This week, I accompanied my dear friend, Pam Iorio, the former Mayor of Tampa, to the Lead & Succeed event in Tampa. If this event comes to your town, attend. For five bucks you will hear top notch business speakers and likely make some great contacts too. Pam was one of several keynote speakers and she inspired everyone, including me, to find a higher level of leadership in themselves. She shared stories about her journey in life and she talked about the three important behaviors that she sees in great leaders. 1) They don’t waste energy fretting about the competition. They focus on their own performance and improving. 2) They treat everyone with respect and make everyone feel important. 3) They don’t give self-doubt a chair at any party. While these points are pretty simple advice, if you think back to any moments of soft leadership you observed, or were a part of, they were not likely practiced.
A couple of weeks ago, I seduced many of you into opening my blog only to find out that I’ve not read Fifty Shades of Gray yet but did read Magic of Impromptu Speaking, by Andrill Sedniev, while taking some time off of work. I promised a review on the book, so here goes. The book caught my attention as its subtitle states: Create a speech that can be remembered for years in under 30 seconds. The fact is, I and gazillions of other book buyers gravitate to titles that promise fast and almost immediate results. A good formula to remember when you are writing product copy or selling a book. So was he telling the truth or committing a marketing sin and telling a big white lie? It’s a gray area. Maybe not fifty shades but at least three. The book is excellent, filled with wisdom that can be applied to formal speeches and varied other opportunities of attention, like when doing a media interview, interviewing for a job or taking a stance in a board meeting. All good stuff for building a brand.
This past weekend, I traveled to Columbus, Ohio, to attend the Ohio State University versus Penn State football game. I had a fabulous time and picked up some great brand building ideas that can apply to many businesses.
Here’s the recap on my adventure and eight branding building ideas. 1) Southwest Airline’s identity is in transition. Brands change. The quirky, casual carrier has evolved. Their frequent flyer program still works and is one of the best for rewarding loyalty. My plane ticket was free. Their once low-cost pricing strategy is just a memory and bags fly free soon may be too. Their uniforms have also evolved. The khaki shorts and t-shirts are in the closet and a more formal garb is being sported, maybe to align better with the more upscale pricing. The seats are getting smaller and the people are getting fatter.
Now that I've got your attention, sorry, this week's blog is not about an erotic trilogy or a fantasy business mogul. Its about a real strategy that can make or break any customer experience and ultimately impact a brand. Six months or so ago, at a charity fundraiser, I purchased a weekend getaway. It was a silent-auction item touted on the promotional poster as a “This is paradise!” stay for the weekend at a five-bedroom house on the beach on beautiful Anna Maria Island. Sounded great to me. Waterfront property, relaxation, and all in a vacation area that I had been to before and loved. Soon after the function, I received a certificate in the mail with similar details about the house and their website.
This past week, I received an email from a fellow entrepreneur. It was a notice, that after five long years, he was taking his company off the respirator and closing it down. The news was sad. I know he and his team gave it their all. I could feel his pain in the letter he sent to his customers and friends, it was as if someone had died. My friend lost more than money. His entrepreneurial soul took a traumatic hit too. It’s never easy to pull the plug on a business you started. Especially when you are an eternal optimist, which most entrepreneurs are. You cling on to hope. You believe in miracles. Your ego screams, “No freakin way can you bail and be branded a quitter”. Egos do not always give the best advice. There comes a time in business, when quitting is the wisest action to take. Postponing it will just delay your next success.
"I use Grammarly for proofreading because without TYPOS, I have less gray hair and then I look much, much younger*." (Read the entire blog to make sense of this opening quote.) Of all of my skills and talents, proofing text is not one of them. In fact, if there were an award for the most consistent practice of missing those grammar gaffes, those punctuation oversights, or the spelling snafus, I’m sure I’d be a finalist. I’m okay with this because I know I have many other valuable skills that these grammar gurus and spelling bee society members don’t possess. I know these shortcomings drive my journalism-minded, editing buddies nuts. I’m okay with this, too. I do respect the English language. I understand that errors and bad writing reflect poorly on one’s professional image, and that’s not good brand-building.