Saturday, March 23, 2013

Winning isn't everthing; it's the only thing

Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing is a well-known quotation in sports. Its assertion about the importance of winning has been touted as a basic tenet of the American sports creed and, at the same time, identified as encapsulating what is purportedly wrong with competitive sports. It is attributed to UCLA Bruins football coach Henry Russell ("Red") Sanders. In 1950, at a Cal Poly San Luis Obispo physical education workshop, Sanders told his group: "Men, I'll be honest. Winning isn't everything," then following a long pause, "Men, it's the only thing!" The quotation is widely attributed to football coach Vince Lombardi, who probably heard the phrase from UCLA coach Henry Russell Sanders. (Lombardi is on record using the quotation as early as 1959.)

Sports is a great metaphor for so many of life’s dilemmas. I think it is useful to consider the hard-knocks of business leadership in the context of coaching styles. Of course there are all kinds of leaders with a vast array of styles just like coaches. The terrible irony is that it is never black and white. I mean really. At the extreme ends of the spectrum there are two kinds of coaches.

A.    The coach that manages to let everyone play regardless of ability. This coach talks a lot about team work and sportsmanship. This coach is popular with parents and fans because little Johnny gets a chance to swing the bat (even if all indications are that he will strike out). I can completely understand this phenomenon having been a parent in the stands myself. 

B.     The other type of coach is all about winning. He will put the best players on the field and always gives the team the best possible chance at winning. His teams prepare and practice hard. This coach is not always popular because, at game time, some of his players have to sit on the bench. This coach is also more likely to lead the team to a championship.

I want to win. But it can get ugly if you aren’t careful. The coach A isn’t taking risks and everybody is happy. Coach B perseveres through criticism. He drives everyone. He works through adversity. Coach B is only vindicated when the team wins big. If all goes well, he is a champion. Now Coach B’s bench players have a life-long memory of being a part of a championship team. It beats the heck out of playing for a losing team any day. Regardless of the role, the bench player for Coach B remembers what it felt like to win. He has something more valuable that mere participation. He has seen first-hand what it takes to be a champion.

Of course, the two styles do not have to be mutually exclusive. Coach B (if you study him more carefully) is also more likely to be living in the real world of competition and real life lessons. Coach B has a team of players who learn about sacrifice, real-life trade-offs, sportsmanship and team-work. That’s the guy I want to play for…That’s the guy I want to be.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Think Like a Marketer

Your organizational success hinges on doing a lot of things right. Of course, an important part of the equation must be finding a proven formula to propel your marketing and business development efforts. How you approach this part of your challenge begins with your vision for growth.
My career is based on a foundation of education followed by New York full-service advertising agency experience and leadership roles in west, southeast and mid-western regions of the country. Assignments have included consumer packaged goods, kids’ marketing, promotional planning, implementation, aspects of new product development and launches. I have served in chief marketing officer roles as vice president of marketing and corporate communications director for significant leading A/E/C firms and as global communications director for a metal welding and cutting hard goods manufacturer. Upon reflection, I keep coming back to the notion of the planning, designing and execution of marketing communications.
So I founded a firm dedicated to helping companies with planning, design and execution of sustainable strategic marketing communications programs. Morgan Studio/East has enjoyed a measure of success. Highlights of this venture include a successful new product launch to HVAC industry, a trade and editorial support program for a food color ingredient manufacturer, a systematic direct marketing effort targeting healthcare decision-makers and projects ranging from strategy to copy writing/press releases.
Ultimately my message is pretty simple. Think like a marketer. You have to get outside your day to day operations and find a way to be objective about what you offer the world. Sometimes it takes an outside agent. (I will resist the temptation to make a shameless plug here BUT I will give you a huge hint. The world is full of very talented and smart people who can help you understand your positioning, competitive landscape, market potential and offer creativity you simply cannot get in a vacuum.)

Friday, March 1, 2013

And the ADDY goes to...

The American Advertising Federation (AAF) program of ADDY Awards to recognize the very best advertising crafted and presented to its respective audiences in the last year. In St. Louis the awards for the best work, were presented last night at PLUSH, on Locust Street downtown, at a lively event with energy, enthusiasm and a little chaos.

AdClub’s Nan Hartly was the second person you saw as you arrived. The first was a sort imposing bouncer who was working the wristbands. (Once you were identified “of age” you were entitled to a Bud or Bud Lite compliments of our neighborhood brewery the relationship with which our local advertising community still enjoys some business.) Nan was working admission and performs this task like she’s been doing stuff like this for more than four decades. (Really, she has!) Once admitted, the crowded bar was buzzing with agency artists, writers, strategists and managers. Also in the crowd were video production people, freelancers, recruitment specialists, teachers and client-side marketing types.

The winners were determined last month by an all-star panel of judges from out-of-town. Results were kept secret until this night. AdClub was determined to make some changes this year. In an effort to better recognize the individuals behind the work deemed the best, winners were listed on video monitor screens stage right and stage left. The master of ceremonies keep the program moving and a capable Vanna White assist handed awards to people who stepped up to collect the trophies. Winners were then guided to a photo opportunity against a backdrop where they could capture that career highlight in an image that would, no doubt, make its way to web and digital conversations.

The ADDY awards are a great way to get a sense of where we are. This year we saw the return of the printed show book. Thanks to Bender Inc. we were reminded that there is still value in a tangible print execution. Manifest was a gold sponsor. (In case you haven’t been paying attention this digital agency is the new entity formed from the former 4ORCE and a Chicago enterprise, the local clients include Post Cereals and Scottrade). Rodgers Townsend collected a lot of awards for work ranging from Nawgan energy drink to Eckert’s. TOKY, Switch, Atomicdust, Brown Shoe, Kuhl/Swain, Hoffman Lewis and Cannonball were among those who were recognized as winners. But the Best of Show went to HLK (Hughes Leahy Karlovic) for the campaign that agency did for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Good Job AAF AdClub! It’s great to know that our town still has some great agencies, talented creative people and support for the advertising community. Thanks also to those agencies, individuals and creative people who participated by entering their work.