Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The corporate athlete

I stumbled upon an old article from the Harvard Business Review about the making of a corporate athlete. The title lured me in; it is always flattering to compare corporate leaders to professional athletes that are admired by the masses.

The thesis of the article is that performance demands on today's corporate leaders rival those on professional athletes, and while the latter get all the training and recovery and support they can before and after competing, corporate leaders do not. In fact leaders are required to perform under stress 24/7 year round with no time to recover or unwind.

The article argues that unwinding and recovery are crucial for peak performance.  The article lists four dimensions of capacity that the leader needs to worry about: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual capacities. By strengthening each of these capacities, the corporate leader can draw on the separate strengths, and manage to handle work pressure, and performance demands.

The article lists some ways to strengthen these areas, citing coaching examples from the authors' experience. Some of the article's suggestions are: eating healthy meals, exercising, keeping a consistent sleep and wake up schedules, limiting tasks to 90--120 minutes, weight training three times a week, and continuous learning.

Sounds like reasonable advice to me.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Bauman rare books

This year's modern marketing experience conference took place in Las Vegas at the Venetian hotel. The hotel, like other Vegas hotels, contains a lot of fancy stores with prestigious brands. In between the sessions, the conference attendees would walk around the stores perusing the merchandise and enjoying the luxury of the stores.

One of the more eclectic stores in the hotel that attracted my attention was Bauman rare books store.  I have never seen a similar store before, so I decided to go in and check it out. The store specializes in rare first edition books and ones that are signed by the author. I was surprised to see first edition books by Charles Dickens, and John Steinbeck, as well as Winston Churchill and author famous authors.

The store appeals to rare book collectors, and the prices definitely reflect that.  Despite that, the staff were very friendly toward non collectors. They were very engaging and knowledgeable about each book's history and lineage. They explained that the book's high prices is largely based on the condition of the dust cover, and whether the author signed it or not. I wonder if I should try to treat my physical books better now, and get them signed by the author for future prosperity.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Information asymmetry and how it is changing the world of selling

Daniel Pink's keynote at the modern marketing experience conference was great. In the keynote, he talked about how the world of selling is changing due to changes in information asymmetry--what information is available and to who.

In the older days, the salesperson knew a lot more about the product than the consumer, and when they interacted, the salesperson had to convey a lot of information about the product to the consumer in a very short period of time. This time crunch led to the perception that sales people were pushy, fast talkers, and sometimes sleazy. The perceptions were not helped by an experiment where people were asked what was the first word that came to their mind when they recalled an experience with a salesperson. The top 25 words were not flattering.

In the new world, where information is at everyone's fingertips--thanks in a large part to the Internet, and search engines--the information asymmetry shifted the other way, tipping more toward the consumers, who often end up knowing more about the product that they would like to purchase. Pink argues that this shift in information asymmetry would necessitate a corresponding shift in the selling strategy. The new strategy has to shift from the older days' mantra: "Always Be Closing" to one suitable for modern times.

Pink proposes keeping the acronyms ABC intact, but giving them new meaning: "Attunement, Buoyancy, and Clarity." In attunement, the salesperson needs to put the customer needs first, and take their perspective when thinking about products or services that will help them, and explain them clearly. And in the face of rejection, the salesperson has to remain buoyant, and optimistic.

Wouldn't we all as customers prefer that new style of selling.