Dirty Work

The Art of Being Gritty

by Ray Glier

The renowned violinist Issac Stern had just finished a performance when a woman from the audience approached him and said, “Mr. Stern, I would give my life to play like you.”

“My dear lady,” Stern replied, “I have.”

Stern, who died in 2001, was considered one of the greatest instrumentalists of his time, but there is no record of him being a child prodigy. There is, however, plenty of proof on record that he practiced, and strained, and rehearsed. Indeed, he gave his life to the violin.

Identify what is truly important to you. Take the time to figure out what matters to you most above all else – what are you passionate about?

– Doug Hirschhorn, Ph.D., CEO, Edge Consulting

That is the essence of true grit. 

It sounds indelicate to say a world-class musician like Stern has true grit, but that is what it is – a passion, a perseverance. Maybe you’d prefer a president’s description of true grit. Check this out from Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president of the United States:

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and will always solve the problems of the human race.”

We can keep going, too, with Thomas Edison, the inventor, who once said, “Genius was one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.”

You get the point.

Of course, true grit can look scary to some people. The woman slumped at her chair after regular office hours trying to get a head start on the next day, or the football player, out of breath, readying himself for yet another 60-yard sprint.

“To the outsider looking in, it would appear that the ‘gritty’ person is obsessive, willing to make unreasonable sacrifices, singularly focused,” says Doug Hirschhorn, Ph.D., CEO of Edge Consulting, a firm specializing in coaching portfolio managers at elite hedge funds. “But from the gritty person’s point of view, it is their normal, so they do not view it as being obsessively focused or making unreasonable sacrifices.”

Grit is a commitment to long-term goals and commitment to work toward those things, even in the face of discouragement and setbacks, or no progress.

– Ed Etzel, ED.D., West Virginia University Department of Intercollegiate Athletics

Giving a major league effort

Minor league baseball players make unreasonable sacrifices, or that’s what it looks like to the rest of us. They work for less than what a pizza deliveryman works for and their chances of getting into the big leagues are slim. Think about this the next time you watch a minor league game: estimates are that one in 33 minor leaguers get to the big leagues.

It is true grit that keeps these athletes striving. 

“Grit is a commitment to long-term goals and commitment to work toward those things, even in the face of discouragement and setbacks, or no progress,” says Ed Etzel, ED.D., a professor and licensed psychologist for the West Virginia University Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and former Olympian. “It has some connection to passion. It’s a messy sort of thing. It’s along the lines of what people think about mental toughness.”

Etzel says the renowned psychologist Alfred Adler (1870-1937) talked about providing encouragement to people to spur hard work. Are we talking about the defamed participation trophy?

No, we’re talking about fuel to drive the employee to work hard. “What we are talking about is motivation,” Etzel says. “Adler talked about providing encouragement, which is not only providing attention to what a person is doing, but recognizing effort as much, if not more, than outcome. That’s difficult in the business world because business is a bottom line kind of thing.”

Etzel has an issue with the noted – and fictional – psychoanalyst from Star Wars, Yoda. “Yoda would say, ‘Do or Do Not Do. Do not try,’” Etzel says. “Well, there is a lot to try. We all know about Pete Rose. Charlie Hustle. He may not have gotten the single every time, but he hustled to first base. You recognize this in an employee and it may provide a reinforcement to continue to hustle. There is something there that is building grit.”

And when grit is not enough?

“There is a probability to fail to meet those goals, which is part of grit also,” Etzel says. “They have to be provided with support when they fail because that links to grit. A coach needs to say, ‘Good effort, what did you learn from that, how could you do that better? It is to help people process that experience.”

Why does grit matter so much in the workplace, field or gym?  

“Because I think there are environments of achievement,” Etzel says. “They expect to win, they expect to profit and they are going to face adversity. You are not going to click your heels and be in Kansas. It’s a long way there and you might not make it there. It might take you a while to get there.”

Grit is vital in the labor market because of changing technologies. Graphic designers first worked in print. Then they worked on web sites. Then they worked on mobile platforms. Technology kept changing. The required skills kept changing. It is grit and determination that helps an employee say, “Ok, this is changed. I need to adapt. It is going to take some sweat. I have that skill, the skill to sweat.”

So how do you develop True Grit?

Hirschhorn says it’s important to establish a process and commit to a daily routine of steady progress. Unreasonable expectations can derail a person’s intentions pretty quickly.

Hirschhorn also advises people to document failures. By keeping a record, you can avoid repeating the same mistakes.

But this final piece of advice might be the most crucial of all. 

“Increase your level of self-awareness so you better understand yourself, how you think and how you learn,” says Hirschhorn, who also is an author and frequent contributor to NBC, CNBC, CNN, MSNBC and Bloomberg. “Identify what is truly important to you. Take the time to figure out what matters to you most above all else – what are you passionate about? Everyone is passionate about something. If you don’t know, then you have not had enough life experiences or spent enough time thinking about it.”

1 Passion

Strong, singular passion – to the point of obsession – about something.

2 Willingness

Willingness to make unreasonable personal and professional sacrifices to achieve the goal. 

3 Tenacious

Would others describe him/her as tenacious (determined)?

4 Resilience

Does he/she have a history of showing resilience to setbacks?

5 Focus

Ability to stay focused on a specific task, goal or concept over extended periods of time (days, weeks, years).   

6 Patience

Does he/she have a delay gratification mindset? (Willingness to forgo the smaller sooner rewards for the larger later benefits.)

 
Source: Doug Hirschhorn, Peak Performance Coach and consultant

Intimacy Doesn't Scale

Patience, personal growth and imagination at the core of modern business.

By Michael J. Pallerino

No one likes being sold to, but they do love to buy things they want  and need based on recommendations from others who they know/like/trust.

– Robert Glazer, Founder of Acceleration Partners and BrandCycle

In his alter ego as The Workplace Therapist, Brandon Smith has had more than his fair share of conversations about the interactions people have with each other – both internally and externally.

Along with being an adjunct faculty in the Practice of Management Communication at Emory University, Goizueta Business School, in Atlanta, Smith focuses on helping improve the health and functioning of the workplace.

His purpose – and his passion – is to create a structure from which a brand can thrive.

Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy
and mutual valuing.

– Rollo May

So, it’s interesting when the conversation centers on the ever-present chokehold technology has on the way we communicate today. In a playbook that puts intimacy at the forefront of improving communications, is it any wonder that intimacy may be the biggest culprit in prohibiting growth?

“Intimacy is about a mutual give and take,” Smith says. “It is about sharing needs and wants with another person so that one is truly known. It requires vulnerability and openness. And, more importantly, it requires interaction with another human being.  Intimacy is a 1:1 ratio. This is why scaling is so difficult.”

In the digital revolution, your first thought is that technology is an asset, right? Expand your communications reach, and you will be able to grow your brand. But Smith asks that you take a hard look at that notion.

Intimacy is about a mutual give and take. It requires vulnerability and openness. And, more importantly, it requires interaction with another human being.

– Brandon Smith, The Workplace Therapist

“Technology creates the illusion there’s consumer intimacy, when in actuality, there isn’t any intimacy at all,” he says. “Technology allows us to guess what a consumer’s purchasing behavior is based on past searches and purchases. We think we have an intimate relationship, but we don’t. We don’t know their needs or wants. We don’t have a personal relationship or connection.”

Here’s the thing, today you need to have great empathy and trust, and be close to your consumers to develop it. So, the question is, how do you get close to people who don’t want to try? How do you build relationships if people want to shelter themselves from any and all interactions?

Smith believes the secret lies in your ability to insert yourself into their equation. Don’t be an order taker. You must be able to provide advice, guidance and recommendations. “Listening and asking curious questions is the key to building a trusting and intimate relationship. Try to understand who they are, what they want, where they want to go and how you can help them get there?”

The challenge is what Smith calls the “curse of the choice.” Technology has provided access to many products and options, leading consumers to seek brands and people they like and trust. “We want and need trusted advisors in our lives.”

Leveraging your relationships

There aren’t many companies that couldn’t benefit from creating more sustainable partnerships. That’s where Robert Glazer comes in. The founder and managing director of Acceleration Partners has made it his business to understand the role direct-to-consumer interactions play in marketing and business development practices.

With a client list that includes some of the world’s biggest brands (Adidas, eBay, Reebok, Target, to name a few), he has helped steer the course toward growth and sustainability.

How do you build your brand in the presence of creating intimacy with your community? It’s a question he has had to answer – a lot. In addition to it taking an exorbitant amount of time and resources to reach existing and prospective consumers, and having personalized conversations with them, the reality is that people don’t trust what brands say about themselves anymore.

“Consumers are much savvier about marketing messaging than they were even five years ago,” says Glazer, who also is author of “Performance Partnerships: The Checkered Past, Changing Present and Exciting Future of Affiliate Marketing.” “They are dubious about what a person or company says about themselves as opposed to what someone else says about them.”

Glazer says today’s consumers want to see companies that mirror their own values and beliefs. They don’t want to hear brands talk about themselves and why they’re so amazing.

If you want to scale your brand, building content partnerships is critical. Content creators have relationships based on that “know/like/trust relationship” you want to build with your audience – something Glazer says has become difficult for brands to establish on their own today.

“If a consumer is hiding behind his social media page, your best bet at connecting with him authentically and intimately is through content publishers (affiliates, influencers), as opposed to banner or display ads,” Glazer says. “Through affiliate and influencer marketing, those consumers are primarily coming to content creators to get the information – via blogs, Instagram feeds, Facebook pages, etc. So you can connect with those consumers by leveraging partnerships with people they know/like/trust.”

In the end, trust and respect are the pillars that help brands scale. Without these attributes, Mayur Ramgir says there would be no reason for a brand to try relationship building. “If your customer does not trust you, or feels that they are not being respected, your business is as good as dead,” says Ramgir, an award-winning author, speaker, innovator, and president and CEO of Zonopact Inc.

As examples, Ramgir says to look at how brands such as Zappos and Capital Grille build intimacy with their customers. Rather than leave its customers hanging during the purchasing process, Zappos recommends up to three competitors whenever they’re out of stock on an item. The strategy shows that its business is not just about the money, but instead offering a reliable service. And if you dine in a Capital Grille, watch as the servers hand out business cards to offer preferences for personalized service on future visits.

“All of these extras are emblematic of developing a close friendship with your customers,” Ramgir says. “Going above and beyond the transaction to demonstrate that you care for your customers is so important.”

In some ways, one might argue that large corporations such as Amazon are better at keeping records, which actually can create a certain level of intimacy. For example, while you might like visiting your local bookstore, if the person behind the counter doesn’t know or remember your preferences, there’s no intimacy. On the other hand, sites such as Amazon always know what a user might like and make recommendations accordingly.

“Keeping that in mind, it’s clear the next wave of scaling intimacy will without a doubt be a combination of the two,” Ramgir says. “And even if it is not realistic to scale intimacy, it should at least be the goal.

01 Research

the people who have influence on your brand and products – people who already like your brand

 02 Engage

them in a strategic, scalable way through a coordinated program and technology

 03 Coach

them on your brand and ensure your objectives align with theirs

 04 Develop

personalized, one-to-one marketing programs for them to leverage

 05 Track

their performance and compensate them accordingly, again, using real-time tracking technology

 

Source: Robert Glazer, author, “Performance Partnerships: The Checkered Past, Changing Present and Exciting Future of Affiliate Marketing”

Q&A: Disrupting the Norm

QA-gold.png

with Sunny Bonnell & Ashleigh Hansberger

 

Why is disrupting the norm still so important for brands today?

Brands that disrupt categories win. The truth is most companies don’t bother to push the envelope and invest in brand as a total company experience. You have an advantage knowing that most companies are too lazy to do the hard work, so why not take your company to the next level? 

It’s important for brands to not be chained to the status quo and work to carve out a unique position in the market by going against the grain. The world doesn’t notice the average, the ordinary or the common. They notice the standouts, the rare ones. They pay attention to the ones who do things differently and make their hearts beat faster.

How can brands that do not typically practice in disruption
get started?

Start by understanding that in order to win, you can’t play like other people play. You can’t think like everyone else. You have to change the way you think about brand and its importance to the success of your company. Brand can’t be left to the marketing department. It’s an inside out job and you have to notice opportunities and seize them. That’s how you disrupt categories.

What’s the secret?

Don’t settle for mediocrity.

Where does the journey to being the perfect brand truly begin?

It starts with leadership and from within the organization. By understanding who you are and by defining the purpose, vision and values of the organization, you can connect those core truths to everything you do as a company. That’s the foundation for every great brand.

Brand can’t be left to the marketing department. It’s an inside out job and you have to notice opportunities and seize them.

What’s the best advice you can give today’s marketers?

Do you have the vision? Do you have the discipline it takes to overcome any obstacle? And, do you have authenticity, or proof that everything you do and say is a true expression of why you exist, and is clearly understood by your audience? That’s how you know you’ll succeed. You can’t have vision, but not discipline or authenticity. You must have all three.

What are three things that every good marketer should do today?

Ask these questions:  What is your greatest vision? Why does your story matter? How will you succeed?

 
Their beginnings were about as humble as it gets. Sunny Bonnell and Ashleigh Hansberger were in the early 20s. Young entrepreneurs with $250 in their collective bank account and big dreams of making a difference in the work they created. It was 2005, in a tiny 14x14 room in an industrial warehouse, where Bonnell and Hansberger kicked into motion the vision that eventually would become Motto. Today, Motto is a passionate team of strategists, writers, designers and developers that have gained a reputation of disruptors with a penchant for winning. Bonnell and Hansberger’s insights can be found across such leading thought leaders as Forbes, Entrepreneur, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, CNBC, and scores of others. We caught up with them to get their take on how to become a world-class disruptor.

Their beginnings were about as humble as it gets. Sunny Bonnell and Ashleigh Hansberger were in the early 20s. Young entrepreneurs with $250 in their collective bank account and big dreams of making a difference in the work they created. It was 2005, in a tiny 14x14 room in an industrial warehouse, where Bonnell and Hansberger kicked into motion the vision that eventually would become Motto. Today, Motto is a passionate team of strategists, writers, designers and developers that have gained a reputation of disruptors with a penchant for winning. Bonnell and Hansberger’s insights can be found across such leading thought leaders as Forbes, Entrepreneur, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, CNBC, and scores of others. We caught up with them to get their take on how to become a world-class disruptor.

Q&A : Owning Your Brand

with Pete Hayes

The list of Pete Hayes’ accomplishments is as diverse as it is long. That’s easy to see when you look at the list of companies and marketplaces that he has worked in over the years. Before he founded the Chief Outsiders, Hayes worked on the marketing side of firms with client lists including the likes of Dell, Motorola, 3M and IBM, to name a few. Today, Chief Outsiders is one of the country’s foremost strategic growth implementation firms, which provides outsourced CMO services by fractional or part time CMOs.

Touchy, Feely

by Charles D. Lunan

Ever notice how people express their experience through touch? They’ll say they’ve had “a rough day” or received “a lukewarm reception” or encountered a “sticky situation.” Or maybe their day went “as smooth as silk.” Given the human brain’s remarkable plasticity, it’s hard to define the future. After all, as Eagleman points out, reading and writing on paper are not innate skills. Every individual has to learn those skills from scratch and in the process they are rewiring their brains. That means that touch may slip in the hierarchy of senses that influence future generations’ perception of reality.

Orchestrating Business

Orchestrating Business

by Michael J. Pallerino

Depending on where – and how deep –you look, the information is right in front of you. Consumers are exposed to ad messages every 2.7 seconds. They are hit with up to 10,000 brand messages a day and switch between screens at least 21 times an hour. Brands keep investing in interruptions and the audience keeps running away. Consumers want immersive content and tools that fight friction. They have the power to ignore traditional messages. Brands have to get that back.

Q&A : What to Expect in 2017

Chad Pollitt’s name seems to be everywhere these days. As one of the country’s foremost content marketing thought leaders, Pollitt’s insights are regularly tracked by the likes of Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Inc., Ad Age, and many others. A decorated veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and former Army commander, these days, Pollitt serves as the VP of Audience and co-founder of Relevance, an agency, events company and digital magazine dedicated to content strategy, promotion and marketing.

Hanging in the Balance

Last May, as sales were taking off at his company in Salt Lake City, Cotopaxi founder and CEO Davis Smith was milling about a train station on the border of Slovenia and Croatia awaiting a train jammed with refugees from Syria. His mission was to learn what he could about their needs before traveling on to Istanbul to join 5,000 other people attending the World Humanitarian Summit.