a new role, there are often critical skill gaps that need to be addressed. Consider the mutually frustrating encounter between a Western manager and his Indian counterpart outlined below.

Example: The Report
Michael, a team leader for a pharmaceutical company based in Switzerland, comments,

“Two weeks ago, I sent a report along to our team in Surat with the raw data and information on the target audience. I followed up with a check-in call to make sure that Jas, the person in India assigned to this project, had gotten the documents and see if he had any questions. I told him that, ideally, I needed the report in two weeks, and asked if he was okay with that. He said, ‘sure.’

“Two weeks later, I got the report back and saw that while Jas had integrated the raw data, the implications had not been interpreted at all. The key messages were not clear and the nuances in the tone and language were just not right for my European audience. Actually, the report was unfinished in many ways. So it was now up to me to rewrite it, without any cushion time, which then impacted my deadline. I would say that this feels pretty typical of my interaction with the team in Surat, although they are supposed to be providing end-to-end report writing services.

“I expected Jas to take the data and interpret it based on his expertise. He should be able to discern which messages need to come across to the audience and then craft those messages in a way that will make sense to our audience and add value to me. It will be quicker for me to just do the rewrite now rather than spend so much time explaining all the changes. I expect another professional like me to be able to own the communication he is writing and deliver a product that is complete, on time, and reflects a deep understanding of the material. We don’t necessarily get that from our team there. If there is a question about something, I am always available. I am just an e-mail away. But those questions should come up early enough for me to address them, without impacting the deadline.”

Meanwhile, Jas, an Indian team leader based in Surat, expresses his own frustrations:

“The project with Michael could have gone better. When Michael called, I had not yet had time to look at the documents he had sent since I was working on a couple of other reports. So I didn’t have any questions at that time and figured I could rely on my team here in Surat to figure out any elements I didn’t understand. The thing is, I can constantly discuss and get help with my local team if I have an issue, but how can I do this with Michael? I don’t even know him. If I start out by asking a million questions, he will think that I don’t know anything and I will lose credibility with him.

“When I finally got around to looking through the materials that Michael sent, I realized that it would take a lot of time to write this report. By that time, I only had a week left to complete it. I worked late hours with other members of my team trying to finish this document to meet Michael’s timeline. I was hopeful that we could complete it, but we were only able to finish it to a certain level. Anyway, it’s better that I get Michael’s input on what we already have written and then make changes from there.”

Often they give us only a small amount of information and then get angry when we aren’t able to read their minds. I am just responsible for doing the work I am given, to the specifications which have been outlined. Our client stakeholders determine those specifications. I am not in a position to argue with that. If they would give me more information or be more readily available—or if we had a relationship—that would be different. But the work is still just thrown over the wall to me and then there is silence. I try to match the specifications they send, but they often want me to make things up out of thin air. It is not my place to be offering my opinions in this kind of paper. I am just trying to give them what they want.”

Key Competencies
This dynamic between Michael and Jas points to the core struggles in play as organizations try to reposition themselves for global relevance. Most organizations recognize the trends and are in the process of aligning themselves to benefit from the global economic shifts. But they have found that their internal talent management processes are unable to keep up with, much less effectively drive, the organization’s global growth. The transition to global talent sourcing, it turns out, is not just a matter of hiring more global workers. It requires a colossal mindset shift in the organization and new approaches to delegation, teamwork, employee engagement, knowledge transfer, performance evaluation, and developing the competencies needed to make all of these possible.

Accountability & Communication

There are many components to building an executive presence, including posture, dress, gestures such as the form of one’s initial greetings, and so on. The rules for these are largely unwritten and vary somewhat by culture. There are also important general skills required of employees who aspire to join the executive ranks in most multinationals. There are clearly things that Jas could do in the report scenario just discussed to make the interaction more successful. Becoming a full-fledged global team partner brings with it a higher level of accountability. He currently appears to be expressing a kind of passive/aggressive attitude that is unlikely to establish him as an executive peer. If he wants others to see him as a true global partner, he needs to take more responsibility and initiative, and step out of an outsourcing mindset himself. There is a danger that he will create a self-fulfilling prophecy: if he assumes that he is being treated as a second-class corporate citizen and acts accordingly, he may find that this is indeed the way that others treat him, even if corporate policy is to move away from outsourcing. How can Jas get a virtuous cycle going by altering his approach?

If Jas is unclear about his responsibilities, it’s up to him to reach out and request clarification from Michael while expressing his intention to get the job done. It is not helpful to his reputation to provide a half-baked response and feel resentful about his role, especially if he is assuming that the ultimate responsibility lies elsewhere. Jas also needs to cultivate a particular skill of distilling and communicating key messages. Inexperienced people in his position tend to provide large volumes of detail without sufficiently digesting or interpreting the information. The term “executive summary” highlights the expectations of leaders who are exposed to large volumes of information on a daily basis. They want to know the main points and to have the option to drill down for further detail as needed; likewise, they expect their peers to be able to both synthesize and probe.

Several familiar cultural patterns were probably in the background of the initial response Jas gave to Michael: deference to hierarchy, a preference for relationship-based interactions, and reluctance to draw direct conclusions for others who will make their own inferences. For Jas to be effective at higher levels in this organization, however, he will need to understand these patterns and take steps to flex his own style. It is neither possible nor desirable for him to become a Westerner, but his current mentality will not serve him well in a global leadership position. Jas may find that Michael is amenable to meeting him partway if he asks him for help and expresses an eagerness to learn new skills.

Developing Future Leaders

There is responsibility on both sides in this example. It is all too common for a person in Michael’s role to conclude that Jas lacks business acumen and other essential leadership capabilities,evaluating the report Jas has produced negatively while doing the work himself or steering it elsewhere. Michael can help to break the cycle of unmet expectations and critical performance evaluation by reaching out to Jas and learning more about his capabilities and developmental needs.

It may be that Jas is not the right person for the role, but it is more likely that he needs hands-on mentoring, exposure to best practice models, and constructive feedback that will enable him to grow into his position. Jas will feel more comfortable talking about his developmental needs if he feels that Michael believes in him and is actively involved in providing support. Michael will also be better able to target what he delegates, and to accurately anticipate and rely upon the work that Jas produces. They should get to know each other a lot better, and this is a worthwhile investment of Michael’s time in spite of the geographical and cultural distance that separates them.

Organizations committed to global talent development will make sure that Michael is also held accountable for enabling his global colleagues such as Jas to move to the next level of performance. Leaders who are consistently able to do this will in the long run add far greater value to their companies than they will by deliberately or inadvertently shutting the door to those who could learn rapidly with the right kind of guidance.

Global Talent: The Rewards
Moving from mutual frustration to effective collaboration is complex because it requires a level of self-awareness and conscious effort from everyone involved. Jas cannot do all the work himself, and neither should Michael. When enough key individuals do learn to work together in a way that combines their skills, however, the results can be quite powerful, including retention of vital personnel, greater employee engagement, mutual learning, and higher levels of performance all around. Companies that create the formula for this will discover a powerful accelerator to their global growth, and a competitive edge versus rivals that remain stuck in old outsourcing models.

To learn more about leading in a global economy, join Dr. Gundling for our Soundview Live webinar: Leading Across New Borders.

Tips for Telling Compelling Stories When Training Leaders

Our guest blogger today is Dr. Paul White, author of Sync or Swim, continuing from last week’s blog on telling stories.

John was struggling with how to handle a difficult situation with a key vendor for the company. He went to his supervisor, Stephanie, and asked her advice on what he should do.  Rather than telling him what to do, or even giving her direct input, Stephanie replied, “John, let me tell you a story …”  She went on to tell a story about an experience she had early in her career and the   consequences of her decision over the years. When she was done, she paused and waited.  After a few seconds of silence, John smiled and said:  “Got it.  Thanks.”  He stood up and left the room, even though Stephanie hadn’t directly answered his question.

Throughout history and across cultures, stories have been used more than any other form of verbal expression to communicate foundational life lessons.   If you read the Greek philosophers, the wisdom literature from Asia, and the literature across the centuries designed to teach guiding principles for life – the “authors” used stories grounded in daily life rather than just stating the principle (or making lists of them, as most business books and articles do today.)

Tips for Telling Stories

Some people are natural storytellers – they just “do it”.  People listen to them, laugh, and enjoy hearing their stories.  For the rest of us, we need to work at it a bit.  Otherwise, our stories seem to fall flat with little impact on our listeners and sometimes there is just an awkward silence when we finish.  So here are some tips for learning to tell effective stories.

Where to Get Your Stories.  There are several sources for stories but the best one is your life.   You’ve gone through some situations that were challenging, hair-raising, and funny.  You were there so it is easy for you to remember. Some personal experiences and the stories that flow from that have to do with direct life experience.  You were there, felt the feelings, know what the dangers were, and how you felt when you got through the situation.  Other experiences are more indirect.  You were there but it was someone else going through the situation and you watched what happened (think about your parents while you were growing up, situations with your children, trips with friends).

A second treasure trove of stories are those told by others. This can include stories told by friends and family, stories told by authors in books, or the situations created and demonstrated in movies and TV shows. (By the way, movies are the modern cultural equivalent of orally told stories in past cultures.) YouTube videos also provide good visual short stories.  Note that trying to retell a story you’ve heard told by a friend can be difficult to tell effectively to others (especially if you only heard it once).

Practical Suggestions.  When telling a story, start by giving the context and setting (the “set up”) for what happens in the story is critical.  Some people start into a story without giving the listeners any clues either that they are telling a story or what the overall context is.  Next, share the main character’s perspective on what is going on – how did they see the situation?  What were they feeling?  This heightens the interest and energy level.  Then, make sure you get the sequence right. Not much “kills” a story more quickly than the storyteller having to go back and correct themselves (‘No, that’s not right.”) about what happened and when.  Clearly describing the challenge or dilemma (along with the person’s feeling response) is the next critical step.  Make sure your listeners know what the problem is that the character is facing, and their emotional response to the situation.  Tell what decision was made or the action chosen and then describe the result and its on impact you and the others in the situation.  Sometimes listeners “miss” an important part of the story or the context and need to be told exactly what happened and why it was important.  If needed, tell the lesson you learned.  In many stories, this is obvious, but sometimes the lesson you learned is important to delineate.

We all have interesting stories to tell. Sometimes we just need to stop and reflect, and then think about the best way to share the story in a way that will connect emotionally with others.

To learn more about communication at work, join Soundview and Dr. White for our webinar: Communicating Effectively Through Change.

The Connection Between Culture and Performance

In Primed to Perform, Neel Doshi and Lindsay McGregor explain the counter-intuitive science behind great cultures, building on over a century of academic thinking. They share the simple, highly predictive new measurement tool—the total motivation (ToMo) Factor—that enables you to measure the strength of your culture, and track improvements over time. The authors’ original research demonstrates how total motivation leads to higher performance in iconic companies, from Apple to Starbucks to Southwest Airlines. Most importantly, they teach you to build great cultures, using a systematic and sustainable approach.

High performing cultures can’t be left to chance. Organizations must create systems that shape and maintain them. Whether you’re a five-person team or a startup, a school, a nonprofit or a mega-institution, Primed to Perform shows you how.

Here is how Doshi and McGregor connect the dots between culture and performance:

  1. What is performance at its best?

There are two types of performance, both important yet mutually opposed. Most organizations manage tactical performance—the ability to execute the plan. We’ve all seen performance dashboards and rubrics tracking easy-to-measure outcomes. But adaptive performance—the ability to diverge from a plan—is just as important but much harder to understand and measure, until now.

Organizations must balance tactical with adaptive performance to reach the highest levels of customer experience, innovation, ethics and sales.

  1. What is the psychology of high performance?

To build a high performing culture you must first understand what drives peak performance in individuals. The answer sounds deceptively simple: why you work determines how well you work.

There are six basic reasons why people work—and they aren’t created equal. Play, purpose, and potential strengthen adaptive performance while emotional pressure, economic pressure and inertia weaken it. In environments that maximize the first three and minimize the last three, individuals exhibit those hard-to-measure but highly coveted adaptive traits of creativity, problem-solving, persistence and collaboration. This phenomenon is what we call total motivation, or ToMo for short.

  1. How does culture drive that psychology?

The highest performing cultures build upon the psychology of total motivation. They train leaders, design jobs, shape performance management systems, and structure their teams to enhance play, purpose, and potential and eliminate emotional pressure, economic pressure, and inertia. The result: higher sales, more loyal customers, and more passionate employees.

Soundview has arranged a special FREE webinar with Neel and Lindsay for you to hear more about this culture of high performance, and to ask your questions about how this concept can be applied in your organization. Join us on November 3rd for How to Build the Highest Performing Cultures.

Why Effective Leaders Use Stories To Train Others

Our guest blogger today is Dr. Paul White, author of Sync or Swim.

Most leaders focus on data and factual information.  And accurate data is important for making good decisions.  But throughout history, communicating facts has not been the most utilized method for developing leadership qualities.  Stories have been used more than any other form of verbal expression.

Let me show you the power of stories and the incredible staying power they have in our lives.

    • Do you remember the Aesop’s fable about the tortoise and the hare?  Briefly, in your mind, outline the gist of the story.  What is the main principle this story communicates?
    • How about the Back to the Future series of movies where Alex (Michael Fox) and Professor Brown are constantly trying to correct changes that occurred in the “space – time continuum”?  What key life principle are these stories communicating (indirectly, but powerfully) to the viewer?2

Why Stories Are So Powerful

 *Stories involve different parts of our brain, which makes learning (and remembering) more effective.  Stories obviously involve words, but stories also bring up visual images and pictures in our mind.  Also, the most effective stories involve emotionally-charged situations: challenges, risks and adventure.

*Stories are non-threatening, which keep people from not putting up their defenses. Stories are usually framed in the context of someone else (either the storyteller themselves, or the fictional characters of the story).  Since the story is not about me and usually communicated in an informal style, then most listeners start out with an “open” mindset

 *We often identify with one or more of the characters and we can easily relate to their experiences and reactions.  We “see” ourselves in the story and actually vicariously see ourselves experiencing the same challenges and emotions the characters are feeling.

 *We see characters that represent people in our lives (which gives us insight to them and why we react to them the way we do.)  Some stories have characters with whom we don’t personally relate, but they remind us of others in our lives.  The characters’ reactions then provide us insights into why they do what they do, and show us the strengths associated with character qualities that we may find irritating.

 *We are able to learn from others’ experiences and can observe different options for handling challenging situations and people.  One of the core benefits of stories is that they allow us to learn from others vicariously, rather than having to experience difficult situations ourselves.  We also are given examples of different ways to handle situations (both positively and poorly.)

 *Stories are easier to remember and communicate to others than facts and principles. Because of their use of imagery, we are able to remember the general gist of a story more easily than remembering pure factual information.   Additionally, we can quickly communicate the main points of a story and the lesson it teaches.

Watch and observe effective leaders and influencers.  They often are excellent at communicating through stories.  Think about life experiences that have impacted you, and start to tell stories to teach important lessons to those you are leading.

To learn more about communication at work, join Soundview and Dr. White for our webinar: Communicating Effectively Through Change.

Counter-Sabotage in the Workplace

In 1944, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS)—the predecessor of today’s CIA—issued the Simple Sabotage Field Manual, detailing sabotage techniques designed to demoralize the enemy. One section focused on eight incredibly subtle—and devastatingly destructive—tactics for sabotaging the decision-making processes of organizations. While the manual was written decades ago, these sabotage tactics lurk undetected in organizations today. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • Insist on doing everything through channels.
  • Make speeches. Talk as frequently as possible and at great length.
  • Refer all matters to committees.
  • Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.
  • Haggle over precise wordings of communications.
  • Refer back to matters already decided upon and attempt to question the advisability of that decision.
  • Advocate caution and urge fellow-conferees to avoid haste that might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.
  • Be worried about the propriety of any decision.

Everyone has been faced with someone who has used these tactics, even when they have meant well. Bob Frisch, co-author of Simple Sabotage, provides proven strategies and techniques for counter-sabotage measures to detect and reduce the impact of these eight classic sabotage tactics, to improve productivity, spur creativity, and engender better collegial relationships.

If you’re dealing with sabotage in your company or department, you’ll want to join Bob Frisch and Soundview on October 29th for our Soundview Live webinar, How to Neutralize the Behaviors that Undermine Your Workplace.

The New Management System for a Rapidly Changing World

Today’s guest blogger is Brian Robertson, author of Holacracy and founder of HolacracyOne.

If you’re old enough to remember the days when most PCs ran MS-DOS, consider the leap in capabilities that came with a new operating system like Windows. Your computer’s operating system, invisible though it may be, radically shapes everything on top of it.  It determines how the overall system is structured, how different processes interact and cooperate, how power is distributed and allocated between applications, and so on.

Likewise, the social “operating system” underpinning an organization is easy to ignore, yet it’s the foundation on which we build our business processes and organizational cultures.  The traditional top-down, predict-and-control management hierarchy has been the standard organizational operating system for nearly a century.  Yet when we unconsciously accept the management hierarchy as our only choice for structuring and scaling companies, we lose the opportunity to innovate in this fundamental domain of company building.

Holacracy is a new “social technology” for governing and operating an organization, which replaces the traditional management hierarchy with peer-to-peer distributed processes for structuring an organization, defining roles and responsibilities, and coordinating across organizational functions.  Holacracy aims to improve organizational responsiveness by increasing the number and scope of decisions that can safely be made quickly and locally.  It gives staff more authority and autonomy to get work done and drive continual improvements to the organization’s policies and processes.  To avoid increased autonomy coming at the expense of coordination and scale, Holacracy also adds processes to align actions and update expectations and constraints dynamically, which everyone in the organization can take advantage of.  This results in a just-in-time, minimally sufficient organizational structure that stays nimble and lightweight, driven by on-the-ground experience from getting work done.

One way or another, whether it’s Holacracy or another approach, the management hierarchy is ripe for disruption. The environment around our companies has changed dramatically since its introduction, and our organizations face new challenges in today’s global fast-moving world. But those of us building companies today have other options, and regardless of what we choose, I think we’ll be better off by at least asking the question: what power structure is right for my company?

To learn more about Holacracy, join Soundview and Brian Robertson for our Soundview Live webinar: The New Management System for a Rapidly Changing World.


Ten Essential Tools for Business Forged in the Trenches of Hollywood

Our guest blogger is Jeff Cohen, author of The Dealmaker’s Ten Commandments.

The Dealmaker’s Ten Commandments provides a practical, no-nonsense methodology for negotiating deals, managing your time and handling crisis, all at the highest level.

In a storied instance of professional redemption, I created The Dealmaker’s Ten Commandments to overcome resistance and achieve my goals without losing my soul along the way. Although developed in Hollywood, the real world tactics, strategies and guiding principles are vital for any business environment.

Success is life on your own terms. The Dealmaker’s Ten Commandments empowers you to successfully navigate and negotiate the terms of your life.


“Love is preserved by the link of obligation which…is broken at every opportunity for advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails.” – Niccolo Machiavelli

Being feared is more useful and reliable than being loved.


“All things are subject to interpretation. Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Power not reason drives the outcome of a transaction.


“Men are moved by two levers only: fear and self-interest.” – Napoleon Bonaparte  

Parties are motivated by and can be predicted to behave in accordance with their perceived best self-interest.


“Things are entirely what they appear to be – and behind them…there is nothing.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

All manner of irrational and emotional impulses must be shaved away to objectively analyze the battlefield.


“Never wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.” – George Bernard Shaw

Combat is honor. Choose your enemies and battles wisely.  If combat is thrust upon you, choose to define your enemy and the conditions for victory.


“The man who can’t dance thinks the band is no good.” – Polish Proverb

Dealmaking is a dance whose basic steps are: offer, counter, close.  Conduct the tempo and tune to your advantage.


“Time is at once the most valuable and the most perishable of all our possessions.” – John Randolph

Time is the Dealmaker’s commodity. Set goals and create a time management system to maximize the impact of your labor and resources.


“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” – Mike Tyson

Train yourself to calmly and effectively handle emergencies.  Then, fix the problem, analyze the error and improve the algorithm.


“A.B.C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Closing. Always be closing. Always be closing.” – Blake/Glengarry Glen Ross

Dealmakers make deals.  Know your role, get paid and remember your ABCs.  Always be closing.


“Whoever fights monsters should beware that he, himself, does not become a monster.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Don’t allow fighting monsters to make you a monster. Heed Nietzsche’s warning by internalizing the virtue of forbearance and finding shelter from the storm.

To hear more about Cohen’s controversial commandments, join us for our Soundview Live webinar: The Essential Tools for Business Negotiation.

Customers Buy. Fans Buy In.

Our guest blogger is Lee Elias, co-author of Think Like A Fan.

What do you call the people that do business with you? Are they consumers, patrons, customers, etc? I have become fond of referring to these people as fans. In reality, anyone who does business with you, whether it is monetarily or through trade, is making an investment into your brand and company. The physical transaction between a person and business may make them a literal consumer, however the choice to put their trust and faith in what you are providing is what makes them a fan.

Fans come in many forms; casual, fair weather and die-hard. Simply taking money from these people is no longer the most effective business model. With today’s limitless connectivity and ability to communicate, cultivating relationships and making these fans feel like part of your organization can be infinitely more beneficial, both monetarily and mentally, than ever before.

In a time when challenging the status quo has become the status quo, consumers have placed a responsibility on all organizations to stand out in order to gain their loyalty, not just their money. In order to find continued success moving forward, organizational leaders will all need to gain an understanding of how digital technology is reshaping the consumption of media.  Our entire market is integrating deeper and deeper into wireless, mobile, and digital solutions that consumers crave. These innovations are a major opportunity for revenue and brand building if implemented and integrated correctly. Proper planning and preparation for a digital migration effort is essential, and business leaders will find they cannot sit back and “see how it plays out” for as long as they may have been used to with earlier, more traditional marketing methods.

Today’s connectivity has opened the door for organizations to touch an audience 24/7/365.  Fans are constantly calling for a better overall experience – how are you answering the call?

There are several opportunities to transform from “merchandise” people buy to a “mission” they believe in. For example, organizations can

– “Broadcast” uniformed information across multiple platforms

– Speak with their audience, not at their audience

– Enable current customers and followers to promote your brand

– Stay constantly visible to supporters in order to stay relevant

– Continually “tap” their audience to engage and incite interaction

– Understand how to respond to both positive and negative reviews

– Substantiate internal sales forces to increase creativity and productivity

– Establish trust and authenticity as a keystone of the brand

– Create a digital community in which followers want to visit

– Utilize social media platforms to their maximum potential

– Work with (not against) competitors to maximize profits

– Create a culture of confidence in their brand

There is no doubt that a digital migration is happening. The question most of the elite are looking to have answered is when to make the change…the answer is now, as in right now.

Join us on September 29th at 12 PM ET for our Soundview Live webinar titled “Think Like A Fan”.

Delivering the Unexpected

Today’s blog is from Dustin Klein and Howard Brodsky, authors of the just released book The Unexpected.

Innovation is a word that is tossed around a bit too often today, but when it’s used correctly – and applied effectively – there’s no denying its impact.

So what constitutes innovation?

It can be breakthrough technology. But it can also be a business style or approach, a corporate culture, or a new process. In essence, it is asking “what if?” and then testing the answer.

One way to ply innovation is an approach to how you can service your customers, your vendors and your employees. It doesn’t require dismantling your operations, your workflow, your current processes or procedures, or even your existing products or services. But it does require you to think differently about every interaction you have both internally and externally.

The concept is called The Unexpected. And while that may sound a bit ominous, it isn’t.

Rather, The Unexpected is based on the idea that consumers have resigned themselves to accepting subpar service in order to get the lowest possible price.

And unfortunately, because of the commoditization of many products and services, many business organizations have found themselves in a similar situation as they try to compete on lowest price. Sadly, they’re finding there isn’t much lower they can go and still be profitable.

As a result, you hear a lot of companies say “We compete on service.” But what does that really mean?

More important, when you start to hear everybody say that, it devalues exactly what that “service” is. And when you devalue something, you lose the competitive advantage it once carried.

Moving forward, delivering what might be considered “world-class” customer service – going above and beyond, delivering “plus-one”, and ensuring your customers can depend on you – may soon become your ante at the great poker table of business. And many of those who fail to deliver a minimum service level that is at least above average, will wither away.

So how does innovation play into this equation?

Simple. By innovating your business approach internally and externally, by training your team to be “eyes up” and to identify opportunities to do something different, you can effectively separate yourself from the pack and create a competitive advantage that is hard to overcome.

Here’s what has been uncovered:

First, people want something that is Memorable, which is the first element of The Unexpected. That means something that causes you to walk away and say, “Wow – I can’t believe what just happened to me.”

Here is a very simplistic example:  Let’s say you frequented the same restaurant every Friday night with your spouse or significant other. You always ordered two glasses of red wine with your meals. What if one Friday night the owner sent out two glasses of a new red wine he or she stocked BEFORE you ordered. And what if the waiter told you that the owner thought you might enjoy this new wine and simply wanted your feedback on its quality and taste. It was on the house and a thank you for being such a loyal customer.

You’d find that an Unexpected surprise.

Not only that, but neuroscience tells us that an experience such as this releases dopamine from the brain stem and results in an elevation of your positive mood – creating happiness and joy. It etches a little reminder into your brain that says, This Happened, and creates a memory – the What.

But The Unexpected is more than this. You must also make that Memorable experience Distinguishable, which is the second key element. The Memory must create a Where – it must distinguish your brand from other brands. In this case, the restaurant.

And then, it must also be something that people want to tell others about, thus becoming Viral, the third key element of The Unexpected.

Finally, if you accomplish those three things – Make it Memorable, Distinguishable and Viral – it will result in the fourth key element of The Unexpected:  Profitable.

You will either be able to go deeper and wider with your key client base and increase your profitability – for example, by telling others about how you received the free wine you might cause a friend to say, “Wow – we go there every Saturday and order dessert. I wonder if they might do the same thing for us when they create new signature desserts.” Or, you might be able to create more Profitability as Starbucks and The Ritz-Carlton do – by commanding a premium price for your products and services because you are never quite sure what Unexpected experience either organization will deliver.

Incorporating The Unexpected into your day-to-day operations is actually quite simple….but that is a lesson for another day.

To hear more about how to deliver the Unexpected to your customers, join Brodsky and Klein at our Soundview Live webinar: Breakthrough Strategies to Earn Loyal Customers for Life.