Eight Paradoxical Habits of Wildly Successful People

leaders4You know what they say about opinions—everybody has one. If you want to see that truth in action, just Google “characteristics of successful people.” Some of the results will undoubtedly point to the famous Marshmallow Study at Stanford, which demonstrated that the ability to delay gratification is a key component of success.

But that’s far from the only theory:

  • According to Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, it all comes down to mindset. She conducted a series of experiments that demonstrated that, while the average person sees their abilities as fixed assets, successful people have, what she calls, a “growth mindset.” In other words, successful people focus on self-improvement and overcoming challenges rather than seeing their mistakes as the products of insurmountable personal flaws.
  • In another study conducted by Penn State and Duke, researchers assessed the social skills of 700 kindergartners. Twenty years later, they followed up and discovered a strong correlation between social skills and success. The children with the best social skills were more likely to have earned a college degree and to hold a full-time job, while the kids who struggled with social skills in kindergarten were more likely to get arrested, binge drink, and apply for public housing.

And the list goes on and on. So, what is happening here? Why are there so many different theories, complete with the science to back them up, about the traits that contribute to success? I think it’s because most wildly successful people are complex—so complex that many of their defining qualities are paradoxical.

Rather than an “either/or” set of static characteristics, they’re more likely to demonstrate both. This is a key to their success. Here are some examples of what I’m referring to.

  1. They’re polite, yet completely unafraid to rock the boat. Successful people are, what I like to call, “graciously disruptive.” They’re never satisfied with the status quo. They’re the ones who constantly ask, “What if?” and “Why not?” They’re not afraid to challenge conventional wisdom, yet they don’t disrupt things for the sake of being disruptive; they do it to make things better. Still, they’re polite and considerate, and they don’t draw attention to other people’s mistakes just to humiliate them. However, that doesn’t mean they sit back and let people wander off in the wrong direction. They won’t hesitate to speak up when it’s time to change course.
  2. They’re deeply passionate, yet rational and objective about their work. Successful people are passionate about their work, but they don’t let it skew their thinking. They have the ability to step back and look at their work with a critical eye and to accept their mistakes. If it’s a disaster, they’ll admit it, because they realize that it’s better to try something different than to put out something sub-par with their name on it. That sense of detachment also allows them to accept feedback from others without taking it personally.
  3. They’re convergent and divergent thinkers. Convergent thinking is what’s measured by IQ tests: rational thinking that typically results in a single right answer. Divergent thinking, on the other hand, is less precise. It’s about generating ideas and asking questions that have no solid right or wrong answers. Both are important. No matter how high your IQ is, you’re not going to be successful if you can’t think outside of the proverbial box. On the other hand, you need rational thinking skills to correctly judge whether your ideas have merit. That’s why this particular paradox is so important.
  4. They’re both energetic and calm. Successful people seem to have limitless energy when it comes to doing the things they’re passionate about, but they aren’t frantic. They can keep that energy under control. They work hard and focus on the task at hand with devoted concentration, but they’re so smooth that they make it look both easy and fun. Some people are so energetic that they’re hyperactive and unfocused and constantly bouncing from one thing to another. Successful people know how to harness their energy so that it works in the service of progress and doesn’t undermine it.
  5. They like to work and play. Successful people personify the often-repeated quote, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Because they love what they do, they find brainstorming, problem-solving, and grinding out tough projects thought-provoking, engaging, and deeply satisfying. And though they take their work very seriously, the enjoyment and gratification they derive from it blurs the common demarcation between work and play.
  6. They’re ambiverts. Successful people are comfortable acting in ways that amplify their introversion and extraversion, depending on what the situation calls for. They can sit in the back of a conference room and silently listen to what’s going on, or they can go up on stage, grab a microphone, and engage a huge crowd—and they look just as comfortable doing one as they do the other.
  7. They’re naïve and smart. No one would argue that intelligence isn’t an important part of success, but many successful people also have a childlike lack of awareness (or maybe it’s a lack of respect) for the type of constraints that other people blindly accept. They’re not limited by what other people tell them is possible.
  8. They’re both humble and proud. Taking pride in your work is absolutely essential for success, but successful people know they wouldn’t be where they are without the people who came before them and those they’ve worked with along the way. They know that they didn’t achieve their success all on their own, and because they’re OK with that, they don’t have anything to prove. That’s why so many incredibly successful people end up coming across as grounded and humble when you meet them in person.

Bringing It All Together

The reason that there are so many different opinions on what traits are necessary for success—and the reason that so many of them contradict each other—is that successful people are complex. They have a wide variety of paradoxical skills that they call upon as needed, like a mechanic with a well-stocked toolbox.

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Aligning Organisations around Transformation

data worldDigital mastery in an ever increasingly digital world is one of the key priorities of an organisation. The road to travel on the journey to making your organisation more customer focused in a digital world is challenging and one that requires alignment and commitment from the CEO, the Board and Shareholders down.

There are 5 priorities for a chief customer officer  / chief digital officer

1) Build a clear vision of a radically different future state and align it with Shareholders Board, CEO and Exec.  ensure that they are involved in co-creating the vision and understand the elements of how it works. If you need to train them on Twitter, facebook, what’s app or programming, do it so they understand a digital world.

2) Engage Colleagues in a 18m-36m Goal and develop a clear action plan. Ensure that you have a detailed and well managed transformation programme with agreed outcomes. Engaging colleagues in building this will be critical. It’s amazing how digitally literate teens and twenty somethings in a retail organisation are!

3) Breakdown fear of data and digital across the organisation. Board-> Senior managers-> middle managers -> Colleagues. Communicate widely and use storytelling to engage at all levels. Be very pragmatic and engage people in learning by doing rather than telling ( run Twittter workshops, small projects designed to deliver quick wins, training by doing.) Focus on small wins early and let people tell these stories across the organisation themselves as their wins. Align objectives and remuneration to deliver the goal from Exec down to all colleagues.

4) Foster stronger bonds between technical and business people. This is a two way process to ensure the technical teams understand the commercial imperatives, and customer solutions you would like to build, and the business teams learn to trust the expertise of technical IT teams. It will also allow you to improve data quality through showing the business impact.develop a data strategy aligned to business goals , build tools as required to deliver commercial goals.

5) Steer the course through strong Governance. Digital Transformation should be governed through the EXEC as well as relevant touchpoints to ensure continual alignment.

These 5 priorities along won’t drive the transformation but applying them is a start that many organisations who are now Digital Masters followed.

Be a better you….

better you

Be a better you rather than worse them

As vulnerable humans, we’re brilliant at paying attention to threats in our midst. We are experts at mitigating against failure, which we trick ourselves into believing is the way to optimising for success. This tendency might explain our willingness to devote our resources to averting risk, solving problems and fixing mistakes. 

When we focus on getting a near perfect score we sometimes overlook the opportunity to do more of what we already do well. 

It’s possible that regularly amplifying delight can produce better results than trying to avoid the random missteps that inevitably happen.

It’s just as important to pay attention to what makes your customers happy as it is to get to the bottom of complaints. 

What do you customers thank you for? 

Make a list. Then do more of that.

  1. Rolling back Prices at Asda
  2. Good Food at Sainsbury’s
  3. Community stores at Coop

 

5 ways hard-headed leaders promote innovation

retail leaders

I have known many CEOs and CMOs over my career. The best ones created innovative transformational cultures. Many tried. Some failed to comprehend the definition of the word itself; others lacked the vital leadership traits to inspire creativity and implement great ideas. Those who were adept at driving innovation and sustaining it over the long haul had one thing in common: they were hard-headed.

Their tough-mindedness came from an unshakable belief that innovation is critical to corporate survival, and that without powerful and constant change, innovation would be elusive. These trailblazers were innovative leaders, but surprisingly some of them weren’t creative, themselves. That didn’t matter because they were good a recognizing great ideas and welcoming change. No change, no innovation.

So, how do unshakable leaders create change and how to they sustain the innovation outcome?

  1. They unsettle the organization. There’s a host of companies that get things done, control performance, spot problems and deliver their budgets. But the structures, the processes and the people that keep things ticking along can snuff good ideas and block movement through the system. Innovative leaders appreciate that there is a difference between what’s needed to run a business and what’s needed to foster creativity. This ethic prevents excessive layering from killing ideas before they reach the top.
  2. They’re hardheaded about strategy.  Leaders who embrace innovation have a pretty clear idea of the kind of competitive edge they’re seeking. They’ve thought hard about what’s practical and what’s not. So the approach is not wishy-washy, but focused and driven. When this methodology brings results, employees become disciples of the strategy and the culture that facilitates execution.
  3. They make innovation a priority in the “walk” as well as the “talk.” When executive teams demonstrate innovative thinking and practices, the rest of the organization is clear on direction. This facilitates coherent cross-functional teamwork and an innovative modus operandi that encourages diverse viewpoints.
  4. They take note of what’s already going on with a view to balancing creative thinking with the discipline of assessing solutions and their implementation. The best backdrop for spurring innovation is knowledge – knowing the business cold. Good ideas often flow from the process of looking at customers, competitors, and the business as a whole.
  5. They appreciate that not many ideas work the first time, so they’re prepared to praise failure, move on, or try again until the company gets it right. From there, innovative leaders marshal resources behind a few winners and then execute like the SKY Cycle team

Innovative leaders are a special breed. They aren’t as interested in “minding the store” as they are about “opening new stores.” Nor are they shy to admit to controlling strategic direction, influencing the culture, and monitoring the process and practice that unleashes business’s most elusive success factor.

retail leaders 2

Data-Driven Customer Growth.

seven stepsAccelerating customer growth to drive commercial success through data is challenging and requires commitment and alignment from around all the organisation to be successful, but there are 7 steps that make the journey more successful

  1. Identify the commercial & customer Goals in next 18m-36m
  2. Build a clear vision of a radically different data-driven customer experience, working across digital & bricks & mortar and align across the organisation.
  3. Remove Silos of data use creating a single version of the truth, with a data strategy linked to business goals e.g. Unified View of customer data, GDPR ready and tools developed to meet commercial goals.
  4. Breakdown the institutional fear of data & digital at all levels through training & doing: it’s a tool that anyone can use to do what you have been doing better
  5. Use Data Analytics to Map & Prioritise customer journeys & personalised experiences across human & digital touchpoints and align organisation capability to deliver for customer.
  6. Identify & Build the capabilities (Process, Tools People) that will be required to transform process design from efficiency focused (cheaper) to customer focused (better simpler cheaper) , specifically putting in place an analytics capability to enable data-driven, personalised journeys
  7. Foster stronger bonds between technical and different business people. This is a two-way process to ensure the technical teams understand the commercial imperatives, and customer solutions you would like to build, and the business teams learn to trust the expertise of technical IT teams. It will also allow you to improve data quality through showing the business impact.

Using Data & Advanced Customer Analytics  to put the customer at the heart of an organisation is a transformation that future looking organisations need to start implementing now.

Transformation to ensure data is part of the DNA of an organisation takes time and a holistic approach.

Segmentation is a tool to grow customer numbers

netfix house of cardsdata pulse #37

Delivering the most relevant, inspirational messaging and experiences through advanced segmentation and targeting is a key advanced use of data. Segmentation itself is relatively straight forward, we all do it all the time. The skill for CMO lies in bridging the technical teams and the business imperatives to develop segmentation that delivers on commercial objectives

Netflix is an organisation that uses data in three of the advanced states. Netflix micro-tagging of vast content archives allowed creation of nearly 77,000 film segments, rich data, views, searches , times, pauses and more is used to build behavioural profiles and predictive algorithms give uniquely targeted recommendations.

The segmentation techniques are not dissimilar to the segmentations that Tesco, Sainsbury’s , Coop  and Asda built for segmenting customers. Both cluster users based on attributing product features to films / products and then clustering film watched/ products bought using analytics.

The difference is the Volume, Velocity and Veracity of data used.

Coop Food apply 7 segments to members annually,

Netflix create 77,000 segments on daily basis, continually refining which segment members are in so better able to predict your best next film.

More complex isn’t always better, as organisations need to WALK before they can RUN, and align people and processes before they build more complexity. Asda is now using customer segmentations and tools and processes for building ranges and promotional plans, and continually building and refining, as well as segmenting customer communication to improve the Customer Experience

Customer focus, data-driven to deliver commercial imperatives.

Building more sophisticated segmentations will develop but add value if they are aligned to deliver commercial objectives, so creating strategic and operational capabilities

 

 

Agile Marketing Explained

scrum vs sprint

WHAT AGILE MARKETING IS AND WHAT IT ISN’T

If you’ve been halfway tapped into the marketing zeitgeist lately, you’ve seen this phrase: Agile marketing.

Everybody’s talking about it as the “next thing in marketing.” It even has its own manifesto. Despite all this hooplah, however, you shouldn’t feel too bad if you can’t quite put your finger on what Agile marketing is.

Take a look at the Agile marketing groups on sites like LinkedIn, and it becomes clear that more than a few people are a tad confused about it. Is it simply restructuring your marketing and in-house creative teams and their processes to be more nimble? Sort of. Does it just mean streamlining your process and jettisoning any baggage that slows your team down? Kind of.

To give you a nice, clean 20,000-foot explanation of it, Agile is a work management methodology that has been dominating IT work management for the last several years. It has been known to increase teams’ flexibility and ability to react to demand while improving productivity. Now that it’s proven itself effective, the marketing folks have taken notice.

Agile-driven creative teams have reported that their creativity has experienced a major boost once freed from the endless development cycles that can happen in traditional marketing work management. Creative teams have seen their productivity explode by 400 percent and with less fuss. Marketing teams can test and iterate on campaigns faster.

If you’re like most marketers looking for ways to get creative and campaigns on time and with less fuss, here is a quick crash course on Agile and how you can use it to make your marketing and creative teams as creative and effective as they deserve to be…

 

What Agile Marketing is not

Some less-informed marketers will talk about agile marketing (with a lower-case ‘a’) as simply a mindset or philosophy. Their comments focus on streamlining processes or looking for ways to make your team more nimble and faster to react to opportunities. And it’s easy to see where these ideas come from, since they are basically just going off the adjective ‘agile.’ Not coincidentally, these things are some of the biggest benefits of using Agile (with a capital ‘A’) in marketing.

Unfortunately, this confusion can lead to lots of talk on the subject without the power to actually make those benefits a reality. It’s only when you understand what Agile marketing really is that you start to make progress.

 

What Agile Marketing is

Simply put, Agile marketing is the application of a specific work methodology (Agile) to the way marketing projects and non-project work is executed.

Where most creative teams produce projects sequentially from step A to step Z, also known as a waterfall methodology, Agile marketing seeks to put your team’s resources into creating a minimum viable product as quickly as possible. It’s also built not to plod along on a single project for weeks, but to accommodate all of your most important tasks—from multiple projects and even ad hoc requests that can be completed in a short timeline.

To accomplish this, Agile requires that all work be broken down into “stories,” which can be chunks of larger projects or small ad hoc requests. Each story tells your team, in a nutshell, what needs to be created. With that information, your team assigns to the story the number of hours they think it will take them to complete the story. Your team divides their time up into periods of time called sprints, which are a week or two weeks. Naturally, every sprint has a set number of hours which will be filled by stories and is intended to be a period of focused creativity that allows ample time for creative team members to explore a number of approaches to a story before moving forward. Again, the stories are chosen for a sprint based on their priority, and the creative team goes to work. Stories are placed on a public burndown chart, where team members and stakeholders alike can see them move from ‘incomplete’ to ‘approval’ to ‘complete’.

As you can see, Agile is quite different from the traditional workflow most creative teams are used to, but the benefits are undeniable. Agile eliminates the bottlenecks and wasted time in found in conventional methodologies and empowers creative teams to collaborate more, and make on-the-fly decisions about a project’s direction, task order, or priority. Hence the name Agile.

This increased productivity and quality, of course, have a direct impact on the companies that use Agile. In fact, studies show that Agile firms grow revenues up to 37% faster and increase profits as much as 30% more than their non-Agile counterparts.