Archives For December 2012


Today is Black Monday in the National Football League. As of 5:00 PM Eastern Time 7 Coaches and 3 General Manager’s had been fired. I am sure more coaches will be fired in the next couple of days. Were these coaches at fault or were they in “no win” situations doomed by the poor leadership of their owners?

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The premier franchises in the National Football League are the New York Giants, New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers. These franchises have won 7 of the past 9 Super Bowls. They have stable long term owners who are leaders with a vision, head coaches that have been in place for five years or more and a franchise quarterback. While the Giants, Patriots, Steelers and Packers don’t win every year they are usually in contention and have built a consistent winning culture. They have built cultures that are more important than individual star players.

This seems like a pretty simple formula for success. Why do teams like the Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs consistently get it wrong and wind up changing coaches and general manager’s every two or three years?

In your opinion, which franchise in the National Football League has the best leadership? 

“BRAND PURPOSE” is an organization’s reason for being. An effective brand purpose defines the reason for an organization to exist beyond just making money. However, an effective purpose is critical for a brand to sustain long term financial growth. A good purpose can be motivating and inspiring to a brand’s employees when integrated into their business approach. Patagonia is an example of a brand with a purpose that goes well beyond making money.

The common wisdom that I have heard for years is that the purpose of an organization is to make money. As it turns out the companies and brands that have a purpose beyond making money are the most successful financially.

Patagonia was founded by Yvon Chouinard as a company that made tools for climbers. It evolved into a brand that provided clothing and gear for people with a love of the outdoors. This includes Alpine Climbing, Fly Fishing, Rock Climbing, Skiing, Snowboarding, Surfing and Trail Running. This passion for the outdoors has inspired the company to use business to implement solutions to the environmental crisis. Patagonia donates at least 1% of sales to grassroots environmental groups all over the world. Patagonia employes are encouraged to support environmental causes that are important to them. Through an Environmental Internship Program, they can leave their jobs and work for a cause for a month, and Patagonia will pay their salary and benefits. Over 1,000 employees have participated in this program.

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The company has launched a number of other initiatives to protect the environment including programs such as Common Threads, Bluesign Standard, and the Footprint Chronicles. Patagonia’s focus on the environment started in the early 90s.

What other brands have a purpose that is making a difference in the world?

A perfect example of a brand that lives its purpose every day is Wegmans. Wegmans is a regional grocery chain headquartered in Rochester, NY. Wegmans operates 81 stores: 46 in New York State, 15 in Pennsylvania, 7 in New Jersey, 6 in Virginia, 6 in Maryland and 1 in Massachusetts. Wegmans employs over 44,000 people. Wegmans has created one of the best grocery store shopping experiences in the world. Wegmans helps you make great meals easier.
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For the past six years, I had the opportunity to shop at Wegmans when I worked in Western New York. I enjoyed the overall experience which included a huge selection, low prices, helpful associates and great presentations of food. They made shopping for food fun. When you shop in Wegmans everything feels personal and it feels like many stores within a store.
Wegmans is a brand that has strong core values that they live everyday. They believe that good people, working toward a common goal, can accomplish anything they set out to do. Their values are as listed below:
  1. We care about the well-being and success of every person
  2. High standards are a way of life
  3. We make a difference in every community we serve
  4. We respect and listen to our people
  5. We empower our people to make decisions that improve their work and benefit our customers and our community

Many experts consider Wegmans to be the best grocery chain in the country. They are ranked #4 on Fortune’s Magazine’s list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For. Wegmans has been on the list every year. They have won numerous customer service awards. In 2011, Wegmans received 4,400 requests from consumers to open stores in their community.

Wegmans is a great example that branding is much more than creative advertising and a cool logo.  Successful branding is delivering a great customer experience and living up to your purpose every day across all consumer interactions. That is why defining and living “Purpose” is so important for successful brands.
What retailers in your opinion deliver a great customer experience?

This past year I read several Business and Marketing Books that inspired me and expanded my thinking. I learned some new ideas that will help me in the future:

  • The importance of Brands Ideals, a shared purpose of improving people’s lives
  • Brand Purpose – a definitive statement about the difference you are trying to make in the world
  • The importance of purpose – People don’t buy WHAT you do they buy WHY you do it
  • Building a platform to share ideas and build connections in today’s social media world
  • How to develop and create impact with ideas?

My top 5 books are:

  1. Grow – Jim Stengel
  2. Its Not What You Sell, Its What You Stand For, Why Every Extraordinary Business is Driven by Purpose – Roy Spence
  3. Start with Why – Simon Sinek
  4. Platform Get Noticed in a Busy World – Michael Hyatt
  5. The Impact Equation – Chris Brogan and Julien Smith

What were the top books that you read in 2012?

One of the most compelling and overlooked sports stories this year is the success of the 2012 London Paralympics. These games had a positive impact on The Paralympic Movement. This story was largely ignored or overlooked by media in the United States. IPC President Sir Philip Craven hailed “London 2012” as the greatest Paralympics games ever as they truly changed the perceptions of people with an impairment. The British public embraced these athletes for what they can do rather than what they couldn’t do. For the first time in Paralympic history the legacy left was sport.

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The numbers are impressive:
  • 4,237 athletes
  • 150 Hours of Live Coverage by UK Channel 4
  • 2,720,000 spectators
  • 1.9M visitors to Paralympics.org
  • 85% of British Adults now feel Paralympians are people to aspire to
Enlightened sponsors such as UK Retailer Sainsburys helped make this event a success. More importantly 70,000 passionate volunteers made this event happen.
The IPC’s purpose is ‘To enable Paralympic athletes to achieve sporting excellence and inspire and excite the world’. 
Personally I missed this story. My sports attention was focused on the Summer Games, Yankees Baseball and the upcoming NFL season. A couple of weeks ago I had coffee with a friend of mine who was a spectator at the 2012 Paralympic Games. He had fond memories from his experience. I then did research and learned about the positive change that had happened.
U.S. Paralympians are starting to come of age, but more needs to be done. There is an opportunity to take this movement even further so that the next generation can push the boundaries. The message is a simple one:  a disability need not disable. While there are more than 21 million individuals living with a disability in the U.S., only one in ten takes part in fitness activities on a daily basis. That needs to change.
The United States risks being left behind unless it begins to develop the sport and change perceptions of people overall.
What can be done to build the Paralympic movement in the United States?

Christmas marks the unofficial opening day for the NBA. Does anybody care?  The league’s best story the New York Knicks have already played 27 games. Do I really care that Oklahoma City is playing Miami at 5:30 or that Boston is playing Brooklyn at noon. On its website, the NBA is promoting that Christmas match ups strike gold.

I love basketball. For me, the NBA will not be relevant until late April at the earliest. The NFL Playoffs, March Madness and baseball’s opening day will all happen before the NBA plays a truly meaningful game.
Will you watch the NBA on Christmas Day?

In October, the San Francisco Giants won their second World Series Championship in three years. They have established themselves as one of the top franchises and most valuable sports brands. There are some valuable lessons for marketers and business leaders.
The Giant Way – Stable Leadership
The San Francisco Giants believe in stability on the mound, the dugout and the front office. Team president Larry Baer has been with the organization for over 20 years. Manager Bruce Bochy has been in place for six years and pitching coach Dave Righetti 13 years. GM Brian Sabean is entering his 17th year. Brian and his staff continue to be the modern model for baseball operations departments, combining cutting edge analytics with deeply experienced and stable leadership. The whole organization is built on a culture trust, continuity and mutual respect.
 

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Playing to their Unique Strengths – Embrace Your Differences

AT&T Park is one of the toughest places in baseball to hit a home run. While most of baseball has been in love with the long ball and high priced free agent acquisitions, the Giants in the post Bonds era have been built on pitching, defense, role players and a strong minor league system.  Buster Posey was the only on field starter from the 2010 championship team. They have embraced their differences rather than the trying to be like other teams.

Connecting With Their Fans
AT&T Park is one of the best fan experiences in baseball. The Giants have connected with their fan base through shared experiences and through quirky players with appealing personalities like Tim Lincecum, Pablo Sandoval,Sergio Romo and Brian Wilson. We saw the Giants play in San Diego this summer and I was amazed at the number of Giants fans in attendance.
Shared Purpose – Play For Each Other
When the Giants were down 2 games to none in the NLDS, a newcomer Hunter Pence stepped forward with an inspirational speech that served as a catalyst for their championship run. In many cultures, Pence would have been dismissed as to new to be listened to. The Giants culture of trust embraced his message.

The core of Hunter Pence’s inspiring speech was that he did not want the season to end because he did not want to stop being with the team.  He did not want the group to disband.  He spoke of his respect and love for each member of the team.  He spoke of belonging to something larger than himself, more special than anything he could accomplish alone, and the fleeting nature of the experience.  The team responded by not focusing on the fear of failure, or the potential of losing glory and individual riches. Instead, they played to not let down their teammates.  They played for a shared purpose.  They played for each other. And in the process, they happened to win a championship.

What other lessons can be learned from the success of the San Francisco Giants?