It is almost as if we were joined at the hip.

During the June 2009 World Economic Forum's Global Leadership Fellows keynote address, corporate governance expert Robert A.G. Monks shared some contemporary perspectives on the tightening links between government, human welfare, and the private sector.  

If you are in the process of planning your company's next move, his speech is a must read.

Who knew that Robert and I share the same views on building a wealthy company?  That is, a company that is highly valued because it is driven by strong values?

Here is a social media story gone WILD. (literally and figuratively).


Return with me to 2007, when the chairman and CEO of a public company created an anonymous account in Yahoo’s online financial community. Over eight years, he posted over 1400 glowing comments about his company.  He also posted many negative comments about his number one competitor. His activities triggered a proxy battle, stalled merger attempts, and an FTC investigation.

This social media experiment gone WILD backfired—Within a 12-month period, their stock dropped 50 percent.

The Beast
This story describes John Mackey, the CEO and chairman of Whole Foods Market.  Even though their acquisition of Wild Oats Market finally closed in 2007, Mackey learned some emotionally taxing lessons. And you can too.

How does your company hold a strong vision and track progress amidst today’s economic hailstorm?

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In my work with high performing companies, we find that they create two categories of indicators: “Leading indicators” and “trailing indicators.”  In companies such as Zappos and The Beryl Companies, it is not uncommon for the CFO and CEO to maintain slightly different success “dashboards.” …

May 27th marks the one year anniversary of my Dad's passing. Coincidentally, Dad served our country in World War II, so this time of year is especially significant to me.  Edgar George Lizotte left an indelible impression on me.  If it weren't for him, I would not be as committed to lifelong learning as I am today.

I am sharing below my tribute to my Dear Old Dad.  I hope this letter, which celebrates his life, inspires you to acknowledge a mentor in your life, and the many women and men who have proudly and fearlessly served our country.

Vancouver Oct 2006 

If we are leading growth companies, we have an obligation to our communities, our clients, and our employees.

We are in a strong position to fulfill this obligation.  Our revenues are solid, we boast marquis clients, and are respected in our field. Our clients look to us to lead the way on many fronts.

This is an ideal time to inspire our clients, help them focus on key priorities, and give them hope. Here are five ways you can bolster their confidence.  You will help them—and your business—thrive during these volatile times:

In our last posting, we looked at how our company values and beliefs play a pivotal role in our strategic growth planning activity. 

If you ignore your company's mindsets during the strategic planning or marketing planning process, your plan will fail.

Consider these five additional areas, and face them “head on” with your teams.  They include: attitudes, memories, decisions, your language, and thought patterns.  I promise you will break down some of the common barriers to growth. Here's more detail:

"The significant problems we face cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them." ——Albert Einstein

Our beliefs can pose one of the biggest threats to our business growth. Yet many business owners completely ignore the toxic beliefs that invade their company. Let's face it–it is much easier to focus on improving the balance sheet, laying off non performers, and generating more sales.  Unfortunately, those actions may not fix our company's performance in the long term, or help us attract the best team to position us for the economic recovery.

Do you believe strongly enough in your company’s culture to share it with the world–unfiltered?
Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh does.

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You see, Zappos publishes an annual Culture Book. You can actually order a copy and read it.
Even if you are a competitor. (learn more by watching my brief interview with Tony below)

Inside their annual Zappos 2008 Culture Book, you will find all kinds of revealing comments across multiple Zappos departments and locations….

Are your strategic planning activities done from the inside out, or outside in? How often do you rely on client feedback and interaction to refine your plan? And why does it matter?
 
It matters alot.
 
In these challenging times, it's easy to focus intently on improving your internal processes. When that happens at the expense of your clients, you will miss out on obvious growth opportunities. Your strategic growth plan becomes little more than an academic exercise. 
 
My meeting with Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh (see videos below) reinforced my belief that it is possible to balance your internal planning activities with your client-focused marketing and selling initiatives.  

In these challenging times, you need ideas you can implement immediately. You want to learn what's working and emulate those business practices.

My meeting last week with Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh reinforced my belief that it is possible to grow, even during these difficult times.

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