Call Me–No Maybe!

keep calm and call me maybeI’m too small–and too wise–to take on Big Tobacco by myself. So I will just comment on one specific, nefarious tactic being used right now as an advertising campaign in Switzerland. Billboards are warning young adults not about the dangers of smoking (except in the small font). Instead they’re encouraging them to smoke with four little words in very large type: ”Don’t Be a Maybe!”

”Maybe” is such a powerful word and now quite a trendy one, it seems. According to a recent New York Times article by Ben Sisario titled The New Rise of a Summer Hit: Tweet It Maybe, Carly Rae Jepsen’s catchy song ”Call Me Maybe” was the longest running hit of the year in 2012 and stayed in the Number 1 spot for nine weeks.

It also spawned a series of viral internet Maybe videos, like the Cookie Monster’s ”Share It Maybe” and the political spoof with excerpts from Obama’s speeches knit together so that he seems to be singing ”Call Me Maybe.” Finally, if you want to see a funny video from a trade organization, look at the American Water Works Association video “AWWA Call Me Maybe.”

Being a Maybe person in business isn’t always a bad thing. Maybe can give you time to think things through more thoroughly so that your final decision is better considered. Maybe can give your organization time to catch up with you and align with your thinking.

But Maybe can also do the opposite and that’s the risk. Too much hesitation or ”analysis paralysis” can allow doors to close behind you and options to be taken off the table.

Do you know whether Maybe is hurting or helping your organization? Ask, assess, then act. We’re here to help so call me — no maybe!

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Putting it together: read our most popular Thought Leader Zone Post Series

post series part 1 2 3 thoughtleaderzone.comSome topics demand more than a single blog post. That’s why we’ve discussed several timely, key topics as a multi-part series. This compilations list provides easy links to our 5 most most popular series.

Leadership, Communications and the Annual General Meeting

Being a Social CEO

Planning for the CEO’s First 100 Days

Pink Matters: Female Leadership

Gray Matters: Cross-generational Leadership for Age 50+ Executives

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How to Live Well in These Exponential Times

what happens in an internet minute infographicYou may have heard the old phrase ”in a New York minute” to describe something that happened very quickly. A new term might be better to reflect today’s fast pace of business: ”in an internet minute.” Continue Reading…

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You’re Cordially Invited to a C-Suite CV Clinic

c-suite cv clinic at thought leader zoneAre you a thought leader with an ailing CV? Does your resume need a dose of dazzle and a shot of wow to make it stand out? Here’s your chance to get an accurate diagnosis. Thought Leader Zone is offering a free “C-Suite CV Clinic” on Skype during the week of 25 February.

The inspiration for this clinic comes from some client work I’ve tackled recently. Last week I finished reviewing an executive’s CV – a seven-page resume that demonstrated an ability to accept increasingly challenging responsibilities. Continue Reading…

Plan for a Graceful Executive Exit…or Face a Disaster CEO Departure.

fireworks over an office building

Smart “on the shelf” strategies can help you disaster-proof high-level departures and avoid a firestorm of negative publicity. (Photo Credit)

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen the departure of two very different CEOs in two very different ways with two very different results.

Daniel Vasella, long-time leader of global pharmaceuticals powerhouse Novartis, was the first departure, announced on 23 January.

Then on 28 January, Michael Clarke, head of the UK-based Premier Foods, announced his departure in a way reminiscent of former President Bush’s declaration of ”Mission Accomplished” a month after the banner flew behind him on the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier in 2003. Continue Reading…

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The Ins and Outs of Communication in 2013

Silence signStill using business jargon? That’s so last year! (Don’t miss the taboo words and phrases covered in my recent post The Most Annoying Words and Phrases of 2012 as well as the earlier post 50 Tired Management Buzzwords and Communication Killers.)

As a thought leader, it’s crucial that you communicate meaning clearly and concisely. But communicating well often means not saying something.

It may mean listening more instead of talking. Particularly during negotiations, silence is golden.

It may mean slowing down the rhythm of communication and saying less before it’s time to say more or make a big announcement. You’ll likely get more attention if there’s a quiet before the storm.

Two recent, noteworthy articles posted in my Thought Leader ScoopIt e-zine focus on the good communication habit of saying nothing. The first article, 10 Communication Practices to Stop, talks about what’s in and what’s out in communications practices in 2013. The second article, Communication’s Biggest Secret: Knowing When To Keep Your Mouth Closed, discusses the surprisingly smart strategy of silence.

Resolve to improve your communications style in 2013! Are you willing to learn something new in the new year? Ask, assess, then act. We’re here to help!

Photo: by Rev Stan on Flickr

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Management Coach vs. Message Coach

choosing the right message

A communications coach helps leaders clarify their message and focus messaging strategy.
Illustration by

One question I’m asked frequently is how does what I normally do differ from what a traditional management coach does. It’s difficult to explain because a management coach and a communications coach actually are similar.

Both types of coaches help managers lead better, so I would certainly call myself a management coach. We both help CEOs and senior leaders clarify and then make choices.

But my unique service offering is that of being a so-called message coach. I channel rather than challenge management choices leaders make, and then I in turn challenge the leaders’ choices for communicating such decisions.

In other words, a communications coach helps leaders choose the right strategies, tactics and approaches for communicating their management choices. These types of message coaches not only help leaders choreograph their communication choices, they also help craft the best messages for a particular situation and audience.

Communicating well up, down and sideways in an organization, as well as communicating appropriately to a wide range of external audiences, requires making the right choices for the immediate, short-term, medium-term and long-term horizons.

Are you at an inflection point in your career and getting ready to make some management choices? Are you prepared to make the right communications choices at the same time? Ask, assess, then act. We’re here to help!

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Senior-Level Social Strategy: Building a Virtual ‘Brand You’

social media usage statistics infographicA solid social media strategy can help a thought leader build a reputation within an industry and among a wider public. You can also gain traction for your ideas and get real-time feedback. And if you are skillful, your virtual presence can reinforce a positive image of an up-to-date “brand you.”

But what channels do you need to use to get your message out beyond the walls of your company? Any and all of them…as long as they are used by your target audiences and are appropriate to the messages you want to convey.

There’s no need to limit yourself by anything but time. A wide range of options exist depending on your purpose.

According to Edison Research’s report “The Social Habit 2012,” Facebook is the dominant social media channel, with 54% of respondents saying they have a profile page on it. LinkedIn came in second at 13%, Twitter third at 10% and Google+ at 8%. The telephone survey of 2,020 people in the U.S. was the 20th in the series, begun in 1998.

Nearly 80% of respondents said that Facebook is the networking service or site they use the most to connect with brands and services, with Twitter in a distant second place with 9%. More than half of Facebook users are accessing sites on their mobile devices, and a quarter of respondents are on the site five or more times per day.

Researchers also found that compared with 2011, increases in social networking were greatest among those 45 and older although over half of social media users are still under 34.

Among other interesting findings, about 10% of respondents are Twitter users; but of those people, about a third check it several times every day. About half of social networkers shared YouTube videos in the previous month.

Clearly, you have choices, but what’s best for you as a thought leader? Do you need guidance and advice as you choreograph those communications choices? Ask, assess, then act. We’re here to help.

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Communications planning for the CEO’s First 100 Days – Part 2

In my last blog, you learned about the importance of choosing the right keywords to help potential client and customers find you online. As an example to illustrate that point, I used the term ”CEO first 100 days” as the blog title because those keywords have a low competition score: 0.09 out of 1.00.

But the topic of CEO transition planning is an important one for any company. Most corporate communications teams have a general plan in place that can be tailored and then implemented when the need arises. That helps them be better prepared for the ”expected” and the ”unexpected” when the company’s leader changes.

generic ceo transition communications plan

Click here or on the page above for a generic transition communications plan for a CEO’s first 100 days in office. Do you need help designing or implementing it? Ask, assess, then act. We’re here to help!

See related post:
Part 1: Key actions for the CEO’s First 100 Days (Part 1)



Strategic Leadership: 6 defined habits that lead to breakthough successes

Strategic thinking in a fishbowl

Strategic leaders question prevailing assumptions and consider alternative approaches.
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A strategic mindset is the difference between leading decisively and “swimming in circles,” even when faced with constant change and increasing uncertainty.

Occasionally the leadership message boards I subscribe to online reveal a golden nugget that fits directly into the zone of thought leadership. Paul J.H. Schoemaker from the Wharton School of University of Pennsylvania recently published this piece on the “6 Habits of True Strategic Leaders.” Schoemaker defines these habits as:

  • Anticipate
  • Think Critically
  • Interpret
  • Decide
  • Align
  • Learn

What habits help you step back from the day-to-day demands of leadership and analyze the bigger picture? Fill in the list with additional habits of your own by sharing them with others in the comments section. And my own foundational habits? They are “Ask, assess, then act.”

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