Wind over fresh snowfall yieldsÂ a field full of Â ‘snow logs’.
photo: Ann Ralston
(click image for larger version)
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Is this new music video a comedyÂ or a tragic cautionary tale to corporate leaders, strategists and consultants?
Music parody master, Weird “Al” Yankovic, has loosedÂ his incisive wit onÂ corporate-buzz-speak, in a video from his just-releasedÂ album, Mandatory Fun.
Mission Statement, is composed in the style of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, playingÂ againstÂ an RSA-like whiteboard animation (which apparently took 10 months to produce!). The production quality is brilliant, and I found myself smiling and wincing in equal parts.
WARNING: This video is NOT recommended for anyone who has writtenÂ a mission statementÂ in the past decade. Showing this to yourÂ CEO or board chair may shorten your career.
But seriously, Ann and IÂ are notÂ fans of mission and purpose statements, even though we’ve had a hand in creating more than one in our day.
Our friend, colleague and mentor, Robert Fritz, writes:
“Which would we rather work for, a company that had a purpose statement but didnât have a purpose, or a company that had a purpose but didnât have a purpose statement?
Of course we would all choose the real thing over the propaganda. But even an organization that has a true purpose can rob that purpose of its power by reducing it to a slogan.” *
So please, enjoy the video, and then commit yourselves to eradicating corporate-buzz-speak wherever you can – we promise to do the same!
â Gary Ralston
Â© 2014 Ralston Consulting Inc.
Â A special thanks to Jerry Marselle at our client, SMBH, for turning us on to this gem!
*Â Fritz, Robert (2011-01-04). The Path of Least Resistance for Managers. Newfane Press. Kindle Edition.
More Weird “Al”:
- Great background info in thisÂ post on the Wall Street JournalÂ
- Video: Word Crimes – a cry against bad spelling and grammar.Â (I liked this video even more, but then, my mom is an english teacher and editor -G)
‘Brewing Up a Business‘ by Sam Calagione, the owner of DogFish Head Brewery, was recommended by one of my sons, so I downloaded the audiobook. HeÂ brews his ownÂ beer as a hobby, and I thought – at best – I was getting into a book about craft beerÂ counter-cultureÂ and start ups.
- about dedication and belief in what you are creating,
- of commitment to your people,
- of how the personality of an individual can shape a culture ofÂ innovation.
The company was built on creating innovative (and sometimes bizarre) products – which with craft beer means a combination of distinctive taste and ingredients, an evocative name, and a great story. (Liquid Breadfruit Ale, anyone?).
They maintain aÂ constant awareness (and openness to) ideas that may be the germ of a new offering – and in some cases, rescue offerings in trouble.Â Â Sales for the then-failingÂ DFH Beer Shampoo BarÂ only turned aroundÂ afterÂ they discovered thatÂ professional dog groomers loved it, and so repositioned it as a pet care product!
I think the thing that most struck me was theirÂ connection to and understanding of theirÂ customers. We all talk about knowing our customer, but how does that translate to action throughout a company? Calagione sets a great example, and I could see and feel hisÂ commitment to this principle, woven through every story he tells.
If you are looking for a down-to-earthÂ and delightfully “off-centered” point of view on leadership, you are in for a greatÂ read (or listen!)!
- Ann Ralston
Â© 2014Â Ralston Consulting Inc.
We believe this message is bigger than a single faith.
It speaks across cultures and creeds and diverse communities everywhere.
We are filled with gratitude for all of you in our circle – that you are in our lives.
May this fervent wish be realized for you, your family and your caring community.
In warmth and love and peace,
Ann and Gary
December 24, 2013
photo: Ann Ralston.
nce upon a time, there was a consultant who wanted their business to be successful far and wide, because she cared about people, the earth and longed deeply to make a difference.
Everyday, she would beat herself up for not being able to sell her wares or write pithy articles that were relevant to their clients.
One day, she read a book â To Sell is Human
Because of that she developed greater skill (and confidence) and credibility with her clients, and more courage to find a financial win-win while helping the people and organizations she cared about.
Because of that, she saw their sales increase.
Until finally, she saw their business grow far and wide, making a difference to more people than ever, (and even wrote a relevant, pithy and timely book review).
(Example of a “Pixar pitch”, one of six successors to the elevator pitch)
âIâm not a salesman. That’s just not who I amâŠâ
A client echoed my own thoughts last evening. Inwardly, I smiled. No, I may not be a sales person, but I am really good at helping people succeed, at holding their vision, at connecting others, and at marshaling knowledge and resources in their service. That, according to author, Daniel Pink, is the new world order of sales –Â a world where, like it or not, every one of us is in sales.
Information changes everything:
Of course, for many of us, the old world of selling conjures images of real estate agents and car salesmen wielding secret books of data, and the cry of âcaveat emptorâ – buyer beware! Pink observes that information is now equally available to both sides of the sale. Buyers come to a transaction knowing as much or more than the salesperson, so the value of the sales person as holder of knowledge has greatly diminished.
When we make a major purchase, Gary does his homework. When we got our last car, Gary knew more about price, availability and fit to my preferences than either the sales person or me, steering me to a car I never would have considered. Prescient? No. The information is readily available for consumers, along with the tools to make sense of and personalize it.
This information parity is perhaps most apparent in the real estate industry, where the old guard competes with agents more attuned and more wired to the new reality of how buyers approach their research and purchase. The typical home buyer today, smartphone in-hand, has walked through the house, scanned satellite images and toured the neighborhood, all virtually, before ever asking to step into a home. They have at their fingertips market pricing, school district grades, crime statistics, “Walkability” scores and the impressions and opinions of their social network living in the neighborhood. âCaveat venditorâ – seller, beware. (Agent, plug-in!)
If not “gatekeeper to information” what is the value and role of the salesperson in the new order?
The new ABCâs of selling:
In researching the book, Pink has delved into many diverse fields, weaving them into surprising and sometimes counterintuitive insights. He follows with practical resources and useful thought experiments at the end of each section. These little âsample casesâ are grist for the readerâs personal reflection, insight and skill development (and yes, make us squirm just a bit).
In the old world of selling, ABC stood forÂ Always Be Closing. Ugh. Thankfully, Pink has come up with new ABC’s:
AttunementÂ â being aware of yourself, your actions and attitudes in the current context,
BuoyancyÂ â mental resilience before and after a sales opportunity, and
ClarityÂ â finding the right questions to ask to help the client gain clarity.
As Gary and I reflect on the evolution of our approach to sales, these principles ring true.
The final section of the book focuses on what to do in the ‘new’ sales process. He draws from Pixar and others as he walks through six ways to âpitchâ, and reaches into improvisational theatre to help the reader move from a world of scripted sales to deeper listening and awareness in working with customers and peers.
In closing, Pink talks about a fundamental shift in values underlying selling. Taking a page from Robert Greenleafâs âServant Leadershipâ philosophy, he creates a version for the new world of salesâŠ He calls it âServant Sellingâ:
â It begins with the idea that those move others arenât manipulators but servants. They serve first and sell later. And the test â which, like Greanleafâs, is the best and most difficult to administer is this: If the person youâre selling to agrees to buy, will his or her life improve? When your interaction is over will the world be a better place than when you began?â
The book, like Pinkâs previous work, is a fast read, a bit cheeky, and packed with useful tidbits. Most important, for the many of us who protest “I am not a salesman!”, it touches our core of doubts, fears and biases. It offers the opportunity and a pathway to change our frame from sales as something to be avoided to sales as a caring service aimed at helping both parties succeed.
This is certainly true for me. Iâm far better off for having read this book.
â Ann Ralston
Â© 2013 Ralston Consulting Inc.
Link to Kindle e-book at Amazon.com:Â To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others