Tag: 720 thinking

What Happens When One and One Does Not Equal Two?

October 6th, 2014   •   no comments   

Business and life would be so simple if one and one always added up to two. At least, that is what our logical brain seems to tell us.  But what can happen when one and one don’t add up to two?

First, One and One Always Adds Up to Two. Really?


On the surface, there seems to be a great deal of evidence which would lead us to come up with one right answer. Customers can consistently expect a quality product or service, after all the product is always made the same way and the service is always delivered in the same manner. A leader can expect that employees fully understand their roles and expectations and deliver top performance. Employees consistently receive the same information, directives and are held accountable in the same manner.

After all, the following is generally true:

  • Everyone  speaks the same language
  • There is one universal vocabulary  understood by everyone
  • Everyone come to a job with the same  knowledge and experience
  • Motivation for everyone is the same

By now, I pretty sure readers are getting the idea that I might have lost my mind or am really out of touch with reality.  However, just consider how the previous statements when laid out in front of us, may lead us to make unconscious assumptions which ultimately affect our relationships and results. If that’s the case, which unfortunately it often is, we need to rethink what we might need to consider how we have been conducting business.

1&1not equal to two_Oct_5_2014Second, One and One May Be Not Equal to Two

Initially, when one and one don’t add up to two, the automatic conclusion is that someone or something is wrong.

The customer may have purchased the product or service for a very specific reason.  For example, a customer may purchase hammer to drive nails. Later, having left it in a car used it to smash a window to escape if involved in an accident.

The leader has had solid, steady growth in one market. A new trend pops up and now there is an opportunity to expand into a new market, totally unrelated. Over night the business explodes or the opportunity passes and the competition takes over.

Employees are given the business objectives.  The average employee doing day-to-day activities, not really making the connection with their roles and the success of the business. As a result business continues to limp along.  Or, they can see that their current goals and roles need to be modified and they need to step out of the status quo to help achieve those objectives and push the business to new levels of success.

Finally, It’s Not  Right or Wrong

Since life is not as simple as basic math.  Often times, there are great rewards when one and one adds up to two. However, a lot of great things have happened when one and one don’t equal two and as a 720thinker, I would like you to consider the following questions:

What might happen with your customers if they believed that you offered more than just the basic service?

What might happen if your leadership found different applications or opportunities for a product or service?

What might happen with employees if they stepped out of their box and added some innovative ideas and actions to production or service?









Sharpening Up Your Game

August 21st, 2014   •   no comments   

I took a tennis lesson this spring in anticipation of beginning to play again after several years of recovering from various injuries.  The lesson was terrific because as I hit with two pros, one commented on my technique while the other hit me lots of balls exactly where they needed to be hit.  As I got coached I found my strokes and my footwork beginning to return and I felt a glimmer of muscle memory from my “good old days.”

There may have been a time when much of what I was being coached to do was second nature, requiring no thought on my part, just instinct. That time is no more. I have played a number of times this summer and have not been able to duplicate everything I was coached on that magical first day. Things are okay, good enough to enjoy playing, but nowhere near where they could be with really working on my game.

This can happen in business just as easily. Our initial focus on the details and desire to do everything right can, over time, can move from conscious effort to non-conscious habit. And then certain details may erode, some corners may get cut, some laxness may occur- and we don’t notice- at least right away.  Then at some point we realize we are not as sharp as we once were and we can’t find our way back to where we were.

It may take an external, objective review to find the glitches and to see where shortcuts have been institutionalized. It may need to be pointed out in more than one way until the owner actually realizes what has changed. When it comes to sports coaching, it is easy to have shortcomings pointed out on video. This option is normally not available in business. Yet if leaders want to “get the edge” back, they have to find a means of understanding where subtle changes and letdowns have occurred. And those working with them need to find a way to help leaders understand and get back to where they were.

The point here is that a leader or an athlete can do ninety or ninety five percent right, but it is that last missing amount that is the difference between okay and good, or good and very good. And that does make a difference. There is safety and maybe even comfort in being part of the pack, motoring along with everyone else, justifying not finding that extra percentage to pull ahead.

Some, however, want to be ahead of the pack. They want to be the change, not have to react to the change. They want to find that extra percentage. Those are the ones that seek the external voice to provide a different perspective.

So, the questions are –Are you happy with where things are in your business? Do you feel that you are hitting on all cylinders? Do you feel that you have a real grasp on your culture; your employees’ level of engagement in their work; the loyalty of your customers or clients; the levels of communication, information flow and understanding throughout your business; and the effectiveness of the decision making throughout the organization?  If you think you can answer yes to all of those questions, let me ask one more.  Are you answering based on “muscle memory”, what you remember from the good old days? Or are you really, truly in touch with where things stand right this minute? Think before you answer.

We all need to work on the finer points of whatever game we play or business we run.  Being great five years ago means nothing. What is important is what we know right now and what we are doing with that knowledge.  Talking about being great and working to attain greatness are two different things.  Which are you doing?

Get in the Arena

July 25th, 2014   •   no comments   

The Man in the Arena, an excerpt from the speech “Citizenship in a Republic,” in Paris, France, 2010 was delivered by Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States.  The following words of inspiration can serve as a virtual kick in the butt for those who are sitting on the sidelines as spectators, or, for those leaders in positions of power and control that spend time talking and blaming, rather rolling up their sleeves, getting the job done.

July25_2014_The Arena

Impacts on the Arena:

  • Distance from the Action.  At every level, every day most leaders and many employees are cloistered in meetings, talking issues to death, looking for the source of the problem, and  generally believing it is outside of the room. Interestingly enough, they are venturing to investigate for themselves and most information is anecdotal. Being so far removed from the “arena“, decisions are made, or not, based on conjecture and assumptions. No one is really close to the “arena.”
  • Worthiness of the Cause.  When the purpose, vision and mission are not clear, people fail to engage.  They are not readily enticed to be creative or pursue innovative ideas and approaches.  The “arena” is viewed as a place to visit, put in time, offer mediocre performance and sometimes even undermine.  No one knows the “arena”
  • Being afraid of Failure.  Safety and security seems to be huge motivator today. Businesses and individuals find it almost impossible go-all-in no matter the risk.  At the end of the day, the person left standing in the “arena” is so fearful of being called out or blamed that they keep their “arena” small,safe and private.

The Challenge – Get in the Arena

July_25_2014_standoutIn order to find the courage and motivation to resolve the above issues now is the time to answer the following questions:

  1. Are you a person sitting in meetings hypothesizing and making conjectures about the future of the business, project or situation? or  Are you the person who’s willing to forgo the meeting to walk, among the people,  and actually get into the “arena” of production or service?
  2. Are the purpose, vision and mission of the business, the endeavor, the initiative so unclear and uncertain that no one has any intention of being average or less?   or  Is the purpose, vision and mission so compelling that you can’t keep people out of the “arena”?
  3. Is fear such a big motivator in the culture that no is willing to standup and standout? or Are you a person who is willing to stand alone in the “arena” in spite of huge resistance and be willing to win or lose?


Build or Break Your Brand

July 19th, 2014   •   no comments   

“A brand is built action by action, just as a house is built brick by brick.” ~Jarod Kintz~

July18_2014_brandA brand in it’s simplest definition is a promise to it’s customers. Today, an estimated five to ten percent of a larger company’s budget is spent on developing a powerful and positive brand. For smaller companies that percentage may be different. Regardless of how little or how many actual  allocated or resources or how much one is committed to evaluating and refining their customer promise  decides whether the dollars, time and energy are actually  invested or wasted.

Consider these industries:

In these scenarios, note where the industry or company focused.

In the late 1800’s,  railroad was king spanning a nation and connecting the East and West. Whether it was hubris, shortsightedness, or just plain stupidity, the railroad barons’ brand was build more trains and lay more track. When in reality, their business was transportation.  All the railroads suffered and have never really recovered. Wasting marketing and brand resources left with a broken brand.

As king of the photo and film industry and at it’s peak,  Kodak held 90% of the market.  As an actual leader in the digital age, Kodak made a decision to hold back on this revolutionary technology and hold to it’s exiting brand, believing the “product” was what people were interested in purchasing. In reality, and to quote Dan Avi, author of the article, Kodak Failed by Asking the Wrong Marketing Question published in Forbes, 2012Kodak  focused on selling more product, instead of the business that it was in, story telling.”  In 2013, the headline in USA Today read, “Can Kodak Reinvent Itself After BankruptcyOnly time will tell if they can re-build their brand.

Disney remains one of the greatest leaders in the entertainment industry.  Continually striving to stay true to Walt Disney promise to “speak not to children, but to the child within each of us has proven to be a powerful strategy.   The focus and promise remains solidly on”storytelling, magic, and experience.”  Today, even though Disney remains number one in price, they are still considered number one in value.  They continually work on building their brand.

An Opportunity for 720thinking:

Most of the marketing resources are wasted on selling and telling people about what the products or services are and how they can be used.  A powerful brand builds a strong emotional connection,  and at the same time entices the consumer to want, almost need to experience. There is not a sale.  Instead,  customers are  lined up willing to spend top dollar because the value is not to fill the customer’s wants and needs, but to delight the them.

As 720thinkers, we would like to offer the following questions that can help you evaluate whether you are making or breaking your brand:








Mining Your Personal Brand

July 9th, 2014   •   no comments   

Is your personal brand a diamond in the rough?

Soren Kierkegaard once said, “Once you label me you negate me.” And, although it may not seem important to worry or care what others say or think about us, perceptions are reality and perceptions brand us.   One may like to believe that it doesn’t matter what others think or believe about them, and perhaps it doesn’t, if they don’t need the relationships or the business.

Then, it is perfectly fine to behave in any manner that supports or serves their self-interests.  After all, they don’t really want or need anyone to ensure success in life or business.  They can go on their merry way and the rest of the world will have to reach out to them. 

If they own the business, their staff will need to accept their behaviors or find another job. If they are employees, they better be absolutely fantastic or they can easily be replaced. If they are looking for investors, they better have the most fabulous product in the market or financing will evade them.

However, most individuals need to develop a brand that attracts and doesn’t repel.  Fully understanding and creating a personal brand is an integral part of success.

The question now becomes, how does one build a personal brand that supports not detracts from success?

Finding the Right Tools

July7_2014_brandThere are numerous tools and tactics that can be used to help individuals determine their personal brand. Here’s a few simple suggestions to get started:

  • Take the lead and invest time in self-reflection. Robert Frost once wrote, “We all sit around in a ring and suppose, while the secret sits in the center and knows.”  Only the individual can honestly know what is image or brand they would like to project. As mentioned in the previous post, Developing Your Personal Brand, only 15% have truly defined their personal brand. 
  • Proactively Seek Feedback. There are many formal and informal ways to elicit meaningful feedback for how one is viewed by employees, employers, boards, communities, investors.  One needs to keep an open mind when asking for others feedback.  This is not the time to take things personally, easy to say, often hard to do.
  • Be Adventurous and Brainstorm.  Even though finding one’s personal brand is serious business have some fun with friends, colleagues and trusted advisers to keep is safe and creative.

An Opportunity for 720thinking

Appreciating that going it alone is not the ideal, 720thinking recommends finding the right resources to help discover your personal brand.  If one is serious about developing a personal brand that projects a positive, powerful image, than taking small consistent steps can make significant incremental changes to decrease the overwhelmed feeling.

WheJuly7_2014_diamondn one seriously mines their brand, they just might be hiding scores of talent and skills that can lead them to discover a wonderfully polished gem that needs to be revealed to the world.

It’s up to you. Are you interested in mining your personal brand?  If the answer is yes, then there is no better time than the present to get started. Please keep us posted on your progress.


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