Virtual Book Tour: A Conversation With Sybil Stershic


It is with great delight that Diva Marketing is a stop on the virtual book tour for my dear friend Sybil_stershic_2_2 Sybil Stershic's  first book .. Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most: A Guide to Employee-Customer Care published by WME.

Take Aways: Easy to read, Sybil's passion for the subject is evident, From concept to how to do it, Smart, Elements of social media e.g., transparency, inclusion - breaking down silos, conversations critical, A must read for everyone in management and those who aspire to those positions.

I hope you enjoy reading my conversation with the author of Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most: A Guide to Employee-Customer Care - Ms. Sybil Stershic.

Toby/Diva Marketing: The phrase “Internal Marketing” sounds so .. well warm and fuzzy .. not very strategic. However, from Chapter 1 you set the stage that Internal Marketing is grounded in ROI with this quote from Francis Hesselbein – “Dispirited, unmotivated, underappreciated workers cannot compete in a highly competitive world.”  Let’s set the record right. On a high level, what is Internal Marketing?

Sybil Stershic: Internal Marketing is a strategic blend of marketing and human resources focused on taking care of employees so they can take care of customers. While that still sounds warm & fuzzy, nonetheless it’s critical because if your employees don’t feel valued, neither will your customers!

Toby/Diva Marketing: How does it differ from Internal Branding?

Sybil Stershic: Internal Marketing is based on the self-reinforcing relationship between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction, whereas Internal Branding is based on making the brand part of the organization’s operations to ensure employees deliver on the brand promise.  While management may use Internal Marketing to address employee and customer satisfaction and/or retention, internal branding is more likely to be used when launching a new brand or revitalizing an existing one.

Those differences aside, both approaches recognize “the brand walks around on two feet” and, as a result, are focused on engaging employees for marketing and organizational success. 

Toby/Diva Marketing: Your book not only details the many aspects of Internal Marketing but provides a tangible work path, from an Internal Marketing audit to where people can develop a customized strategy. a beginning audit to an Internal Marketing Action Plan. Looking at the Internal Marketing Audit checklist where do you find companies fall short? Why? and can you offer a few suggestions?

Sybil Stershic: Surprisingly, they fall short in remembering to communicate the organization’s overall goals and what’s expected of employees in helping achieve those goals – reinforcing  where each employee fits in the scope of the company and how the employee impacts its success.

For most companies, it’s an issue of time and, in some cases, inertia or neglect. The company gives out job descriptions to new employees, introduces them to the company in orientation, and then it’s back to business as usual. The company keeps plugging along and assumes that employees are up to speed with what’s happening in the organization. Meanwhile, face-to-face staff meetings have become almost nonexistent as they’ve been replaced by a barrage of e-mails.

Here’s what I suggest: managers need to develop a checklist of information that new employees need to know (especially in firms too small to offer a formal orientation) PLUS a checklist of regular information that all employees need to know, such as where the company is headed and what its strategy is for getting there, etc.

Managers who aren’t sure where to start with this can ask employees (those who have been with the company for a while and those who are relatively new): What information do you think new employees need to know about the organization? What do you know now that you wish you learned as a new employee?  What type(s) of information do you need to stay updated with what’s happening in our company?

Toby/Diva Marketing: What have you seen is the biggest challenge, from management’s viewpoint, in developing a successful Internal Marketing program?

Takingcarecover_2 Sybil Stershic: The reality is Internal Marketing is more than a program – it’s an ongoing effort. And it’s one that’s best implemented gradually rather than introduced as a new “flavor-of-the-month” management initiative.

I find it ironic that many companies who do Internal Marketing well aren’t necessarily aware that they’re using Internal Marketing. These are companies with a workplace culture and operations committed to the value of both customers AND employees.

For managers and employees who are not part of such companies, the challenge is to apply Internal Marketing despite members of management who don’t get what it’s all about. The good news is you can still have a positive impact by applying Internal Marketing on a “micro” basis – at the department or division level – if not throughout the organization.

Toby/Diva Marketing: You provide great examples of companies who are doing it right. Many are using recognition and rewards as part of their strategy. Sometimes a plaque or pizza party feels like a patronizing platitude. How can recognition and rewards be perceived by employees as a heartfelt “thank you?”

Sybil Stershic: It depends on the manager or management involved. Recognition is genuine when it’s given by a manager who is respected by employees.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Let’s look at Internal Marketing from the employees’ viewpoint. How can employees contribute to the success of an Internal Marketing strategy?

Sybil Stershic: Great question, Toby, and it’s somewhat difficult to answer because Internal Marketing is really seamless.  As mentioned earlier, Internal Marketing is inherent in a workplace culture truly committed to customers and employees – beyond the usual lip service given to employees as a valuable “asset.”

Whether applied formally or informally, Internal Marketing includes any and all initiatives, activities, and programs that connect employees to three levels: to the organization, to customers, and to other employees. For example: orientation, recognition programs, customer or employee roundtables, training, departments coming together for a combined staff meeting, job shadowing, customer and/or employee appreciation events, etc.

Back to your question on how can employees contribute to the success of an Internal Marketing strategy.  They can best contribute by being open and honest with management regarding how they feel about the organization and what they can do to help it succeed; in addition, they should also share any feedback they get on how customers feel about the company and its brand(s).

Toby/Diva Marketing: It seems an exciting benefit of an Internal Marketing strategy is, call it a cross pollination among traditional corporate ‘silos.’ Would you please talk a bit about how that occurs?

Sybil Stershic: Earlier I talked about employees needing to know where they fit in the ‘big picture’ of the organization and how they can contribute to the company’s success. This is not done in a vacuum, however, as employees need to know how their work impacts others within the organization, including “internal customers” – employees whose needs must be met in order to serve the company’s customers. 

So I advocate opening up communications within as well as across departments. Some companies do this by encouraging employees to trade places or ‘shadow’ another employee to better understand that person’s job function. Departments can also host an “open house” (in real time or online) to showcase what they do. At a minimum, you can begin to break down organizational silos by opening up your staff meetings to other employees. (There I go again pushing staff meetings!) Seriously, such activities serve to create empathy and appreciation for other employees.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Let’s wrap this up by talking about the next generation work force. How do you think the Millenniums will impact the future of Internal Marketing? Do they expect a different work environment then the XYers or the Boomers?

Sybil Stershic: I believe there will still be a need for Internal Marketing as the work environment and workforce continue to evolve. Here’s why.

Despite different generational attitudes in the workplace, companies will still need to engage their employees. And that’s where Internal Marketing comes in – enabling organizations to communicate and reinforce a sense of common purpose, a sense of belonging, and a sense of being part of something special, particularly in workplace that’s becoming increasingly insular. Internal Marketing will continue to be relevant as a ‘high touch’ people-centered management approach in a ‘high tech’ world.

Thanks, Toby, for allowing me to share this with your readers.
Thank *you* Sybil!

Special Discount! WME is kindly offering a 20% discount when you purchase Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most: A Guide to Employee-Customer Care from the WME online book store. Please the code 107VBT on the checkout page.

On The Virtual Book Tour - Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most: A Guide to Employee-Customer Care

Lisa Rosendahl, HR Thoughts, posted a great review.
Chris Bailey, Bailey Work/Play: The Alchemy of Soulful Work, shared insights in his review.
Kevin Burns, Burns Blogs Attitude, provides his views about about Taking Care of the People. 
Toby Bloomberg Diva Marketing (moi!) a conversation with Sybil Stershic
On June 6th, Becky Carroll,  Customers Rock!, gives us a two for one .. an interview and a review.
On June 9th, Paul Hebert, Incentive Intelligence, will review Sybil's new book.
On June 10, 2008, Phil Gerbyshak will post an interview on Slacker Manager

Diva Special Treat! The first person who drops a value-add -to-the-conversation comment (as determined by Sybil herself!) will win a copy of On The Virtual Book Tour - Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most: A Guide to Employee-Customer Care.

More Sybil: Catch Sybil on the Diva Marketing Talks  podcast when she dished with me and Nettie Hartsock about being a new author.

Interview with Lewis Green - Lead With Your Heart


Based on the title, Lead_with_your_heart Lead With Your Heart - subtitled Sell Happiness and You and Your Business Will Flourish,  you might assume Lewis Green's (of the popular blog Bizsolutions plus) newest book is a box of candy ideas. But I can assure you that Lewis pulls no soft punches (or too sweet cream centers) when he describes his vision of a business/marketing model based on putting customers and employees first.

Lead With Your Heart is well researched .. full of advice not only from Lewis but the best of from many business leaders. In fact, make sure you check out Resource page for other business reads. One of my favorites is the 10 New Rules Of Branding by Simon Williams, The Sterling Group.

1. Brands that influence culture sell more; culture is the new catalyst for growth. 2. A brand with no point of view has no point; full-flavor branding is in, vanilla is out. 3. Today's consumer is leading the front; this is the smartest generation to have ever walked the planet. 4. Customization wherever and whenever you can; customization is tomorrow's killer whale. 5. Forget the transaction -just five me an experience. 6. Deliver clarity at point of purchase; be obsessive about presentation. 7. You are only as good as your weakest link. 8. Social responsibility is no longer an option. 9. Pulse, pace, and passion really make the difference. 10. Innovation is the new boardroom favorite.

So okay .. we have a new way to do business that just might resonate with you but how do you put it into action? The book includes practical how-to lists, points to ponder and tips, tips and more tips.
: Love to have a stand alone index - these resources are that rich and valuable.

With that, please meet my friend Lewis Green who agreed to a Diva-type interview.

Toby/Diva Marketing: For those people who have not read Lead With Your Heart how would describe your new book? Is it a book about business management or is it a book about marketing?

Lewis Green: If I must choose, it is a book about business management, with chapters on most functional areas within a business, and with a heavy focus on marketing and communications. The premise is that leaders and entrepreneurs should put people first, not profits. And that business should be value based. If businesses are run on that foundation, they will make the world a better place to live and work, without sacrificing profits or revenues.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Do you see any similarities in a model based on “happiness” and the marketing ideology that is evolving from social media that we sometimes call conversational or participation marketing?

Lewis Green: To date, conversational or participation marketing (social media) seems focused mostly on how to use the tools instead of on results. That’s natural, as these tactics are still in their infancy. When I talk about “happiness,” I talk about always putting people first by meeting their wants and needs, by using values to filter all business decisions and by creating great customer experiences based on trust, credibility and authenticity. When we follow those guidelines in our interactions with all people (employees, customers, potential customers and the communities we do business in), we create a state of happiness.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Change seems to be the word of the moment. To succeed in changing a business culture e.g., one that embraces the philosophy you outline in “Lead With Your Heart,” that direction must come from the top down. However, it is middle managers who are responsible for implementing the tactics. What are a few suggestions to ensure that occurs with the happiness model?

Lewis Green: To change a culture is a bit like stopping a run-away freight train. Some damage will occur. Managers is a word I wish we didn’t use in business, as managing people destroys the results that “Lead With Your Heart” is designed to create—a spirit and passion where innovation, creativity and flexibility rule. In today’s world, we need leaders who inspire and motivate and then get out of the way so employees can both fail without fear and succeed without hindrance. And that is my first recommendation to managers—become passionate leaders, hire great people that fit the culture and let them do great things.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Lewis, on page 63 you say, “I don’t think a $200 Coach bag vs. a $30 bag has anything to do with personal happiness.” I beg to differ. Perhaps I’m showing a shallow side but I would be way happier with that Coach purse than with a $30 bag. (smile)

I couldn’t resist a tease, but seriously, I realize you were jumping off John Gaffney’s concept of consumer engagement which includes five elements of customer engagement: Identification, Recommendation, Experience, Aspiration and Anticipation. “When those things come together for customers and when employees create those types of experiences, businesses achieve a happiness that results in great companies and great brands.” - Lead With the Heart

 Do you believe that businesses/employees can create this type of consumer experience if the culture is not based on a type of “happiness” model? And if so why then go through the expense to change the business model?

 Lewis Green: As I said in response to the previous question, cultures that are engrained, that represent a business, are difficult to change. And to do so likely will require pain, including some layoffs—both of those employees who don’t fit a culture that is people-centric and to reduce the size of any bureaucracy, which gets in the way of innovation, creativity, and decision-making capabilities at the levels where customers and employees interact. The two keys to a successful culture based on the model presented in Lead With Your Heart are employee, customer and community-focus (engagement) and passion.

When those two factors are in place, engrained cultures can begin to move in the right direction. The first step requires getting the right people into the right jobs. The second step must come from leadership making it clear that the culture is a place where everyone can say “yes” and not a place where everyone says “No” and then reinforcing that by allowing decision-making at the lowest levels of the company, by encouraging employee’s ideas and creativity and by eliminating middle management—not the people but the titles. Furthermore, employee compensation must be based on the contributions an employee makes in achieving the business goals, not based on titles. So, for example, an engineer may actually make more money than the VP he or she reports to.

Finally, every employee, regardless of job description, must be evaluated based on their service to others. For example, accounting must be held responsible and accountable to the quality of service they give to both internal and external customers. This is a top-line answer that cannot possible approach the details necessary for a proper answer. However, at the end of the day a business-start-up or an established business will earn the ROI and the brand recognition that makes this all worthwhile. And the world will benefit, as well.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Let’s get down to a few brass tack tactics. What would a brand loyalty program look like if based on the Lead With The Heart model?

Lewis Green: A brand loyalty program would look much like what we once saw at Starbucks, where everybody knows your name, greets you with a smile, and you are occasionally surprised by a gift.

  • It’s the old TV show “Cheers,” where the bar is a metaphor for conversation, friendship, feelings, honesty, authenticity and relationships.
  • It’s where customers feel as if they are VIPs and that the business sincerely cares about them.
  • It’s a thank you note, a check-up call asking me if my wants and needs are being met or exceeded.
  • It’s a program that begins and ends with employees, the customer touch points.

Every employee must be well-trained, must have wonderful people skills and must be treated as if they are the most important people in the business, because they are.

And without a happiness model, that kind of culture is difficult to create. As for costs, they are short term as we mold the culture to be people-centric, give up control from the top-down, and likely lay off people who don’t fit the model. The ROI potential exceeds that of any model that isn’t based on what I call in the book “happiness,” which simply is a word to form an umbrella over the concept of always placing people first.

Toby/Diva Marketing: In Lead With Your Heart you say, “Happiness is the driving force behind everything American do.” Happiness seems like such a simple concept however, it can be more difficult to be “happy” than to be “sad.” What are some of the business challenges of being “sad?” On the flip side what are a few of the benefits of being happy?

Lewis Green: Actually, sad in this model isn’t the opposite of happy. Arrogance, control, greed, dishonesty, and fake are some of the words that represent antonyms to the happiness I discuss.

As most large companies discover, when businesses operate on what I will call the “winning” model, as described by Jack Welch, the potential for unprofitable mergers and acquisitions increases, the potential for scandal grows (as occurred under Welch’s guidance at GE), employee turnover increases, productivity is never maximized, and passion does not exist around the brand.

The benefits of the happiness model includes the opposite of what I just described, as well as the occurrence of brand evangelism, greater margins, healthy revenues (which may or may not exceed those of the “winning” model), and most important, a better world in which to live and work. I show all these things in Lead With Your Heart through real business examples.

Toby/Diva Marketing: It seems appropriate to end this interview on a personal happiness note. What is business happiness to Lewis Green?

 Lewis Green: Business happiness is waking up each day and looking forward to heading for the office; it is customers who feel good about working with us; it is making a positive difference in those we touch and in the planet we share.

Lead With Your Heart - Chapter One Free Download

Bloggy disclosure: Lewis kindly sent me a copy of the book.

An Interview With Geoff Livingston - Now Is Gone


Now_is_gone A political election changed Geoff Livingston's business model and his life. No it wasn't the ideology of the candidate it was the way he was elected .. through the influence of social media. In his book Now Is Gone Geoff provides a framework for how an organization can participate in conversational marketing.

The book has a few extras like the excellent introduction by Brian Solis. Brian explains the evolution of PR and how the principles of social media are changing that industry for the better.

In addition, Kami Watson Huyse kicks off the book with an interesting overview of the Seven Categories of Social Media: Publishing Platforms, Social Networking Sites, Democratized Content Networks, Virtual Networking Platforms, Information Aggregators, Edited Social News Platforms and Content Distribution sites.

Bloggy transparency - I am honored that Geoff included an interview he conducted with me. For your reading pleasure Geoff lets us in on some of the back-story and his thoughts about social media marketing.

Diva Marketing: Love the title of your new book – Now Is Gone. Where did the inspiration come from and what is the significance for you?

Geoff Livingston: I wish it was really cool, but it came while watching Casino Royale on DVD.  It seemed like a great title for one of the Bond movies, but afterwards the name kept rolling around in my head. 

Within days of that night the need for a book became apparent. The title fit the current need to engage in social media. Now Is Gone was born, and the Broccoli family was opted out. 

Now Is Gone really conveys a sense of urgency.  I think the business marketplace senses that urgency, and smart players understand competitive advantage can still be gained… But it has to be done in the next 12-18 months.

Diva Marketing: Your “moment of clarity” about the influence social media can play on a political election led to a change in the business model of your public relations company. What was the ah ha moment when you realized that social media marketing could impact consumer behavior?

Geoff Livingston:  When George Allen lost the election and, as a result the Democrats took control of Congress. I couldn’t believe it. My wife wanted to kill me. I was all full of energy at 2 a.m., the numbers were in and Allen had a clearly lost (though he had not conceded). All because of a YouTube video. 

While the Dems haven’t done much better, to see a power shift of that magnitude just stunned me.  The light bulb went on.

Diva Marketing: Now Is Gone contains a wealth of examples and case studies ranging from large corporate B2C companies like Jet Blue to smaller B2B organizations such as Reston Limousine and even Not for Profit where you highlight the Red Cross. In your research did you discover any common lessons learned that you can pass along to Diva’s community?

Geoff Livingston: It’s all about them… Meaning the readers.  This is a theme Meerman Scott picks up on, too, in his excellent book The New Rules.

Look we’re in a fractured media environment with millions of options out there, particularly for those that like to partake in social media. Corporate social media is fighting for time with every single one of them, from the New York Times and NBC to the brand new blog on Blogger and someone’s first Seesmic post.

So the only way to get and keep eyeballs is to understand you must publish something interesting.  Interesting in their minds, not yours. Having an editorial mission to serve those community members goes a long way towards achieving that goal.

Diva Marketing/Toby: My neighbor in the Hot’lanta hood as our pal Shel Israel might say, Coca Cola, has dabbled in social media including Second Life. In fact, there is a case in Now Is Gone about that initiative. Coke is about to launch their first corporate blog What advice would you you give to them – and to any Fortune 1000 company that is considering entering the blogging space?

Geoff Livingston:  Fortune 1000s are used to command and control communications where they can dictate messages to the marketplace.  This is a two way form.  The best thing any of these folks can do is really get out there and participate before engaging.  See what’s happening on other corporate blogs.

Geoff_livingston_3Then, instead of getting stuck in technology tools, they should focus on principles of social media communications.  This is really the heart of forging a better relationship with the community.  Ultimately, social media isn’t about tools, it’s about people.  We created a Seven Principles of Social Media wrap up in the final chapter.  You can find them here:

Diva Marketing: How much back-end structure should an organization include with a social media initiative that helps mitigate risk but leaves the door wide open to encourage consumer generated content?

Geoff Livingston: It’s hard to say.  Really, it depends on the company, the community and the tools.  It’s just not something I can answer without knowing the specifics.

Diva Marketing: Chapter Three – Building A New Media Effort – includes a subtitle that I really liked. “Inspire Your Community To Believe.” Would you please explain what you meant and give a few ideas on how to that happen?

Geoff Livingston: It’s so easy to commit to a two way media form. That’s a decision.

Decisions must be backed with actions if they are to be effective.  That means companies really need to dedicate themselves to the long haul and give great content and information to their communities over and over again.  Here’s where companies must act and perform well.  This is where social media really matters. In the streets, everyday!

Remember, this is a pessimistic media form with really lukewarm community members.  They have been disappointed by numerous ethical transgressions by companies so they are naturally wary of the latest corporate social media effort. And quite frankly boring content. 

Inspiration comes in the form of consistently great execution. Similarly,true interest in the community is also demonstrated by continued participation. It’s the tortoise that wins this race, not the hair.

Diva Marketing: Diva Marketing is all about the marketing. From your perspective, what do you see will be social media marketing’s impact on PR, as well as, on “traditional” marketing?

Geoff Livingston: The good news is that it should bring all marketing disciplines closer to their stakeholders. Now we have to get into the street with our buyers, investors, employees and partners.  Dictating messages won’t work because we may find they don’t resonate… or worse they antagonize.  But that feedback will be invaluable and good companies will garner great advantages from a participatory approach with their communities.

Part II Bob Prosen - Kiss Theory Good Bye


Kiss_theory_good_bye_1 In Part II of Diva Marketing's interview with Bob Prosen author of Kiss Theory Good Bye Bob offers marketers two keys on How To Rub Shoulders With the CXO’s, Five Positive Habits That Get Companies Places Fast and more. (Part I of Diva Marketing's interview with Bob Prosen)

2 Free Kiss Theory Good Bye books to Diva's readers.

Before you get into part II, Bob has generously offered 2 Free Kiss Theory Good Bye books to Diva's readers. The first 2 people to drop a comment on this post and request the book will find themselves with quite an interesting read.

Toby/Diva Marketing - I believe it was President Truman who said, “The buck stops here.” However, how involved should employees be in developing processes and in decision marking?

Bob Prosen - Yes, the buck stops with the leader. But every decision shouldn’t end up on the leaders desk. It’s important to remember that the higher up you go in an organization the fewer decisions you should be make.However, the magnitude of those decisions is far greater. For this to work others within the organization must take responsibility for day-to-day decisions or the organization will become stymied, slow to act and less competitive.

When it comes to developing processes, I use the following rule of thumb: Managers work on the process and employees work in the process. Meaning, managers are responsible for approving processes that employees help design. Because process changes generally require reallocation of resources, its management’s responsibility to approve such changes since they control the budget.

Toby/Diva Marketing - I found Kiss Theory Good Bye to be very insightful. The book addresses leadership, sales, finance and operations and customer loyalty. However, strategic marketing seems to be relegated to a step-child role. In fact, one example even placed the responsibility of developing the product mix in the hands of the financial team.

“The products with the smaller margins were being sold to make quota. The solution recommended by finance was to change the sales incentive plan to encourage the sale of the higher-margin products.” Page 88

The decision to sell higher-margin items did not appear to take into account, the market or customer dynamics. Perhaps the lower-margin products were loss leaders that led to the sale of higher margin items. Perhaps the lower-margin products were a strategy to enter a new market. Perhaps the lower-margin products were the glue of a customer loyalty strategy.

That is not to say, that sales and marketing should not be ROI-based or accountable. However, it appears that this was a short-term fix to what might be a more complex situation.  It also seemed that the organization was comprised of tightly held silos if the marketing team wasn’t brought into the discussion. Perhaps the conversations should have begun with marketing and included finance.

That said, where do you see strategic marketing in the c-level suite?

Bob Prosen - Toby, I agree with you that today most companies do relegate marketing to a step-child role which is very unfortunate. Often times marketing is like a diamond in the rough and will only show its brilliance when the CEO respects the ROI it delivers. So for any marketer who wants to rub shoulders with the CXO’s here are the two keys:

First - Marketing must understand and communicate in the language of business leaders, this includes knowing how their programs impact earnings, cash flow, ROI and NVP. If not, marketing will be underutilized and viewed strictly as a discretionary expense that is continuously targeted for budget cuts.

Second, make sure your best friend in the company is the head of Sales, because he or she is always seated at the planning table. Here’s how it should work. When sales is asked to commit to the top line they should agree only if the required marketing plans are approved. A tight relationship with sales makes marketing invaluable.

Smaller companies rarely have to deal with this because they don’t have a dedicated marketing department. Instead, the CEO and head of sales take on the responsibility with accounting in the background keeping score.

Toby, your question is spot on! I recently delivered a keynote presentation at a Business Marketing Association conference on this very subject – What Top CEO’s Expect From marketing. It’s a hard-hitting presentation packed with specific actions that, when employed, will dramatically enhance the power of marketing.

Getting Places Fast

Toby/Diva Marketing - To wrap up our interview, you describe five crippling habits that get companies no where fast:
1.    Absence of clear direction
2.    Lack of accountability
3.    Rationalizing inferior performance
4.    Planning in lieu of action
5.    Aversion to risk and change

Can you give Diva Marketing readers Five Positive Habits That Get Companies Places Fast?

Bob Prosen -
1.    Hire people smarter than yourself
2.    Deliver on commitments
3.    Develop an accountability based culture
4.    Under promise and over deliver 
5.    Reward results not activities

Toby/Diva Marketing - Looking in your crystal ball, would you share your thoughts with Diva’s readers about the challenges and opportunities you see in store for the next generation of businesses and business leaders?

Bob Prosen - We’re entering that next generation as we speak. One of the biggest challenges is information overload and how do you stand out given the unbridled accessibility to the customer and all of the social and Web 2.0 bombardment they are subject to.

What will separate the winners from the losers is the ability to use this technology in such a way that future clients want to hear from you.

The other challenge is the changing work ethic of the Generation Y employee who demands a balanced life. Winners will have created an environment where employees are encouraged to “kiss theory good bye and kiss their life hello” thereby attracting and retaining top talent.

The answer is creating the right work environment combined with state of the art technology that enables this life balance.

Part I Interview With Bob Prosen - Kiss Theory Good Bye


Bob Prosen's new book Kiss_theory_good_bye Kiss Theory Good Bye begins with the line, "Business Leaders  Need Less Talk and more action." My notes to self were "Right on Bob!" Then I read his Acknowledgement, "To my faithful schnauzer, Oreo, who brings me joy and endless companionship." How can you not at least try to read a book that is dedicated to the author's dog. And so I did.

Sidebar: One of the nice benefits of writing a business blog is that authors sometimes send copies of their work. My agreement is that I'll read, as time permits, and instead of a (yawn) book report review they agree to a mini interview for Diva's readers.

Our conversation was longer than I anticipated and Bob's responses so in-depth that I split the interview into two parts. In Part I of my interview with Bob Prosen we talked about the impact social media has on developing business leadership, the role accountability culture plays in business and more.

Toby/Diva Marketing - Let’s set the stage for this mini interview by first talking about leadership. We live in a world where technology plays a critical role in many business processes.  However, how do you think that technology, and specifically social media, has impacted the dynamics of business leadership?

Bob Prosen -  Social media is having a profound impact on the way we look at business. Blogs allow us to discuss and study issues almost instantaneously in a way where PC doesn’t carry the day. Take for instance the recent HP scandal. Leaders can no longer take refuge behind friendly reporters or PR spin machines. Because information is instantly available, tough questions are asked which leads to greater transparency.

Some leaders are proactively using technology to their advantage. Done effectively, leaders can get their message out to many constituencies quickly and inexpensively. Advances in video and audio technology remove any excuse leaders had for not communicating with employees on a regular basis. What this means is that leaders can maintain alignment across the enterprise and speed decision-making, which leads to, increased competitiveness and profits.

Toby/Diva Marketing - Do you believe there are different skill sets a leader should bring to a start-up operation versus a more mature organization?

Bob Prosen - Absolutely! The environments are completely different even though the goals are the same. Both want increased performance and profit. However, this is where the similarities end. Start ups have different challenges. Here are a few of the key ones. They have a shorter runway. In other words, less time to get it right before they run out of capital. They have to make quick decisions without the benefit of history.Every employee matters and must be able to wear multiple hats. Finally, the leader can’t be afraid to fail.

Personally, I prefer the start-up environment. It’s more exciting and everyone has the chance to make a real difference. Once a company makes it, leadership must adapt and change. It’s a different ball game leading a professionally managed company versus a start-up. Here’s the challenge. Being able to maintain an entrepreneurial culture inside a growing company where procedures and policies are required to maintain alignment, ensure quality and improve efficiencies. Sometimes it means the leader has to change.

Organizational Culture
Toby/Diva Marketing - You mentioned an interesting statistic that although 70% of business leaders say their companies’ objectives are clearly defined, only 48% of employees understand the organization’s goals.

Bob Prosen - This is interesting. In fact, one might say it doesn’t make sense. How can goals and objectives be clearly defined and employees not know what they are? The only sensible answer is that these leaders either keep the information to themselves or even worse, fail at communications.

Organizations that are aligned where everyone knows what’s important, how they fit in, what’s expected of them and how they will be rewarded will out perform their competitors. It makes no sense for leaders to know the objectives and then struggle to explain why the organization falls short of achieving them. The leaders job is to ensure everyone who reports to her wins! This can only be realized when the entire organization pulls in the same direction – and goals set the direction.

Toby/Diva Marketing - Going back into the organization, what extent do you feel culture influences a highly profitable company?  How can senior management create a culture that permeates and ensures that culture is reflected through out the organization from HR’s hiring to internal communications to employee buy-in of values?

Bob Prosen - Let’s start by defining culture. Simply put, it’s the way things get done. The unspoken hand that guides what people do, and, it’s undocumented. It begins at the top and no one else can set it. Therefore, the leader must establish the organization’s culture or risk wandering off course just like a ship without a rudder.

Personally, I like an accountability based culture because it’s easy to explain, everyone gets it and it works. In fact, one of the top questions I’m asked is how to create accountability so I developed a formula that works in any organization. Here’s a great way HR can help establish an accountability based culture.

Think about all the people you’ve worked with that got results, you liked working with them and nothing stood in their way of achieving their goals. No one had to hold them accountable because they did so on their own. Now think about all the people you’ve worked with that constantly complained, failed to deliver on commitments, fell short of the desired goal, had to be motivated, cajoled and performance managed. These people are not innately accountable and don’t like others holding them accountable. This tells me we better screen for accountability during the hiring process.

Creating or changing an organization’s culture is one of the toughest jobs a leader has. Done well, things just seem to work. Done poorly, it’s a constant struggle. After hearing all the horror stories I decided to demystify culture and make it simple to understand and shape. To learn more read chapter two of Kiss Theory Good Bye – Superior Leadership, and pay special attention to page 34.

Continue reading "Part I Interview With Bob Prosen - Kiss Theory Good Bye"

Firday Fun: Virtual Bookmobile


Friday Fun is Diva Marketing's virtual happy hour from cosmos to Jack to lemonade. A waiting for the weekend 'playground' time to be sophisticated-silly. Or sometimes just plain silly.

With the weather turning cooler a favorite Readingbookwinterwhite_1 for me is curling up in front of a fire with good book while sipping a brandy or cab or even perhaps hot chocolate or cup of tea. And of course a few sweet nibbles! And yes, Wayne, Max hangs out eating his special doggy chocolates. <wink> 

I can't remember a time when I couldn't read. When I was 5 years old something very special happened to me. I got my very own library card. It was a bright spring afternoon and my dad took me to the library. It seems now like one of the first 'rites of passage.' Perhaps in 2006, it's not a library card but your first computer that is your first rite of passage.

Since we're talking books, have you heard about the LibraryThing? It's social media for book lovers. You can build your personal library and share books, reviews tags, clouds, comments and more. There is even an Author Gallery that pulls pictures of your favorite authors. Pretty cool stuff.

One of the nicest benefits of business blogging is the opportunity to review books. Authors like bloggers. I have a pile of books that I'm anxious to dig into over the next few weeks. By the way it's a fun touch when the author signs her/his book and adds a personal note.

The interview Readingbookwinterwhite_1that I did a few weeks ago with Mary Hunt, In Women We Trust, was such fun and well received that I'm now asking authors to participate in mini interviews that will be posted on Diva Marketing.  The added insights from the author, along with the opportunity for you to add your comments and ask questions, seemed like a much better deal than another boring book report.

On The To Be Read Shelf
Most will turn into Diva Interviews with the authors.

The Corporate Blogging Book by Debbie Weil
What Sticks by Rex Briggs and Greg Stuart
Marketing Champions by Roy A Young, Allen M. Weiss, Phd, David W. Stewart, PhD
Writing White Papers by Michael A. Steizner
Kiss Theory Good Bye by Bob Prosen
Word of Mouth Marketing by Andy Sernovitz

This week I received a small brown box in the mail from a popcorn company. Couldn't image who would be sending me a present of popcorn so I quickly opened the package. I found a bag of Gourmet Popcorn along with Word of Mouth Marketing and a nice letter from Andy Sernovitz. Readingbookwinterwhite_1Here's proof that if you given them something unique and fun to talk about the buzz will begin!

Take a cue from a simple bag of popcorn. What can you add to your offerings that people will want to tell their friends? Think out side the box. Drop a comment and share your ideas.

With a book in hand there's always a friend close by. In search of a good book?
New York Times Book Review
Google Book Search

MySpace Book Reviews

Astrology_15 business astrology for fun -
from The Astro Divas
Paula Dare & Donna Page

Mercury, the winged messenger; ruler of communication and commerce has entered into its shadow. The shadow is the precursor for the retrograde at the end of the month (October 28th). It is a time when problems may arise and not be solved until after the retrograde (November 18th). Pay extra attention to any orders you need to place for the upcoming holiday season.

Wednesday the 18th is a magnet for mishaps in communication. Mercury will be at a very powerful point, known in ancient times as the accursed degree of the accursed sign (19 Scorpio) when repressed resentment and anger comes spewing out.

If you feel manipulated or misunderstood it will serve you well to find a healthy way to express and release your frustrations before you say something that could come back and bite you.

Friday Fun: Behind Enemy Lines


Friday Fun is Diva Marketing's virtual happy hour from cosmos to Jack to lemonade. A waiting for the weekend 'playground' time to be sophisticated-silly. Or sometimes just plain silly.

Okay, I have blogger guilt. Not only have I been lame this week in posting to Diva but Friday Fun is now Saturday Smiles. Or will be if I beat the clock.

Marthe_cohn__behind_enemy_lines Every once in awhile you find a story that has to be passed along. I was clicking through TV shows and stopped to listen to a Book C-SPAN 2 repeat interview with Marte Cohn. I've never heard of Marte Cohn but the title of the book intrigued me Behind Enemy Lines: The True Story of a French Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany.

Few people knew what Marte Cohn did during WWII. Not her husband. Not her two sons. Not her friends or grandchildren. Few people knew that Marte Cohn was a true heroine. As she said on C-SPAN 2, she was "too busy" to tell her story living her life. It wasn't until she turned 79 years old that Mrs. Cohn found the time to write her book about joining the French Army and her covert missions behind enemy lines into Germay.

When she was eighty, Marthe Cohn was awarded France’s highest military honor, the Medaille Militaire for outstanding military service. With this award came official acknowledgment of the heroic exploits of a beautiful young Jewish woman who faced death every day as she sought to help defeat the Nazi empire. In 2005, she was awarded the title of Chevalier de l’Ordre de la Légion d’Honneur.

This compelling memoir is a testament to how extraordinary circumstances can transform a life—and how an extraordinary person reacts to difficult circumstances. Publishers Weekly

It is also a testimony to .. you are never to old to undertake a new venture. So I pass along what I hope will bring you a bit of inspiration to jump start your week.

Sidebar: When is  C-SPAN going to develop podcasts or vlogs from its author interviews?

Astrology_15 business astrology for fun -
from The Astro Divas
Paula Dare & Donna Page

This full moon on Friday is asking us to look within our heart, within our company policy, and our personal interaction with others to discover what is out of balance.

Are you playing the game of business to win at all cost? Even at the expense of your integrity? Create and reformulate the mission for your company to have enormous profits and success based upon tremendous value that you give to your customers and clients. There may be coworkers or people you are in negotiation with that may only be thinking about what they can get.

Be willing to walk away from any arrangement that you would eventually resent but first speak your truth without anger but from a place of clarity and peace. With the sun and Venus in Libra and the moon in Taurus Sunday and Monday are great days to bring home a purchase that supports a hobby you have that lets life be your own work of art.

Communications Strategy For A Social Media World


Healthcare_vox Fard Johnmar, Healtcare Vox, pulls no punches in his new Free eBook, Envision Solutions E-book: From Command & Control To Engage & Encourage: A New Healthcare Communications Strategy For A Social Media World. He kicks off his theories with a powerful statement.

The healthcare industry will have no choice but to engage and develop social media if it is interested in helping people find accurate and helpful information online.

Although there has been some dabbling into blogs, podcast and vlogs the healthcare industry, as a whole, as been reluctant to take the big leap into social media. Fard explains that part of the hesitation is a reflection a culture of tightly control of information.

In industries such as pharmaceutical and biotech and hospitals which are all heavily regulated it is understandable that offering an open commincation forum may appear like a walk on the wild side. However, healthcare  providers that have entered into this world understand that providing an open dialogue is critical in educating consumers of healthcare.

From Command & Control To Engage & Encourage examines two models of communication strategy. The traditional Command and Control where information is carefully crafted and messages are spoon fed to the media and other stakeholders in a more or less 'pure' form. Although this model may appear to increase the odds that what is communicated = what people actually hear, in the social media world, it no longer works. Consumers of healthcare are online searching, talking and exchanging opinions about healthcare products and services.

I agree with Fard'd position that it is fool hearty for healthcare organizations to bury their heads in the sands of denial. As in other industries, ranging from technology to packaged goods to services, no company controls their messaging or the brand experience. The internet changed the rules of the game. Dr_kildareWe're not in Dr. Kildare's world of the 1960's! The sooner healthcare providers shake off the grains of sand the sooner they can begin to use social media as a competitive advantage to build stronger relationships with their customers.

Fard offers a solution in a social media communications model he calls Engage & Encourage

Engage & Encourage - A New Media Communication Strategy

Phase I - Engage
Aggressively working with influential developers of social media to encourage them to talk about healthcare issues, products/service

  • Conduct research to identify influential social media
  • Monitor the conversation

Phase II  - Encourage

  • Collaborating with social media to encourage the accurate transmission of healthcare messages
  • Producing social media that will help enrich and expand online healthcare dialog

Stage I - Research Social Media & Develop Messages

Stage II - Engage Traditional and Social Media

  • Advertising on blogs, podcasts,wikis, bulletin boars
  • Public/social media relations - developing messages to journalists and creators of social media and encouraging them to tell your story
  • Posting Multimedia on a Video Sharing Website

Stage III - Social & Traditional Media Deliver Messages

  • Monitor mentions

Stage IV - Encourage Accuracy & Dialog

  • Develop your own social media e.g., blog, podcast, vlog, discussion board to help shape the dialog

Stage V - Measure Audience Response

  • Media coverage, advertising reach, audience response

In addition Fard encourages healthcare organizations to get into the game by producing their own blogs, podcast, videos, wikis an/or message boards.

The eBook is an easy read and offers tips on how to begin the development of a social media communication strategy. Although written for the healthcare industry the concepts are applicable to any industry. The end quote brings it home.

Remember, we may live in a new world, but the old rules still apply. Powerful communications has always been about getting people to pay attention and take action. The engage and encourage strategy is just another means of achieving the same objective.

Sidebar: Fard Johnson's definition of social media - The term social media refers to a group of technologies that enable people to collaborate, interact or meet via the internet.

Sidebar: Cross posted on The Medical Blog Network

Friday Fun: Virtual Book Tour With Mary Clare Hunt


Friday Fun is Diva Marketing's virtual happy hour from cosmos to Jack to lemonade. A waiting for the weekend 'playground' time to be sophisticated-silly. Or sometimes just plain silly.

Today's Friday Fun is the Second Stop On A Virtual Book Tour With Mary Clare Hunt author of In Women We Trust

When my dear friend Yvonne DiVita, of Lip-sticking blog fame and WMEBooks, asked if I would like to review a new business book that one of her authors had recently published, my first reaction was, of course Yvonne - anything for you. After I hit send my second reaction was .. yuk a boring biz book to read when all I want to do on a hot summer afternoon is veg with a dirty martini (triple olives!) and a silly chick lit book.

In_women_we_trust Mary Clare Hunt has written an insightful book that is subtitled - A cultural shift to the softer side of business. While In Women We Trust is not a sassy summer read, it is a smart look at how women are changing the culture of the workplace, as well as, impacting how business and marketing are being conducted.

This week I had the distinct honor to interview Mary about her thoughts on how women are competing in business, changing the business landscape and about the grumblings of guys who feel left out of this new game. Mary even gives a famous quote from the Godfather a Godmother spin.

Toby: In Women We Trust, the title of your new book, to me, is an in-your-face reminder that other than the lame Susan B Anthony coin there are no women represented as a part of any US currency design.  Can you tell us how you chose the title and its significance for you?

Mary: It didn’t start with the money connection, it came after I did an informal survey of my gal pals. I asked, “If you replaced the professionals in your life, (CPAs, doctors, etc.), who would you go with, men or women?” Only a few said men, all the rest said “women.”

But it was the reasons they gave that were the most telling. They weren’t doing it to support women, or because they didn’t trust men, it was because they trusted women more. In marketing terms, that would be considered a competitive edge, which of course brings us back to money... 

Toby: One of the interesting elements of In Women We Trust is your exploration into and conclusions about the impact that  "the culture of women" has on consumer behavior and the business environment.  " .. that's why women are choosing their own culture first, before selecting a product with a heavy service component." (p32)

You also discuss what we might call the "new women-to-women competition."  "For the majority of them, the choice is between professional women." (p7).  Taking the "culture of women" into consideration, do you think that women compete differently than men and how do you see it influencing business practices?

Mary: Yes. I see it now when I’m inside an all women’s group as women try to out-network each other. Some do it by meeting everyone they can during a meeting; others will focus on a few and give away useful bits of information.

I receive many “Nice to meet you” emails or written cards after a meeting. In that light, I see business practices becoming more civilized and social. In some countries it would be considered very bad manners to talk business without first breaking a little bread and getting to know one another. I think the same will become true when it comes to working with women as consumers. Most women want to feel like they are more than just another sale to someone. 

Toby: You pose several thought provoking questions in your book. In an early chapter you ask, "What are the women able to get from female-based groups that they can't get in the mixed gender group?"  Recently I wrote a post on Diva Marketing about the layout of a print ad for Advertising Age's Women To Watch awards program and received the following comment:

Now I feel as if men are discriminated against. There you have "women networks" but nothing for men. :-)

I think that if men would create such groups women might feel discriminated. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for the "women groups, religious groups, etc" that help their own, but there is bias present when we talk about men's communities.

Do you feel that with the focus on marketing to women and the attention regarding women in business that men will try to grab back the piece of the pie that women have fought so hard to gain? How would you respond to this commenter?

Mary: Of course they will want it back. Who likes to be ignored? We didn’t like it when it happened to us for, well, centuries, and now neither do they. Go figure.

Unfortunately, the market is shifting to follow its majority buyer. Men can grab all they like but unless their group as a whole takes over the lead consumer position, then the path is set and business will follow it.

Honoring women that are making a difference or drawing attention to women’s groups or highlighting their blogs isn’t happening because business wants to be socially correct, it’s happening because that is where the dollars live. It’s not discrimination at work, its capitalism.

Fear not, there are plenty of other pies besides consumerism that men do dominate still. This one is just the most visual.

Dear Discriminated Man… yes, you are right there is a bias, but give it about 10 years and it will settle out. Everyone is just a bit freaked out over what to do in a really open society. Women don’t want to take over the world, just have their say in it. 

Toby: One of the great quotes in the book is - ".. advertising can buy awareness but it can't buy trust." (p159)  What is your favorite strategy that an organization used to gain a women's trust regarding a specific brand .. and why is it a tops on your list?

Mary: Trust isn’t a strategy; it’s a way of being. Tops on my mental list is Best Buy - not the one you see now, but the one that it’s becoming. I interviewed Julie Gilbert, at Best Buy for my blog this week.

Two years ago, she started an internal networking group for women employees called the Women’s Leadership Forum. Her philosophy is, to be a great place to shop, first Best Buy has to be a great place to work. Anyway…after I posted the interview, I sent out an email to friends and asked, “After reading this, would you buy or sell Best Buy stock”?

About 10 responded. All said that they would either buy stock, or wanted to work there. One complained about Best Buy’s service, but in the same sentence said that she would still “buy.” That says it all, doesn’t it? For her, just knowing that women are playing a bigger role at Best Buy was enough to trust that the stock was a safe pick. It wasn’t a marketing strategy when Julie introduced internal networking, but it may become one for other retailers to copy. Trust starts at the core.

Toby: I agree with you your concept of going back to the "good old days when people did business face to face."  Social media offers us the opportunity to create what I call corner grocery store relationships.'

One of the most quoted (and misquoted) lines in the Godfather is from  Michael Corleone - "It's not personal, Sonny. It's strictly business."  If you were to recast and produce Francis Ford Coppola's famous film, and call it "Godmother", what would Michele Corleone say about business? 


“Keep it personal, Sonny or you’ll lose your business – I only protect those I like.”

Toby: Love it and a wonderful ending to a great summer biz interview! Thank you Mary. Mary Clare Hunt tells her personal story about being a 21st century cultural anthropologiston on Blogger Stories.

Next Stop On A Virtual Book Tour With Mary Clare Hunt In Women We Trust is Monday 8/28 with Kirsten Osolind at re:invention inc. Followed on 8/30 at Marketing Roadmaps with Susan Getgood. Anita Campbell of Small Business Trends talks to Mary on 9/5, then Mary goes to visit  Elizabeth Albrycht date TDB.

Astrology_14 business astrology for fun -
from The
Astro Divas
Paula Dare & Donna Page
If you have any projects that are tedious or detailed oriented, Mercury
enters Virgo so now is a good time to tackle them. The mind is sharp,
analytical and practical.

Then take a step back from the facts and allow the Jupiter trine Neptune-8/29/06-energy to jumpstart your creative juices to add the finishing touch. If sales are down, try a fresh new
approach. The breakthrough you’ve been waiting for maybe around the corner.

In case you're away from your computer during the Labor Day weekend, the Astro Divas have kindly given us their advice for the week of August 31!

Then Fri. 8/31/06 rolls around and you run into Saturn opposes Neptune. After all the work you’ve done, you may now feel confused and doubt whether your creation will hold water. Not to worry. Wait until the confusion disappears before you make any major decision.

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The Corporate Blogging Book


I rThe_corporate_blogging_bookeceived a promotional copy of Debbie Weil's, almost hot off the press, new book yesterday - The Corporate Blogging Book.  Although I've only read a few pages my first impressions were - clean (style), funny, smart, so very Debbie! Looking forward to digging into it.

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