next generation of global corporate leaders

The 7 Graces of Marketing Global Conference

Let the diaologue begin!

The 7 Graces Global Conference is coming to London and via worldwide live stream on 22nd, 23rd and 24th June 2012. To read the complete agenda for this 3-day event, and register for either the London conference or live stream/virtual breakout sessions, CLICK HERE.

The 7 Graces Global Conference (7GGC) is neither a ‘trade show’ nor a training event. It is a meeting of minds where business owners, large and small, along with a conscious consumers and members of volunteer groups will gather together to create a vision for the future of business, marketing and commerce. Positive change can only come about via three elements, the foundation of which we aim to create through this event:

  • Awareness raising/education
  • Community and mutual support
  • Creating a ‘tipping point’ of key influencers who embraces this awareness and put it into practice in their own work and daily lives.

We invite you to become a part of this “Tipping Point”

Who should attend…

  • Business owners from corporate executives to sole proprietors, who know that our current models of marketing and business are not serving society or our environment. Perhaps you have great ideas of your own to share, or perhaps you are looking for ideas. Or perhaps you are seeking collaborative opportunities with other ethical business owners.
  • Aspiring business owners, who might feel overwhelmed when faced with the coldness and disconnection of modern marketing and business networking.
  • Marketing professionals, who feel alienated and upset by the use of persuasion, invasion, deception and scarcity in so much of marketing today, but often feel like a lone voice against it within the industry.
  • Journalists, media professionals and creative artists, who are tired of having their artistic and professional integrity dictated or compromised by advertisers.
  • Members of non-profit and volunteer groups, whose focus is upon awareness raising around environmentalism, ecology, alternative energy, alternative economies, social responsibility, human rights, etc.
  • Conscious consumers, who want to help create a better world for their children, but feel alone against the rest of the status quo.

Find out how you can attend from anyplace in the world by visiting the 7 Graces Global Conference (7GGC)


Five Leadership Lessons From James T. Kirk

This blog is written by Alex Knapp of Forbes Magazine. Since Captain James T. Kirk has always been one of my leadership role models, I repost this here.

Captain James T. Kirk is one of the most famous Captains in the history of Starfleet. There’s a good reason for that. He saved the planet Earth several times, stopped the Doomsday Machine, helped negotiate peace with the Klingon Empire, kept the balance of power between the Federation and the Romulan Empire, and even managed to fight Nazis. On his five-year mission commanding the U.S.S. Enterprise, as well as subsequent commands, James T. Kirk was a quintessential leader, who led his crew into the unknown and continued to succeed time and time again.

(Image via Wikipedia)

Kirk’s success was no fluke, either. His style of command demonstrates a keen understanding of leadership and how to maintain a team that succeeds time and time again, regardless of the dangers faced.  Here are five of the key leadership lessons that you can take away from Captain Kirk as you pilot your own organization into unknown futures.

1. Never Stop Learning

“You know the greatest danger facing us is ourselves, an irrational fear of the unknown. But there’s no such thing as the unknown– only things temporarily hidden, temporarily not understood.”

Captain Kirk may have a reputation as a suave ladies man, but don’t let that exterior cool fool you. Kirk’s reputation at the Academy was that of a “walking stack of books,” in the words of his former first officer, Gary Mitchell. And a passion for learning helped him through several missions. Perhaps the best demonstration of this is in the episode “Arena,” where Kirk is forced to fight a Gorn Captain in single combat by advanced beings. Using his own knowledge and materials at hand, Kirk is able to build a rudimentary shotgun, which he uses to defeat the Gorn.

If you think about it, there’s no need for a 23rd Century Starship Captain to know how to mix and prepare gunpowder if the occasion called for it. After all, Starfleet officers fight with phasers and photon torpedoes. To them, gunpowder is obsolete. But the same drive for knowledge that drove Kirk to the stars also caused him to learn that bit of information, and it paid off several years later.

In the same way, no matter what your organization does, it helps to never stop learning. The more knowledge you have, the more creative you can be. The more you’re able to do, the more solutions you have for problems at your disposal. Sure, you might never have to face down a reptilian alien on a desert planet, but you never know what the future holds. Knowledge is your best key to overcoming whatever obstacles are in your way.

2. Have Advisors With Different Worldviews

“One of the advantages of being a captain, Doctor, is being able to ask for advice without necessarily having to take it.”

Kirk’s closest two advisors are Commander Spock, a Vulcan committed to a philosophy of logic, and Dr. Leonard McCoy, a human driven by compassion and scientific curiosity. Both Spock and McCoy are frequently at odds with each other, recommended different courses of action and bringing very different types of arguments to bear in defense of those points of view. Kirk sometimes goes with one, or the other, or sometimes takes their advice as a springboard to developing an entirely different course of action.

However, the very fact that Kirk has advisors who have a different worldview not only from each other, but also from himself, is a clear demonstration of Kirk’s confidence in himself as a leader. Weak leaders surround themselves with yes men who are afraid to argue with them. That fosters an organizational culture that stifles creativity and innovation, and leaves members of the organization afraid to speak up. That can leave the organization unable to solve problems or change course. Historically, this has led to some serious disasters, such as Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

Organizations that allow for differences of opinion are better at developing innovation, better at solving problems, and better at avoiding groupthink. We all need a McCoy and a Spock in our lives and organizations.

3. Be Part Of The Away Team

“Risk is our business. That’s what this starship is all about. That’s why we’re aboard her.”

Whenever an interesting or challenging mission came up, Kirk was always willing to put himself in harm’s way by joining the Away Team. With his boots on the ground, he was always able to make quick assessments of the situation, leading to superior results. At least, superior for everyone with a name and not wearing a red shirt. Kirk was very much a hands-on leader, leading the vanguard of his crew as they explored interesting and dangerous situations.

When you’re in a leadership role, it’s sometimes easy to let yourself get away from leading Away Team missions. After all, with leadership comes perks, right? You get the nice office on the higher floor. You finally get an assistant to help you with day to day activities, and your days are filled with meetings and decisions to be made, And many of these things are absolutely necessary. But it’s sometimes easy to trap yourself in the corner office and forget what life is like on the front lines. When you lose that perspective, it’s that much harder to understand what your team is doing, and the best way to get out of the problem. What’s more, when you’re not involved with your team, it’s easy to lose their trust and have them gripe about how they don’t understand what the job is like.

This is a lesson that was actually imprinted on me in one of my first jobs, making pizzas for a franchise that doesn’t exist anymore. Our general manager spent a lot of time in his office, focused on the paperwork and making sure that we could stay afloat on the razor-thin margins we were running. But one thing he made sure to do, every day, was to come out during peak times and help make pizza. He didn’t have to do that, but he did. The fact that he did so made me like him a lot more. It also meant that I trusted his decisions a lot more. In much the same way, I’m sure, as Kirk’s crew trusted his decisions, because he knew the risks of command personally.

4. Play Poker, Not Chess

“Not chess, Mr. Spock. Poker. Do you know the game?”

In one of my all-time favorite Star Trek episodes, Kirk and his crew face down an unknown vessel from a group calling themselves the “First Federation.”  Threats from the vessel escalate until it seems that the destruction of the Enterprise is imminent. Kirk asks Spock for options, who replies that the Enterprise has been playing a game of chess, and now there are no winning moves left. Kirk counters that they shouldn’t play chess – they should play poker. He then bluffs the ship by telling them that the Enterprise has a substance in its hull called “corbomite” which will reflect the energy of any weapon back against an attacker. This begins a series of actions that enables the Enterprise crew to establish peaceful relations with the First Federation.

I love chess as much as the next geek, but chess is often taken too seriously as a metaphor for leadership strategy. For all of its intricacies, chess is a game of defined rules that can be mathematically determined. It’s ultimately a game of boxes and limitations. A far better analogy to strategy is poker, not chess. Life is a game of probabilities, not defined rules. And often understanding your opponents is a much greater advantage than the cards you have in your hand. It was knowledge of his opponent that allowed Kirk to defeat Khan in Star Trek II by exploiting Khan’s two-dimensional thinking. Bluffs, tells, and bets are all a big part of real-life strategy. Playing that strategy with an eye to the psychology of our competitors, not just the rules and circumstances of the game  can often lead to better outcomes than following the rigid lines of chess.

5. Blow up the Enterprise

“‘All I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.’ You could feel the wind at your back in those days. The sounds of the sea beneath you, and even if you take away the wind and the water it’s still the same. The ship is yours. You can feel her. And the stars are still there, Bones.”

One recurring theme in the original Star Trek series is that Kirk’s first love is the Enterprise. That love kept him from succumbing to the mind-controlling spores in “This Side of Paradise,” and it’s hinted that his love for the ship kept him from forming any real relationships or starting a family. Despite that love, though, there came a point in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, where Captain Kirk made a decision that must have pained him enormously – in order to defeat the Klingons attacking him and save his crew, James Kirk destroyed the Enterprise. The occasion, in the film, was treated with the solemnity of a funeral, which no doubt matched Kirk’s mood. The film ends with the crew returning to Vulcan on a stolen Klingon vessel, rather than the Enterprise. But they returned victorious.

We are often, in our roles as leaders, driven by a passion. It might be a product or service, it might be a way of doing things. But no matter how much that passion burns within us, the reality is that times change. Different products are created. Different ways of doing things are developed. And there will come times in your life when that passion isn’t viable anymore. A time when it no longer makes sense to pursue your passion. When that happens, no matter how painful it is, you need to blow up the Enterprise. That is, change what isn’t working and embark on a new path, even if that means having to live in a Klingon ship for awhile.

Final Takeaway:

In his many years of service to the Federation, James Kirk embodied several leadership lessons that we can use in our own lives. We need to keep exploring and learning. We need to ensure that we encourage creativity and innovation by listening to the advice of people with vastly different opinions. We need to occasionally get down in the trenches with the members of our teams so we understand their needs and earn their trust and loyalty. We need to understand the psychology of our competitors and also learn to radically change course when circumstances dictate. By following these lessons, we can lead our organizations into places where none have gone before.

Original post by Alex Knapp …

Kudos From the Boss: the End of the Bonus Culture.

Sense and non-sense of exorbitant financial incentives.

The annual performance reviews are behind us and many C-level executives, salespersons, accountants and senior managers have claimed their yearly bonus. What a waste of money! Research shows that there are at least three reasons why bonuses don’t produce the anticipated effect.

1.    Bonuses have a negative effect on intrinsic motivation.

Imagine a passionate individual who has been working for years to eradicate poverty from the face of the earth, in exchange for a small fee. Suppose this individual would suddenly receive a hefty salary for his work. This could be a good way of killing his passion and involvement in the good cause.

This can be explained by a phenomenon called ‘over justification’. When someone receives a good salary or is otherwise very well compensated for their efforts, they unconsciously conclude that their internal motives are weak. “If I do it for the money, than I’m probably not doing it because I like the job”.

As a consequence they are less engaged and don’t find their job especially enjoyable.

This only occurs when people know up front that they get rewarded. An unexpected reward (or bonus) does the opposite; it motivates them and enthuses them.

2.    Bonuses increase risk taking.

Ok, you’re a sales person. Your target is 30 sales this month and there are only two days left. You’ve sold 22 thus far. You have 4 clients in the pipeline and on the verge of signing. When you focus entirely on them it probably is a done deal. The other possibility is that you approach 20 new prospects. In the past this resulted in an average of 2 to 8 sales. What would you do?

Most people who where asked this question choose the uncertain strategy and went for the 8 possible sales. When not confronted with the target of 30 sales they would have chosen otherwise; only 46% would have chosen for the uncertain approach, all others choose the certainty of closing those 4 sales.

Now why is that? People look differently to profit as they look to loss. I you have the choice between the certainty of getting $50 or choosing heads or tails with the possibility of getting $100, than most of us would go for the $50. In case of a loss however, the opposite happens; we rather choose for the uncertainty of a 50-50 chance of loosing $100 or $0, than for the certainty of loosing $50.

Setting a target works pretty much the same. When the target is set at 30 and your at 22 than those 4 certain sales or not regarded as profit but as a loss of 4 in reaching your target. When you’re focused on the target any result below 30 is seen as a loss. Without the target those 4 sales would be seen as a profit.

Promising a bonus when reaching a target is a certain way of making people take risks that they otherwise would never dream of taking. The recent history has certainly proven this.

3.    Bonuses encourage anti-social behaviour.

By promising a bonus the focus might shift from the job itself to the financial compensation earned by it. We all know the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, which is a perfect example, but it has also been scientifically proven: thinking about money makes people less socially involved.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re thinking about too much money (what should I do with it?) or having not enough money (can I make my mortgage payment this month?). People who just thought about financial issues are less inclined to help others or sympathise with their problems. They are less able to remember faces or names of people they just met, nor remember details from a conversation they just had. They literately keep a bit more distance from other people. And if they were asked to choose between two chores, they would choose for the one that allows them to work solo in stead of working in a team. Apparently money makes people self-sufficient; I have enough to worry about and don’t need to be bothered by anyone else.

It might well be that our body houses two people: an economist and a sociable. The economist is rational and calculating. He buys the train ticket because the fine multiplied by the odds of getting caught is higher than the price of a ticket. The sociable buys a ticket because it’s the honest thing to do. The ultimate sociable would even buy a ticket if there were no one to check it! The sociable doesn’t think about the money, he pays for the fare, because it’s the decent thing to do.

We all have an economist and a sociable inside of us. Sometimes the economist rules, sometimes the sociable wins. But employers who introduced a bonus culture in their company have thus created a culture of calculating employees who think of themselves first and foremost.

Bonuses and targets only work for simple, repetitive tasks when it’s easy to increase productivity by working a bit harder and make an extra effort. Like with an American fast-food company where bonuses increased profits, shortened waiting time for customers and increased employee loyalty and satisfaction, mostly low paid jobs with little educational requirements.

But that’s not where the real money ends up, that’s with the highly paid, highly educated jobs where the financial benefits don’t produce the desired effects at all.

In my view bonuses are insults. What the boss really says by promising a hefty bonus, is that he doesn’t trust the employee to do what he is hired to do and doesn’t expect the employee to give it their full 100% unless he makes it a little more interesting. If that’s not an insult, I don’t know what is!

What does work?

Here are some tips to get started right away:

  • Feed the ego: make compliments and give kudos about a job well done in the presence of co-workers.
  • Give constructive and honest feedback on a regular basis, not just once a year during performance reviews (that’s so 2011).
  • Stimulate intrinsic motivation: allow people to get involved in policy making and decision taking, allow them to have a say in how their job should be done and how their team should reached the goals. Get them involved and make them co-creators and thus, co-responsible and accountable for the outcome.

A little knowledge of psychology could do a lot of good among the C-suits. If they are willing to turn that knowledge to good use is an entirely different issue. Presented with the outcomes of his research, Dan Ariely explained to executives in the banking industry that while bonuses do increase the efforts, it decreases the quality of the efforts, they responded that his research certainly wasn’t valid for their industry…..

Maybe that’s why I like to coach the ‘Next generation of Global Corporate Leaders’. This current generation is too much focused on ‘having’ instead of ‘being’, in that respect a lost generation. I’m just waiting for the ‘next generation’ CEO to stand up, eradicate the bonus culture, and starts creating a more sociable and thus more profitable corporate culture.

If you want to know more about increasing the engagement ratio of your employees and changing the bonus culture in your company while winning the hearts (and wallets) of your shareholders, just drop me a line; I’m ready and won’t ask for a bonus!