First Friday Book Synopsis

"…like CliffNotes on steroids…"

Philip Kotler: Part 1 of an interview by Bob Morris

KotlerPhilip Kotler is the S.C. Johnson & Son Professor of International Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. He received his Master’s Degree at the University of Chicago and his PhD Degree at MIT, both in economics. He did post-doctoral work in mathematics at Harvard University and in behavioral science at the University of Chicago.

Kotler is the author of 57 books including: Marketing Management: Analysis, Planning, Implementation and Control, the most widely used marketing book in graduate business schools worldwide; Principles of Marketing; Marketing Models; Strategic Marketing for Nonprofit Organizations; The New Competition; High Visibility; Social Marketing; Marketing Places; Marketing for Congregations; Marketing for Hospitality and Tourism; The Marketing of Nations; Kotler on Marketing, Building Global Biobrands, Attracting Investors, Ten Deadly Marketing Sins, Marketing Moves, Market Your Way to Growth, and Winning Global Markets. He has published over one hundred and fifty articles in leading journals, several of which have received best-article awards.

His latest book, Confronting Capitalism: Real Solutions for a Troubled Economic System, was published by AMACOM (April 2015).

He has traveled extensively throughout Europe, Asia and South America, advising and lecturing to many companies about how to apply sound economic and marketing science principles to increase their competitiveness. He has also advised governments on how to develop and position the skill sets and resources of their companies for global competition.

Here is an excerpt from Part 1 of my interview of Phil Kotler.

* * *

Morris: Before discussing Confronting Capitalism, a few general questions. First, who has had the greatest influence on your personal growth? How so?

Kotler: My parents, and their interest in making the world a better place for more people inspired me.

Morris: The greatest impact on your professional development? How so?

Kotler: Peter Drucker. I learned so much from his insights into business, organization, and strategy. Peter phoned me several years ago and invited me to spend a day with him at Claremont College. We spent a lot of time viewing his collection of Japanese art and discussing the problems of nonprofit organizations. Peter invited me to join the board of the Drucker Foundation and I saw him at several annual meetings.

Morris: Years ago, was there a turning point (if not an epiphany) that set you on the career course you continue to follow? Please explain.

Kotler: After receiving my Ph.D. in economics at M.I.T., I planned to teach economics. Professor Don Jacobs of Northwestern University, who I met at the one-year Ford Foundation program at Harvard in 1960, invited me to consider joining the business school at Northwestern (subsequently called the Kellogg School of Management.) He recommended that instead of my teaching microeconomics or managerial economics, the field of marketing was ripe for new conceptualization and development. I agreed with him and decided to teach marketing.

I found marketing to be highly descriptive and prescriptive, without much of a foundation in deep research. I brought in economics, organization theory, mathematics, and social psychology in my first edition of Marketing Management in 1967. Today Marketing Management is in its 15th edition and remains the world’s leading textbook on marketing in MBA programs. Subsequently, I wrote two more textbooks, Principles of Marketing and Marketing: an Introduction.

Morris: To what extent has your formal education been invaluable to what you have accomplished in life thus far?

Kotler: My education was largely humanistic covering history, philosophy, literature, and the arts. I spent a lot of time discussing the Great Books. I finally chose economics as my major. For my Masters degree, I studied under Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman at the University of Chicago and I became a free market economist. For my Ph.D., I received a fellowship to study at M.I.T. under two other Nobel Prize winners, Paul Samuelson and Robert Solow. I became a convinced Keynesian as a result, believing that a recession is best handled with stimulus spending rather than leaving the economy to eventually recover with the hardships of austerity.

Morris: What do you know now about the business world that you wish you knew when you went to work full-time for the first time? Why?

Kotler: My primary early interest was in marketing and my aim was to improve its theories, methods and tools. Early on I pressed companies to adopt a consumer orientation and to be in the value creation business. I didn’t pay much attention to the social responsibilities of business until later. Now I am pressing companies to address the triple bottom line: people, the planet, and profits. I found that companies were too much into short term profit maximization and they needed to invest more in sustainability thinking.

Morris: Of all the firms that you have seen, which – in your opinion – best dramatizes important business principles? Please explain.

Kotler: I admire firms that have achieved a real differentiation from their competitors. Nike is all about mastering sports. Apple is all about creating technologies to make life easier and better. Audi is is all about introducing new technologies to make automobiles safer and better performing. I admire companies that have a purpose, passion, and performance. I am a fan of Unilever under its CEO Paul Polman, not only for the company’s insights into women and men when they buy beauty products or skin products (the DOVE woman, the AXE man), but also as a company seeking to achieve both growth and practicing social responsibility. Continue reading

Friday, May 22, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where Will My Next Customer Come From? – “You have to Sell, Every Day” – (Reflections on the Challenges of the Independent Worker)

The only thing you got in this world is what you can sell. And the funny thing is, you’re a salesman, and you don’t know that. — ARTHUR MILLER, Death of a Salesman (1949)

Takeaway #1 – Accept/Embrace your role in sales – (Market yourself; get out there and sell!)
(from my ten takeaways in my book synopsis of Daniel Pink’s To Sell is Human — read all ten here).

——————–

I am an independent worker.
I teach college.
I speak to business leadership teams and other groups.
I speak to nonprofit leadership teams and groups.
I give keynote speeches.
I do some training classes, especially on innovation, and on presentations skills.
I consult.

There are times when I do not have enough work to do, but much of the time I have a different problem. I have plenty of work to do; too much work to do. And when that happens, then the “disciplines” (they are disciplines) of growing my business are significantly neglected.

click on image for full view

click on image for full view

In my “circles,” (see the image), there it is on the left, staring me right in the face. I need to have a thriving “Marketing and Sales” component to what I do – you know, “Customer Acquisition.”

Where will my next new customer come from? That’s the challenge. That’s always the challenge.

And so, I need to get the word out, far and wide, as well as in very targeted ways (more “narrow” than “far and wide”).

And then, I need to actually make the sale – many more sales.

It sounds simple. But, there are times when my schedule is full that I simply cannot squeeze out the time to do that.

I’ve hired other tasks done. I work with a wonderful graphic designer who has totally upgraded the look of the handouts in my presentations.

But “sales” has been a tougher challenge. Partly because if “I” am the product, then I pretty much have to do the “selling of the product” – me.

Yes, I’ve read and heard and been reminded of the wisdom that no matter how busy you are, you need to spend some time every day in sales. I get that – intellectually. But there are days – many days – when that is just not doable.

(By the way, have you ever added up all the “if you do this a little each day” tasks that we “should” do – daily exercise; daily sales; daily blogging; daily journaling… Before you know it, you really don’t have time to do anything at all except your “you should do this every day” tasks)…

So… here is the point of this blog post. It’s an important point. It’s true for every business endeavor, and every nonprofit enterprise. It’s true for every independent worker, like me. Someone has to make sure that sales and marketing is ongoing; pretty much every day!

And if you are a true independent worker, that someone is you.  (That someone is…me).

Without products or services, you have no business.
Without customers, you have no business.

Yep, that’s about right!

——————–

To Sell is HumanMay I sell something to you? I have my book synopsis available of the terrific Daniel Pink book, To Sell is Human. It comes with a comprehensive handout, and the audio recording of my presentation (just over 15 minutes). I want to sell it to you. It’s just $9.99. Click here to buy it. (Click on the “catalogue” tab, and then type in To Sell is Human in the search box.  And, yes, we have many other book synopsis presentations available for you to purchase, and then learn from. It is a product that is worth the money!)

Friday, May 22, 2015 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | Leave a comment

Rodd Wagner: Part 2 of an interview by Bob Morris

Wagner, RoddRodd Wagner is the New York Times bestselling author of the book Widgets: The 12 New Rules for Managing Your Employees As If They’re Real People, published by McGraw-Hill (April 2015). He is one of the foremost authorities on employee engagement and collaboration. Wagner’s books, speeches, and thought leadership focus on how human nature affects business strategy. He currently serves as vice president of employee engagement strategy at BI Worldwide. He is a confidential advisor to senior executives on the best ways to increase their personal effectiveness and their organizations’ performance. His work has taken him around the world, to the executive suites of major corporations in nearly every industry, to the Pentagon, and to the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.

Rodd is lead author of two other books: 12: The Elements of Great Managing and Power of 2: How to Make the Most of Your Partnerships at Work and in Life. His books have been published in 10 languages and his work featured in The Wall Street Journal, ABC News Now, BusinessWeek.com, CNBC.com, and the National Post of Canada, and parodied in Dilbert. He holds an M.B.A. with honors from the University of Utah Graduate School of Business. He was formerly a principal of Gallup, the research director of the Portland Press Herald, and WGME-TV in Maine, a reporter and news editor for The Salt Lake Tribune, and a radio talk show host. When not writing or consulting, he enjoys fly-fishing, snowboarding, and coaching youth lacrosse.

Here is an excerpt from Part 2 of my interview of Rodd.

* * *

Morris: When and why did you decide to write Widgets?

Wagner: I decided to write Widgets a couple years ago, as my colleagues and I took stock of everything that had changed in previous decade and as the first wave of our research made it apparent there was a compelling story to tell.

Morris: Were there any head-snapping revelations while writing it? Please explain.

Wagner: Each of what I called “the New Rules of Engagement” reflects a rewriting of the old social contract. As I assembled the evidence for each chapter, it became clear the world had changed with respect to that issue. How, for example, can a company get its people committed to work on long-term plans for the organization at the same time it is laying off dedicated people and no one who remains knows whether he or she will be there to see the plan fulfilled? At what point, to cite another example, does an organization’s poking and prodding of employees in the interest of so-called “wellbeing” get creepy?

Morris: To what extent (if any) does the book in final form differ significantly from what you originally envisioned?

Wagner: It took two chapters rather than one to lay the foundation. It took two chapters rather than one to wrap things up after covering each of the 12 New Rules. Otherwise, it’s largely structured as I envisioned. But the details – the examples and the particular form of the arguments – showed up only in the writing. Concepts and facts in my mind are non-linear. I can let them float around and connect in three or four dimensions in my mind right up until the moment I start writing. A book is linear. It requires I get each idea and statistic to get in line. These ideas don’t behave much better than a group of kindergarteners a teacher is trying to take on a field trip. I am always a little surprised, amused, or intrigued at how these things assemble themselves when required to do so. Under this pressure to organize my thoughts, or in the discussion of the draft with my manager or a trusted friend, insights emerge that never would have popped out except under these conditions. Those breakthroughs are always worth the price of admission.

Morris: To what extent do you develop in greater depth ideas introduced in your previous books, 12 and Power of 2? Please explain.

Wagner: 12 was written a decade ago. Except for the stories of the great managers I interviewed for the book, which are good examples regardless of their time, the science in the book is as dated now as the cell phone I carried in 2005 when I was writing it. Gallup has not changed its Q12 questions since 1998, a year before First, Break All the Rules was published. While human nature has not changed in that time, the business context certainly has. You can tell in Widgets that I am critical of Gallup and its many copycats for their lack on innovation in the face of dramatic changes to the unwritten social contract over the last 16 years. In Widgets, I hit the reset button hard.

The research Gale Muller and I did for Power of 2, on the other hand, grounded me in the science of reciprocity, which substantially influenced my research and writing for Widgets. It was a good launching pad for this most recent book.

Most important, while I was the lead author of both those books, one does not take as many liberties or speak as candidly when writing on behalf of two people (and on behalf of a company, a fact for which I was once slammed in The Wall Street Journal). Widgets is the first book where I am sole author, where I could communicate most directly and bluntly with the reader. Where the facts showed it necessary, I’ve contradicted what I wrote a decade ago, either because further evidence indicated the truth was something different or because the world changed and what was true then is not true now. Like that “best friend at work” question? Pssst! It really is a dumb thing to put on a survey.

Morris: Here’s a motivation issue on which opinions are divided – sometimes sharply divided. I doubt that leaders can motivate other people but they can inspire them to become self-motivated. What do you think?

Wagner: Putting all the responsibility for an employee’s motivation on him or her is an abdication of responsibility, and contrary to a wealth of research. We’ve all had good jobs and bad jobs and we know that we were more motivated in the good jobs. Just because there is evidence that people do bring a certain bearing to work with them does not mean that there’s not a huge range in their intensity that depends on the quality of their enterprise’s leadership and managers.

Morris: Many people see themselves as “widgets” and one of the reasons is that creativity and individuality tend to be discouraged in schools, especially in elementary public schools. Do you agree?

Wagner: That’s a bad rap. Schools are such different places than they were a generation or two ago. I find them exceptionally open to recognizing different talents in individual students. Schools are also in the difficult position of having to recognize individuality while at the same time needing to teach certain skills and knowledge that everyone ought to have. Business can afford to have people specialize. Schools must help kids master general knowledge. My teachers knew me as a hard-core science kid. They would be shocked to find out I became a writer. It’s a good thing no one waived the English requirements for me along the way.

Morris: Many managers see themselves as “widgets” and one of the reasons is that they tend to have responsibility for [begin italics] but very little authority over [end italics] those whom they manage, as is the “way” at Google. Your own thoughts about all this?

Wagner: Without speaking about Google, which is a topic by itself, sure, it happens all the time. The quality of managing is constrained by the little latitude given to those managers and the degree to which the managers themselves are looked after by their managers. I’ve been in a few situations where I had fantastic managers, but the leadership of the company was clueless. I asked my managers for their advice. They all said something such as, “There’s nothing more here for either of us. Let’s both get out.” And we did. Most managers will tow the company line up to a point, but eventually they choke on the words, because they care about their people.

Morris: In your opinion, can what you characterize as “The New Rules of Engagement” work in the military services? Please explain.

Wagner: Absolutely. We’re still talking about human nature. It’s often struck me how different the vocabulary is, but how much the concepts are the same. In many ways, the military is ahead of the civilian world. Pay is transparent. The path to promotion is much clearer. There is a system for recognizing achievement and sacrifice. The incentives for teamwork are nearly perfected in a way that would be the envy of any civilian organization. And the pressures are so much greater that the proportion of exemplary leaders is, in my estimation, much higher.

* * *

To read all of Part 2, please click here.

Here’s a link to Part 1.

Rodd cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:

One site is aimed at leaders and managers. Another site is aimed at employees. Both link to my blog and, most important, to the New Rules index self-assessment where employees can discover for free how their job stacks up against the jobs of people in the rest of the country.

Thursday, May 21, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Richard Newton: Part 1 of an interview by Bob Morris

Newton, Richard

In his own words….

I’m an entrepreneur who writes.

I’ve written three books.

The End of Nice: How to be human in a world run by robots: This is a manifesto for human creativity in the age of machines, big data and automation.

I wrote Stop Talking, Start Doing: A Kick in the Pants in Six Parts with my co-author Shaa Wasmund: This was a best-selling business book in the UK and has been published in 15 languages.

And I’ve written The Little Book of Thinking Big: Aim Higher and Go Further Than You Ever Thought Possible, published by Capstone/A Wiley Brand. It hit the Sunday Times #1 spot for business bestsellers.

For almost ten years I wrote about business for The Sunday Telegraph, The Mail on Sunday and others. Then I switched sides to walk the talk and run my own business.

A few years ago I co-founded a company called OP3Nvoice (now called Clarify.io) which was described by Giga-Om as the emerging Google of video and audio. We moved the HQ to Austin, Texas, after going through the Techstars program in London.

Before that I co-founded Screendragon, a software company that supplies brand management and project management systems for many of the world’s largest consumer brands and ad agencies. It was hell and it was exciting. Sometimes simultaneously.

In 2014 I shifted back to writing. I write on technology companies, start up culture, and innovation for The Financial Times, Guardian, British Airways Business Life, and Virgin Entrepreneur blogs, my own blogs and elsewhere.

Here is an excerpt from Part 1 of my interview of Rich.

* * *

Morris: Before discussing The Little Book of Thinking Big, a few general questions. First, who has had the greatest influence on your personal growth? How so?

Newton: Too many to mention but here’s one. I made friends with a guy called Jonathan Marks in Indonesia in 1987 when I was travelling. A year later I was meandering my way back from the Southern hemisphere to the UK and ended up in San Francisco and I looked him up. He was the first person I knew with a Macintosh computer and he was using it run a business trading in live recordings of the Grateful Dead, Tie Die Grateful Dead T-shirts, key rings and other fan stuff. He was doing all this from his home on the corner of Haight and Ashbury.

Nearly thirty years later this still seems like a cool and high tech way to live and to blend passion, technology and work. I stayed with him and his girlfriend for a bit and then, when I caught the Greyhound bus to New York he gave me a copy of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S Thompson and On The Road by Jack Kerouac…Which I read “on the road.” Kind of. I think all this lit a slow burning fuse to be a tech entrepreneur and become a writer.

Morris: The greatest impact on your professional development? How so?

Newton: No single person but I would say it is all the “chancers” I have met in life. You see, for me, playing by the rules and trying to proceed incrementally in my career and travelling only step by measured step is easy to do. It’s what I would call “nice” behaviour – fitting in and conforming, minimising risk and playing by the rules. But along the way I have been fortunate enough to keep meeting friends and acquaintances who are less ponderous than me. They just get on with things and while many of them have failed many times they have swung the bat a lot and that’s always an inspiration to leap out of the comfort zone.

Morris: Years ago, was there a turning point (if not an epiphany) that set you on the career course you continue to follow? Please explain.

Newton: One of these friends I referred to above had persuaded Coca-Cola that he could make a TV commercial for them. He had never made a TV commercial so this was pure hustle. I was a journalist at the time and we collaborated to write some ideas. The ideas which we thought were the worst, the client thought were the best (valuable learning!) and then we were given a budget and had to make a TV commercial. Unlike my friend who had some video production experience I had none. But I took some time off work and we worked out how to make a TV ad and begged and borrowed favours (actors, music, crews, camera, studios, make up, costumes etc) and hustled and got the ad out on time, on budget and it spent a long time on terrestrial TV. Through that I realised you could hustle anything and learn on the job and get help in the areas where you most needed it.

* * *

To read all of Part 1 of my interview of Rich, please click here.

Rich cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:

His website link

Wait But Why link

Brain Pickings link

xkcd link

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Need Better Communication Skills – A Slight Rant

I teach speech at the community college level.
I read business books.
I speak to business groups.

Can I just have the ear of some business leaders for a minute, please.

In one of my classes, a student is taking my Public Speaking course in between finishing his B.S. and starting his Masters program. In his undergraduate program, there were no speech classes offered. Read that last sentence carefully. There were no speech classes offered. We’re not even dealing with a “required” class, but simply offering the opportunity.

Yes, he got his degree from one of those STEM focused universities.

I sort of understand the STEM folks (Science; Technology; Engineering; Math). They don’t want to be bothered by communication classes; such classes are too “soft skills” focused for their taste. They’ve got “real” subjects to study, after all. (I told you – this is a slight rant).

So, we end up with a bunch of degreed people, well-educated, except maybe not all that able to communicate.

This student is taking my summer Public Speaking class because his Masters program requires it. Good for them!

Here’s my observation. We are increasingly surrounded by people with great, yet narrow skill-sets. They may not have enough “liberal arts” understanding to build needed bridges to others – especially the non-STEM folks.

And, as a result, their peers, and their customers (especially their customers) may not quite grasp what it is they have to offer.

I think that every person, in any and every business endeavor, needs to be able to stand in front of a group, and translate jargon and techie vocabulary into every-day English for the non-initiate.

Bestowing a degree to a person with no training in Public Speaking really does seem like a big, big mistake to me.

Okay – slight rant over…

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | Leave a comment

What is Your Focus? – Are You Staying on, or Straying From, Your Focus? – (A Warning from Jim Collins)

What is your focus?

What is your organization’s focus?

What is your personal focus – in your job, in your life?

FocusIt seems like such an easy question to answer: “What are you focusing on?” But, if you are like me, there is always the next pull from the next demand – the next time demand, the next skill-development demand.

We never, ever quite master staying focused, do we?

I thought of this – again – as I worked back through my highlights from Good to Great and the Social Sectors, the monograph by Jim Collins. Here’s the key quote:

To do the most good requires saying “no” to pressures to stray, and the discipline to stop doing what does not fit.

So, assuming you know what your primary focus is, what tempts you to stray from your primary focus? What have you not said “no” to that you really should say “no” to?

Staying on task– the task, the main task, the only task – this is what separates the truly great from the many others.

It is not easy to learn how to do this!

Monday, May 18, 2015 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | Leave a comment

Reflections on Brinkley’s Biography of Cronkite

On Wednesday, I present a synopsis of Douglas Brinkley‘s biography of Walter Cronkite.

The book, simply titled Cronkite (Harper, 2012) took me a summer to read, as it is over 1000 pages long.  It was worth it.

I presented it at a bonus program for the First Friday Book Synopsis, and for several associations and companies in Dallas.  Since it was never a best-seller, we did not feature it in a monthly presentation.

Brinkley has become one of our great biographers, and this one is almost novel-like in its content and construction.

Cronkite was known as the “most trusted man in America.”  His work for CBS News was strengthened by his initial work in newspapers.  He was truly a journalist, not a TelePrompTer reader.  His flexibility comes across again and again in the book, noting that it was never too late to get important news on the air in a broadcast.

This is a book you could read 25-50 pages a week over the summer and make a strong headway.  Maybe you could latch on to the content and even read it faster.

Douglas Brinkley photoCronkiteCover

Sunday, May 17, 2015 Posted by | Karl's blog entries | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Case of the Disposable American Worker(s) – (Fossil reminds us, Where will the jobs be?)

So, I woke up this morning reading the news that Fossil is shipping many (most) of its jobs out of country.

FossilSo, imagine this… someone is hired at Fossil to do a job. That person does that job well. That person is asked to be a part of the Fossil team, and Fossil aims at high employee engagement. As do all good companies.

And, then, it is discovered that the same work can be done for much less in India, so the person becomes completely, utterly disposable — that very person who was hired for his/her talent, that person who helped raise the employee engagement numbers for the company.

Now, multiply that person by hundreds/thousands. And now you have the reality of the American workplace.

Here’s the article I read in this morning’s Dallas Morning News: Schnurman: Fossil sells out its tech workers.

And, here’s the key excerpt from the article:

“Workers have to feel like they’re very disposable.”
“The executives making these decisions aren’t villains,” Hira (Ron Hira, a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington and an associate professor at Howard University) told the Senate panel before proposing improvements to the H1-B program. “They are simply acting rationally” to cut labor costs.

This is a problem without a good solution. Every company is facing competition that does the exact same thing. The mandate calls for lower costs, and lowering the cost of labor is one immediately available way to accomplish this in this era of globalization.

And, companies are so focused on this problem that they seem to ignore the issue of “what will these workers do now?”. And, as this outsourcing and offshoring and labor-cost-cutting continues, the middle-class shrinks, and then shrinks some more.

Where will the jobs be? This is the question that I have come back to time and time again in my blogging career. I read and look, pretty much in vain, for an answer.

——————–

On the Dallas Morning News site for the article, the author, Mitchell Schnurman has an excellent commentary. I’ve embedded it here. Do yourself a favor; spend the slightly over 2 minutes it takes to watch it. It is worth watching!

 

Sunday, May 17, 2015 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | Leave a comment

Robbie Kellman Baxter: Part 1 of an interview by Bob Morris

BaxterRobbie Kellman Baxter created the popular business term “Membership Economy.” She is the founder of Peninsula Strategies LLC, a strategy consulting firm. The Peninsula Strategies website is http://www.peninsulastrategies.com. Her clients have included large organizations like Netflix, SurveyMonkey and Yahoo!, as well as smaller venture-backed startups. Over the course of her career, Robbie has worked in or consulted to clients in more than twenty industries.

Before starting Peninsula Strategies in 2001, Robbie served as a New York City Urban Fellow, a consultant at Booz Allen & Hamilton, and a Silicon Valley product marketer. As a public speaker, she has presented to thousands of people in corporations, associations, and universities. Moreover, she has been quoted in or written articles for major media outlets, including CNN, Consumer Reports, The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. She has an AB from Harvard College and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Robbie’s book, The Membership Economy: Find Your Super Users, Master the Forever Transaction, and Build Recurring Revenue, was published by McGraw-Hill (March 2015).

Here is an excerpt from 2art 1 of my interview of Robbie.

* * *

Morris: Before discussing The Membership Economy, a few general questions. First, who has had the greatest influence on your personal growth? How so?

Baxter: This might sound corny, but my parents and my husband Bob have had the greatest influence on both my personal and professional growth, because they always have believed in me and have always provided a safety net, or at least the feeling of one. Knowing that I have people to turn to if risks don’t work out has given me the confidence to launch my consulting business, write the book and continue to stretch myself.

Morris: Years ago, was there a turning point (if not an epiphany) that set you on the career course you continue to follow? Please explain.

Baxter: Almost twelve years ago, I was brought in to do some work for Netflix by a business school classmate. At the time, I had been an independent consultant for a couple of years, and prior to that had been a big firm (Booz) strategy consultant—always a generalist. At Netflix, I fell in love with their business model. I loved the subscription-for-unlimited-access model (as a person who loves all-you-can-eat buffets) and I loved the relentless focus on doing a single thing really well. I also loved how carefully they tracked post-transaction engagement, as opposed to just focusing on basic metrics like acquisition and retention. As a result of working with Netflix, I changed the focus of my practice to specialize in subscription and membership oriented businesses.

Morris: To what extent has your formal education been invaluable to what you have accomplished in life thus far?

Baxter: At Harvard, I studied poetry. That was such a gift. I learned to think analytically and I learned to write, but I also had an opportunity to develop an appreciation of the arts that is still a tremendous source of pleasure and inspiration. Going back to business school helped me round out my tool box of business skills and develop a big picture understanding of how organizations thrive. At both schools, I developed friendships that have evolved into tremendous professional relationships as well.

Morris: What do you know now about the business world that you wish you knew when you went to work full-time for the first time? Why?

Baxter: I know that you need to be on a team where your boss really believes in you and where the company is growing quickly. These two elements define a great professional situation for me. It’s not enough for your boss to think you’re “pretty good”. Also, especially as a woman, I encourage people to spend at least some time in sales. Revenue generated is never subjective.

Morris: Of all the films that you have seen, which – in your opinion – best dramatizes important business principles? Please explain.

Baxter: The Godfather. Culture eats strategy for breakfast.

Morris: From which non-business book have you learned the most valuable lessons about business? Please explain.

Baxter: Can’t select only one. Here are three:

o Free by Chris Anderson: I wish I had written it! I think the way organizations use free, especially as the variable costs of content, software etc approach zero, can be a source of competitive edge.

o The Enneagram Made Easy: A great tool for understanding how other people think and what they value. It’s been tremendously helpful in helping me relate with clients and colleagues.

o Getting to 50/50 by Joanna Strober and Sharon Meers: As a working mom, being thoughtful and deliberate about the professional choices I make has helped me have a wonderful career while still having the flexibility to parent the way my husband and I think is best for our family.

* * *

To read all of Part 1, please click here.

Robbie cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:

Peninsula Strategies link

Robbie’s Amazon page link

Robbie’s Business of Consulting blog link

LinkedIn link Twitter link

The Membership Economy video trailer link

The Membership Economy summary video link

Sunday, May 17, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Not Power, Not Coercion, But Leadership – (Insight prompted by Jim Collins, Good to Great and the Social Sectors)

Good to Great & Social SectorsAs James MacGregor Burns taught in his classic 1978 text, Leadership, the practice of leadership is not the same as the exercise of power. If I put a loaded gun to your head, I can get you to do things you might not otherwise do, but I’ve not practiced leadership; I’ve exercised power.
True leadership only exists if people follow when they have the freedom not to. (emphasis added).
Jim Collins, Good to Great and the Social Sectors: Why Business Thinking is Not the Answer (A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great)

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In Collin’s monograph Good to Great and the Social Sectors, he describes the leadership effectiveness of Frances Hasselbein, CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA. When asked what it was like to be at the top of such a large organization, she gave a tutorial, complete with object lessons. She rearranged items on a dining table:

Creating a set of concentric circles radiating outward. Hasselbein pointed to a glass in the middle of the table. “I’m here,” she said.

I teach it this way to my speech students: after explaining that “persuasion is changing someone’s mind, attitude, or behavior,” I remind them that seldom is full persuasion accomplished with any one single speech.

And then I teach/remind them that we can come close to making anyone do anything – all we have to do is hold their head underwater (it might take the help of the Cowboys’ offensive line to pull that off) until the person is willing to do what we demand. But, that is coercion, not persuasion.

Persuasion is all about getting other folks to head in the direction we want to take them/lead them when they have the absolute freedom to say no.

(Consider the recent execution of leaders in North Korea. I bet the other leaders are fully on board at this point. But there is apparently not much freedom to say no in that circumstance).

And when a person can say no, it takes pretty careful strategies of explaining, asking, training, educating, lobbying, appealing, to get things moving in a common direction. And getting good at this is no easy feat!

In other words, a person who can genuinely persuade others — others with the freedom to say no — deserves the title of leader.

Friday, May 15, 2015 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | 1 Comment

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