Dare to Serve

A Northstar Leadership Solutions Book Brief

In the fall of 2007, guest visits were declining, sales and profit trends were negative, and the stock price had dropped from $34 in 2002 to $13. The brand was stagnant, and relations between the company and its franchise owners were strained.

Cheryl Bachelder was serving as a member of the board of directors for Popeyes’s food chain, when her fellow board members turned to her and said, “We need you to be our CEO.” She grabbed the reigns and went to work.

Today the share price is $52, nearly 17% compounded annually over the past 9 years, and the business is thriving. How did she do it? The details are found in the book she wrote about her experience, “Dare To Serve.”

She embraced “servant leadership”, establishing a purpose for the organization to “inspire servant leaders to achieve superior results.” She called for passion, listening, planning, coaching, accountability 
and humility from it’s leadership team, believing that strong leaders drive engagement by helping employees find purpose in their work.

Here are some of her insights and secrets to daring to serve:

  • When she took over as CEO of the management team they were working on 198 tasks but nobody was working on the key issues. She had them reduce their tasks down to 7 initiatives that would drive the results they desired. These 7 created  a “road map to results.”
  • “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on, but that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully,” says Ms. Bachelder.
  • The biggest role of the leader is to narrow the focus of the organization to the vital few things.
  • She created teams to work on issues and attached resources (money) to teams, taking away resources from tasks and projects that didn’t drive results, eliminating busy work in the process.
  • She asks her team these things annually:
    • “Are we working on the right things that will have a material impact on the business?”
    • “What are you busy with and what should you be working on?” she says. There is a big difference between the two.
  • Her team operates on the premise that, “The only measure of a bold idea is results.”
  • If you plan to take your team to a daring destination, you must reflect on these questions:
    • Have you stated your daring destination and stated to your team why it will work?
    • Have you narrowed the focus of your organization to the vital few things that need to be addressed for the performance to improve?
    • Have you put your money where your mouth is – put people and dollars behind your big idea and unfunded the unimportant things?
  • Popeye’s leaders take responsibility for defining their firm’s values and aligning its deeds with its principles, following these six guidelines to inform its actions:
    • “We are passionate about what we do.”
    • “We listen carefully and learn continuously.”
    • “We are fact-based and planful.”
    • “We coach and develop our people.”
    • “We are personally accountable.”
    • “We value humility.”

Is your team in need of results? Purpose? Something new? A cause to rally around?  Then dare to serve!  Cheryl Bachelder did….and it worked. Why not do the same?

For more information visit Cheryl’s website: Dare to Serve

And to hear her in a 2 part interview on Andy Stanley’s Leadership Podcast: 

 


Bill Edmonds is an “Outside-Insider” (an Executive Coach and Consultant), who works with market place leaders to help them reach their full potential in the areas of organizational and personal development. A former Financial Advisor and Market Leader, Bill spent 24 years with Merrill Lynch until his retirement in 2014, where he led a $100+ million per year revenue wealth management business unit as a Director with the firm.


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Need a Halftime Career Detox?

How to move from success to significance...

According to best-selling author Bob Buford, “halftime” is something all successful people will go through.

But it’s not just a break in the action to rest and re-group for the second half of the same game. It’s more like a type of career detox, or midlife renewal for the second half. We’re not talking about a football game here. We’re talking about the game of life. Specifically, developing a new game plan for the rest of your life.

In his book simply titled Halftime, Buford says, “After a successful first half, I needed a break to make some changes in how I played the second half. I wasn’t burned out or frustrated, but I felt something was missing and I needed to change my game plan.”

How about you? Have you had some success in your first half, but you find yourself asking the question, “Is this really all there is?” If so, Bob Buford says you’re in “halftime.”  And if you’re going to truly win in the second half you need to consider making a paradigm shift from success to significance.

In a recent USA Today article (click here to view article in its entirety), Buford, who was personally mentored by Peter Drucker, shared some tips that he’s learned in his second half journey. Here’s my personal favorites:

  • Halftime is more like archaeology than architecture – Much of what you need to know to plan your second half is inside your heart and mind already. This journey requires the time and discipline to dig it out.
  • You can’t do it alone – you need
    • Personal one-on-one coaching – even the fastest swimmer in the world has a coach. You’ll benefit from one, too.
    • Peers around you to make progress on the journey – they’ll bring much needed perspective and accountability.

I was fortunate to discover this book about fifteen years ago, and I’ve read it many times since. It occupies a spot on “my three favorite books” list. Not only was it a great read, but it was transformational, as it helped me prepare for a near-death encounter that took place in December of 2013 (read story here).

 

This book is for you if you’ve been pondering questions like these:

  • Is this really all there is?
  • What will be my legacy?
  • Are my most important and greatest contributions behind me or ahead of me?
  • What will I do with my time and talents in my second half?
  • What do I have to contribute for the “greater good?”
  • Do I have to leave my corner office to join the Peace Corps?

Not only did I read the book and begin to apply the principles, I was blessed to be able to establish a friendship with the author, spending several days in an intimate setting with he and a few other “halftimers” to listen to their life stories and plans for the future. Their narratives inspired me, as did their aspirations for their second halves.

Perhaps Gresham Barrett, former U.S. Congressional Representative from South Carolina said it best, “The most insignificant score is the score at halftime.” After all, it’s not how you start. It’s how you finish that counts!

How will you finish?

EXTRA: We’ve made arrangements with author Bob Buford and his organization to make this book available to anyone who would like to receive a complimentary copy. To order your free copy click here: Complimentary Halftime Book.


Bill Edmonds is an “Outside-Insider” (an Executive Coach and Consultant), who works with leaders to help them reach their full potential in the areas of organizational and personal development. He spent 24 years with Merrill Lynch until his retirement in 2014, where he led a $100+ million per year revenue wealth management business unit as a Director with the firm.


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How to Get Unstuck

...Go Disrupt Yourself !

What can you learn from a music major who’s first job out of college was that of a secretary for a retail brokerage firm in New York City; who went from there to being an investment banker, and on to become a top ranked equity analyst, to writing a children’s book, and then a blogger on work-life issues, to a hedge fund manager? You can learn how to disrupt yourself!

You might say Whitney Johnson has taken an unconventional career path, or perhaps it might just be the normal path for knowledge workers in the twenty-first century. Johnson adapted the “disruptive innovation” ideas of her business partner, Harvard Business professor and co-founder of Rose Park Advisors, Clayton Christensen, and applied them to her career. She now chronicles her discoveries in a new book titled Disrupt Yourself.

Northstar Leadership Solutions highly recommends this read for:

  • High potential individuals charting a career trajectory
  • Leaders trying to jumpstart innovative thinking in their companies
  • Self-starters ready to make a disruptive pivot into their own business

Disruptive innovation is the idea that the most successful innovations are those that create new markets and value networks, thereby upending existing ones. “The endgame of disruption is a higher demand for what you produce”, states Johnson.

Applying this concept to one’s career can keep you fresh, invigorated, and prevent you from getting stuck, or even help you get un-stuck. Disrupters see a need, an empty space waiting to be filled, and they dare to create something for which a market may not yet exist.

To be fully alive in one’s career and to avoid the plateau of boredom, Johnson says you must learn how to manage the S-curve waves (sigmoid curve), of your career. The sigmoid curve depicts the four stages of product cycle performance over a period of time:

  • Inception – the startup, grinding it out, discouraging period where you are working long hours without much reward
  • Growth – the steep part of the curve where you begin to move ahead quickly, you’re energized and you begin to experience the fruit of your labor – your synapses are firing, you are competent, and your confidence is soaring
  • Maturity – your passion and energy begins to dissipate – you are no longer throwing off endorphins and dopamine – the monetary rewards are good but boredom sets in and you begin to coast
  • Decline – your results begin to fade, and as they do, so does your relevance – your sense of entitlement, “the belief that this is the way things are and should always be, that I deserve this”, has lulled you into complacency

You are the product!

With this in mind, Johnson says:

“If you’ve reached a plateau, or you suspect you won’t be happy at the top rung of the ladder you’re climbing, you should disrupt yourself for the same reasons that companies must (consider what Uber is doing to the yellow cab business). People that zigzag careers don’t do it randomly – they do it strategically. If you don’t jump to a new curve on your own, you’re likely to get toppled off by someone else. It’s better to disrupt yourself rather than be disrupted. The trick is to hang on in the low part of the curve, and when you get on the steep part, just enjoy it. When you get to the top of the curve recognize what’s happening, and start to make a strategic plan for how you’re going to jump to the next curve.”

So how do you disrupt yourself? Johnson suggests:

  1. Target a need that can be met better or more cheaply – “Customers don’t buy products, they “hire” them to fulfill a need. Career disrupters look for a need inside or outside their organization that isn’t being met well. The idea is to play in markets where no one else is playing. Find a way to be compensated financially or through work flexibility and greater job satisfaction. Find a need that you can fill so well that you’re in great need or demand.”
  2. Identify your disruptive strengths – “Don’t just think about what you do well, but what you can do well that most other people can’t. Disrupters realize market risk is better than competitive risk. Research shows opportunity for success is 6x higher and the revenue opportunity 20x greater when you’re willing to take on market risk vs. competitive risk”.  You don’t have to fight for market share with competitors when you are the one who created the market in the first place!
  3. Step back or sideways in order to grow – “Big companies have a hard time embracing the growth potential in smaller, risker and perhaps more lucrative markets, and people more established in their careers can do the same thing.”
  4. Let your strategy emerge – “The best disrupters do this.  Rather that doing detailed market analysis and developing a deliberate strategy to achieve a certain goal, they’re more flexible; setting out, gathering feedback, and adapting accordingly. Because you are charting an untraditional course, you won’t be able to see the end at the beginning. But that’s ok. Neither did disruptive companies like Netflix or Amazon.”

What should you do first?  Johnson says:

  • Focus on your strengths – “When you’re stuck you’re not applying your “distinctive strengths”. These are the things you do well that other people in your sphere do not.” Consider these questions for assessing your strenghts:
    • “What makes you feel strong? – Those things that make you feel invigorated and successful. Are you applying this in your day to day work?”
    • “What exasperates you? – This is often a clue to your strengths. Look at the compliments so many people give you [those that exasperate you – that you discount]. This is one of your biggest super powers. Find a way to apply those in a sphere where other people don’t have those strengths.”

Go ahead…innovate on the inside…disrupt yourself!

“If you want to succeed, you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel worn paths of accepted success.”     -John D. Rockefeller

Sources for this article:


Bill Edmonds is an “Outside-Insider” (an Executive Coach and Consultant), who works with leaders to help them reach their full potential in the areas of organizational and personal development. He spent 24 years with Merrill Lynch until his retirement in 2014, where he led a $100+ million per year revenue wealth management business unit as a Director with the firm.


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How to Tell if You’re For Real

Book Brief: Building Brand Authenticity - 7 Habits of Iconic Brands

What do Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, BMW, Zippo, Harley Davidson, and LL Bean have in common? They are all “authentic brands” says Michael Beverland, professor of marketing at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia, a brand marketing researcher and author of the book Building Brand Authenticity – 7 Habits of Iconic Brands.  So just what makes a brand authentic?

Beverland says authenticity is synonymous with truth.  One way tell if a brand is truthful or not is to look at the marketing efforts of a company.  Traditional marketers want to control the consumer with a top down approach.  Beverland says they try to manage consumers’ brand image – they want to tell you or show you what you want or what you should feel about a brand.  The traditional way to attempt branding is through price, product, promotion, and placement.

Building brand authenticity is more of a bottom up approach.  People like products that make them feel connected and understood.  Once they discover these products they express their loyalty to them.  Take Harley Davidson for example – people wear that brand proudly with identity.  People don’t say, “I own a motorcycle.”  They say, “I’m a Harley rider.”

Authentic brands share these defining attributes: They…

  • Stick to their roots – appreciate their heritage and traditions
  • Are passionate about their product or service
  • Are devoted to their craft
  • Generate breakthrough innovations by immersing themselves in their markets
  • Link together like-minded people
  • Nurture connections to their communities
  • Have employees that are as dedicated to the brand as their managers and executives

The author shares a story of a beverage company that goes from an authentic brand to an unauthentic one.  The company was founded in 1972 in East Meadow, Long Island under the the name Unadulterated Food Products.  People loved the quirkiness of its star product, Snapple.  So popular was the drink that Quaker Oats bought Snapple for $1.7 billion in 1994.  But consumers turned against the “adulterated” scheme of mass-marketing that Quaker employed, resulting in Snapple being sold for $300 million just three short years later.

Individuals are on “the search for what is real” says Beverland.  Authentic brands help buyers define who they are or want to be.  Company leadership at authentic brands are an important theme.  The leaders of these organizations  are:

  • Passionate about what they produce
  • Involved in all the decisions related to their brand
  • Committed to a heritage that is entrenched in tradition

Consumers are forming identities and communities around brands.  Customers voices are louder than ever with social media forms of expression like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.  If people believe the brand message is disingenuous, they’ll stay away from the product and tell their friends to do the same.

The 7 habits that define authentic brands are:

  1. “The Authenticity of Stories” – stories that originate with the brand user and unite like-minded customers
  2. “Appearing as Artisanal Amateurs” – these brand creators let the world know that they love what they do, and they take on the persona of zealous artisans devoted to their craft, with products that speak for themselves
  3. “Sticking to Your Roots” – they stick with what made them popular, all the while adapting to the current time”
  4. “Love the Doing” – these makers communicate sincerity and commitment through their passion for their products and they stand for something
  5. “Market Immersion” – not market research, by interacting with their fans and even hiring them as employees
  6. “Be at One with the Community” – Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz identify as “German engineering”, while Burt’s Bees and L.L. Bean conjure up an earthy, natural Maine
  7. “Indoctrinate Staff into the Brand Cult” – the employees act like owners and they are taken good care of by the company once they’re hired

Here’s 7 questions to ask yourself about yourself or your organization to test your authenticity:

  • Does your product or service make your clients or customers feel connected or understood?
  • How passionate are you about your product or service?
  • How devoted to your craft are you?
  • How dedicated are your employees or your team members to your brand?
  • How involved are you, the leader, in all brand decisions or have you distanced yourself from these type decisions?
  • How important are traditions and organizational history to you?
  • Do you love what you do?

You can’t fake sincerity anymore than you can fake authenticity.  They are both rooted in truth.  A wise man once said, “What you do speaks so loud I can’t hear what you’re saying.”  Beverland says the same: “You cannot tell consumers that your brand is authentic – you have to show them.”

Go show them…and be real!


Bill Edmonds is an “Outside-Insider” (an Executive Coach and Consultant), who works with leaders to help them reach their full potential in the areas of organizational and personal development. He spent 24 years with Merrill Lynch until his retirement in 2014, where he led a $100+ million per year revenue wealth management business unit as a Director with the firm.


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Book Brief: “Zero to One”

Advice for Building Your Future from PayPal Founder Peter Thiel

This week’s “Book Brief” of “Zero to One” highlights the unconventional thoughts of Peter Thiel, the 47 year old entrepreneur, venture capitalist and hedge fund manager.  Peter and his friends Max Levchin and Elon Musk founded PayPal, and Thiel was the first outside investor in Facebook in 2004, one of his many ventures that has helped him amass over $2 billion in net worth.

Who should read this book:  Anyone starting a business or anyone who is wanting to take their business to the next level.

But read the book only if you’re interested in going from “Zero to One”.  If you think there are no more frontiers to explore and no new inventions to be created, don’t waste your time, just read Kim Kardashian’s latest biography.   Going from zero to one is what Peter Thiel says is the key to success.  He advises those who want to build a business with lasting value to not fall into the trap of building “an undifferentiated commodity business”.  What creates value is differentiation.  Business success is more attainable when a company differentiates itself, rather than attempts to compete with other companies.

Zero to one is simply “vertical intensive progress”.  Zero to one is when you have one typewriter and you build a word processor.  Thiel says the most common business model is “zero to n”.   Zero to n is taking one typewriter and building 100, which is just horizontal progress.  Too often people start businesses as just another player in a big market, or as a disrupter, hoping to clobber the competition with something slightly better than what currently dominates the market.

He warns against both strategies.

Going from zero to one is the way to build a monopoly.  Responsible, creative monopolies make the world a better place.  Google and Apple are great examples of this.  To build a monopoly the “essential first step is to think for yourself”, something he believes is the most important skill a leader should master.  When Thiel interviews someone he asks, “What important truth do very few people agree with you on?”  The answer to this question could very well contain your zero to one business opportunity.

He discusses the challenge that large companies have when it comes to innovation: “It’s hard to develop new things in big organizations, and it’s even harder to do it by yourself.  Bureaucratic hierarchies move slowly, and entrenched interests shy away from risk.  In the most dysfunctional organizations, signaling that work is being done becomes a better strategy for career advancement than actually doing work. ”

Thiel says you better keep these 4 things in mind if you seek to be “definitively optimistic” (the condition of building the future you envision):

  • It is better to risk boldness than triviality
  • A bad plan is better than no plan
  • Competitive markets destroy profits
  • Sales matters just as much as product

And he says there are 7 questions every business must answer:

  1. The Engineering Question: Can you create breakthrough technology instead of incremental improvements?
  2. The Timing Question: Is now the right time to start your particular business?
  3. The Monopoly Question: Are you starting with a big share of a small market?
  4. The People Question: Do you have the right team?
  5. The Distribution Question: Do you have a way to not just create but deliver your product?
  6. The Durability Question: Will your market position be defensible 10 and 20 years into the future?
  7. The Secret Question: Have you identified a unique opportunity that others don’t see?

My favorite quotes from the book:

  • “Our task today is to find singular ways to create the new things that will make the future not just different, but better – to go from 0 to 1.”
  • “If you want to create and capture lasting value, don’t build an undifferentiated commodity business.”
  • “Every business is successful exactly to the extent that it does something others cannot.”
  • “If you treat the future as something definite, it makes sense to understand it in advance and to work to shape it. But if you expect an indefinite future ruled by randomness, you’ll give up on trying to master it.”
  • “Monopolists can afford to think about things other than making money; non-monopolists can’t.”
  • “Don’t disrupt – avoid competition as much as possible….dominate a small niche and scale up from there.” 

Bill Edmonds is an “Outside-Insider” (an Executive Coach and Consultant), who works with leaders to help them reach their full potential in the areas of organizational and personal development. He spent 24 years with Merrill Lynch until his retirement in 2014, where he led a $100+ million per year revenue wealth management business unit as a Director with the firm.


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