the two types of brands

random thoughts

“I’ve noticed a distinct pattern in businesses, essentially creating two distinct ‘groups’ of brands, entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Looking over brands and the people who got us as branding professionals excited to work on their brands and projects, I found one common characteristic: those who excited me were looking to the future. More to the point, they were creating the present starting with the future. Like a gold medal Olympic runner, they are motivated by the end goal, the finish line, the win for their country. In short, by that factor that doesn’t yet exist. This group of business leaders is one category of business people and businesses — a very exciting type of entrepreneur to work with since they look at things which don’t yet exist and work to bridge the gap between what isn’t yet. Oftentimes, these are seen as the visionaries, the ‘geniuses’, the ones who ignore (or redefine, or reinvent) the box everyone else is trying to think outside of.

The other category of brand and entrepreneur is the one who creates the future starting with the present. This approach uses today’s resources and looks to move those into the future. This tends to be a bit more conservative even though it can achieve incredible success.

The difference is this: referring back to the Olympic runner mentioned above, you would find a distinct difference between the runner that’s focused on right now, their current stride, how much they’re breathing, etc. and the one focused on the future. The difference is ‘the launch pad’ or ‘foundation’ of each. It’s almost a question of are they looking forward from now or looking back (reporting to us their findings) from the future?

The most commonly known example of these two types of entrepreneurs is the difference between Microsoft and Apple (under Steve Jobs). Microsoft used the present to create their future in business whereas Steve Jobs endlessly looked to what could be and started with the future dreams and aspirations and brought them into being. This mentality and orientation defined each company, its DNA and the overall culture each company was known for.

There’s a cousin of this second group (that creates the future starting with the present): it’s those who create the present starting with the past. But I am not speaking about those who are revivalists or curators of incredible vintage artifacts; I am referring here to those who refuse to change with the times or recognize new ways to attack a problem, and insist that the old notion or approach is somehow sacred and must remain inviolate, even when faced with insurmountable evidence that it is no longer effective.

The dividing line is, where does a project, brand, dream or vision start?
_If it starts in the past, it is most likely to become extinct as times change.
_If it starts in the present, the options remain more limited since one is using today’s available resources.
_If it starts in the future, it’s a wide open playing field and you’re likely ‘one of the crazy ones’ who might just change the world.”

David Brier branding expert

managing your business on a daily basis

random thoughts

“What is the difference between a great business owner and someone that could only be classed as being average? Some people would suggest that the former would offer inspiration to staff members, while the latter might be a rather less impressive figure.

I would certainly agree that one of the key ingredients to being a successful business owner is that ability to communication, to inspire and to interact with people on an individual basis. This is certainly true when considering employees, but you’ll find that such skills are also useful when dealing with suppliers and clients.

But this isn’t the only element that’s important to consider if you want to be really successful. Being able to communicate will certainly be useful, but my own experience suggests that many of the best people in any industry are also incredibly organised. Some of them obviously find that this comes naturally to them.

It should also be said that it’s clear that others have to work hard in order to stay on track. Many end up employing someone to specifically help with this area of the role. If you’re operating a small business, then you may not feel that you’re in a suitable financial position to take on a new employee to assist in this area. In this case, it’s really up to you to improve the situation.

Think about your average working day and what it might typically involve. Do you find that you spend a lot of your time jumping from one task to the next? You may actually struggle to concentrate on a single area of work. Although it can be good to multi-task, it’s important that every step that you take should be about helping your business to grow.

The reality, however, may be somewhat different. It’s so easy to get drawn in to dealing with a continuous stream of emergencies. In some senses, this could be said to be typical of the way in which many small businesses operate. There’s no plan or direction in place. If that’s how you’re approaching each day, then it’s fair to assume that your employees may also have a similar lack of direction. This is unlikely to be producing positive results.

So how can you deal with this situation? At the present time, you may feel that this is the only way for you to approach things, although the reality is that there are likely to be a number of approaches available to you. Firstly, it’s important to remember that you’re unlikely to be the only person who can get things done.

It’s often said that the ability to delegate is critical to any business owner and I certainly believe this to be true. If you are trying to deal with areas where you have a lack of knowledge, then think about outsourcing some tasks. You don’t need to fight this battle on your own.”

Jonas Swain (reading-place.com)

The Creative’s Guide to Building a Business with Impact

publications

Make Your Mark: The Creative’s Guide to Building a Business with Impact, the brand-new 99U book, is now on sale.

Whether you’re about to launch a new company or are considering how to retool an existing business, it will offer you fresh thinking, practical advice and the moxie to get out there and make an impact.

Inside you’ll find best practices for launching a purpose-driven business, refining your product, delighting you customers, inspiring your team and —ultimately— making something that matters.

order now Make Your Mark: The Creative’s Guide to Building a Business with Impact

forget about setting goals: focus on systems

work smarter

“We all have things that we want to achieve in our lives: getting into the better shape, building a successful business, raising a wonderful family, writing a best-selling book, winning a championship, and so on. And for most of us, the path to those things starts by setting a specific and actionable goal. At least, this is how I approached my life until recently. I would set goals for classes I took, for weights that I wanted to lift in the gym, and for clients I wanted in my business.

What I’m starting to realize, however, is that when it comes to actually getting things done and making progress in the areas that are important to you, there is a much better way to do things. It all comes down to the difference between goals and systems. Let me explain.

What’s the difference between goals and systems?

  • If you’re a coach, your goal is to win a championship. Your system is what your team does at practice each day.
  • If you’re a writer, your goal is to write a book. Your system is the writing schedule that you follow each week.
  • If you’re a runner, your goal is to run a marathon. Your system is your training schedule for the month.
  • If you’re an entrepreneur, your goal is to build a million dollar business. Your system is your sales and marketing process.

As an example, I just added up the total word count for the articles I’ve written this year: in the last 12 months I’ve written over 115,000 words (the typical book is about 50,000 to 60,000 words, so I have written enough to fill two books this year).

All of this is such a surprise because I never set a goal for my writing. I didn’t measure my progress in relation to some benchmark. I never set a word count goal for any particular article. I never said: “I want to write two books this year”.

What I did focus on was writing one article every monday and thursday. And after sticking to that schedule for 11 months, the result was 115,000 words. I focused on my system and the process of doing the work. In the end, I enjoyed the same (or perhaps better) results.

None of this is to say that goals are useless. However, I’ve found that goals are good forplanning your progress and systems are good for actually making progress.

Goals can provide direction and even push you forward in the short-term, but eventually a well-designed system will always win. Having a system is what matters. Committing to the process is what makes the difference.”

James Clear (jamesclear.com)

does your website’s homepage answer these 4 important questions?

random thoughts

“It’s critical that your website’s homepage can quickly and easily answer the following four questions:

1_What do you do?
If a visitor can’t define exactly what it is that you do within the first minute on your website, you’re basically asking them to hit the back button.

2_How are you different?
Whether it’s cost, a one-of-a-kind service, or a unique technology, it’s important that you identify what makes your product or service different, and make it known to visitors.

3_Are you trustworthy?
When it comes to making a decision on whether or not to do business with you, visitors don’t want to feel like a guinea pig. Including testimonials, case studies, and social proof on your website’s homepage will help you to convey a sense of credibility and trustworthiness.

4_How can I reach you?
If a website visitor is seeking your contact information, it’s primarily a good sign. If they’re having trouble easily locating it on your website’s homepage, that’s probably not a good sign.

Your website, if done correctly, should be one of the strongest pieces of persuasive material that you have for your business.”

Carly Stec content marketing manager at IMPACT

the 7 things successful people never say

improve yourself

“Here are the seven things you should strike from your workplace vocabulary if you want to achieve the success you richly deserve:

1_“That’s not in my job description”. When you accepted your current position, you had a good idea of what the responsibilities and workload of the role would entail. Throughout the months or years since you settled into your job, however, your role has expanded and changed shape. Some of these changes have probably been good, while others have made you wish for simpler times. When a boss or manager piles another responsibility on your already sore shoulders, it might be tempting to pull out this classic gem of work avoidance.
The better option, however, is to schedule a time to talk to your boss about your role. A specific conversation about your place in the organization is a good time to bring up the particulars of your job description, not when you’re asked to get something accomplished. No matter how stressed you are or how valid the complaint, dropping this phrase only makes you look lazy and unmotivated.

2_“It can’t be done”. Throwing in the towel makes you look like a quitter — and quitters don’t get promoted. Instead of giving up on a project entirely, frame your response in terms of alternative ways to get the work accomplished. Very little is truly impossible, and most managers and executives want forward-thinking problem solvers to climb the corporate ladder. If you offer solutions instead of giving up, you’ll be seen as a valuable member of the team.

3_“It’s not my fault”. No one wants to work with a blame shifter. After all, it’s just a matter of time before this person eventually shifts the blame onto you. Take ownership of your mistakes instead of pointing out where others have fallen short. Admitting to a mistake shows character and the ability to learn and grow from problems. Pointing the finger at someone else strongly implies you’ll never truly learn from your errors.

4_“This will just take a minute”. Unless something will literally take only 60 seconds, don’t overpromise and underdeliver. Saying something will only take “a minute” also has the side effect of undermining your efforts. Most likely the reason the particular task won’t take long is due to the benefit of your professional experience and acumen. By saying it will “just” take a minute, you’re shortchanging what you bring to the table.

5_“I don’t need any help”. The rugged lone wolf type might be the hero of most action movies, but they’re unlikely to become the hero at your company. You might think you can go it alone on a project or in your career, but teamwork is essential. Being able to work with others is the hallmark of a good leader; you’re unlikely to climb your career ladder always flying solo.

6_“It’s not fair”. Life isn’t fair, and often your career won’t be as well. Instead of complaining, you should look for specific and actionable workarounds to the problems you encounter. Is it unfair a coworker got to run point on the project you wanted? Maybe, but instead of complaining, work harder and go the extra mile. Finding a solution will always be preferable in your professional life to whining about a problem.

7_“This is the way it’s always been done”. Doing things the way they’ve always been done is no way to run a business. Just ask some of the companies which toed the line, accepted the status quo, and went under. Adapting to an ever-changing marketplace is really the only way to survive in an economy constantly being disrupted by the next big thing.
You don’t have to be a slave to the trends, but you also can’t stick your head in the sand and hope things go back to normal. Instead, come up with creative solutions to new problems and innovate, and you’ll soon be in the driver’s seat taking your organization into the future.

Everyone wants to be successful, so make sure your words aren’t holding you back. These seven phrases are career kryptonite — by avoiding them, you can fly into your future and become a successful superstar.”

Ilya Pozin founder of Open Me and Ciplex

6 CEO productivity tips to steal for yourself

work smarter

“Everyone knows that leading a company is one of the toughest gigs around. Whether running a small business or a multi-national corporation, CEOs have to manage time, resources, and multiple demands while finding the time and head space to make decisions and plot strategies that will determine the course of their business.

Check out this list of CEO-proven tips that you can apply to any facet of your life:

1. Take breaks every 90 minutes. Human bodies have an energy cycle that operates at 90-minute intervals throughout the day. When we’ve been working on something for an hour and a half or longer, it’s natural that our alertness levels will go down and our attention will wander or we’ll feel drowsy (or start checking Twitter or Facebook).

2. Make yourself uninterruptable sometimes. There’s nothing more frustrating than finally getting into the zone working on a big project, and then being interrupted by a co-worker or boss who drops by your desk. Worse, research showsit can take up to 25 minutes to get back on track after an interruption.

3. Manage your energy, not just your time. You know it’s important to budget your time wisely, but it can actually be more effective to also manage your energy. So try to optimize your workday by doing your most concentration-intensive tasks during your peak hours, those golden hours when your energy levels are at their highest, and avoid meetings during these hours.

4. Don’t be a slave to email. Instead of feeling that you have to respond to emails the minute they hit your inbox, you can save time and stay focused by setting a schedule for checking and responding to email (for example, once in the morning and once at the end of the day).

5. Keep your emails short and sweet. CEOs don’t have time for reading novel-length emails — or writing them, either. Andrew Torba, co-founder of Kuhcoon, even goes so far as to sometimes write one word emails and suggests treating your emails as if they have the same 140-character limit of Twitter.

6. Delegate, delegate, delegate. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by feeling that you have to do everything yourself. Delegating, however, is one of the best ways to manage your time. Passing projects off to other members of the team lightens your load and lets you focus on the projects that you do best. Delegation is the most important fuel for productivity.

Tackling your to-do list may sometimes seem impossible, but if you try making these small changes from the masters, you’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish during your workday.”

by Nina Tamburello for The Muse

9 strategies for becoming the best CEO you can be

work smarter

“Learning to be a better CEO is key for entrepreneurs who don’t set off to be managers and have fallen into the role by virtue of their own creation. Below are the top nine lessons from Xenios Thrasyvoulou, founder and CEO at PeoplePerHour.

1_Learn to ask what’s important. Learn to have three major priorities at any one time. Sure, you will always have a backlog of little things. But don’t become a victim of your to-do list. Develop daily amnesia — ask yourself what is most important every day.

2_Focus on stakeholder value. It’s easy to get too absorbed in your deep passion for what you do and lose sight of what you are there to do as CEO: drive stakeholder value. Create value for your customers, value for your team and value for your shareholders.

3_Tell stories. The best way to get your message across is through storytelling. Don’t use buzzwords, geek talk and heavy corporate language. Keep it human, light and humorous. You need to charm you team, your customers, your shareholders. People relate to stories, not buzzwords.

4_Have a deep sense of purpose. Ask yourself: if your business disappeared tomorrow, would it really matter? To whom? And why? Make a difference to the world.

5_Be the gatekeeper. Don’t confuse delegation with gatekeeping. You need to be the ultimate gatekeeper in your company — you are the one defining and setting the standard. People will push you to compromise your standards for the sake of moving faster or for more freedom. Don’t be tricked and stay true to yourself.

6_Set high goals. Don’t start small. Your team members will often tell you to to “start small.” If you start small you stay small! Start big and set big bold goals. If you set the goalpost low, you will be good at best. Stretch staff beyond their limits. They may complain that you expect too much, but in the end they will thank you for it. There is no greater reward then helping your employees achieve what they thought was unachievable.

7_Self-reflect and step up. Don’t confuse confidence with self-reflection. Great CEOs are very self-reflective and demanding of themselves. Don’t doubt yourself in front of your team. Doubt yourself when you go home and look in the mirror. Figure out what your team needs from you. If you’re not stepping up every day, you will remain stagnant.

8_Serve others. Your job as a CEO is to serve others more than they serve you. Stop thinking about what you need from people and ask them what they need from you. Figure out what your customers need, what your team needs, and what your shareholders need. Then help them make it happen.

9_Develop a thick skin. Being CEO of a business – especially if you are the founder – is an emotional roller coaster. You will have some very low moments. Don’t let the emotional pressure break you. People will read you better than you think, and if they smell vulnerability and weakness, you wield less power.”

Vía StartupCollective

 

5 things you should do every day before breakfast

work smarter

“You can’t add more hours to your day, but you can make the most out of those hours by being more productive. Here are five things you can make part of your early morning routine that will help add focus, energy and speed to the rest of your workday:

1_Wake up early
Giving yourself an extra hour in the morning sets the tone for the rest of your day. You can accomplish your morning goals, stay relaxed and leave for work in the right state of mind. This may be the hardest goal to turn into a habit, but remember, it’s self-reinforcing. Do this for a week, and you’ll find that you’ve increased your productivity enough that you’ll have time to go to bed at a reasonable hour to make waking up early less painful.

2_Exercise
30 minutes of moderate exercise equates to about two hours’ worth of extra productivity over an eight-hour work day. Get this done in the morning, and the boosted productivity you’ll gain will affect every hour you spend at the office. As an added bonus, your exercise time never gets overrun by emergencies and extra-long meetings.

3_Review your goals
Take 10 minutes first thing in the morning to review your most important goals for the day. That simple check-in with yourself will keep those goals in the front of your mind as the day tries to distract you from getting them done. Make a list of the two or three things that, if that’s all you accomplished, would let you go to bed at night feeling as if you’d made real progress.

4_Make a to-don’t list
Everybody has a short list of habits they want to quit. Whatever your to-don’ts are, write them down and then review them along with your other goals every morning to help you keep your eyes on that particular prize.

5_Meditate
You don’t have to sit with your legs crossed and chant ‘Om’ to meditate. Simply take 5 or 10 minutes to breathe, relax and focus on the things you find most important. Depending on your goals and your to-don’ts, this can be a formal relaxation practice, positive visualization exercises, prayer or just thinking intently about what doing your best that day will mean to your life, career, business and family.

Once you’ve accomplished all five of these tasks, eat breakfast before heading out for your day.”

Jason Brick writer and public speaker, freelance

what’s wrong with american business

random thoughts

“American corporations, which are richer and more profitable than they have ever been in history, have become so obsessed with “maximizing short-term profits” that they are no longer investing in their future, their people, and the country. So their employees aren’t regarded as people who are members of a team. Rather, they are regarded as “costs.”

And “costs,” as we all know, are supposed to be reduced as much as is humanly possible (except the “costs” of the salaries of senior management and investors–those are supposed to be increased). Unfortunately, that is destroying America’s middle class, robbing American consumers (a.k.a., “employees”) of spending power, and, ironically, hurting the growth of the same corporations that are making this choice.”

Henry Blodget CEO and Editor, Business Insider