March 28, 2012

The Four P's Redefined

Anyone in marketing can recite the four P's which are product, price, placement and promotion. But if marketing is all you do, how do the four P's apply to your business?


Have you ever been to a sporting event or seen a live play or concert? Have you watched a great movie? Do you have any experience meeting someone else who is successful in business?  Do you find motivation from people who show talent and prowess in a particular discipline? In each case, someone spent years honing their skills to make it appear effortless. Yet we are quick to criticize from the comfort of our 20oz beer mug in the 300 level. Now think about your skill set and what you can bring to any situation. Did you learn and execute all you know immediately?


When I was a kid I couldn't get through an NHL game without calling my buddies to see if any were interested in a little pick up game on the street. We couldn't wait to be the next big star. It wasn't important whether that dream would be realized, the key was to try and emulate our favorite players who had worked their entire lives to get to the highest level in the sport. If you enjoy writing, reading a good book may give you more determination to work on your own novel. You may know someone who went back to school and emerged with a whole new career path. Seeing others succeed may give you reason to study their process to improve your business through sound leadership and strategy.


It requires working nights and weekends, writing ideas on scraps of paper you later find in the laundry, networking well, reading incessantly while life blends with work. No successful person in history has gotten it right the first time. And we may point to the occasional situation that appears to be an instant win. But once you dig deeper you realize it took a lot of persistence to happen. This is one we all need to remember yet it can be tough on those days, you know, those days. After all, business isn't simply created, that's up to us.


There are many ways to be successful. What's important is to be organized and have a strategic plan. It is equally essential not to settle for good enough - that's what the other guys do. And it's okay to get a little messy once in a while, take some chances and swing at the fence.

Your most important "P" might be passion

Kneale Mann

image credit: superprofundo 

March 25, 2012

What’s Stopping You?

Manuel de los Santos is a baseball player turned golfer. He is an engaging and inspiring guy whose story just may remove those excuses that are in your way.

Kneale Mann

image: manuel de los santos

March 21, 2012

Who Will You Be?

Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel was a clever yet shy raconteur who created timeless work. For example; "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

It's one of my all-time favorite sayings and it's brilliant. It's not suggesting we disrespect those around us and for us to become unbearably arrogant. It points to the simple genius that says we need not worry so much about what others think about us. There will always be naysayers and complainers. You rarely need travel far to find someone with an opinion or criticism.

Don't Matter. Don't Mind.

Simon Sinek says leaders find others who believe in what they believe. Tom Peters says leadership is not about creating followers, it's about creating more leaders.

Seldom does someone who fails to stand for something, find others who are interested in what they have to say or offer. So be bold, be yourself and take charge. Respect those around you - especially yourself.

Be who you are, and say what you mean, or someone else may try and make that decision for you.

Kneale Mann

image: dr. seuss

March 19, 2012

Do You Go With Your Gut?

We admire leadership that is executed with firm direction. Yet we are often stalled by external influence. The idea sounded good but others have shed some doubt. We can also be bold and ignore necessary evidence that changes are necessary.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote a great book entitled Blink and it begins with a story about an art gallery that is presented with what appears to be authentic pieces. The curator suspects the pieces are fakes but then a layer of hope takes over and changes his mind. But to be safe, he hires appraisal experts to ensure he’s right. They confirm authenticity and the gallery purchases the pieces which were fakes.

Eyes Deceive

The curator – like all of us – didn't listen to his gut. He wanted the pieces to be real despite his spidey senses. And his overwhelming desire for them to be real transported to the appraisers. It sounds impossible and happens all day long. Have you ever felt that? Of course you have and it’s almost as if we have to deliberate for a while because the right answer couldn't possibly come to us that effortlessly.

We have the chance everyday to make a quick decision or belabour for a potentially better outcome. That is why we spend endless hours in meetings pondering the pros and cons of every decision. It’s the reason economic realities cloud our judgement. It’s at the base of prospective clients demanding results before the work begins. And it’s the sole reason we get stuck.

No Guarantees

Life, business and every decision you make is a risk. But there is credence in seeing smart successful people make quick choices, realize mistakes and correct them long before most of us get past the “what if” stage. If we wait for the perfect time to do anything, it will never arrive. The guarantee we seek is a fabrication we have created for the sole purpose of not making the call.

Change holds a certain allure until you realize what it entails. There are many moving parts but often we think we can stand still while the rest move in our favor and that's simply not reality. We have to affect the change, we can't expect others do to it then blame them when they put the pieces in the wrong order.

That pang in your gut may be worth another look.

Kneale Mann

image: knealemann | ralston

March 14, 2012

Are You In Sales?

Purpose meets Price

My passion is to help leaders become better leaders, companies to be more collaborative, and guide the communications process that loosens the boardroom constraints. But I've been thinking a lot about the sales process lately.

One of my clients has me helping with one of their revenue generating initiatives which is not a role I regularly play. Leadership and business development is necessary across the enterprise but there are much more talented people than me to help with sales.

Wares meet Humans

Yes, we're "all in sales", but I'm referring to a career that has defined metrics. You sell, you survive. You don't sell, your commission is affected. You park your laptop on a desk in the “sales department” kind of sales. You have numbers you need to hit this quarter, kind of sales. You eat what you kill, kind of sales.

I have worked with and around sales people my entire career. I have consulted them, worked on presentations with them, gone on sales calls with them, but I've never had to sit in an office and be a sales person full-time, work the phones, make the connections and sell the offering.

It's one thing for your performance to be measured by how you do your job. It's much different to be judged by the actual money you actually bring in the actual door. Sales is the transference of trust, so you must build strong relationships. Sales can be a grind and not for those with delicate digestive tracts.

To anyone in sales – you have my gratitude and respect. 
To anyone not in sales – try it for a day.

Kneale Mann

image: selltest

March 12, 2012

23 Leadership Ideas

It's been said repeatedly that leadership is not a job title and doesn’t materialize on a company’s organizational chart. It comes from communication and compassion about helping people grow. It thrives through action.

You don't acquire leadership with a pay raise or VP stripes. It requires daily focus and comes from inside you. Leadership is necessary from all stakeholders. You probably do most of these but here are some suggestions as you navigate your day.

• Allow others to inspire
• Find the how
• Be present even during challenging times
• Have clear expectations
• Don't expect to ever have all the answers
• Helping others is a privilege
• Back your people up
• Be bold
• Never stop learning
• Open door policies are for those who mean it
• Don’t hide behind busy
• It’s their career too
• Invest a minimum of 50% of your time helping people
• Be inquisitive
• A team is more than celebrating victories
• Don’t be a boss
• Listen
• Don’t hide when your people need you
• Seek guidance from those who are committed to helping you grow
• Customer service begins with you
• Grow their strengths
• Be fair
• Get to know what motivates your people

Leadership may be the most rewarding work we will ever do. But we won't find it on our business card.

Kneale Mann

image: waap

March 9, 2012

Is Anything Free?

I often recall the Dennis Miller classic when he referred to the two-for-one deal and ranted that two helpings of a bad deal is still a bad deal. We're often looking for a deal but some get upset if we spend too much time talking about ourselves or our offering. So we want to buy stuff but talking about what we sell is a bad thing?

Time is Not Free

On the social web, you can be shunned if you pitch your wares yet no one I know has a bank that takes Twitter followers in lieu of mortgage payments. Digital media is one way many can grow new relationships along interest silos void of geographic limitations. But that takes time and trust.

Experience is Not Free

I can only imagine the volume of requests some people get but I receive “could you give us your opinion” emails often. They just want me to have a quick look and let them know what I think. It won't take long. My offering is to help with leadership and business development so advice is part of what I do. You wouldn't call a plumber for an opinion on your leaky facet or a lawyer for feedback on a contract. And I'm sure you don't build your business by freely giving away your expertise.

Customers are Not Free

If a large international coffee chain had no customers in any of its thousands of stores around the world, it would be out of business fairly quickly. Zero revenue for a week or two and the largest retailer on earth would be closing stores in short order. If you gave away your offering, how long would your bottom line stay in the black?

Relationships are Not Free

If you're at a backyard barbecue, the conversations range from sports to the economy, the latest with the family to vacation plans. But eventually it gravitates to work, it always does. We spend far too much of our lives working for it not to be a significant part of our conversations. Yet what do we think of the guy handing out business cards?

You are Not Free

You can fill the pipeline with messages and some will bite. Or you can choose to build your human network which takes longer but the rewards are more lasting. This is true for colleagues, clients, leaders, prospects, customers, friends and partners.

Before we look at price, perhaps we need to establish value?

Kneale Mann

image: beyondcliches | original: may 2011

March 8, 2012

How Do You Create Change?

If you are facing an issue that seems insurmountable, watch this. If you feel alone in trying to make a difference, watch this. If you want to find others to help you conquer the problems you face, watch this.

Invisible Children is the brainchild of Jason Russell and Laren Poole along with a team of 40 dedicated people in San Diego and help from millions around the world.

But it didn't happen overnight. Change takes time and dedication and leadership and guts and perseverance. It can be tough and scary. Especially when you are trying to change the trajectory of the future.

If you want to help, watch this.

Kneale Mann

visual: invisiblechildren

March 5, 2012

Leadership and Introverts

It’s often said that you need to be strong to be a leader and in order for others to see that strength, you need to show it outwardly. Since almost half of the human population is reserved or shy, we may miss the person who solves problems and creates solutions in solitude rather than on a large well lit stage.

Seclusion is where many of our greatest ideas are born yet we feel we must present them to others with panache. Culture has often favored action over quiet brilliance.

When you think about how you navigate your ideas, they often thrive when you are alone. And that is the same with some of the most lauded people who have created some of the most important ideas in history. Yet something happens when the quiet one shares their ideas with the rest of the team. If the company prefers a bottom line approach rather than a human approach, those ideas may never go any further.

Susan Cain studies introverts and talks about leadership, summer camp, and quiet time in her TED2012 talk.

Kneale Mann

visual credit: TED | Susan Cain

March 3, 2012

Customer Service - Inside and Out

Recently, I was chatting with some friends about their recent road trip. All went well but they did share a couple of interesting stories. One was from a bad experience while trying to grab a quick bite to eat. It was one of those experiences where you feel you're more of an annoyance than a customer. “Someone deserved a four cent tip”, my friend exclaimed. The rest of the group nodded and began sharing bad service stories. Bad service ruins your experience and you wonder why you are the victim of their bad day.

Bad Service is Everywhere

We all want great service. But we are still surprised when we get it. If “four cent tip” guy got the service my friends received, he would be incensed. But he’s having a bad day, a rough shift, his boss is a tyrant, his feet hurt or a wide range of possible explanations that don’t and shouldn’t concern customers. Companies miss an opportunity when they ask us to follow them on Twitter only to find out there is nothing in it for us. Or they request we "like" them on Facebook only to find the same.

Now flip this around and look at your internal stakeholders. We all have a bad day, we all make mistakes but imagine for a moment that whiny waiter dude was your communications department and don’t wannabe there coffee shop woman was running your sales department while get it done faster cheaper guy was your boss.

Good Service: Tell a Friend. 
Bad Service: Tell All Your Friends.

One bad customer experience can dismantle thousands, even millions of dollars in marketing investment. To my friends, the grumpy server is now attached to the name of the restaurant. They had a bad brand experience.

Envision spending the next three months simply working on improving service inside your organization. That’s the stuff that happens between each person in your building. Any one of your stakeholders may be the only person a customer may ever meet. And this is true in all industries and across all levels of leadership.

The creation of strong internal and external customer service is far more valuable than a well crafted advertising campaign.

Kneale Mann

image credit:  helpscout | original: may 2011

March 1, 2012

A Month of Ideas

Every day on Twitter, I post a saying, quote or thought. It may be something I heard, something that happened or something that gives me pause. Sometimes they’re funny, sometimes they're timely, sometimes they’re meant to make us think.

Here’s the list from February 2012

• Don't replace fear of inaction with fear of success
• Groundhogs aside, what will you accomplish in the next six weeks?
• What obstacle will you remove today?
• Learn from a child
• None of us does this alone
• Curiosity can be your biggest advantage
• Why not?
• Make it about them
• Replace distractions with actions
• All we have is right now. What are we gonna do about it?
• Regret solves nothing
• They don't want a boss
• How will you help someone today?
• The starting point of all achievement is desire. Napolean Hill
• Anytime after now
• Once you decide you will do it, you will figure out how you will do it.
• White space is allowed
• If you give up, how will you know?
• Turn no into how
• Stay curious
• What will you create today?
• Every moment you focus on a weakness is a moment you allow a strength to weaken
• Don't let yesterday take up too much of today. Will Rogers
• If you're looking for the answer, look inside you
• After all is said and done, much more will be said than done. Aesop
• Time to get to all those things we put off yesterday to do tomorrow
• We don't always know and that's okay
• Accept responsibility with grace and move forward

Got any ideas?

Kneale Mann

Image credit: linda huber
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