Wanted: Change Leaders

“On the road of life, there are passengers and there are drivers. Drivers wanted.” This popular Volkswagen marketing campaign, which ran from 1995 to 2006, helped boost VW’s sales 18% between 1995 and 1996. Wanted, Christopher Reed Consulting

The man behind the popular “drivers wanted” campaign was Alan Pafenbach, a creative marking director who has launched successful media campaigns for Volkswagen, McDonalds, Smirnoff Vodka, and Yahoo. Pafenbach’s campaign successfully engaged and reconnected VW customers with the thrill of the driving experience.
Pafenbach and his team knew a thing or two about activating engagement among consumers.

The drivers wanted campaign created a new identity around driving that resonated, empowered, and activated customer engagement with the VW brand. This identity was defined by knowing the rules of the road. Appreciating the autonomous experience of driving, and not taking that freedom for granted. But more importantly, the drivers wanted campaign illustrates the power of identification, of creating desire, and of enabling people to take action.

Change leaders are drivers too. They have the guts and courage to say the things that are difficult to say in service of evoking belief and creating desire.

Few leaders have the courage, guts, and skills to do this well. Anyone can start a fire and create a burning platform, but it takes tact, conviction, and skill to drive change from the head AND the heart. It means having conversations that matter. It means boldly facing uncertainty. And it means being the calm in the storm.

The rewards are many for those who can, and the pitfalls are self-evident for those who can’t. On the road to organizational change, as on the road of life, change drivers are in high demand. What are you doing to prepare for the journey?


Nothing is Normal Anymore

Nothing is “normal” anymore in business or politics. Stability used to be normal, it was overtaken by change. Growth used to be predictable, it has been consumed by uncertainty. Organizations used to be orderly, now they are chaotic.

Here are three truths about our “new” normal:
Get comfortable with change.
Embrace uncertainty.
Learn from chaos.

Get people in a room and talk.
Listen more than you lecture. Yes, I’ve seen you lecture a time or two. Brilliant; but it’s hard to learn from others when you’re talking.
Reflection –> Action –> Reflection –> Action. See the pattern? Good. Now implement it with your team.

Don’t dwell in the present. The present is full of “lack,” “should haves,” and “blame.”

Create your own future. Get clear about what you want. Design actions to get you and your organization closer to that future.

Creating a Gap

When I coach leaders, I help them better understand the gap between their current reality and their desired future.

The first step in closing a gap is recognizing that you have one. Creating gaps and then working hard to close them is how growth and movement happen.

If you aren’t challenging yourself with creating new gaps to fill, then you’re not growing. If you’re not growing, then you’re dying. 



I Believe…Don’t You?

I believe a lot of things, most of which are contradictory.

Believe. Act. Give.

Those who believe, act.

Those who act, learn.

Those who learn, grow.

Those who grow, flourish.

Those who flourish, give thanks and gratitude.

Why You will Protect Obama or Romney from Negativity

Have you noticed the high degree of negative ads about the 2012 presidential candidates? 

The rate of purely negative political ads is nearly three times that of the 2000 election. In fact, purely negative ads have been on the rise steadily between the 2000 and 2012 election. Why? Because they work in motivating voters to turn out…that is, if they’re timed right.

According to a new controversial study, reviewed in the current issue of Science,

negative ads are effective in increasing voter participation, but only after voters have made up their minds. The impact of message tone on voter turnout has been a hotly debated topic for some time.  Studies have found that negative political ads have a universally positive effect on voter turnout, while others have found them to universally negative. The truth, however, may lie somewhere in between.

These findings shed interesting light on the relationship between positive communication and human behavior.

Here’s the take away: negative political ads, while negative in content, play a key role in the overall generative process of political participation precisely because they move us to protect our favorite candidate, take a stand for what we believe in, and exercise our desire to make our world a better place. So even negativity can inspire positive work.

So You’re Enlightened. Big Freakin’ Deal!

I’ve spent a significant part of my career coaching people to greater self-awareness so that they can get better results at work, home, etc.

Fact: I’m all for  increasing self-awareness, personal growth, transformational learning, and development, but enlightenment alone doesn’t pay the bills.

Fact: Making positive changes in our thoughts and behaviors requires self-awareness. After all, we can’t change (or accept) what we aren’t aware of. So go ahead: think. Don’t think. Meditate. Give the Buddha an orange. Get a coach. Have a conversation with someone that matters. Do whatever it takes to increase your self-awareness.

Fact: Awareness is not an end. It’s a beginning. Personal transformation cannot stop with simply being more aware as many so-called coaches, gurus, and spiritual guides would have you believe.

Fact: Change requires hard work and commitment. Not just knowledge and wisdom. Change takes guts, will, strength and endurance. Change requires that you push through the hard times and crap. Wise, enlightened people know a thing or two about crap.

Don’t stop with self-awareness. As the Buddha said, “before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.” Use your awareness to do some work. Push on. Take action. Chop some freakin’ wood why don’t cha!

Image Source: ashiramedicinewoman

What is the Push?

In my October 4th post, “Have you Heard of the Push,” I made the claim that “The Push is the only thing that can get you through the tough times.”

This led my wife to ask, “What is the Push?” Since she’s wicked smart and asks great questions, I replied, “It’s shorthand and a great topic for another blog post.”

So here’s what I mean: The Push is a combination of your:

  • Desire
  • motivation
  • Internal locus of control
  • Strength and fortitude
  • Belief in yourself
  • Will do (not can do) attitude
  • Endurance, and
  • Stamina

In short, it’s your “I will, don’t get in my way, look out world I’m going to kick-some-butt I don’t care if it’s a little (or a lot) uncomfortable, I’m going to turn off my tv, not check my facebook or twitter account, put my shoulder to the grind and get some shit done” source of motivation and energy.

That’s The Push. It’s what separates good from great and ordinary from extraodinary. When times get tough, sometimes it’s all we have.

6 Steps for Improving Critical Thinking About Business “Facts”

As Seth Godin wrote today, we never have all of the facts.

And the facts, principles, “rules,” and strategies that we do have, aren’t always that good.
Case in point: an article published today on  Inc.com. leadership facts

Therefore, in order to separate quality from crap and make better decisions at work, we need to become critical consumers of facts.

Sadly, higher education isn’t doing a great job of teaching critical thinking, making it one of the key strategic foci for the Associate of American Colleges and Universities. And many professional “training” organizations omit critical thinking from their leadership curricula.

Bottom line: if your employees aren’t getting trained in critical thinking, where are they getting these skills?

Step 1: Understand what’s being said?

Knowledge acquisition is the first step toward critically consuming “the facts.” Can you determine the main idea, argument, and/or point the source is trying to make?

Step 2: Relate to what you already know.

This step is all about comprehension. How do the facts relate to what you already know, have seen or read? What evidence is the message sender using to support her/his case? Are these sources credible? What’s missing?

Step 3: Apply the facts to your business context.

Application of the facts is a critical step. How would the principles, rules, strategies that someone is trying to sell you walk in your organization? How is your unique context different from others they’ve referenced?

Step 4: Analyze.

Analysis focuses on both the form and content of the message. Break the facts down into their component parts: How are the facts related? Have they been presented in a fair and objective manner? Overall, is there sufficient evidence to support the conclusions that the speaker or author is making?

Step 5: Synthesize.

Pull it all together. Given the facts and conclusions drawn from the facts, can you create something new. Something useful. Can you formulate a course of action using the facts?

Step 6: Evaluation

Given the facts, analysis and synthesis, will you take a particular course of action? This step is about assessing your acceptance or rejection of the facts. It’s okay to reject facts, false claims, and shams, and schemes, after all “that’s how they get ya.

These six steps will enable you and your team to become more critical thinkers about “the facts” that impact your business, and more credible messengers in sharing facts with others. Happy Friday!

Have you Heard of The Push?

The Push is the only thing that can get you through the tough times,

chaotic changes, failures, and set backs.

Sure, everyone would like a “pull” or a “boost,” but many of us

don’t have the luxury of these levers–at least not in the beginning (or the middle for that matter).

When the going gets tough, or the when the journey of 1000 miles seems like it isn’t even worth taking the first step.

The one thing thing you can count on,

the one thing you have direct control over,

is The Push.

Image source: Clkr.com