Roy's Blog: September 2018

September 24, 2018

Shocking ways “the only one” is bringing sexy back

Competitive claims made by organizations today lack creativity, imagination and truth.

Most differentiation statements advocated by organizations and intended to convince us involve words like “best”, “number one”, “leader”, “fastest growing”, “most” and “highest quality” to assert their distinguishable characteristics vis-a-vis their competition.

The usual clap trap

These are common statements you see:
— “We provide the best customer service”
— “We strive to deliver the highest level of service at all times”
— “We offer the highest quality products”
— “We have the most knowledgeable employees”
— “We have been in business for over 30 years”
— “We rank number one in customer satisfaction “
— We are rated the number one airline in the world”


Unfortunately, these pronouncements add little understanding to help people select a company to do business with.
For example, how exactly does having knowledgeable employees make an organization the right choice given a number of alternatives to choose from?
Who decided an organization has the best customer service, and why should I believe them?
And why is being in business the longest even relevant in today’s business climate?

They statements are confusing and have little credibility with their audience. They are generally vague and aspirational without proven substance.

There is another way to approach the challenge of defining what makes an organization special and why people should do business with them and only them.

It’s called “the only one” — ONLY.

It’s an approach I developed as president of a data and internet company. I had to come up with an alternative way of communicating why we should be chosen over our competitors; ONLY was it and it worked amazingly well.

ONLY is constructed this way: “We are the ONLY ones that ___”.

ONLY is bringing sexy back; here’s why:

ONLY is bold — some might say arrogant. It’s audacious in the claim to to be THE ONE that owns a particular space and is prepared to show all to prove it.
This confident face of the organization, in and of itself, raises curiosity to find out what it’s all about.

ONLY one

Easy to look at
ONLY is a simple expression which uses simple language. The low “fog factor” invites eyes to gaze on and process the thought articulated rather than struggling through what it means.

Clean form
ONLY relies on a binary view; the claim is either true or false. It exists or it doesn’t. It makes it very easy for the reader to assess both its relevance and its truth.
“We provide the ONLY solution that permanently stops people from depositing biohazard — aka used needles — contaminants through manhole covers” is a simple expression of the value being created by the offering.

Emotional appeal
ONLY is built around what is relevant to the customer’s the organization has chosen to serve — what their target customer group CARES about — therefore these specific people are warmed up to the competitive ONLY claim being made.

“We are the ONLY ones that provide safety solutions anywhere, anytime” speaks volumes to those who could be in need on a moment’s notice and it is reassuring to know that resources are available to help.

Revealing shape
ONLY provides detail and clarity around what the solution does, to make it easy for the potential buyer to make an informed decision.
It has the cutting edges and lines of specificity that attract followers.

“Unlike other distracted driving solutions that allow drivers to use their smartphone when driving, eBrake is the ONLY one that automatically locks a driver’s phone when motion is detected, but grants passengers unrestricted use.”

Revealing shape

Attractive measurements
ONLY is easily measured by asking the frontline and customers whether the claim is true or not; the measurement process is simple.
In addition, the researcher can look up and compare other organizations and what they offer as a competitive claim and reach their own conclusions on ONLY’s efficacy.

ONLY is different. There is no other similar proven method of creating a claim of competitive advantage out there.
It has a track record of success with a many organizations I have had the pleasure of working with. No other advisor, consultant, academic or strategy pundit has a tool in their kitbag like ONLY but Roy — I am the ONLY one.

Sexy is a personal thing. Some people look at something and find it sexy; others view the same thing and don’t see the sex appeal.

ONLY’s sexiness comes from bridging the two points of view. It represents a common denominator that most leaders searching for a compelling way to separate themselves from the crowd find attractive and effective.


Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 9.24.18 at 03:23 am by Roy Osing
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September 17, 2018

Is there anything really wrong with overkill?

“More than what is needed. In gross excess of what is reasonably expected. An excess of something beyond what is required or suitable for a given purpose.” — Definition of overkill

The definition of overkill seems to answer the question of whether there is anything wrong with it. It implies that to solve a problem with a solution that is more than is required is wrong — is inappropriate.
Of course the definition is silent on what is excess and more to the point, who gets to decide on what the “reasonably expected” solution is.

Overkill takes a bad rap


It suggests that:
— going above and beyond what is required is wrong
— creating an enormous solution to a simple problem is wrong
— thinking in volume rather than increments is unproductive
— appropriate solutions do only what is required and no more
— to do anything in excess is essentially a squandering of resources; wasting time and money
— extremes are to be judged with suspicion
— “being excessive” as an individual is an undesirable trait; if you’re not “spot on” with what everyone expects, you’re weird and are to be avoided

Excess is awesome

Hogwash! I love the concept of excess. It makes sense. It should be respected. It has immense rewards to people and organizations.

Excess is the notion that organizations need to apply in order to stand apart from their competitors and gain long term competitiveness. And it’s a concept that should be employed by people wanting to enrich their careers and lives.

As consumers though, we face a business environment where excess isn’t employed but deficiency — by minimalist organizations — is.
We call our airline or financial institution and we wait in the call queue for 20-30 minutes for a service rep to take our call.
We relentlessly search the floor of our favourite retail store to find a clerk that can help us.
And we waste much of our precious time wandering around the voice answering system of the businesses we engage with trying to talk to the right person.


Technology isn’t the answer

Self serve technologies are being introduced to try and shift demand away from people intensive activities in an effort to solve this problem as well as to reduce operating costs.
But they won’t solve the entire problem. In fact many technology intensive companies offer sophisticated self serve applications to their customers but there STILL is a huge wait problem on their traditional people-based queues.

It seems that despite attempts to substitute higher cost people based processes with technology, consumers are slow to adapt and accept self serve. And the situation is exacerbated by the fact that it is virtually impossible to create self serve algorithms that define the variety of questions people have when they engage with an organization.

When rising consumer expectations for more and better treatment meet the organizational minimalist mentality, something has to give.

Smart organizations will accept that unless they get on the overkill train their performance and long term profitability is at risk. Consumers will naturally gravitate to those that provide MORE — not less — of what they want.
They don’t care that a company may have a cost problem. They expect leadership to go figure it out!
As an aside, organizations that can’t deliver excess service and still have attractive margins are not giving their customers strong enough reasons to do business with them.

The minimalist attitude must go

These 5 actions will give your journey to move from minimalist to overkill a kick start:

Recruit overkill leaders. Change starts with new decision makers; don’t expect a right angle turn to happen with the leadership team that sponsored a “do less” culture.
Appoint new leaders in those areas where excess thinking is required; be guided by customer feedback. With this action it won’t take long to send the message that the winds of change are coming.


Gather customer feedback on your self serve applications. Are they being used? Do they meet customer expectations? This information is invaluable for setting priorities for operations areas where change is immediately required — must do’s — as opposed to action that can be taken later when resources permit.

Shift some technology spending to more people centric functions as a way to fund new initiatives. Ideally you want to avoid adding cost to fund excess activity; if you are able to shift expenses from one bucket to another it’s a zero sum game with no impact on operating profits.

Best in class
Benchmark overkill organizations to see how others apply excess thinking. Don’t merely copy the best organization; look for opportunities to go beyond them and establish some strategic advantage. Use your customer feedback as a guide.

Be prepared to take a short term earnings hit. Going excess may require additional funds to make it happen even if you are successful in shifting budgets from technology to people. Consider this the ante that needs to be paid now for gains tomorrow.

Overkill isn’t a negative. People who claim it is are proclaimed advocates of tradition and the status quo. Why listen to them?

Overkill is a secret ingredient to securing loyal customers and long term competitive advantage.

Funny how a kill concept can be a key to survival.


Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 9.17.18 at 02:18 am by Roy Osing
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September 12, 2018

Why most startups fail — guest post

Starting a business is daunting, shadowed by the truth that the majority of startup business fail. While the difficulties and challenges of starting a business are well publicized, many entrepreneurs continue to make the same crucial mistakes.

So.  Think your new business idea is brilliant? Below are some of the most common and surprising reasons why startups fail.
If you can avoid these mistakes, your chances of success will rise.


No market need

The most fatal thing a startup business can do is to try and push a product that has zero market need. If people have no interest in what you’re selling in the first place, your business is doomed to fail. A good product or service actually solves a real market problem.
It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many entrepreneurs skip over this first thing to check.

Poor business planning

New business owners are often overly optimistic and unrealistic about how easy it will be to gain customers. They think that just because they have an interesting idea and a great website to showcase it, customers will suddenly pop out like daffodils in a snowy field.
But without a strategic and systematic business model, your business won’t get very far. A solid business model should include every detail of how you will run your business, potential problems, and how you plan to overcome these challenges to reach success.

Inadequate funds

Many new business owners don’t have a clear understanding of their cash flow. They underestimate how much capital they will need, waste money on the wrong things, and have unrealistic profit expectations.
Eventually, their businesses run out of money and they are forced to shut down. To avoid this, determine a realistic figure of how much money you will need for the long haul, not just startup costs.

Wrong team

The wrong team

Finding a winning team of people can be a challenge – another big reason why so many startups fail. Teams in the startup environment should have a diverse set of adaptable skills – and even more importantly, the right mindset for surviving the tumultuous first few years of a startup.

Teams that recover and learn from their mistakes, work harmoniously, respect each other, and survive tough times together without losing their enthusiasm are the ones who will go far.
Running a startup business comes with many challenges, and it’s important to have a team that you know will stick by you.

Lack of environmental awareness

Startups fail when their only priority is to make money. A good startup business doesn’t just care about financial gains, but about more important issues affecting the planet as well, such as the environment. For example, if you’re running a restaurant, collaborating with a company that recycles food waste can help reduce landfill waste and make a positive impact on the earth.

Customers are now more conscious about how their purchases and pollution from business systems such as farming practices and plastic factories are affecting the natural world – including water systems, oceans, local wildlife. These customers are looking for eco-friendly products and services — and businesses that care enough to implement ethical practices that protect the environment, communities and the economy are the answer.

Pricing errors

The price of a product or service can make or break a business. Many startup businesses make the mistake of setting their prices either too high or too low. The more research and expert advice you get about your pricing strategy, the greater chance of success.
The key is to price the product high enough to cover costs, but low enough to attract your target customer base.

Pricing errors

Poor marketing

Having a great product or service idea is useless if your marketing is poor. Many startups suffer enormously from not doing enough market research and targeting the wrong people.
Knowing the needs and shopping habits of your target audience and how to get their attention is crucial.

Ignoring customers

Not responding to customer feedback is a sure way for a startup to fail. As a small business, customers will often expect you to be more open to communication — and your relationship with them is key to your success.
Make every effort to connect with them on a regular basis, whether through friendly face-to-face conversation, interactive social media posts, or fun competitions.

Don’t underestimate the power of prompt, honest, helpful replies, even for the simplest questions. If you ignore your customers’ needs, wants, suggestions, or praise — even unintentionally — your business will lose out on many chances to grow and improve.

Lack of self-awareness

Startups can be brought to their knees, not because of faults within the business itself, but from a lack of self-awareness in its founders. Some founders get stuck in their egos and believe they have everything all figured out.

A founder with a wrong, arrogant attitude wants to be seen as the smartest, most important person in the company, and can’t admit they’re wrong. However, relationships are a huge part of any business.
A good leader remains humble and realistic, respects their team, and retains their sense of humour. Leaders should take time to celebrate small successes and regularly thank their loyal team, while not taking themselves too seriously.

No passion

Lack of passion

People start businesses for many reasons, whether to make more money or for a chance to lead the company of their dreams exactly how they want. But many entrepreneurs lack real passion about what they do, which is often their downfall.
Passion gives you drive, patience, determination and motivation – which are all important characteristics for business leaders.

Cloe Matheson is a freelance writer from Dunedin, New Zealand who grew up in a very tight-knit family. She is extremely close with her Mum – her greatest role model. You can discover more of Cloe’s work on Tumblr.


  • Posted 9.12.18 at 10:42 am by Roy Osing
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September 10, 2018

How to get kids ready to lead

We need to prepare kids today for standout leadership tomorrow.

Leaders who are capable of guiding organizations through the turmoil of dramatic economic change, serving employees with higher “ME” expectations, rising demands of social responsibility, insatiable investor demands and technological change showing no limits and no signs of slowing down.

I believe the principles and practices espoused by today’s leadership academics and pundits generally fall short in terms of guiding leaders to meet the critical challenges organizations face in these uncertain times.
And a point of concern is that some experts have limited experience “in the field” leading complicated organizations, yet their views punctuate the list of credentials, skills and experience necessary for effective leadership.

Practical leadership teaching is required.

It’s time to take the task of leadership development to ground zero and teach kids the practical basics of leadership.

These 5 actions can be taken by family members and teachers alike to sow the seeds for our future leaders.

Ask questions

Ask questions

Ask “What do you think?” in the face of a problem.
Rather than resort to taking control and dictating the solution, we must engage kids more actively in the problem solving process. And they must feel comfortable suggesting an approach that is not prescribed by the text books — thinking beyond the constraints of standards and tradition is a competency that must be encouraged.
Organizations need more problem solvers who come up with original and creative solutions, not individuals who blindly comply with traditional scripture.

Encourage art

Encourage kids to create art as opposed to deciphering a formula and “colouring inside the lines” perfectly.
Business is not formula driven and is often extremely messy; more often than not the most inelegant and imperfect solutions are the only ones that work in a world of politics and individual bias.
We need our kids to expand their thinking beyond the box of established methodology and explore non-traditional and often controversial approaches to deal with the challenges they face. For example, encourage them to consider going in the opposite direction to the most common approach and see what happens.


Push tries

Push kids to define more than one way to handle a problem.
A plan rarely turns out the way it was intended in any organization; we need leaders who are adept and comfortable with coming up with a variety of responses that can be drawn upon when the original one falls short of expectations.
Ask “what else might work?” to encourage a conversation around alternate solutions to a problem rather than focusing on just one.
And insist that they try more often; have a go at a problem from many different perspectives. Success in the real world is rarely achieved in a single attempt; the more tries made, the more likely the winner will be discovered.

Look for differences

Expose and develop the differences in our kids rather than trying to get them to conform with others and comply with the accepted norms and rules of society.
The problem I see when chatting with new grads and young professionals is that most of them “look” the same. They have similar academic skills, their résumés use the same boilerplate template, they don’t know what makes them special and they have no idea how to compete with others who are vying for the same opportunities.
The challenge for every person is to find a persona that no one else possesses. Stand out. Be noticed.
Moms need to be on the lookout for how their kid is different from others rather than how they are the same. Pay attention to what separates them from the pack and not the similarities that define their conformity.


Reward breakaway behaviour

Develop their independence by challenging our kids with “Why do you care what others think?”
It’s not that you want to support deviant behaviour that has negative consequences on someone else, but raising kids based solely on the views and expectations of others won’t motivate innovation and creativity.
Inhaling the perceptions and biases of another individual simply creates a clone of them; individual identity is lost.
At an early age we need our kids to breakaway from the shackles imposed by herd mentality so leaders are created by the new ideas they have not how efficiently they conform to the expectations of others.
There is, of course, a huge need for our schools to morph from a compliance centric culture where kids are thought to follow the rules, to one that recognizes and rewards kids who are willing to take the risk to step beyond normal expectations. I’m not sure that I’ll see this transformation in my lifetime but one can always hope.

It’s on us

We should take personal responsibility to nurture our kids to grow up with future leadership potential and not continue to delegate the responsibility to the system to do it for us.


Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 9.10.18 at 04:32 am by Roy Osing
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