Should you “Dress up” to go to work – what do you think? (This was prompted by an article from the BBC site, Are work suits on the way out? by Tom de Castella).
It ends with this paragraph, and I’ve got a hunch this is right:
“If you put on a tailored suit and pressed shirt you are putting on a suit of armour. You will walk a bit straighter and taller and people will take you more seriously.”
But I also think it is a losing battle in this less than formal, increasingly casual age.
What do you think?
Here is an excerpt from an article written by Justin Fox for the Harvard Business Review blog. To read the complete article, check out other articles and resources, and/or sign up for a free subscription to Harvard Business Review’s Daily Alerts, please click here.
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I’m sitting at DLD, a new-media conference hosted by an old media company (German magazine publisher Burda) in Munich. Arthur Sulzberger Jr. of the New York Times Co. and Hubert Burda of Burda are onstage talking about their experiences in a transformed media landscape. I want to feel useful, so I start tweeting about it. I am not alone. A trickle of tweets with the #DLD11 hashtag soon becomes a roaring river, to the point that blogger Paul Kedrosky, who’s not here, complains about it.
One of Sulzberger’s utterances — “a New York Times article is tweeted every four seconds” — is itself tweeted every 10 seconds for an hour or two.
“Maybe let’s get rid of word ‘publishing,’” Sulzberger suggests. “What can’t define the work we do is the method of distribution.” (In honor of Alfred Kahn, who died last month, I suggest we replace the word ‘publishing’ with ‘banana.’) Burda says his company (which has its roots in selling sewing patterns) makes pretty good money selling stuff online. “The biggest Enttäuschung — what’s the word for Enttäuschung? [it's disappointment] — is that ad revenues from online are so low, 10% of print.” But, on the plus side, “people like to blätter [look through actual pages].”
Then Burda and Sulzberger leave the stage and are replaced by a panel featuring a couple of media executives plus Google’s Nikesh Arora (who I guess is a media executive too), LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, and venture capitalist (and Facebook investor) Jim Breyer. Breyer stands out — both in the room and the Twitter echo chamber — by sounding like an Old Testament prophet (or at least like Clay Christensen):
“traditional media companies unless they radically change … will be obsolete 10 yrs from now;” “if you were starting media company today no way would TV, magazine, newspaper be part of it … except maybe for sports;” “the fact of the matter is, newspapers are dead,” “my firm now has twice as many partners in Beijing as in Palo Alto;” etc.
By this point, I’ve given up on the tweeting. The likes of Robert Scoble, Bill Gross and Henry Blodget are far quicker on the draw — and far better at sussing out what will fascinate their many followers on Twitter — than I am. It’s media disintermediation at work!
Lots of industries have been turned upside down by innovation over the years. But no industry has ever had its disruption chewed over in quite such exhaustive, exhausting detail as the media in the age of the internets. I’ve been listening to these discussions about my industry’s uncertain future for 12 or 13 years now. Can’t we just get finished being disrupted already and get on with our lives?
Well, no, it doesn’t quite work that way. The disruption just keeps on going. One fascinating twist is that while Arthur Sulzberger and Hubert Burda can still show up at (and in, Burda’s case, underwrite) conferences like this and talk of their minor new-media triumphs, there’s no sign of such earlier disrupters as Yahoo! or MySpace or Pointcast or whatever. Several people I’ve talked to here in Munich expressed surprise, in fact, that Facebook hasn’t seen its business model disrupted yet.
How do you survive such a seemingly unending series of waves? The by-now-standard, Christensen-inspired corporate response to disruptive innovation is to create a separate operation, with different incentives and structure than the parent organization, to exploit the innovation. I can’t off the top of my head think of any huge successes of that ilk in the media world, though (can you?).
I used to think investing in the innovators might be the smart way around, but the venture capital business, which in theory does just that, has been in the tank for a decade. In the midst of all the talk about dying media companies at DLD, entrepreneur Yossi Vardi asks VC Joe Schoendorf when the last venture capitalist would go out of business. A few will survive, Schoendorf says.
Breyer (who is Schoendorf’s partner at Accel, a VC firm that appears headed for survival) at one point does say that “content developers are better off than ever before.” That is, those who know how to create media — stuff that people want to read, watch, listen to, play with — can make it through all the turmoil. Nice to hear! But somehow I don’t think developing content about people talking about disruptions to the content industry is really the ticket to success. Maybe the real secret to thriving amid disruptive innovation is not to to think or talk about it too much.
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Justin Fox is editorial director of the Harvard Business Review Group and author of The Myth of the Rational Market: A History of Risk, Reward, and Delusion on Wall Street.
Here is an article written by Geoffrey James for BNET, The CBS Interactive Business Network. To check out an abundance of valuable resources and obtain a free subscription to one or more of the BNET newsletters, please click here.
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Sales professionals want to “call high”, but often they’re confused about what to do or say when they finally get a meeting with a bigwig.
Fortunately, it’s not all that complicated, if you follow ten easy rules.
[Here are five. To read the complete article, please click here.]
RULE #1: Do your homework. Prior to the meeting, research the exec’s “business agenda” and try to ascertain his or her “personal agenda” as well. You’ll want to address both during your first meeting.
RULE #2: Don’t assume context. While the meeting is a huge deal to you, it’s probably not for the exec. Don’t assume he knows why you’re there. Introduce yourself. Explain the meeting’s purpose.
RULE #3: Get to business. Executives are busy folk. Don’t try to schmooze or talk about sports unless the exec initiates the conversation.
RULE #4: Prove your value. Within the first few minutes, demonstrate you have done your homework and understand the company, its challenges and its place in the industry.
RULE #5: Focus on business issues. Make the conversation about how you can help the exec achieve the two agendas (see Rule #1). Do not attempt to wow an exec with “bells and whistles.” It won’t work.
The above is based on a conversation with Dr. Steve Bistritz and Nicholas A.C. Read, authors of the bestselling book Selling to the C-Suite. They interviewed several hundred executives and figured out what they wanted from the sales professionals who call on them.
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Geoffrey James has sold and written hundreds of features, articles and columns for national publications including Wired, Men’s Health, Business 2.0, SellingPower, Brand World, Computer Gaming World, CIO, The New York Times and (of course) BNET. He is the author of seven books, including Business Wisdom of the Electronic Elite (translated into seven languages and selected by four book clubs), and The Tao of Programming (widely quoted on the Web as a “canonical book of computer humor”.) He was also co-host of Funny Business, a program on New England’s largest all-talk radio station.
There are times when I feel something close to a sense of despair. It has to do with a simple question – should a business take seriously the call to do right? The despair comes from what I read — in a lot of places/books/articles, but especially in the book I have recently completed, All The Devils Are Here, on the financial meltdown. The failure to do right is absolutely pervasive throughout the narrative.
Doing right is different from doing good. Doing good is a corporate initiative – you know, be involved in philanthropy, give back to the community. These are very good things to do. But doing good is not the same as doing right. Doing right has to do with doing the right thing, in spite of the consequences to the bottom line, the profit, the promotion.
I am in the midst of a personal quest regarding this call to do right. I am talking to people, asking professors, and authors, and business people. And in the course of this quest, I found this paragraph, which comes from the inaugural issue of Ethikos, July/August 1987, The Ethical Education of an MBA by Andrew Singer:
The task of “influencing ethical behavior” is made more difficult today—at least in the view of some faculty members—because students arrive at graduate school less well prepared—ethically speaking—than students in the past. “The training on ethical and moral issues is considerably less than was seen previously—in the church, the home and the school system,” says Horniman. “And since each has less influence, they don’t support each other. The schools are terrified to talk about moral issues such as promise-keeping, truth-telling, etc.” There seems to be a popular view that one has to be amoral to succeed in business. Each year NYU’s Lamb presents his class with a case study of a pharmaceutical company that discovers that one of its drugs has been killing 20 people a year. He tells the class to imagine they’re on the company’s board of directors. Do they pull the drug from the market? Or try to “contain” the crisis? “Invariably, they decide to fight the FDA and sell the drug abroad,” reports Lamb. Lamb then asks a second question: Would you want your own doctor prescribing the drug? “Invariably, they say no.” The case usually “sparks” a lively discussion about ethics and corporate responsibility.
This presents a great, short, to the point case of doing right vs. doing bad.
I think we need a movement – a movement that takes us beyond doing good to doing right.
What about you? Would you do right?