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The CEO As Brand


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Printed leave behind from the Holland-Mark CEO Series event, including tips on how CEOs can better build and leverage their personal brands.

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The CEO As Brand

  1. 1. the ceo as brand Habit #? Headline principles and platitudes to elevate you and yours
  2. 2. introductionWe all know it’s moving really fast. The world, that is. The rate of change is creatingunrelenting pressure on our organizations to innovate faster and better. We call it the“Shelf Life of Zero”—the idea that no matter how distinct and proprietary your offeringmight be today, that competitive advantage could be gone tomorrow. Your company hasto invent and re-invent itself every day simply to stay afloat. And all this applies to you aswell. Yup. You. As CEOs we all have to invent and re-invent ourselves every day becauseour capacities, sensibilities and interactions with our customers, employees and the marketat large set the tone and pace for our organizations. Think Jobs. Or Branson. Or Schultz. Ifyou want your business brand(s) to be seen as innovative, forward thinking and intimatelyconnected to market needs and wants, your CEO brand must be seen as innovative,forward thinking and intimately connected to market needs and wants. It’s that simple.What follows is our view of the 7 principles of effectively managing your brand as theCEO of your company. Not coincidentally, these platitudes pretty much line up with theways to build any brand. It’s not rocket science; it’s not even high school chemistry. It’sbasic. And while it might sound like fluff, the returns are very, very tangible. Thanks, asalways, for joining us. And now, the 7 principles …
  3. 3. principle #1 find your one simple thing we believe that people subconsciously seek to distill complex propositions down to very simple, often singular ideas. They simplify products, they simplify brands, and they simplify people. We call it the “One Simple Thing™” or “OST.” President Obama got elected on the back of one simple promise: “Change.” Lady Gaga makes a living by being “Outrageous.” Steve Jobs was no doubt marked by many as “Visionary” or just fundamentally “Intense.” While you may not want to distill the entire essence of You down to one thing, the rub is this: either you do it or the market will do it for you. As you contemplate the simplifying task, consider the four criteria of a “good” OST: first, it must be true to you (more on that later). It must be relevant and motivating to those who follow you, and it must be distinct in some way. Start the discovery process by asking a loved one or peer, “What’s my One Simple Thing?” You might be surprised at the answer. 1
  4. 4. principle #2 once upon a time still works2
  5. 5. think of your ost as the inside flap of the stories you will tell aboutHabit #? Headlineyourself and the company you represent. While we’ve all grown up, we haven’t grown outof loving stories and their capacity to engage and inform. Stories reflect something we callthe engagement curve—the fact that within the first few minutes of humans engaginganother human (or brand), we seek to connect emotionally first, then we look for factualsupport and finally we anticipate closing on the original emotion. The best speeches andpresentations are written to leverage the engagement curve and the craft of storytelling.The most engaging cocktail party conversations do as well. Regardless of the mode ormoment, when all truly is said and done, your audience will remember only a couple ofthings about you: your One Simple Thing and how they felt when you left the room.tell stories. 3
  6. 6. principle #3 the network really is everything not the social network. The network. All the people you’ve ever met, all the people you will ever meet—that’s what counts. Sure, it includes your Facebook friends and Twitter followers. But where the action really happens is on the back of trust and respect. And most of that begins by looking someone in the eyes and saying hi. How many people are in your contact database? How many people did you talk to at the last business conference you went to? How good are you at following up and staying in touch? Every person in every role you care about will give you more attention if you care about and connect directly with him or her. The media. Your customers. Your employees. Your partners. Your pedicurist. The larger and more engaged your network, the more opportunities for you and your company. Simple.4
  7. 7. principle #4 reach and frequency still rule contrary to all the drivel about the new marketing order, Reach and Frequency still reign. Do what P&G does so well. You’ve got your position, you’ve got your stories, and you’ve got your network. Now all you need to do is communicate with that network (reach) and do it often (frequency). The great news is that you have tons of low or no cost channels to deliver your stories and build your market’s awareness and appreciation of you and your OST. Start with email. Expand with social media and the blogosphere. Write letters. Yes, letters. Make speeches (but tell stories). Don’t just attend events, work them. Go to your kid’s soccer game and shake hands with the people on the sidelines. Sounds like a politician. Right. It is. The difference is that politicians want something. You simply want to connect. 5
  8. 8. principle #5 live to learn and learn to live the good old days really were good or at least easier. You paid your dues early, learned the ropes, got promoted and at some point made it into the corner office where you could kick back, lunch long and get home on time for dinner. Poof. It’s all gone, except maybe the corner office part. If the learning demand used to be an S curve, it now looks alarmingly like an “I.” The brand of You can only maintain its relevance and distinction if you crank up the volume and rate of learning and head straight up. And it’s not enough to focus on learning more about your business and industry. The new interconnectedness of everything demands that we explore every facet of life and how today’s customer, consumer or business is thinking, feeling and consuming the goods and services we’re trying to sell them. Back to school.6
  9. 9. principle #6 the more you give, the more you get think of this as enlightened capitalism and a concept that is at the core of many leadership brands and their leaders. We’re not talking about writing checks to charities (although that is always a lovely thing). We’re talking about how you approach building relationships with all those people in your network. Reverse order on the traditional engagement construct and shift from “What can I sell them, and how best can I make that happen?” to “What value can I offer them, and how best can I help them?” The act of giving, of sharing with no expected (immediate) return, creates appreciation, respect and trust. And those feelings set the stage for that person offering up opportunities to you directly or indirectly down the line. 7
  10. 10. principle #7 start and end with the truth it’s true. The healthiest brands in the world and the most effective CEOs are truth tellers. They are constantly examining the ever-evolving reality of their customers, capabilities and competition straight in the face. And regardless of what the stark view reveals, they act boldly on what they see. They are not afraid to change any aspect of who, how and what they are, as long as they believe that it is right for the customer and right for their company, for them, and for their values. As a brand, your first task is to assess your truth. And then to rustle up the courage to fully leverage what works and start working on what doesn’t. It might not be easy, but the more you do, the more you will see that investing in the brand of You yields real value for all. Including you.8
  11. 11. Habit #? Headline
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