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Photo by Jordan Whitfield on Unsplash

What I know from working with hundreds of execs who try to grow through culture

I don’t understand — why can’t people just get in line and get shit done?”

Finally — the words he’d been wanting to say came blurting out of his mouth. Tim had asked me to help him develop his skills as a leader, and had been playing the “good client” for months. It can take awhile for leaders to really open up; we all want to be perceived as though we’re doing a good job, even when we ask for help.

Tim had kicked off each of our conversations with questions about his team’s performance, but this was the first time I experienced Tim’s frustration about what was holding his business back. And delving deeper I could see that his concern — if people weren’t able to align or work hard, would the business grow? …


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Photo by Riz Mooney on Unsplash

What role does marketing your brand play in a time of crisis?

It’s tough out there for marketers. In a “challenging and unprecedented” world, how do you capture the hearts and minds of consumers, while at the same time show sensitivity to a global crisis? And how can marketing continue to meet the demands of generating sales and revenue needed to keep your business afloat?

This is a tough job — unfortunately, marketers have all started to use the same playbook. A pattern I began to notice while self-isolating in Canada, where I’ve been subjected to daily repetitive messaging over prime time ad slots:

In times like these

We’re in this together

Putting our employees and customers…


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Photo by Plush Design Studio on Unsplash

You’re on a mission to win. To get that next funding round in, beat the competition, be huge. You’re a start up — and you’re in a hurry to take over the world.

The way tech companies see growth has created a norm that is extending far beyond their own industry. All businesses now believe they need to get somewhere as quickly as possible. Success is determined by the size of company we can build at rapid velocity. There’s also a common belief that scale happens through a prescribed formula. Build product, get funding, amass as many people as possible, require more funding, grow out of office space, get even more funding … etc. …


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Photo by Matthew Brodeur on Unsplash

As competition heats up and the race is on to “win”, I’m finding my clients are trying to demand more from their teams. They believe that their people should deliver more, faster — go the extra mile and give 110%.

The problem they face is that their business doesn’t seem to respond to their request to work harder and faster. This baffles them: why aren’t people able to ship fast? DON’T THEY SEE THE URGENCY?

Your business needs to able to deliver on time, and to a high standard. If Apple misses a promised hardware release, their stock price is at risk of plummeting. Apple knows that breaking promises will annoy their customers, and that frustration can quickly shift consumer loyalty. Not shipping quickly and to deadline has an impact on overall results. …


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Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

We’ve been in a 20 year struggle to attract and retain the best people. And it has been a constant, costly battle.

The war for talent was prophesied by McKinsey in 1998. Over this two decade period it was expected that business would experience a heightened demand for experienced employees. Companies would become “talent-constrained” with not enough people to deliver. To win, business would pay more and more for the people it would need.

This prediction came before the dot com boom and crash, the rise of the tech giants, the 2008 recession. Sergey & Larry hadn’t started their little venture, and Zuckerberg was barely in high school. …


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It’s not cool to introduce yourself as a “fun guy” — even comedians cringe at that label. We know that when you start with “here’s a fun story” — the tale tends to lack a punchline. Telling people it’s “time to have fun” has eyes rolling. Somehow, something branded as fun seems to lack joy.

And yet we all seem to want to have a fun place to work. Get out the ping pong tables, bean bags and yoga mats. Fridays down the pub, free Michelin-wannabe quality lunches, and happy birthdays. All designed to make the workplace great and keep the people “engaged”. …


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Photo by Luis Quintero on Unsplash

Being Canadian, I don’t lose my temper often. We are polite folk, more likely to apologise for saying sorry than to find ourselves criticising others. But I’ve been in California for three weeks, and perhaps that’s influenced my mood. The scourge of the business world has hit the West Coast, threatening to infect boardrooms all the way from Silicon Valley to Vancouver. Having watched this phenomenon spread like wildfire in Europe, I suppose it was only time that it made its way across the pond. And it is making me angry.

The problem is “social purpose” — and the seductive siren’s call is coming for your marketing director.


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Photo by Rohan Makhecha on Unsplash

How our unconscious thoughts about ourselves determine our success

Tiger Woods was an athlete at the top of his game. Today he is still considered one of the most successful golfers of all time. But his career is tarnished by one night when everything changed.

In 2009, controversy surrounding Woods’ marriage and infidelity started a downward spiral, infamously resulting in crashing his car into his neighbour’s yard in the middle of the night. After a self-imposed hiatus from the game, and several brands ending their sponsorship relationships with him, Tiger returned to golf with a 107 week losing streak. …


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Within People’s Unlearning Leadership material at Canopy Workspace

There are plenty of signs around us that we are living in a leadership vacuum. From presidential tantrums to parliamentary squabbling, we don’t seem to have a lot to learn from the people who should be our leading role models.

Luckily there’s nothing you need to learn from our current leaders — in fact, its time for each of us to unlearn what we know about leadership in order to truly step in to the leaders we want to become. This is an idea Within People have been exploring with our clients and heads of businesses around the world.

As long as I have been in the working world I’ve been told that I should find my own “leadership style”. It’s been suggested that women should lead differently to men. We’re shown that there are “hard” and “soft” leadership skills, and that only “HiPos” (a terrible way to refer to “high performing” individuals) can lead. And that millennials need different leadership to the rest of us. …


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Tapping in to a powerful two-letter word

I’ve noticed that people can’t stop saying “yes” to things they really don’t want to do. In fact, we’re all trapping ourselves in situations where we feel compelled to say yes. We’d rather do something we dislike and wear a t-shirt of displeasure than face up to what might happen if we said no.

“No” is taboo. The word has a reputation for rejection. …

About

Jeff Melnyk

Brand strategist, retired music producer, and exec coach for CEOs around the world. Fellow of the RSA. Founding partner of Within People. withinpeople.com

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