Don’t believe everything you think

Don’t believe everything you think


Leaders who are unable to see another point of view, listen to others, and absorb and engage with diversity are destined to make mistakes.

Good leaders have a point of view, but they allow others to put theirs, see when their ideas can be improved, and sometimes utter those amazingly strong leadership  wordsI did not know that’

Your beliefs, powered by experiences are powerful barriers and filters to the way you see the world, they reinforce the status quo for you.

Have you ever made a mistake, seen a better way with the benefit of hindsight that should have been obvious with a little more information, thought, time and effort?

Yes, most of us have.

If you answered no, seek counselling, quickly, before you do  any more damage.

Cartoon Credit: Hugh McLeod at


The single most common question I ask myself

The single most common question I ask myself

How do I demonstrate value?

As a senior marketing bloke in a large business, being heard around the board table was always a problem, as it is hard to quantify the impact of what you do. Try as hard as possible, there are still holes in the case, as the reality is that you are setting out to tell the future.

‘Do this, and that will happen’

While marketers are no longer seen as the corporate equivalent of ‘Zelda the fortune teller’ it remains hard to compete for scarce resources with those who are able to table hard data, and are able to quantify the holes in your logic, should they choose to do so.

While pointing out that one is in the past and cannot be changed, while the other is in the future, and therefore is able to be shaped by sensible and informed investment, there remains the uncertainty of the future. Success depends on the confidence that a management has in the ability of the marketer to assemble facts and suppositions into a credible projection of outcomes, in line with the risk profile of the corporation

It is even harder in consulting to small businesses. Every dollar spent on marketing with the promise of better outcomes in the future is a dollar out of the owners pocket. They have all been stung by the purveyors of various forms of marketing snake oil before, so are a wary and appropriately cynical lot.

I have concluded that the answer is a bit like motherhood, the value off which is only visible over a long period, but is then indisputable.

Photo credit Ali Alhosen via Flikr

Is being ‘sticky’ the key to success.

Is being ‘sticky’ the key to success.

Those flogging business coaching to the owners of medium sized businesses seem to focus on one of the oldest sales techniques in the book, the ‘Before &  After’ pitch.

Describe the current situation, and make it as down and dirty as possible, then describe the new world, the joy of the state achieved by the application of their great coaching/technology/process, whatever it is they are selling.

No mention of the challenge in the middle, abracadabra, all is well, just $109/month, less than the cost of coffee and a roll every day and you are on your way to the ‘laptop lifestyle’.

Tangled up in the bullshit, never articulated, at least  to my hearing is a very valid notion, that of ‘Critical Mass’.

The critical mass in a nuclear reaction is the point at which the process becomes self- sustaining. It may take only a nanosecond, but there is that critical point, below which the process is not self-sustaining, and past which, it is.

At what point does a cloud, which is just an accumulation of moisture, suddenly change from being a cloud to dropping rain?

For small business owners, the point of critical mass, from where the business is self-sustaining, is usually that point from where they can take time out of the business, and enjoy the financial rewards of success.  The road to that point will be different in every case, and most in my experience never actually consider what the elements of critical mass may be in their particular business, and how they might influence them.

I think it might be about how ‘sticky’ you can become.

‘Sticky’ is not a term often seen in any form of business writing, it is more usual in kids books, but how is this for a definition:

‘Stickiness’ in business is the function of: Share of Wallet  X Propensity of customers to advocate for you.

The stickier you are, the more likely you will be to have your customers buy from you everything you can reasonably provide, and then go one step further and tell their friends, peers, and wider networks.

If you are  not sticky enough, you will be sub self-sustaining, but pass that sticky test, and the business will sustain itself, with some ongoing tweaking, which is different from the 80 hour weeks most small  business owners put in, to make a living, but often  not have a life.


Cartoon credit: Hugh McLeod and




Who do we sue?

Who do we sue?

I had never thought of the question ‘Who do we sue’ as being of strategic importance until a few weeks ago.

Having coffee with a friend who has worked for a long time for a US  multinational corporation that developed and commercialised a very useful chemical component technology, long since copied by low cost manufacturers  in China, he explained it.

While my friends employer retains a significant market share in the US, everywhere else it has almost disappeared, although perhaps ironically, pockets do remain in Asia.

His analysis was that the nature of US corporations is that they like to know who to sue should something go wrong. This was the one and only reason his employer retained their US market share. Their US customers knew their chances of success in suing a Chinese supplier in the event that something  went wrong were somewhere between none and a snowflakes chance.

Therefore they continued to pay double the component price to his US owned employer as a sort of unstated insurance.

They knew who to sue.


Sell or nurture?

Sell or nurture?

Every piece of research I have ever seen puts the conversion rate of an initial sales contact little higher than 2%.

It does not seem to matter if it is the old style letter box stuffing or sophisticated email outreach, 2%.

Does that mean 98% are not interested?

Not necessarily, it can mean that they are just not ready to buy right now.

Therefore there is a percentage of that remaining 98% that may buy at some point with some nurturing.

This opens the question not just of how you go about the nurturing process but how you split your time, creative, and financial resources between the two, which is where the challenging strategic choices need to be made.