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Monthly Archives: February 2011


The Boss Rules: Rule #2

Posted on February 22, 2011 by butch

I’ve worked for a lot of years, enjoyed a lot of roles in my career, and had a lot of supervisors who imparted their wisdom to me.   I thought I would share some of their best stuff with you in this series of posts called, “The Boss Rules.”

Rule #2:  “Ask them, ‘What are you trying to accomplish?’ ”

I spent a few years in the IT department of a large corporation.   I am not an IT person, per se, but I had an understanding of the business we were in and the processes the company employed in its go-to-market strategy, so I was invited to join the CRM process team.  The team was charged with identifying, prioritizing, and allocating resources (time, people, and money) to support strategic company objectives in the CRM space.   Our team was the first filter that helped determine who got the IT department’s resources.  The number of project requests was daunting and I soon learned that it was impossible to complete even a small portion of them.  

Some would say, “My department needs a new web site on the intranet.” 

Others said, “We need to develop a new commission structure and system to manage it.”

Still others, “We need a new Contact Management System.”

The company’s needs were vast but its resources were limited.  Having spent considerable time in sales, I hated to say no.  I remember going to my boss a little frustrated, “How are we going to get all this done?  These are good people asking for help, I hate to let them down.”

My boss said, “Maybe we don’t have to let them down, Butch.  Maybe we need to ask them, ‘What are you trying to accomplish?’  You see, it may be that the Sales Department, really just wants to grow sales.  It may be they only think they need a new commission structure and system to accomplish that.  Perhaps you can help them figure out another way for them to grow sales without having to invest thousands and thousands of dollars and hours of time to change our current commission structure.”

“What are you trying to accomplish?” 

Six simple words that have proven again and again to be the single most important question I can ask clients, associates, and myself.  At Force 5, we ask that question every time we can.  It helps us find the best and most direct solutions possible for our clients and ourselves.


The Boss Rules

Posted on February 14, 2011 by butch

I’ve been here at Force 5 for just 6 months now, but I've been in the workforce since I was legally of age.   Throughout the years I’ve been fortunate to have had some great bosses who took the time to pour their wisdom into me.  Because their "rules" have been so helpful to me, I thought I would share some of the best ones with you over my next few posts.  Here goes:

Rule #1:  “Always assume the best in people.”

Now, in a world full of Bernie Madoffs and Balloon Boys, you might say, “Butch, are you crazy?  In business?  People will cut your throat in a minute!”  I know.   This one was hard for me to swallow, too.  But hear me out:  I’m not saying we should go about business naively or that we should turn a blind eye to misconduct.  We should do our best to never be surprised by the actions of anyone, friend or foe.  What I’m talking about here is making a choice, about choosing a mindset when we hear the rumors or see activity that is suspect. 

The business world tells us to assume the worst and why shouldn’t we?  After all, assuming the worst is usually the safest route and it proves to the world that we are not oblivious. 

But the problem with assuming the worst in other people is that it can apply a dark filter to everything we see around that person.  It tints to our emotions and thus our interactions with them.  Ultimately, this limits our ability to respect them.

In their book, Crucial Conversations, the authors Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler state:

“As people perceive that others don’t respect them, the conversation becomes unsafe and dialog comes to a screeching halt … The instant people perceive disrespect in a conversation, the interaction is no longer about the original purpose – it is now about defending dignity.”

When we lose respect for someone, that person knows it.  Hence, our ability to influence, engage, and dialog with them drops to almost nil.  Our ability to get to the truth, correct and redirect becomes virtually impossible, and we exhaust our relational collateral.

By nature, I can be quite cynical. I have to work hard at assuming the best in people.  But when I manage to fight off my natural tendencies, when I make that choice, I am finding faster paths to the truth and stronger relational growth.


Fractured Culture

Posted on February 8, 2011 by dmorgan

I was listening to NPR last week, and they were discussing “fractured culture”. The premise is that today we live in a world of infinite choices. Most homes have the choice of hundreds of channels, and within those channels are documentaries, cartoons, drama, reality, and talent shows. On the computer you can surf millions of websites, video games, listen to hundreds of radio channels and watch even more thousands of videos.

And then there’s social media-giving us a voice, a platform, and an audience.

All of this technology has given us so many different forms of expression, and entire communities have formed around a genre, a show, a new idea. Americans now live in a culture of multiple communities and cultures no longer broken down by geography, ethnicity, religion or age.

It’s a fractured culture. We don’t have the water cooler moments any longer-at least not as many. When the “Cosby Show” was number 1 (for 4 seasons in a row…), it garnered 23 to 28 million viewers every week. “Seinfeld” was the water cooler topic of discussion. “Did you see Kramer?....funny!” Now, the top TV show gets 11 million viewers. Sure, there are exceptions, as seen by the premieres and final shows (and the Super Bowl....!!) of a few shows like American Idol.—but the examples are few.

I think from a community building effort-our fractured culture is a good thing. Wonderful musical artists can be found and followed-even if they are never on the radio. Fine artists and photographers can have followings. People can find causes close to their heart, and be active in them. It’s a good time to be alive and wanting to find that voice-that community you want to be in. Rather than a homogeneous group, our communities are broken into a million beautiful pieces. I think that’s a good thing…

From an advertising and marketing standpoint-it’s a little more difficult to navigate these waters. Mass advertising on the most popular TV show simply doesn’t give you the audience penetration you’re looking for. But on the flip side, you can find your audience-just the right mix of consumer or client you’re looking for—and market to them directly. It just takes a little more time, research and effort.

Here at Force 5, we are all about building communities-whether that community is a group of satisfied customers, passionate employees, or a new market or membership. Our Fractured cultures give us opportunity and, quite frankly pause. We work hard and strive to find the right way to say the right thing to the right audience. We work to become strategic partners with our clients to find those ways to communicate effectively.

What do you think about Fractured Cultures? We’d love to hear your opinion.


Super Bowl XLV Ads: Show, Sell or Shock?

Posted on February 7, 2011 by nmcelwrath

Super Bowl ads have become an event all in themselves over the years. Unexpected hilarity, moving stories, elaborate CG effects all are pieced together to make impressions on viewers. But does their strategy pay off? The digital water coolers are crowded the Monday morning after the Super Bowl with various reactions and impressions. These commercials that have people talking are typically the winners. Why? If the brand is lost or forgettable, it’s safe to say that it will be. I’ve ranked a few standout commercials in 3 categories based on their impact. Show, Sell or Shock.

"Doritos: Cheese" - Show

This was one of the few commercials that personally made me LOL and in the end resonated with me because I remembered it. It doesn’t make me run out to buy a bag of Doritos, but creates mindshare.

"Volkswagon: The Force" - Show

This had to put a smile on George Lucas' bearded face. The cuteness factor scored high helping the Volkswagon brand stay with plenty of viewers. Having a son who is fascinated with light sabers right now, this definitely made a connection with me.

"Chrysler 200" - Sell

One of my favorite commercials of the night. It pointed out flaws, showed how desperate the company has become, but reaffirmed it’s passion and tradition to both Detroit and the American Auto Industry. A bold and powerful spot.

"Groupon: Tibet" - Shock

This one left me with my jaw on the floor. The shock value alone is worth discussion - which I believe ultimately is what Groupon is going for. In order to see the true flaw of this spot, you have to read Groupon’s blog post re: this campaign. “Our peculiar taste in humor made it really hard for outside agencies to come up with concepts we liked.” - Groupon Blog Groupon is fundamentally misunderstanding their target audience and that they are after the masses, not Groupon employees. Below are the bullet point version of my take-aways from “Brand Bowl 2011”.

  • Christina Aguilera flubs National Anthem - admits she’s human
  • The Force is strong with Volkswagon
  • Chrysler is back with the new 200
  • Black Eyed Peas failed to impress during halftime show - Where’s the love, sound engineers?
  • Groupon.com Tibetan insensitivity - yikes
  • Green Bay wins Super Bowl XLV 31-25

Complete commercial listing via YouTube In the end, it all goes back to the old debate of “Is bad press, good press?” Maybe. Have any Super Bowl ads to add to the list? Let us know on our Facebook page, Twitter feed or in the comments below.