Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How to Avoid Death by Meetings

Have you ever fallen asleep during a meeting? You know the type of meeting I’m talking about. Someone talks for what seems like hours about a topic that has nothing to do with the project that needs discussing. Or, the meeting was progressing well and then somehow takes a detour and never gets back on track. Or, there is no agenda for the meeting. Did you know that these unpleasant meetings can be avoided? The solution can be simple: determine the meeting’s objective, assign a meeting organizer, create an agenda, and set start and end times for the meeting.

When someone has the task of organizing or coordinating a meeting, all of a sudden, there is meeting ownership. With ownership, the meeting assumes importance – it is not just a weekly meeting where people gather for coffee and conversation. With importance, there is an objective for the meeting. Something needs to be accomplished, and the management team or project team has determined that a gathering of a project’s contributors is the best way to accomplish the objective.

As a meeting organizer, know the purpose of your meeting. Have you assembled attendees to brainstorm and debate or just sit and listen? Is the meeting’s purpose to solve a tactical problem or a more significant strategic issue? Or share schedules or review weekly activities? Or discuss the competitive landscape or team development? Have you planned how to engage attendees in the first 5 or 10 minutes so that they understand the meeting’s objective and how they can best contribute? Don’t allow people to cause strife in the name of being a “devil’s advocate” – if challenging perspectives are discussed, make sure that there are reasons behind the perspectives. If time is not being spent wisely during the meeting, it is the organizer’s job to re-focus (e.g., someone talks and talks and talks – but not on point). While everyone may think a meeting is successful if it ends early, the true sign of a successful meeting is if it ends with clarity and commitment from attendees. Of course, if you want the meeting to end really quickly, you could remove all of the chairs from the room – just kidding. Lastly, keep track of commitments and next steps – don’t let people leave the meeting without stating the next steps.

As a meeting attendee, here are some ways to be more productive and engaged. Review the meeting agenda in advance and prepare questions at the beginning of the meeting. Make sure that administrative, tactical, and strategic aspects of a project are all discussed. Don’t assume any aspects of a project – this is when errors and miscommunication can occur. If time constraints end a meeting early, follow up with the meeting organizer or project leader with any unanswered questions.

While meetings are part of everyone’s business life, perhaps, we should think of them as adventures. Sometimes, we encounter something new and learn, but in the process, we are fully awake and engaged.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Top 10 Brand Equity Books

A brand book, Achieve Brand Integrity, began, “A brand strategy is the ultimate business strategy and often the least understood.” How many corporate and non-profit leaders understand the essence of both marketing and branding? Strong brands take time to build, and their messaging, positioning, and core values must be consistent. I have a list of helpful brand equity books, but to set the stage, here are some great quotes about brands:

Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind. ~Walter Landor

A brand is a living entity – and it is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time, the product of a thousand small gestures. ~Michael Eisner, former CEO of Disney

If this business were split up, I would give you the land and bricks and mortar, and I would take the brands and trademarks, and I would fare better than you. ~John Stuart, former CEO of Quaker Oats

Here is the list of my top 10 brand equity books. Enjoy!

Achieve Brand Integrity: Ten Truths You Must Know to Enhance Employee Performance and Increase Company Profits
c. 2007
By Gregg Lederman

Managing Brand Equity
c. 1991
By David A. Aaker

Brand Leadership: Building Assets in an Information Economy
c. 2009
By David A. Aaker and Erich Joachimsthaler

The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding
c. 2002
By Al Ries and Laura Ries

The Origin of Brands: How Product Evolution Creates Endless Possibilities for New Brands
c. 2005
By Al Ries and Laura Ries

Secret Formula: How Brilliant Marketing and Relentless Salesmanship Made Coca-Cola the Best-Known Product in the World
c. 1995
by Frederick Allen

ESPN the Company: The Story and Lessons behind the Most Fanatical Brand in Sports (c. 2009)
By Anthony Smith and Keith Hollihan

Driven: Inside BMW, the Most Admired Car Company in the World
c. 2004
By David Kiley

Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney
c. 2008
By Lee Cockerell

The Power of Retail Branding: Reinvention Strategies for Empowering the Brand
c. 2006
By Arthur Winters, Peggy Fincher Winters, Carole Paul

Monday, February 1, 2010

Top 10 Leadership Blogs

Thanks to the Internet, there are many great leadership minds, so how do you find the best leadership experts amidst all the clutter and never-ending conversations? I have assembled my “Top 10” list with names, descriptions, blog links, and Twitter handles. Now, the next time you need some leadership advice or just want to see how the experts would handle your leadership challenge, the answer is just a click away. Enjoy!

John Baldoni
Leadership author, coach, speaker, and Harvard Business Publishing columnist.
Twitter: @JohnBaldoni

Michael McKinney
President of M2 Communications and leadership expert.
Twitter: @LeadershipNow

Wally Bock
Leadership behavior expert, business writer, coach, and consultant.
Twitter: @wallybock

Mike Myatt
CEO coach, leadership consultant, and author.
Twitter: @mikemyatt

David C. J. Cameron
Communications strategist.
Twitter: @dcjcameron

John Ikeda
Leadership, project management, and organizational development consultant.
Twitter: @LeadWithHonor

Sam Silverstein
Author and Past-President of the National Speakers Association.
Twitter: @SamSilverstein

Stephen J. Gill, Ph.D.
Leadership and management consultant.
Twitter: @sjgill

Scott Eblin
Leadership coach, speaker, and author.
Twitter: @ScottEblin

Rosabeth Moss Kanter
Harvard Business School professor and author.
Twitter: @rosabethkanter