BAYOU Boogie - Lyrics

Bayou Boogie

By Justin C. Honaman


Due South to the Gulf, n’ West on I-10,

Past cypress swamps, to the Cajun land,

Over Mississippi runs, Spanish Moss,

To the French Quarter, as the sun shuts off,

Lanterns light the way, n’ flicker to the beat,

Creole magic, Mardi Gras, n’ dancin’ in the streets,


Chorus 1

Big band, bayou boogie, movin’ to the big band,

Big band, bayou boogie, movin’ to the big band,

Up all night, tearin’ up the street,

To the big, bad, bayou boogie, Bourbon Street, beat!



Smashed, shoulder to shoulder up n’ down the street,

Flashes to the world to get those beads,

Drinkin’, dancing,’ spinnin’ round,

Suckin’ down hurricanes at Pat O’Brien’s,

What happens here stays here – the Bourbon rule,

Gettin’ down to the rhythm, hot night, Cajun cool,

Chorus 2

Big band, bayou boogie, movin’ to the big band,

Big band, bayou boogie, dancin’ to the big band,

From dark to light, tearin’ up the streets,

With the big, bad, bayou boogie, Bourbon Street, beat!



2=steppin’ through old beer, n’ jambalaya,

Movin’ fast to the music, footloose, hands higher,

Mask-wearin’ crazies, screamin’, in the streets,

Cajun’ spice, ain’t it nice, feel the heat!


Chorus 3

Big band, bayou boogie, movin’ to the big band,

Big band, bayou boogie, dancin’ to the big band,

From dark to light, tearin’ up the streets,

With the big, bad, bayou boogie, Bourbon Street, beat!

With the big, bad, bayou boogie, Bourbon Street, beat!


It's Your Network! Invest In It.

Ask many top business leaders about their current role and how they got here and you will find a common theme – many of them arrived in their role due to a colleague, friend or acquaintance that connected them into the opportunity. Many leaders have also staffed their teams quickly by referring to their network to identify and attract top talent with whom they have met, worked with, or connected with in the past. We all talk about the value of a strong personal network but few actually invest in that network…until it is too late or “panic” time.

The best networkers make relationship-building part of their regular life cadence. They invest in others. They are interested in learning from others. They look for ways to help others. And they recognize the value of their network and how to use it (or not use it).

Couple of thoughts to consider as you build out your web of business, personal and philanthropic relationships:

Approach building your network with the attitude of helping others. Pass on and post job leads and consider connecting others into opportunities that may come across your email inbox. Think of helping others as making relationship deposits that could pay off down the road. There is also a satisfaction that comes from seeing others succeed because of your investment!

Have a system. Develop a functional, usable personal system of keeping track of the names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, social network addresses, and other interesting pieces of information. The list will grow throughout your career and thus the system you select should be expandable. I have a very structured process for tracking relationships. I use Outlook for relationships that I expect to leverage in the coming months / years and I also make notes on where I met individuals, what I discussed with recruiters, specific talents or skills of an individual with whom I may some day look to recruit, etc. The next “layer” for me is Linked-In and Facebook where I only connect with people I have met or interacted with directly. The third layer is the social layer for me (e.g. Twitter) where I am more willing and interested in connecting with individuals and organizations with which I have a more limited relationship.

Dive into the world of electronic connectivity. If you have not invested time in developing a Linked-In profile and at least spent time understanding Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, blogs, etc. expect to be left behind by the new connected, always-on, multi-screen generation. It’s simple and doesn’t require much of your time – and these tools are great ways to expand your relationship web.

Develop a routine for staying connected to your network. I personally set aside time each week for “staying in touch” with my network. I have a method that works for me – and yours will be different and unique to you. The key is to develop a routine that allows you to rotate through your contacts and also to invest time where worth investing. Not every contact is worth keeping on the list and at times, the list should be culled.

Engage in activities that drive network growth. Participation in community and philanthropic endeavors is a great way to meet new people, develop new relationships and expand your reach. In addition, there are typically excellent leadership development opportunities that arise from engaging in community organizations. Others will be interested when you are interesting!

Ask for advice from a mentor, coach, or close colleague. Coaches and mentors have typically “been there before” and can offer great advice on relationship building. One word of caution, keep in mind that your life is your life and while coaches and mentors provide advice and opinions, it is your responsibility to own the decision and consequences. Not everyone is a good coach even though they may have the word in their “title.”

Always return phone calls. I return every recruiter call and respond to all emails that arrive via references / referrals or a mutual friend. You never know what might develop out of a new relationship or where you may help someone else make the connection between opportunity and potential.

Recognize that not everyone is a “people” person. I am naturally a people person – outgoing, interested in engaging in conversation, etc. It is important to, at times, dial-it-down as not every personality type operates this way and for many, the idea of relationship building is an uncomfortable activity. Keep in mind that the best relationships are often built when one considers the ideas, opinions, behaviors and preferences of others.

Start Today. The time to think about relationships and your network is not on the day that you take on a new leadership role and need to find and attract top talent quickly. It is not the day that you are told that your job is being eliminated. It is not on the day you learn that your leadership style is not working and you need a coach / mentor. From a career perspective, I have seen many individuals “panic” when the job they thought they would be in “forever” is suddenly eliminated. Who do you call first? What else could you do based on your skills, education, abilities and leadership potential? What’s your back-up plan? Start today. While the job market has largely recovered, we will go through more ups and downs and a friend or colleague may be the able to quickly help you pivot into a new role, address a business challenge or find the right needed resources for your business.

The Power of Personal Momentum

Have you ever found yourself on a roll? Projects are being approved and moving forward. Demand is strong and customers are appreciative. Your partnerships are evolving. You are recognized for your accomplishments. Career growth seems inevitable versus questionable. Your team is performing well. Your personal life is hitting on all cylinders. You feel and see the wins. Positive events have created positive momentum.

Conversely, have you ever felt like you just couldn’t catch a break? Everyone else seems to be moving forward while you encounter roadblocks. Your career is in neutral or reverse. You’ve taken a hit, and then another and they just somehow start to pile up. Personal loss compounds with frustration at work. Negative events have reversed positive momentum.

As an individual with your own personal brand, there are times when you have positive momentum carrying you through the ups and downs of life – through the challenging situations and through the difficult circumstances. As the owner of your brand, you must ensure that you recognize these moments and understand what drove their evolution; so you can replicate them in the future. At the same time, when you encounter negative events, negative personal situations, challenges at work, or outside influences that generate negative momentum for your brand, you must use these moments as an opportunity for personal growth. Leverage these as an opportunity to recognize them and learn from them; then pursue the next steps based on what you have learned.

When I experience personal wins, personal recognition, and personal accomplishments, I actually increase my efforts to take on and engage in more. I leverage these wins as fuel for making an even bigger difference. Conversely, when it seems like walls are crumbling, relationships are strained, and decisions are not resulting in extraordinary outcomes, I take a step back to reassess and learn.

Personal momentum can be positive or negative. It can be triggered by varying circumstances, events, or relationships. As a leader, it is imperative that you recognize the elements in life that drive positive personal momentum so that you may exploit them fully, while minimizing the impact of negative momentum events.


◙ Build: As a leader, personal momentum may be the ultimate catalyst for your team’s growth and achievement. Recognize it. Embrace it. And leverage it fully as fuel to push the team to raise the bar. Energy from positive momentum is contagious, and personal momentum will translate into positive growth for the team and organization. What are you doing to identify, capture, and build on your personal momentum?

◙ Assess: Leaders make time to step back and assess drivers of personal momentum. It is imperative that you identify what fuels you. What is it that drives positive forward momentum for you as an individual? Is it rewards and recognition? Is it seeing others achieving greatness due to your coaching and mentoring? Is it delivering results? Is it being asked to take on more? Conversely, what drives negative personal momentum in your life? Is it negative words and opinions from peers and colleagues? Is it failing to achieve results? Is it not being recognized and rewarded when others are center stage? Is it personal loss? Or is it a compounding of multiple roadblocks in life?

◙ Persist: Morgan Freeman shared this statement at a recent business event I attended: “The world will walk right past a person sitting down, but will always reach down to help someone struggling to get up.” Simple statement, powerful message. When you make an effort and fail, it is natural that others want to help you recover, move you forward, and find success. When you give up and do not even make an effort, people aren’t as willing to help. Why should you expect others to care when you don’t even care yourself?

Bottom Line:  Personal Momentum Translates Directly Into Organization Momentum

When You Are Interesting, Others Are Interested

I speak regularly with groups on various subjects, including leadership, personal branding, life balance, navigating change, and one of my favorite subjects, pursuing passions in life. Inevitably, when my presentation is complete, I have a handful of individuals tell me, “I have always thought about doing XYZ, but I never took the steps to do it.” For example, “I have always thought about writing a book.” - “I have always wanted to learn to play the guitar.” - “I have always thought about going on a mission trip to a foreign country.” - “I have always thought about taking acting lessons.” Sadly, these people never made the time or did the homework to figure out what to do first. They never took a risk and never stopped making excuses.

Remember when we were young: growing up through high school and college, and everything seemed possible? There was little to worry about. We had minimal personal responsibility and plenty of time for sports, music, choir, gymnastics, dance, art, and every other extra-curricular activity imaginable. But as we get older, life seems to take on added complexity and it forces us out of our creative zone and into a routine zone. The days become shorter and the hours seem to fly by. There are many priorities and most take precedence over our personal desires, interests, or hobbies. We forsake creative talents because of a lack of perceived time and resources.

Whether you recognize it or not, we are all born with personal talents and gifts. Some are small. Some are large. Some are obvious. Others are more subtle. All are significant. Many are ignored or go unused.

I wrote my first song when I was 32 years old. I was way over the hill by most music industry standards! But I will never forget the emotional impact of that first song. It was called “Shadow of the Blade” and I based it on my father’s stories of flying MEDEVAC helicopters as an Army pilot in Vietnam. I wrote the lyrics and melody and went into a small studio in Atlanta to add drum and guitar parts. When I played it for my dad he broke down in tears. Seeing that emotional impact from something I wrote was amazing. I was shocked. Then interested and excited to write more.

I began writing country music and wrote the title track for my first album, Saturday in the South, while tailgating at a Georgia Tech college football game. The song captures the essence of college football game-day. Perseverance paid off. Several years after releasing the first version of the song, I met Alex, a leader in the country music industry in Nashville. He loved the song and suggested we make a few modifications. The revised version was picked up by Grammy Award winner and country music superstar, Tracy Lawrence, who re-recorded it and released it. That version was then picked up by CBS Sports and Fox Sports to be used as part of their national college football broadcasts.

Many people initially laughed at my endeavor to write, sing, and produce music. But that’s exactly what I did. I went on to release a second album of contemporary Christian music called, Let Go & Let God, and have since written numerous singles spanning the country, Christian, and pop genres. It’s fun. It’s interesting. It’s a passion.

That passion can be contagious! Several years ago, I arrived at the office when one of my colleagues walked into my office and made this energetic statement: “I’m a whole new Heather!” Several weeks prior, Heather had decided to find time to start taking voice lessons. She had an immediate connection with her voice coach, and through that relationship, she was asked to join a performing group; all within a matter of a few weeks! Heather was thrilled, and this wasn’t about quitting her day job. It was about finding an outlet for her passion in music and being able to quickly leverage it into performance and entertainment. Heather asked me, “Why did I wait so long?” as she bounded out of the office to her first meeting of the day.

Another friend, also in his late 30’s, started taking acting lessons. He appeared in several commercials was featured in a major blockbuster movie, and has major parts in several more films in the next 12 months.. He didn’t need to quit his day job working for one of the largest technology companies. This was initially his hobby. What's interesting is that his hobby turned into a new career - in acting. He sold everything, moved to L.A. and is off and running. I expect him to win an Oscar one day.

Yet another friend, who is in her early 40’s, works in leadership development by day. She found time to pursue her passion in writing and authored a book about relationship challenges which has positively impacted many people around the world who are struggling with divorce.

The biggest failure of adults is the failure to stay curious. What story will you tell one day?


  • Define It: What is it that you would like to make time for in life? Exercise? Reading? Writing? Singing? Performing? Traveling? Masters swimming? Competitive tennis? Playing an instrument? Start by writing it down, and make sure it is well defined. Talk to others that have done it. Learn the process, the pitfalls, and how to make it work for you.
  • Make Connections: Is there anyone you know who is doing something similar, and may be able to provide coaching or feedback on getting started and making it happen? In my case, I found an article in the Atlanta Business Chronicle that profiled an executive in town who was writing, singing, and performing country music. I reached out to him one afternoon and we met the next day. We hit it off and soon after our initial meeting, he introduced me to his voice coach, Heidi (who I still work with today). It was Heidi who encouraged me to start writing songs and explore recording. Today, music is part of my life routine. Before I wrote my first book, I interviewed six different authors in my network in order to better understand the process they went through to get published. Your network can be an invaluable asset when it comes to the pursuit of creativity.
  • Make Time: Despite your full calendar, it is possible to find time to pursue your passions. It will require some strategic time management and an investment on your part, and on the part of any significant other(s). Like playing the piano or singing in a band, many passions require practice and the investment of time. Are you ready to make the commitment to share your time with a new hobby or passion?
  • Budget For It: A hobby does not have to be expensive, and starting small is certainly a great approach. You will make mistakes and they will have a cost associated with them. I spent time and money on music promotions and publicity that were a complete waste and generated no results. I simply did not know any better as I was new to the industry. The important thing is to learn from those experiences. What can you do to set aside time to pursue your passions? What kind of investment do you need to make? Can you budget margin into your life as well, so you can at least say you tried? No regrets!
  • Celebrate It: Self-promotion is not natural. Nor is it easy as we discussed in the previous chapter. It is required for creative products that you are looking to commercialize. It’s a catch-22. Many people will truly enjoy hearing your music, checking out your work, seeing you perform at the comedy club or in a Broadway show, buying your custom-made jewelry, or reading your book. And yet they will not know about it if you do not promote it, celebrate it, and share it. When I release a new song, I talk about it across social media platforms, blog about it, distribute an email newsletter, and more. Are you prepared to self-promote? Be bold.
  • Focus: Most importantly, don’t let anybody take you off track when you reveal that you are investing in a new hobby. What’s holding you back? What steps can you take to make time for that one passion, that one hobby, or that one interest? You don’t want to look back on your life and say, “If only . . . .” You never know where it might lead. You never know what might happen in life if you are not willing to be open to the possibilities. Either way, enjoy the ride. It’s your life ... make it interesting! And remember that every day is another chapter in your life story.

“Extraordinary" Lyrics & Song Background

ExtraordinaryWhat I love most about this song is the message matched with a strong chorus and power-ballad melody. This track is centered in the Pop-Country crossover space and features a fast-paced melody matched with a unique instrumental track. The message behind this song is that it’s not just about working to “be” extraordinary but about “staying” extraordinary – especially for those that are already doing more, giving more, and being more. Enjoy! iTunes Link:

“Extraordinary” Lyrics Written and Produced by Justin Honaman / John Carrozza Copyright 2013


I’m brave, I’m bold,

I’m brash, I’m told,

I play to a different beat,

My notes, my way,

Glass is full each day,

I’m anything but ordinary,



I’m hip, I’m hot,

I’m cool, I’ve got,

A light shining bright in me,

And damn, I’m great,

And always play late,

Life is short, live it out and be free,



I’ll just stay extraordinary,

Everything I was meant to be,

Gotta move, gotta fly,

Off road, I ride,

My way…that’s me,

I’ll just stay extraordinary,

No sacrifice, no victory, (OR Tear down the walls in front of me, OR Out in front for the whole world to see)

I’m breaking records,

Makin’ this stage my own,



I text, I tweet,

It’s all about me,

I’ve always got something to say,

And boys to me,

Picky, picky, I’ll be,

Never, ever, ever, settle no way!


I’m here to say,

It’s my time today,



I’ll just stay extraordinary,

Everything I was meant to be,

Gotta move, gotta fly,

Off road, I ride,

My way…that’s me,

I’ll just stay extraordinary,

No sacrifice, no victory, (OR Tear down the walls in front of me, OR Out in front for the whole world to see)

I’m breaking records,

Makin’ this stage, my own,


I get knocked down,

I jump back up,

Be on my side,

It’s my joy ride,

Don’t push me back,

Won’t take your flack,

My past is past,

I’m moving fast,

Don’t tell me no,

I got places to go- o-o-o-



I’ll just stay extraordinary,

Ev-ry-thing I was meant to be,

Gotta move, gotta fly,

Off road, I ride,

My way…that’s me,

I’ll just stay extraordinary,

No sacrifice, no victory, (OR Tear down the walls in front of me, OR Out in front for the whole world to see)

I’m breaking records,

Makin’ this stage,

I’m breaking records,

Makin’ this stage, my own,



The Art of Self-Promotion #BeX

Me!By Justin Honaman

Ambitious <adj>: Having or showing a strong desire and determination to succeed; intended to satisfy high aspirations and therefore difficult to achieve.

Tenacious <adj>: Not easily dispelled or discouraged; persisting in existence or in a course of action.

What does self-promotion mean to you? Is it a topic with which you are familiar, comfortable and passionate about? It means ensuring that your manager is aware of your accomplishments. It means seeking feedback and credit, where appropriate. It means proactively networking with influential figures inside and/or outside of your business. It means ensuring that others on your team are recognized upward and across, and that their accomplishments are celebrated. When they win, you win.

Self-promotion demonstrates that you are ready for the next challenge or, at a minimum, have a desire to take on additional responsibilities. Self-promotion is your outward demonstration of self-confidence. It is also you demonstrating a vision for the future – a desire to make a difference. It is balancing confidence and assertiveness with professionalism and personality.

The result is that others take notice. Others come to know you, your interests, and your passions. Others are invited to buy into your brand. You are top of mind. And others are interested because you are interesting.

The challenge with self-promotion is that it sounds and feels unnatural. The key is making it part of your routine in a tactful, relevant way. It starts with knowing your audience. For example, when I make strides in my personal pursuits outside of work (music, writing, speaking, etc.), I share these accomplishments with a small subset of my total network. These are individuals that appreciate my passion for these interests and recognize them for the value they bring to others. Some in my network that do not know me well might perceive this information as being boastful or arrogant. Therefore, I do not include them on my list for these updates and communications.

The same thinking may be employed at work.

What you accomplish at work and what your team accomplishes together may be perfectly appropriate to celebrate and communicate to company colleagues and associates but completely inappropriate for Facebook and LinkedIn colleagues. Organizational leaders love to recognize and celebrate wins, especially over the competition! When we sign the next multi-year contract, my business colleagues will appreciate and celebrate the win. But to someone working in another business altogether, with no context of the accomplishment, it is a wasted communication.

Saying less is saying more. If you are on Facebook, you inevitably have friends who post status updates covering every aspect of their lives. At some point you tune them out or un-friend them. Whether at work or outside of work, what you say and how frequently you communicate correlates directly to others’ interest in listening to you.

By using facts and figures, you are able to take the focus off of you and center the message on the accomplishment of results. When I communicate major team accomplishments at work, I mix numbers with relational and personal recognition. I am also selective about frequency of messaging, sometimes saving news to bundle into a larger communication.

I was recently at breakfast with a colleague who is an up-and-coming leader within a major non-profit where I volunteer my time. We had begun a conversation on self-promotion and as we sat down, he asked, “How do I make others aware of my desire to do more, to step up, and to take on more responsibility, without it appearing to be an overt strategy to ‘take over’ or ‘one-up’ others?”

Great question! Essentially, he wanted to know how to self-promote without appearing overly confident, competitive, or boastful. I asked him who he admired within his organization. I asked who he would most like to receive coaching and advice from if the opportunity presented itself. I asked who he could reach out to and engage as members of his personal advisory board. We then discussed a list of questions that he could ask that would demonstrate his knowledge of the organization, his interest in the long-term vision, his passion for the mission, and his overwhelming desire to be a part of leading and growing the organization in the future. These questions serve as his mechanism for artful self-promotion. He was able to express his interest in doing more while subtly explaining that he feels like his capacity is greater than his current demands. Who owns your career? If not you, who?


  • Communicate Up: Does your boss or manager know what you are truly passionate about? Does she know your true strengths? Does he understand the vision you have for your career?
  • Communicate Out: How much time during the week do you dedicate to professional development? How much time do you spend building relationships outside of your current team, meeting with leaders in other parts of the business, or meeting with colleagues in other parts of the business altogether? How much time are you investing in developing your intra-company network? These are all relationships that might provide some bit of insight, advice, or counsel that could prove useful in your career progression. If you don’t reach out, how will other leaders know you? How do you ensure that the “full schedule” does not stop you from investing strategically in new relationships?
  • Coach The Team: How do you assist your team with self-promotion? First, when someone new joins my team, I provide him or her with a lengthy list of organization leaders with whom to meet – individuals that support our team and who are also making a significant impact in the organization. I want to immediately kick-start their internal company network. I encourage the new person to make it a point to meet everyone on this list at some point in their first 90-120 days on the job. What steps are you taking to assist your team in developing their reach within the organization, thereby establishing a platform for their own self-promotion now and in the future?
  • Think Beyond The HR Process: Most talent management processes are structured to provide visibility into talent within a specific business group. The formalized process may include regular talent roundtables at which people leaders present their team, recognize top performers, and help place talent in open boxes on the organization chart.It may also include formal talent mapping and tagging. The challenge with these structured talent processes is that they typically do not cross over into other organization segments. For example, if you are in supply chain and your aspiration is to work in strategic brand management or sales, you are most likely not even going to show up on the talent management snapshot reviewed by leadership in that part of the organization. The only solution is for you to invest in developing relationships with leaders in that part of the business so that you can learn more about their organization, understand the types of skills and abilities needed in specific roles, and educate them on your passions, your strengths, and your value proposition. This is all part of active and effective self-promotion.
  • Accept And Appreciate Support: Accept others who choose to help you with your own self-promotion. When you are recognized, appreciate it. Wins do not come often enough for most, and many are not recognized publicly. When given the opportunity, take it and appreciate it. And pay it forward. If the opportunity exists, identify the other individuals who played a part in your win. Celebrating others is a great leadership character trait and will strengthen your brand.

BOTTOM LINE:  If It's To Be, It Must Be ME!

CPG Manufacturers Leverage Data to Collaborate with Retail Partners: A Spotlight Q&A with Justin Honaman of Teradata


Link ->

This BeyeNETWORK spotlight features Ron Powell's interview with Justin Honaman, Industry Consulting Partner, Consumer Goods, at Teradata. They discuss how data-based collaboration and analytics are transforming how CPG manufacturers and retailers drive value to the consumer.

Justin, let’s start with general consumer packaged goods/retail collaboration trends. What’s trending?

Justin Honaman: First, just in terms of how we’re set up at Teradata, we focus on the industry from the standpoint of not only the consumer goods space, but also the collaboration with the retailer space. If you think of customer strategy from that perspective, there are several trends that resonate. The first trend is the “defining of big data” and what it means to the consumer goods organization. It’s playing out in different ways depending on the organization with whom we are working.

The second trend is cloud, software as a service, insights and analytics as a service, which obviously has been hot for a couple of years now. It’s just now evolving into more of a mainstream strategy with CPG. And, cloud-analytics solutions are challenging the traditional methods of hardware / IT-centric insights solutions.

A third area is one that is really interesting is one that is still evolving. It’s the data discovery space – the area where you hear lots of chatter about how data scientists are pulling together structured and unstructured data to drive business decisions.

Can you tell us more about the data discovery space?

Justin Honaman: The data discovery place is a new space within CPG and one where finding the right resources is a challenge. Data discovery (or data science) skill sets go well beyond those of your typical business analyst. And, if you think about what it really means, it’s the science of what’s behind the insights. And you have to think beyond just rows and columns and pulling together information on a spreadsheet and delivering that as a report – which is the typical business analyst’s role. Data science, and the data scientist role, is understanding that I have access to specific data elements. I can bring those elements together in an environment or a sandbox where I can try different queries and build scenarios. The results may be expected…or unexpected and those, in turn, may drive a new view of the business or methods of making decisions. So I find it a really interesting area, and it will be one that will drive business process change within not only consumer goods but other industries as well. From a data integration perspective, we’re seeing the need for integrating data to gain shopper insights, loyalty and so on. Would you like to comment on that and on social media?

Justin Honaman: Teradata’s bread and butter and core competence is and has been centered on managing large volumes of data and doing it extremely well. So many times, when organizations reach out to Teradata and our team, it is because they are looking to solve a data integration or data management challenge or they need help with understanding how to utilize many different data sources in a way that makes sense for the business.

In consumer goods, a primary focus is on how to further evolve collaboration with retail partners. This involves making better use of supplier sales data, point-of-sale data coming from the retailer or from an aggregator, syndicated data (Nielsen, IRI), category management data, ad tracking data, social listening data, and trade promotion data. And, even further, some retailers are willing to provide loyalty card data, and the consumer goods organization must determine how to make use of that as it relates to other available sources.

We’re seeing an explosion of interest around this data aggregation and integration space – all of it, by the way, in the cloud and all of it through software as a service or a monthly subscription type arrangements. Some in the industry would call the solution in this space a Demand Signal Repository (DSR) but today’s business needs are different than the original definition of DSR in that the solution to a CPG problem may not require full integration of data for every retailer but instead only require a subset of data to enable collaboration decisions. Like retailers, CPG organizations are moving quickly to invest in fast-start / fast-fail cloud-based marketing and sales solutions to complement their existing “heavy IT framework” capabilities, thus enabling new and different insights and thereby driving business decisions.

Justin, what’s the general state of database collaboration between CPG manufacturers and their retail partners?

Justin Honaman: It varies and depends largely on the retailer. For example, some retailers are more than happy to provide line-item detail and daily point-of-sale information to the CG supplier so they can create a better order, more effectively manage replenishment, manage out of stocks, ensure on-time/in-full delivery, and adjust forecast to meet the demand of what is selling in the store. From a retailer perspective, when the CG supplier invests in back-office capabilities that make use of point-of-sale data, that’s a win. It is a huge opportunity. The retailers are further along in terms of their investment in this space than CG suppliers (and have been for several years). CG suppliers now are looking to catch up from an infrastructure (and business process) perspective to manage and utilize point-of-sale data to drive collaborative retailer interactions.

The other area where I’d say there is great collaboration potential between retailers and suppliers is in the use loyalty data (including loyalty card data) to have a better view of shopper preferences.. This is especially useful for those select CG suppliers that are infusing this data set in the product innovation process.

Finally, many CG suppliers are adjusting their joint business planning process (JBP) with retailers. For example, most large CPG companies have joint business planning meetings and working sessions with Target, Walmart, Safeway, Kroger and down the line annually and promotions are typically planned based on historical sales activity. They put a plan in place and are not flexible in their ability to dynamically modify promotions throughout the year based on shopper preference or demand change. But with better access to data and information and faster access to what’s happening at the point of sale, the JBP process can be changed and be more flexible and dynamic. With forward-thinking CG companies, we are seeing the JBP process change to become a more dynamic, flexible, and interactive routine.

Database collaboration sounds complex. What have you seen as the best approach to get started?

Justin Honaman: There are plenty of BI best practices out there in terms of how to acquire and make use of multiple data types, but the biggest challenge preventing forward progress within consumer goods organizations is that business processes that utilize insights are not flexible or able to leverage new analytics and data inputs. Change requires investment and depending on the organization leadership, change may not move at a pace needed to keep up with advancing retailers.

An example is in the area of forecasting. If I’m operating at 60% forecast accuracy in my current process, and I’m not willing to invest in new capabilities that will leverage newly available retailer data, my process will not improve – I just end up paying for more storage of unleveraged data. A big challenge in most consumer goods organizations is the investment in changing business process to make use of better information available to the organization. DSR – demand signal repository – is very popular. Has it lived up to its promise?

Justin Honaman: The DSR concept is a good one – and one that has been the “buzz” of CPG the last 4 to 6 years. The basic concept of a DSR is the collection, storage, harmonization, and utilization of multiple disparate retailer data types in order to improve collaborative business handoffs with retailers. Data types typically include – shipment data, point-of-sale data, loyalty data, syndicated data (e.g., Nielsen, IRI), ad tracking data, population, and weather data.

The problem is that it is a challenge to tie these disparate data types together. Hierarchies differ, data arrives and/or is available at differing times, metrics in the data are not consistent with those in a source sales system, and the level of detail of data that you get from one source may differ from others. So I’d say that the DSR concept has not lived up to its billing.

From a technology provider perspective, many companies (e.g. Teradata, Oracle, IBM, SAP) have pursued the role of “grand aggregator” of retailer data thereby requiring CG suppliers to subscribe to data access (pay a monthly fee for harmonized data). Retailers have not bought in and therefore each link between supplier and retailer is custom-built and differs based on the source systems in place at both.

Justin, you know business intelligence has been around for many years now. We started with traditional BI. We’ve had these major trends, the latest being big data, and now we’re moving into analytics. Many in our audience are very familiar with BI, and they’re hearing that they really need to move forward with analytics. How do they start? Justin Honaman: If you think about this space, the information exploitation concept has been a top priority or near top priority for organizations since the early 90’s. When I was in consulting in the ‘90s, we called it performance management and this included balanced scorecarding. As the CRM space took off in the late 90’s, insights became an important part of the CRM strategy for primarily B2C organizations. Insights driving action was the mantra of many technology organizations. As data storage and utilization technologies have evolved, we see not only data management technologies evolving, but also the data utilization and analytic creation businesses thriving. As social and mobile have taken off, so have the need for technologies to harness, make sense of and utilize this data with the more standard already-available data (e.g. sales). The start-up market for BI / analytics is hot – maybe the hottest it has been since the dot-com boom.

In terms of getting started, you have to first define what problem you’re trying to solve. Based on that defined problem, you must then define what data enables the associated business process and where that data is located. Next is evaluating options for bringing that information together in a way that makes sense. This is where I like to start with both new and existing customers as it grounds everyone in where we are, what problems we are going to solve, and ensures alignment on approach to solving that problem. We must provide a good answer to “why” it is important so as to ensure long-term solution / capability viability.

For CPG and retail what are some of the unique analytics you feel are important, especially as it relates to sales and marketing? Justin Honaman: The first thing to understand is that BI and analytics traditionally have been “owned” by IT. That’s where it started. And it was always a data warehouse with a reporting tool on top. Over time, the business (e.g. sales, marketing, supply chain) evolved their own home-grown BI solutions (aka “spreadmarts”) due to limitations in the corporate system and cobbled together views of information to enable the business to make to make decisions. What you’re seeing now is the CMO’s office – shopper insights, consumer insights, category insights, space planning, revenue management, integrated marketing, commercialization, etc. – is becoming more important and taking on a larger role from the standpoint of analytics and integrated business intelligence. That’s the first thing to understand – the business side of the house is playing an increasingly larger role in the strategy and direction of analytics and business decisions using information. We have seen this in retail and are now seeing it in CPG. Marketing and Sales have OPEX dollars to spend…IT has limited CAPEX dollars to invest.

An example is in the area of consumer insight. When I say consumer insight, what I mean here is that CG suppliers are now looking to get closer to the consumer. I’d hesitate to say they’re trying to do one-to-one marketing, although that is happening where they have a loyalty program. CG Suppliers through their loyalty programs (e.g., Coke’s MyCokeRewards) are talking directly to consumers. Consumer insight is an area that is evolving quickly and includes components of CRM, digital marketing, analytics, and product innovation. It also includes basic elements like providing coupons and brand content to the consumer or differentiated experiential opportunities. Most CPG suppliers are not playing in this space (yet), although they’re talking about it.

A second area to consider is the Shopper and Category Insights space. Analytics and algorithms are needed to enable store segmentation, evaluate brand switching levers, and also to analyze shopper trip mission details, assortment requirements, and market basket trends. Some of this is available via syndicated sources but the data set and analytics are limited – and expensive.

At Teradata, we’re obviously not a trade promotion vendor, but what we find is that we’re an important enable to the trade promotion process in place within CPG. We bring together large volumes of information, process and make sense of it quickly. We crunch it, we run it through algorithms and then we provide input to the trade promotion solution that might be in place within the consumer goods organization.

Things that we’re helping to do through our category capability are things like promotion decomposition. I mentioned the brand/package switching capability and we are also looking at effective retail pricing to determine the trigger point for a consumer to make a buying decision. And then assortment optimization is another space we’re playing in.

That gives you a framework for a couple of different advanced analytic segments where we are focused.

You mentioned big data and a lot of companies might look at point-of-sale data as big data, but what are you seeing with regard to big data initiatives within retail and CPG. Justin Honaman: While the industry has settled on a common definition for big data, most CG organizations are tweaking the industry definition to accommodate their own individual analytic needs. The definition of big data is standard and most IT organizations define big data the same way – volume, variety and velocity. But what I’m finding and what’s very interesting is most of the consumer goods companies we’re working with have assigned a team or individuals to “figure out” big data and what it means to them. We’re seeing that consistently.  And they’re using the words “big data” to frame up projects they’d like to get done that really aren’t big data. For example, just because there is a lot of point-of-sale data coming in from retailers, doesn’t mean that that is a big data initiative. It means there’s a large amount of data, but it doesn’t mean it’s big data. It’s very interesting, and the definition is different depending upon who we’re talking to in the consumer goods space. The majority of times, though, the organizations that are talking big data are looking at it the right way in terms of the possibilities of bringing together various sources in a way that makes sense and leverages the power of a tool that can aggregate, integrate and harmonize. I think that’s the power that can be found in big data. It will continue to be a trend in the same way that cloud is now playing out in a big way with most companies. In terms of leveraging big data across social, mobile, POS, sales, syndicated and loyalty – that will be how consumer goods companies think about it.

Consumer goods companies have done a lot with transactional data. There’s a big trend toward all of this consumer data. Could you elaborate a little on the consumer data side? Justin Honaman: From a consumer goods perspective, consumer data is really centered on what can be learned and known about the actual end consumer and not what is known about the retailer. For example, where you’re seeing interest in consumer data is where a large organization has many different brand websites, they are engaging consumers in a dialog – even providing, as I mentioned earlier, coupon downloads or opportunities to get recipes online or be part of a loyalty program. Therefore, the consumer has to register or opt in, and at this point, the CG supplier has “known” consumers that are at least one step more engaged than your unknown consumer. And if the CG supplier wants to talk directly to the consumer, they have to have an infrastructure to handle that and also the capability to make sense of information that is coming through interaction outlets. Then you add in the typical social sites – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, wikis and blogs. That’s where you cross over into the big data space, which is pulling together structured and unstructured data.

Retailers have already figured it out. Many of them are already doing one-to-one marketing and managing shopper interactions because they have to. They have to create a differentiated experience that keeps shoppers shopping in their stores and not defaulting to Amazon.

Consumer goods suppliers are a bit behind in this space. As is typical, retailers lead and consumer goods suppliers follow. It’s a matter of defining the right capabilities to solve the right business problems so that the business can have access to information quickly. That’s where the consumer insight space is becoming stronger.

You mentioned wikis, blogs, Twitter, Facebook and so on. What kind of approach would you take to be able to handle all of these new sources of information? Justin Honaman: There are plenty of technology service providers that can very quickly provide what they call social chatter or social listing, social sentiment or brand sentiment. They have tools that search and pull information and can very quickly provide insights into brand, product, package, customer – the overall company brand and what not. Honestly, that’s where I’d start because they’re already good at it. For a lot of consumer goods organizations, their agency can provide this information through their agency model. It’s not something you build yourself.

The question for the business is once you get the data, what are you going to do with it? Why do you care? If the idea is to understand what’s trending so you can plug it into your new product innovation process, that’s interesting. It might be just social sentiment around specific flavors or preferences in different parts of the market – North America, for example. Or it can truly be a forecast indicator of what’s to come. Most of the data that I mentioned that can come from websites and other touchpoints is siloed and typically managed by an agency in the cloud, available through proprietary reporting tools and mechanisms, not integrated, and therefore difficult to leverage in a consolidated manner. That’s the current state today.

What best practices are you seeing around retailer/supplier collaboration?

Justin Honaman: There are many untapped collaboration opportunities between retailers and suppliers. There is an opportunity for growth with new analytics and new information that’s available not only to the retailer, but also the consumer goods supplier. In the past, CG suppliers leaned heavily into the retailer who owned the direct shopper/consumer relationship. Consumer goods organizations – specifically marketing, sales, and customer teams – have great information that can be used to help the retailer in driving additional sales in store, driving differentiated experiences in stores, and the consumer goods supplier now has better information about their products, about what products should go in which geographies, about which consumers are buying their products or prefer their products in specific stores, and that is powerful.

What they can now do is customize their assortment in a better way, press for brand growth against private label, make the overall partnership with the retailer stronger because they have better information and are bringing better and new ideas to the table. If you think about the historical relationship between retailers and suppliers, it’s always been based on historical sales. The problem with historical sales data is that it doesn’t take into account outlying factors and now certainly doesn’t take into account the social and mobile influence on consumers. The partnership between consumer goods supplier and retailer is evolving and is going to get to a place where information moves very quickly between the organizations and between the teams that manage the partnership between these organizations. I think it’s an exciting time. I’d say the next two years, thanks to better access to data, better integrated data and better analytics on top of data, the overall retailer/supplier partnership is going to evolve in a way that it hasn’t in the last six to ten years.

I couldn’t agree with you more. Thank you, Justin, for providing our readers with very useful insights into how CPG manufacturers are leveraging data to collaborate more effectively with their retail partners.

#BeX: Be Bold...Just Ask!

Just AskWhen I first started work at Coca-Cola Enterprises, I read an article about the culture, the people, and the history of the company. One of the key figures profiled was Don Keough who had served as President and COO of the Coca-Cola Company. He was instrumental in the establishment of Coca-Cola Enterprises and was a leader on numerous philanthropic and educational boards. It was obvious that he was investing in people within the business and in the community. A colleague of mine suggested that I reach out to him as I was interested in not only knowing more about the business, but also how he was able to effectively balance his leadership in the business with engagement in personal and philanthropic endeavors. I wrote him a note and within two weeks his assistant called me to schedule a meeting. I asked. He accepted. We decided to meet at his Atlanta office and, I must say, I was relatively unprepared for the meeting. While I had done my homework on Mr. Keough, I really did not grasp the enormity of his knowledge, relationships, and general presence. At the same time, perhaps that is what made the meeting so special.

Upon entering his office, I was greeted by numerous photos and memorabilia featuring Mr. Keough with some of the world's best known leaders. On his desk sat my handwritten note, several enclosures I had sent, and a few notes he had scribbled together. He asked, "Tell me again, why are you here?" Without hesitation, I outlined a number of business questions I had prepared prior to our meeting. I also asked him about his career path and any lessons learned he could share with me based on my career stage, role, and background. That opened the door and the conversation progressed. He appreciated my openness and interest in learning. He provided insights on how the Coca-Cola System was organized and he shared his life lessons from time on the leadership team at Coca-Cola and as a board member. It was a great conversation - and I took copious notes.

My first lesson was that busy people can always make time for discussions and meetings that they deem important. Mr. Keough had a full calendar, yet he made time to fit me into his schedule (see earlier chapters for references on the "Do For One" concept - this was certainly an example). My second lesson was that I validated the value of asking great questions. I am naturally inquisitive and truly enjoyed asking him as many questions as I could fit into the brief time we had together. He did the talking - which was my intent. And I listened and learned. Lastly, he gave me several great pointers to consider in navigating the intricacies of a large global organization.


Just Ask: If I had never written the note, I would never have gotten the meeting. If I had never made an effort, no effort would have been offered in return. If you don't ask for the meeting, the discussion, the conversation or the conference call, you will never get it. Are you asking?

Develop The Art Of Asking Extraordinary Questions: Not only from this meeting, but from my interactions with other peers, colleagues, and executives, I have learned the value of asking great questions. Asking questions is good. Asking insightful, meaningful, inquisitive, and interesting questions is extraordinary. This is more art than skill. A question asked without emotion may generate a response devoid of emotion. But great questions, asked with great interest, empathy, and appreciation, can generate extraordinary conversation and knowledge transfer. Asking questions is an alternative method of engaging and participating in dialogue and conversation before offering an opinion or idea.

Accept Every Opportunity To Speak: One piece of advice Mr. Keough offered readily was to immediately, and without question, accept, embrace, and learn from every opportunity to share knowledge, experiences, ideas, and inspirations with groups. Accept every opportunity to speak that fits within your schedule.

Bottom Line:  Just Ask...The Answer Might Be "YES!"

#TDCPG: Collaboration Across the CIO-CMO Divide

CIO-CMOcollaborate col·lab·o·rate (Verb)

  • Work jointly on an activity, esp. to produce or create something
  • Cooperate traitorously with an enemy

IT in Consumer Packaged Goods organizations has historically been viewed as a “necessary” investment vs. “strategic” investment and for those CPG organizations looking to leapfrog their competition – to be their customer’s (aka retailer’s) most valued supplier – they are embracing technology as a game-changing enabler. They are re-evaluating business processes in the sales and marketing organization where better access to insights enables new, different and more timely decisions in managing out-of-stocks, promotion execution, loyalty campaigns, and direct to consumer relationship initiatives. They are re-evaluating the disparate, silo’d, dis-aggregated agency consumer insights model. They are re-evaluating routine Joint Business Planning (JBP) processes – with better data and insights comes more efficient and longer-term planning opportunities. They are reevaluating demand-forecasting routines that are currently based on historical sales data vs. actual sold-thru or point-of-sale activity. And they are evaluating the possibility of new and different skill set needs within the organization to transform metrics into actionable insights (e.g. Data Scientist) – to identify trends and raise the bar on the traditional business analyst role.

Data volumes are increasing with the addition of new and different sources across the CPG organization including point-of-sale, outlet execution, syndicated, retailer loyalty platforms, and social/mobile platforms. This is leading to fundamental change in how the business views technology – as an enabler. As a must-have. As a game-changer.

A few thoughts to consider…

The IT Opportunity

IT organizations have the opportunity to step up as a strategic partner to the business. Or they can remain stuck in a hyper-structured, capital-intensive, slow-and-methodical, “we must own (aka control) technology decisions,” “must be new hardware in the data center – no cloud, no SaaS” mentality. If IT chooses option B, make no mistake the business will move forward with their own OPEX-driven investments in SaaS capabilities that will lead to even larger system disparities down the road (even while generating short-term positive business results). As in retail, the CIO and CMO roles are changing dramatically. With new methods for connecting with consumers and new data resulting from these interactions thus enabling targeted marketing and trade campaigns, the role of the CMO takes on even greater importance to the CIO. Technology is needed to support these initiatives - hence the role of the CIO as a closer business partner that enables marketing.

Connecting to Consumer

There exists a fast-developing relationship between the connected consumer and the CPG manufacturer.  What is enabling this relationship? It is enabled by mobile and fueled by social connections in addition to CPG loyalty programs. CPG manufacturers are increasingly threatened by competitive, and often lower-priced private label brands and counter this surge by marketing brand quality and investing in brand experience with the consumer. Increasingly the multi-channel brand experience is requiring data-driven analytics to enable marketing decisions and the result can be more accurate targeting of specific product sets and associated promotions. CPG is as an industry moving from social “participation” to “active social engagement” (and thus listening). The objective of new and growing integrated marketing teams is to interact with the consumer throughout the product evaluation, decision and purchase process to build loyalty around brands and understand break-downs in the brand-consumer relationship (and take action quickly to address gaps). Methods for doing this range from monitoring blogs and socials networks to direct consumer engagement via loyalty platforms, consumer surveys, and new product launch campaigns.

New Life for the Analytics COE

Changing a system’s business processes (pursuing “epic” change) that are enabled by technology and insights will only be possible with the right people in the right technical and business roles within the organization.  Most IT organizations lack the skills and are staffed to a “fixed hardware” support and development model. It is increasingly important to have a solid master data model and infrastructure to enable the evolving fast-moving analytic capabilities rolling out to the market. At the same time, a shared COE for analytics could be a game-changer for the CPG organization willing to collaborate across organizational silos. Imagine the possibilities of having trade, shopper, consumer, loyalty, and sales insights and analytics under one organizational umbrella? Or at least under one virtual organization with the ability to share tools, techniques, and best practices while supporting business teams.

Augmenting Social Opportunities

Have you experienced Augmented Reality?! If not, you will soon as retailers and associated technology providers are quickly evolving AR experiences in store based on your products and they need your content, your brand facts and figures, your involvement in the process of offering a differentiated experience in store. One of the most public examples of AR is one playing out in retail utilizing a full-length “TV / mirror” that allows shoppers to view themselves in different outfits without actually trying them on by standing in front of the flat screen. Other examples involve bringing cereal boxes and soda bottles to life through an iPhone or iPad bringing live, changeable, relevant, targeted video and creative content to a shopper and driving brand loyalty and engagement. These capabilities require apps and apps generate data. The by-product of these interactions is data – lots of it – and could soon play a part in CPG innovation processes and brand investment decisions. AR platforms need your product data and in return, you will receive preference, sentiment, and activity data.

#BeX: What Are You Known For?

FootballI love college football and am a loyal fan, supporter, and follower. Most seasons, my teams have a winning record and, occasionally, even make a top-tier bowl game! At the same time, they occasionally fail to "complete the play." For example, the first season that Georgia Tech played Florida State, GT was up for more than three quarters and poised to win against FSU. Coach Bobby Bowden, moved Charlie Ward into the shotgun formation and suddenly FSU was unstoppable. GT lost. They were not prepared for a switch - a new look or change - in FSU's offensive scheme. In 2011 GT started out 6-0, and expectations in the GT community were sky high. The team then proceeded to lose five of their last seven games. Again, they failed to adjust. As in any other aspect of life, a loss is a loss regardless of the effort that went into preparation, planning, and execution. If you don't complete the play or deliver results, it's a loss. So is the case with your personal brand. If you take on a project then drop the ball in execution, you didn't complete the play. If you offer to coach and mentor an individual, yet never make time to meet, discuss, challenge, and provide feedback, you didn't complete the play. If you work many hours, but fail to finish the project or make the number, you didn't complete the play. If you deliver the proposal or contract after the due date, you didn't complete the play.

Effort is a baseline expectation. Extraordinary performers find a way to complete the play. Some define personal branding (or the value of your personal brand) through the lens of three criteria: performance, image, and exposure. When you think of personal branding through this lens, you may have a great image and opportunity for great exposure. But if you lack the business results - your measurable performance results - then your brand value decreases.

Let's revisit the college football analogy. A team may have multiple opportunities to play on ESPN, CBS, or ABC. This is exposure. A team may have star players with strong athletic abilities, stellar academic successes, visible morals and values, and may look great in the best Under Armour uniforms available. This is image. But over time, a team's poor performance on the field will drive away fans, the loss of sponsorship dollars, and trigger negative organization and team momentum. This is the impact of performance and of failing to complete the play.

The same is true in the leadership environment. You may be well known within the organization, involved in multiple facets of the culture, and well-connected relationally. You may have many opportunities to present to fellow executives, other team members, and publicly represent your organization. You may know many people and be known by many others. You may have a positive image and great exposure. And yet, if you repeatedly fail to perform, if you fail to deliver positive business results, then your career within the business may stall or be short lived.


At Work: Are you known for delivering results? Do you create performance objectives that are easy to check off, but fail to impact the bottom line? Do you raise your hand to take on new tasks, projects, and responsibilities? Do you challenge the status quo in the pursuit of extraordinary results? Do you raise the bar for your team? Or do you run from challenges or difficult situations? Do you look to make the next job change (or run from your existing role) before dealing with a tough customer or business situation? Do you dump problems on your boss or another team member to address and resolve or do you own it?

At Home: Are you completing the play in your personal relationships? Are you following through on your commitments to your friends and your family? Would your family say the same? Are you treating them with respect and serving as a role model? Are you investing in family activities and priorities?

In The Community: Do you show up? Or are you just an inactive member? Do you offer to lead, chair, or facilitate? Do you take on responsibilities that will help and deliver benefits to the community at large? Would the community be thankful for your efforts and follow-through?

Bottom Line:  It's not where you start that's important, it's where you finish.

#TDCPG: The ‘Connected Consumer’ Connection

Connected Consumerconnected past participle, past tense of con·nect (Verb)

  • Bring together or into contact so that a real or notional link is established.
  • Join together so as to provide access and communication.

The new hot CPG marketing priority is not "Big Data" (sigh). In fact in three different marketing leadership meetings I facilitated in the last few weeks, I was asked to not even say the words "big data." The "new" hot priority is in addressing these questions: "How do I get closer to my consumer and how do I make sense of the structured and unstructured data my agency(s) and I are collecting?"

There exists a fast-developing relationship between the connected consumer and the CG manufacturer.  What is enabling this relationship? It is enabled by mobile and fueled by social connections in addition to CG loyalty programs. CG manufacturers are increasingly threatened by competitive, and often lower-priced private label brands and counter this surge by marketing brand quality and investing in brand experience with the consumer. Increasingly the multi-channel brand experience is requiring data-driven analytics to enable marketing decisions:

1)     Dynamic Investment Decisions: Data-driven analytics are needed to enable on-the-fly marketing investment decisions vs. "stock" marketing program calendars that are often inflexible or centered on rigid, as-is marketing process over data-enabled insights (dynamic decision processes based on changing consumer insights).

2)     Cross-Channel Spend Expansion: No longer are the traditional advertising mediums the recipients of marketing spend; social platforms and mobile technology partnerships are receiving additional investment again driven largely by analytics on consumer interaction data. Traditional marketing mix models apply yet must expand to accommodate the additional channels and inputs on brand performance.

3)     Direct-to-Consumer: While still rare and in most cases, a stretch for CG manufacturers, there are now CG suppliers (e.g. Nike, Levi) with retail online storefronts who are now able to develop a 1-to-1 relationship with consumers; then brand-build, market-to, and evolve-relationships-with consumers across channels yet provide a consistent brand experience. Unlike retail whose direct-to-consumer relationship rests on product purchases, CG manufacturers are engaging with consumers to promote the brand while gaining insights that may be pressed back into the innovation cycle, the forecasting process, or even used to forecast out-of-stocks.

The "big data" challenge in the Connected Consumer space is that there is both structured and unstructured data flowing into the marketing department (or their respected agencies) and is often not integrated with sales, trade promotion, syndicated, and/or POS data. Agency-managed data is limited (and siloed) and typically not all-inclusive of metrics that cross brands, channels, and consumer touchpoints. From an analytics perspective, with more data and improved tools for analytics comes the need for additional business analyst (or even data scientist) employee ability.  It requires someone who knows how to ask questions of data while not looking for one defined, expected answer.

Several keys to making the successful transition to a Connected Consumer Connection marketing environment:

1)     Data-Driven: Marketing must press to integrate consumer data in a platform that enables fast-access to insights. In a recent Consumer Goods Technology survey of CG manufacturers, only 4 percent of respondents reported having a reporting and analytical environment that allows them to access relevant information in a user-friendly and timely manner. "Some" consumer data is stored with an agency (or with multiple agencies none of which are connected) while loyalty data is stored with another agency. Best practice organizations are consolidating consumer insights in the cloud (or SaaS) and evaluating methods to bring together consumer data with loyalty data to provide a closer-to-1to1 platform for analysis and action. In addition, staffing plans are evolving to move from business analysis (dropping data into Excel and creating pivot tables) to a data science / marketing science model that drives and enables marketing business processes.

2)     CMO vs. CIO Competing Priorities: The marketing department has typically managed its investments in brand / consumer / shopper / category separately from IT. The reasons are obvious - control, faster time to market (avoiding typical IT gating processes), preference for OPEX-enabled cloud / SaaS options vs. CAPEX-enabled IT spend models, etc. The Big Data concept is forcing more collaboration across lines of business and the dynamic tension between marketing and IT will increasingly grow as consumer technologies and associated data / insight capabilities grow. The hot topic of 2013 at the National Retail Federation (NRF) annual conference was the increasingly powerful role of the CMO driving technology business needs for the CIO. CG manufacturers are not there (yet) but early signs of this trend exist as marketing departments pursue the Connected Consumer Connection.

3)     Integrated Marketing Communication Innovation: Targeted communications mean delivering the right brand message content (customized), to the right consumer (targeted), at the right time (localized), in the format / technology (mobility) that is most appropriate to that consumer. Consumer data is at the foundation of this communication objective as are integrated shopper insights (e.g. Nielsen, IRI) and loyalty insights. Integrated data at the detail level enables roll-ups and planning at strategic levels.

4)     Linkage to Search Investment: Consumer insights plug directly into strategies and plans for investments in Owned (CG equipment, POS), Earned (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube), Paid (sponsorships, co-branded investments), and Shared (customer partnerships, joint investments) platforms. When integrated into the planning and execution process, CG suppliers drive trial or recruitment and fuel retention.

5)     Investment In New Ways of Working with Retailers: Retailers, with an omnichannel (the hot retail buzzword of 2012) orientation are increasingly investing in methods to meet the consumer's buying needs regardless of when, where and how they want to buy. Retailers are leaning into CG manufacturers to step up, invest, and take responsibility for their in-store presence, service levels, and to maximize their success in the store by supporting / enabling flexible shop and purchase capabilities. CG manufacturers are largely behind in supply chain / ecommerce / consumer insight capability investments (that enable VMI, consumer insight-driven forecast and replenishment). Retailers will press CG partners to invest or be left out of the store.

CG manufacturers that embrace the opportunity to connect with their consumers will make significant strides over those that decide that the "status quo" works just fine.

#BeX: Making Prioritization a Priority

The questionnaireWhen I take on too much, I often accomplish less. The challenge is knowing when to say yes, and when to say no. I often find myself falling into the “taking on too much” trap. It is easy to multi-task while leading conference calls, conducting one-on-one meetings, and leading operational working sessions. The end result is I end up giving less than 100% of my focus to participants on a call and/or less than 100% of my focus to discussion topics in meetings. No one wins and my work product is anything but extraordinary. As a leader, you must sift through the many things that demand your time. You must discern not only the things that need to be done, but also the things that do not need to be done. Identify and delegate the things that can be done by others. As you delegate tasks, activities, projects, and responsibilities to others, you empower the team to impart their knowledge and expertise and to demonstrate their ability to get things done. As the leader, you will not be great at everything. The reality is that when you try to be great at everything, you are great at nothing. Your fully exploited strengths and abilities are those things needed by the business to generate results. It takes a great deal of self-awareness and humility to recognize that others with whom you work bring skills, knowledge, and ability to the team that may far exceed your own.

From a team development perspective, there is a finite amount of time in a day, week, month, or year to provide in-depth coaching, mentoring, and development to individuals. In addition to the team, many high-octane leaders are asked by others inside and outside the organization to be a mentor or coach. This is flattering and, at the same time, can be a source of stress. There is limited time to spend one-on-one with a large number of individuals, especially when balancing your own business and personal priorities. As your career progresses, there is even less time to coach, mentor, and guide others in a unique fashion. How do you continue to find the time to impact individuals, without losing focus on your own professional and personal priorities?

The reality is that most of us are in the people business. It is very easy to get caught up in the next meeting, the next customer presentation, the next sales pitch, the next performance review, and the next top-to-top meeting. However, we must take time out to coach and mentor others. We must find time and, in a finite way, invest in the careers of others so that we are making a positive difference with others seeking to pursue extraordinary.

It takes a great deal of self-awareness to recognize when you are spreading yourself too thin across competing priorities. The reality is that it is just not possible to carve out and spend time with everyone that is looking for a career mentor or coach. Instead of saying no to everyone, find time to say yes to just a few people in a way that allows you to stay true to your personal and professional values, beliefs, and responsibilities while still helping others.

BRINGING IT TO LIFE ◙◙ Test Yourself: How many requests of your time do you receive in a given week? How do you prioritize . . . or do you even prioritize? How do you decide where to invest your time and talents as a leader, while saying “no” to other requests in a way that does not burn a relationship bridge?

◙◙ Focus On The Right Things For You: I love jumping into the details of day-to-day activities, even when the ball is not being dropped. That’s because I feel I can make an impact and drive change quickly. The reality is that, when I do this, I am giving my organization permission to not own these responsibilities. Furthermore, they have no opportunity to learn if I am always doing their work. The less I jump into day-to-day process details, the more I allow individual contributors to accomplish. And, of course, that frees me up to focus on strategic issues and clearing roadblocks to my organization’s progress. By doing my team’s job for them, I am essentially taking away the opportunity for them to learn, grow, and succeed. If you were to set up a model, allocating your salary to different activities you are involved with on a daily basis, which activities would “cost” the most? What are the things you are able to easily accomplish, yet are challenging, difficult, or impossible to others? What parts of your job energize, charge, fuel, or motivate you to achieve the extraordinary? What do you wish you could stop doing? If you could free up time in your schedule today, what would you most likely eliminate? Which activities consume the majority of your time? Are these activities that only you can do or that can they be owned by members of your team?

◙◙ Recognize And Delegate: Your weakness may be another team member’s strength. Divide the work to take full advantage of team competencies. Start by recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of your team. Where possible, delegate efforts that sit squarely on your weaknesses and lean into your strong skill areas. As a leader building a team, you should be looking to bring together a balanced team that offers multiple strengths to create a collaborative organization. What is on your plate right now that should be delegated to someone else?

◙◙ Make It Tactical: When providing career development advice to others, it is just as important to think about the big picture as it is to be aware of the tactical considerations. I recently asked one of my team members what he would like to do next in his career. He outlined for me what he would absolutely love to be doing. As I listened, I immediately went into ideation mode, thinking about all of the possible next steps for this individual. I thought of contacts that could be made on his behalf, skill sets that he has today that would make him a valued resource to a new team, and skills that he should develop to prepare for the next move. We had only worked together for a few months, but my natural instinct was to tactically think about what would be an ideal opportunity for him, even as he was performing in a positive, value-added way on his current team. Understanding the tactical details help when matching people and capabilities to strategic projects and initiatives. Do you know what an ideal next step role would be for someone you are leading? Are you helping to prepare them for it, even though the timing may not be quite right?

◙◙ Fairness Is Not A Strategy: “That’s not fair!” Like you, I’ve heard this comment from many a child and even a few business colleagues. Life is not fair. There is no way that a leader can treat everyone equally. Fairness is not a leadership strategy. Some leaders bail out on doing anything for anyone because they fear that it is not fair to do for just one what they wish they could do for everyone. The reality is that the best leaders don’t treat everyone equally, but rather differentiate based on individual needs. Demonstrate your passion or desire to make an impact with just a few individuals in spite of wishing you could do the same for all. If everyone would do for one or a few what they wish they could do for all, can you imagine the impact it would have on the overall organization? ◙◙ Long-Term, In-Depth: An extraordinary coach or mentor prioritizes the coachee in their schedule. They engage for the long-term, and value in-depth knowledge and understanding of the individual. Don’t become the kind of person who claims that they are coaching or mentoring others, and yet cannot tell you anything about their coachees beyond what they are doing in their current role. Clearly, these people have not invested in the individual. Are you engaged with the people you are coaching? Is it evident from the time you spend with them and your knowledge of them?

#BeX: Methods (The “How”) Versus Results (The “What”)

Results and MethodsYour method or process of getting things done is as important, if not more important, than the end result. When you rely on others to accomplish results, the process you use, the actions you take, and the communication style you utilize – all speak of you, and therefore your personal brand. Often, up-and-coming leaders fail early in their career due to a lack of focus on the methods they use to drive results. They often leave shattered relationships, broken individuals, burnt-out team members, and an overall bad taste in the mouths of work colleagues. When you are simply checking boxes and moving so fast that you are running over your team in order to accomplish results, you risk losing their future support. In the corporate world, this means recognizing that finance, supply chain, marketing, operations, human resources, and legal teams (to name a few) are there to support you on the project or sales team. They will operate even more effectively with you if you treat them with respect and appreciation throughout the process of getting things done. This approach is the only way to get things done in the long-term. In the short-term, investing in relationships that are founded on communication, collaboration, and trust is the best way to ensure that the process moves efficiently. This ensures that hand-offs take place quickly and that there is full alignment on the approach to getting things done. If you burn out your support teams and sever relationships with individuals over one project, don’t expect them to be there for you on the next one.

First impressions can make or break a deal. If your expectations for others are all about the results as opposed to the people and process needed to get there, you will ultimately fail within a large organization. Your actions and behaviors will be remembered and shared with others. And your ultimate career path within an organization may be limited based on how you treat others along the way.


◙◙ Check Yourself: The best way to know how you are doing is to ask others. What would you improve? What would you change? What could you modify to ensure the long-term success of relationships that make business happen? Do your team and your support organization feel part of the process – part of your team? Are they actively engaged in meetings, discussions, and working sessions? Do they openly offer their ideas and opinions to you? Are you open to listening? Do others think you are? ◙◙ Celebrate Wins: The best way to show others how much you appreciate them is to celebrate wins together. Winning fuels momentum. And recognizing great effort is a way to fuel your team and the larger organization. As a leader, recognizing methods as wins is as important as recognizing the achievement of the end result. If you, as the leader, highlight best practices in process, approach, and methodology, others will understand, recognize, and follow. Highlight extraordinary performance in global communications and messages, detailing the specific business challenge addressed, actions taken, and the qualitative and quantitative results achieved. Recognize extraordinary support in a project, pursuit, or initiative. The simple act of publicly recognizing extraordinary performance is an inexpensive method to reward and encourage.

Bottom Line: How you choose to get it done may matter more than what you get done.

#BeX: Leaders Operate With a Natural Sense of Urgency

Sense of UrgencyWhy am I the only one who feels this is a priority?! Why am I the only one who is working to get the proposal out today and not tomorrow? Why am I the only one who is pushing to have the contract draft done today and not a week from today? Have you ever felt alone in the pursuit of getting things done quickly? You are working overtime to get a project out the door while a key member of your team leaves at 4:59 pm with an "I'm sure it can wait until tomorrow" attitude. A day lost is a day lost. And a day lost could be a day of significant cost increase or revenue loss. Recently, one of my customers told me that a competitive partnership differentiator, above many others, was the ability to respond quickly. He insisted on fast follow-up and follow-through. He wanted us to respond completely and consistently. There is nothing worse than a lack of responsiveness or waiting for internal process delays to negatively affect the effort of getting a partnership off the ground.

How do you move the process quickly? How do you avoid the political hurdles and pitfalls of getting things done that beset any organization, big or small? How do you move consecutive processes into parallel processes to cut down on the time required to get a proposal, contract, or solution back to a customer? And how do you collaborate with your internal support teams to drive fast action? How do you achieve an environment that is solutions-oriented versus one that is centered only on problems and the reasons things cannot get done? How do you effectively convey priorities as "urgent" and differentiate them from others that have additional runway? Would your customers describe your turnaround time as extraordinary? Would you describe your process as well-oiled and efficient?

Regardless of your answers to those questions, any and all processes have room for improvement. The first people to feel the pressure are the front-line employees managing a customer relationship. They feel the daily burn or angst in their desire to make things happen quickly for the customer.

The key to success is instilling an organizational framework that engages and incents all members of the team to over-deliver (and at a minimum meet defined commitments). Whether or not a team member deals with the day-to-day customer interactions, they still must operate with the same sense of urgency as customer-facing individuals.

BRINGING IT TO LIFE ◙◙ Be Impatient With The Process: If your goal is to win new business, every day is another day without a signed contract. Meanwhile, the competition could be in the customer's office pitching their program. Every day is a lost sale for this year. Every day is a day of lost revenue and gross profit to your partner who sells your product, and to you as the supplier of the product. If you manage strategic projects, every day is a day closer to rollout. Closer to going live. Closer to sunsetting a costly old piece of technology. Every day is one less day in the project plan to work through and resolve tasks, requests, requirements, and enhancements. Every day the clock is ticking. Be impatient with mediocrity, slow response, and inefficient processes. ◙◙ Incent Collaborative Behavior: How can you financially incent teams and individuals that support the product, project, or sales team to move fast and be collaborative members of the team? You will be pleasantly surprised at the performance upgrade that is experienced when there is an incentive to deliver by a specific date or time. Incenting behavior quickly fleshes out the top team performers and allows you to move those individuals who are clearly not able to keep up to other roles in the organization where their skill sets may be more effectively utilized. ◙◙ Remember That The Clock Is Always Ticking: "The clock is always ticking - kick-off is at 3:30 pm Saturday and regardless of all of the delays, roadblocks, equipment problems, access restrictions, and other conflicts, we must deliver at 3:30 pm Saturday. Nobody cares about the issues or reasons things are difficult, or hard, or challenging. They expect kick-off Saturday at 3:30pm." My good friend Craig is a producer with CBS Sports and recently made this point - one that resounded with me. When the customer sets a date (or date and time in this example), you deliver on or before the date. No excuses acceptable. None. As the leader, you must find ways to clear roadblocks and meet the deliverable date. This requires a sense of urgency and leaves little margin for wasted time. ◙◙ Measure, Report, Review: Establish clear timelines and guardrails for delivery. Report results for specific steps in the overall process. Establish a post-implementation review routine with all members of the organization to ensure that the process is reviewed and necessary changes are made before the next deal hits the funnel. Measurement drives behavior.

#BeX: Embace Change. Challenge the Process!

Time for ChangeChallenge the process. Challenge the system thinking. Challenge the norm. Change is rarely easy. It's frequently rejected and feared. Not surprisingly, as any large organization or process grows, it tends to revert to less risky actions and behaviors. The organization is also less willing to accept new ideas; especially those that fall outside of a typical process framework. Similarly, as leaders develop in their careers, they often revert to safe mode versus challenge mode in fear of risking their future on career-limiting moves. People are naturally averse to change, in fear of breaking something that is working, upsetting the political apple cart, or hurting those that developed the process initially. The natural reaction to change is resistance.

Challenge always precedes any sort of extraordinary change and the status quo will always push back on your big "change" ideas. But in order to initiate extraordinary change, the process must be challenged. Leaders must bring creativity and innovation into play when outlining new methods of doing things differently, thus providing new fuel to a brand, product, process, or strategic idea.

Consider the following scenario. We were pursuing a business opportunity with a major retailer. It was an opportunity that could clearly generate several million dollars in incremental revenue and gross profit for the retailer's business. However, the retailer declined numerous invitations to meet with us. Instead, they provided many excuses and were slow to respond to calls and emails. They refused to coordinate calendars or even review the opportunity. We were then told, "Our business is going so well that nobody wants to try anything new, or be open to change. Nobody wants to disturb anything because we are growing, opening stores, and generating great financial results. Nobody wants to be the one that did something wrong."Shocking ... but not surprising. If you are not open to new growth opportunities, you will never realize any incremental financial or qualitative wins that come from trying something new.

Another example can often be found in the management of successful brands. As a brand manager, there is a pervasive fear of doing anything to mess it up, as opposed to trying new strategies for differentiating and growing the brand. The brand manager often instills his or her own fear roadblocks into the situation that often prevent experimentation and trial of new strategies that could lead to significant growth.

As the leader of a team, organization, or group, it is your responsibility to set the pace and establish the change tolerance guardrails within which the team should operate. When you recognize and celebrate actions that have driven change, those actions and behaviors will not only be repeated, but will also be followed by others who were more hesitant to be bold. BRINGING IT TO LIFE ◙◙ Be Out In Front: As the leader driving change, be ahead of the change process. Recognize that change begins with something new, a triggering event, or a strategic decision. The team and/or organization will typically walk through the denial, fear, anxiety, and misdirected energy phases before hitting a solid state of transition. The final phases of any major change are acceptance, trust, and execution. Typically, every team experiences these phases. What's different is the amount of time spent in each phase, and how leadership influences that time. Are you helping your team navigate through change quickly? Or are you stifling change out of fear? ◙◙ Be Clear On Why: If you are going to drive big change, you must be very clear as to why it makes sense in your vision. It may not be as obvious to others. The business case for change may go beyond numbers and bottom lines, and may truly be a qualitative benefit. If you are leading change, you must be grounded in your vision as to why it makes sense. You will be the one casting the vision. Know why it is a priority and why you are going to lead it. Are you able to clearly articulate the reason for the change? If not, why should anyone feel compelled to follow you? ◙◙ Expect Roadblocks: The organization or team will naturally acquiesce and push for things to remain the same. They may formally and informally place roadblocks in the way of progress. These could be in the form of delays in responding or appealing to senior executives as to why the status quo is a better option. What's your plan for anticipating and dealing with roadblocks? A good change plan is always enabled by a good strategic communication plan. How is your communication plan structured? ◙◙ Take It Off-Road: Inevitably, if you are a high-octane performer, you are going to take it off-road. Explore new paths to achieve the vision. Do things differently. Introduce big change or new thinking. Provide coaching and a level of transparent communication that are outside of company standards. The trick is to challenge the system without bursting through organizational guardrails. Are you taking it off-road or are you settling for the status quo? ◙◙ When You Take It Off-Road, Take The High Road: When you do take it off-road, be sure to take the high road by making the right decisions for your internal customers and your business. That way you will ensure that you maintain the level of trust developed with your customers and colleagues. Are you acting with the best interests of your people and your organization in mind?

#BeX: Pioneering

Be Extraordinary! I opened the top cabinet of my desk recently to search for an old notebook. As I did so, a Davy Crockett coonskin cap fell out. Why in the world would I have a coonskin cap in my office, you ask? Great question!

In 2003 I joined a newly created organization at Coca-Cola. At one of our very first team meetings, the leader (Jim) gave each of us a Davy Crockett-style coonskin cap and stated, "We are pioneers!" I thought this was interesting ... well, sort of. But it was different, and hey, it was my first coonskin cap!

At the time, I had a small idea of what his pioneer reference meant, as our group was a newly created organization. New teams were being formed, employees were being migrated from a larger corporate entity, and different routines were being established. If you read the formal definition of pioneer, it includes starting something new, treading new paths, and pursuing new, undiscovered territories. It wasn't until 3-4 years later that I fully understood the pioneering concept laid out by that leader. He framed up a vision that included all of us serving as pioneers in creating, establishing, and building this new organization.

Our group was originally chartered with funding for three years. Our business priorities were centered on a limited set of national projects that, once completed, were to signal the end of our organization and a transition into new roles within the business. That didn't happen. Today, the organization is growing. It continues to receive project requests and has engaged in strategic initiatives that were not even considered in scope when originally conceived. The organization continues to grow and adds strategic value many years after its founding.

Even more interesting is that the original culture was one typical of a new organization being formed with bits and pieces of other organizations. It was comprised of new hires and leadership with varied backgrounds, interests, and beliefs. Today the culture is unique, and centers on core tenets such as trust, engagement, investment in employees, communication, passion, delivery excellence, and, of course, fun! In looking back, not every plan worked out. But those closed doors eventually lead to positive organizational change and enabled resources to begin work on other new initiatives.

Pioneers are also bold. They require thick skin - solid armor to protect them against the jealous arrows and lazy left hooks from arrogant, silver-tongued, and self-proclaimed organizational leaders. Boldness quickly fleshes out insecurity, lack of self-confidence, and laziness in others within an organization. After all, if one person is going to be bold and raise the bar, others must follow or risk being left behind, or left out altogether. There is a way to be bold without being brash. Boldness is a trait that is often suppressed and often criticized. And yet it is a trait that, if cultivated properly, yields extraordinary leadership results.

Being organizational pioneers is not easy and requires significant commitment to a vision that is often not clear to others. It requires the establishment of routines, setting and prioritizing expectations, delivering results, and often making bold decisions quickly to move the organization along the path of development and growth. It also requires finding the right people to cut a new path through uncharted territory.

BRINGING IT TO LIFE ◙◙ Pioneers Expect To Take Risks: A number of my friends are true entrepreneurs who have started their own businesses. This required incredible flexibility, creativity, and risk. Most of them are heading toward a successful future. All worked for large corporations before deciding to make the jump to do their own thing. Becoming a pioneer is never easy. It does not come without compromise. Pioneers first weigh the risks and rewards, and then take advantage of the extraordinary opportunities. How would you rate your tolerance for risk? ◙◙ Pioneers Seek The Undiscovered: What is certainly true of any start-up or new organization is that the future is truly undiscovered territory. Your path will be different by default. While others may have tread a similar path with many lessons learned, the people, processes, technology, and outside influences will be completely different for you. The fuel that drives momentum is the passion that seeks the undiscovered. Recognizing that there will be boulders (roadblocks), sinkholes (surprises/changes) and plenty of bad weather (naysayers, non-supporters, doubters, detractors) along the trek will help you prepare to survive the journey. Does this sound like an environment meant for you? ◙◙ Pioneers Are Impatient With Status Quo: Pioneers are impatient with mediocrity. They avoid those that seek the obligatory 9 to 5 job; those who operate with an entitlement mentality, and, instead, seek to surround themselves with individuals willing to put in the extra effort to achieve extraordinary - who believe in and are excited about the vision. Pioneers explore uncharted territories and love finding solutions to problems unsolved by others. Pioneers seek out and conquer big challenges.

Read more in "Be Extraordinary!" - check it out at or on your favorite e-reader.

#BeX: Your Personal Brand - Revisited

Be Extraordinary!Your personal brand consists of many things: knowledge, experiences, personality, friends, family, accomplishments, failures, attire, verbal and non-verbal communication, attitude, values, faith, and much more. The equity or value of your personal brand increases or decreases over time, based on actions taken and decisions made in both personal and professional situations. Think of your personal brand as a bank account: you make deposits when you invest in yourself and others, and you make withdrawals when you make poor decisions, take actions that intentionally hurt others, or fail to serve as a role model in your position as a leader. Personal branding is who you are, what's inside, and how that translates to everyday actions, behaviors, and decisions. Studies show that more than 50% of others' perception of you upon first meeting you is based on visual image. After visual image, 40% is based on your presentation, posture, and non-verbal actions. 10% or less is based on your actual words. We are going to cover a number of topics in the area of personal branding.

The bottom line is that you are your own brand and the value of your brand equity directly translates to the value of the team, organization, company, culture, and environment in which you work and live.


◙◙ Other's Perception Of Me: Ask yourself these questions: What words would my business colleagues use to describe me? What words would my family and friends use to describe me? In fact, instead of you answering for yourself, how about asking others to answer these about you? Try it. Know the book on you ... and the story you want to tell.

◙◙ Brand Investment: Think of what steps you take to regularly invest in yourself as you answer these questions. What do I do that increases the value of my personal brand over time? What do I do that decreases the value of my personal brand over time? Leaders are continually investing in their brand by engaging in training, learning, developing, coaching, and mentoring others.

◙◙ My "Work" Brand: As you think about your current professional role, answer these questions: How is my current position, role, or project challenging me? Which activities or initiatives am I participating in that are growing my career? Extraordinary leaders are not satisfied with the status quo and always desire to make a positive difference.

◙◙ Speaking Opportunities: As you prepare to present to a group, you are naturally forced to validate your knowledge of facts and figures, big ideas, and bottom lines. You are also forced to consider not only what is interesting about your content, but also what others will find interesting about your content. More importantly, your ability to communicate effectively helps elevate your personal brand. The only way to strengthen this aspect of your brand is through practice. Are you taking advantage of every possible opportunity to speak in front of others? Does your public speaking "brand" conveyknowledge and confidence?

◙◙ Personal Advisory Board: Create and maintain a list of individuals that you refer to as your personal advisory board. These are individuals that provide extraordinary insight, advice, and recommendations, and who span your personal, business, community, and philanthropic interests. You do not need to hold formal board meetings but instead, engage each individual with regular check-ins. They know the book on you and will always provide transparent and constructive feedback, coaching, and advice. They serve as a grounded reference point. Who would you say serves on your personal board of advisors?

Bottom Line:  Personal brand value translates into organizational value.