Roy's Blog: Leadership

April 16, 2018

Why angry people can make you successful

Anger can be turned into adulation; pissed off can be transformed into hugs.

In the world of an organization, this fact is huge because, however unintended, customers get screwed over from time to time.

There are two actions that every organization should take given this eventuality.

First, ensure internal systems, rules and procedures are designed to make it easy for the customer to engage with and do business with you.
Design your “inside” with the customer in mind so they have a pleasant experience with you not a nightmare.


Second, given the fact that Murphy’s Law is always lurking in the shadows poised to strike, develop a strategy to deal with customer screw ups.
Most organizations don’t even think about determining the appropriate course of action when customer engagement goes sideways; they hope and pray it doesn’t happen and put all their resources and energy into preventing its occurrence.

Prevention, as a singular approach, won’t work; it will help, but it will never avoid the unintended mistakes that makes a customer go postal.

Leaders should view dealing with customer complaints as a priority and as a vital component of the organization’s strategy to differentiate themselves from their competition.

Every customer “anger moment” is disguised as an opportunity to improve the strategic position of an organization if the customer is handled the right way.

Customer Anger Management 101

There are 3 overriding principles that need to be understood to achieve the benefits of anger.

1. Recovering the right way from an angered circumstance can improve the relationship you have with the person you pissed off.
If an organization recovers from a complaint exceedingly well, the customer is delighted and they are more committed to the organization than they were before the anger episode. They remember the recovery not so much the problem that caused it.

2. Speed is of the essence; the screw up needs to be fixed FAST.
When you have committed an egregious act the customer expects their complaint to be rectified, but it must be done quickly.
Studies have shown that you have at most 24 hours to repair your blunder; after that period you’ve missed the opportunity to be in the game for a hug.
If immediate action is not taken, the hug never comes and your victim typically communicates far and wide how disastrous your service is and the crumby values you have as an organization.


3. Do more than fix the mistake; SURPRISE the customer with what they don’t expect. Even if the OOPS! is dealt with expeditiously, all you’ve done is met their expectations. It’s the SURPRISE element that turns them from “expectations met” to leaning in for a hug.
The SURPRISE is the magic dust that amazes and delights the victim; leaves them awestruck and breathless. And bonds them to you more than they were before the OOPS!

But beyond knowing the principles of anger gold, these tactics must be consistently practised in every anger moment to earn a hug and build a band of loyalists.


Apologize regardless of who’s fault it is. Trying to blame the customer for the event won’t get you a hug.
Apologize for the impact the event had on the customer. “I’m sorry for the inconvenience this has caused you” is a way to move forward into the recovery process without having to admit culpability for the OOPS!
And when it’s your fault own it! Your currency in the customer’s eyes depends on your honesty.

Shut up about company policy

NEVER quote company policy to justify what was done to piss the customer off. EVER!
People don’t care about them your and to remind them that they “don’t understand” how you do business and that they should have behaved differently will only anger them even more.

Shut up

Don’t escalate

NEVER have the issue referred to a supervisor as a means of control; empower your employees ( to solve the problem then and there.
This gives your employees currency in the customer’s eyes and enables a fast resolution of the complaint. And gets you closer to a hug.

Personalize your SURPRISE

NEVER use common “trash and trinket” items as the surprise vehicle you use to move beyond merely fixing the OOPS!
People hate them. Develop a list of more personal surprise tokens that employees can choose from depending on what they learn about the customer during the complaint experience.

Have humans standing by

Have a real person standing by any of your self serve applications.
Complaint recovery cannot be suitably handled through automated systems. When is the last time you enjoyed being served by technology - like an automated voice messaging system - when you had a problem with an organization?

Every organization looks for an edge over their competitors, but most of them miss an obvious strategy that can truly separate them from the herd.

Be the ONLY one that leans into customer anger and takes its energy to earn a hug — hugs breed success.


Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 4.16.18 at 03:44 am by Roy Osing
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April 2, 2018

Will standout leaders ever rule the world?

Certainly not in the short term and maybe never.

We have taught people to “follow the leader” their whole life, be it a school teacher in our childhood years or a professor in our university years.

We have forced our students to follow text book rules and doctrine and taught them that compliance and conformity were the only way to succeed. Learn the material, score well on the exam and you win at least in the school.

In addition, there are too many “experts” and text book addicts in the mix who teach the art of leadership on the basis of how it was practiced in the past. What worked in previous environments is certainly instructive but it is no prescription for success in today’s world of uncertainty, unpredictability and chaos.

Rule the world

Little wonder then that we have created a cadre of leaders who all follow the same leadership doctrine and practice the same leadership methods.
They don’t standout in terms of bringing a relevant and unique perspective to the role; they all fit in to the crowd of unimaginative copycats.

Changing this culture in the short term is practically impossible. Huge momentum has been built up around the traditional leadership model and resistance to change it is high — people are too comfortable with it and have much invested in it.

They’re not suddenly about to adopt a new culture of leadership.

But even though we can’t immediately replace the old with the new, we can slowly begin the change process, because if we don’t, a new more relevant model of leadership will never see the light of day.

There are some meaningful actions we can take in schools and organizations NOW to begin to “grow” standout leaders; to take a member of the common leader herd and transform them into someone who will change the trend in leadership.

Reduce the amount of text book bullshit that is taught

Start teaching breakaway practices that will dispel the notion that compliance to accepted norms is necessary to be a great leader.
Current leadership curricula is way out of balance, with too much of the old practices being taught and not enough of the new principles being discussed.
My guidance to young professionals who I mentor is to focus on proven different new school leader practices such as contrarianism, serve don’t tell, cut the crap, outrageous demands can yield amazing results, preach imperfection and “let’s head west is a valid strategy” — concepts not found in current leadership dogma.

Start changing the criteria for appointing new leaders

Start selecting members from herd who provide a glimpse of being different than the commoners. As long as prospective leaders see that the rules of engagement require consistently demonstrating traditional practises, there will be little motivation to step away and try to be unique.
And talk about why they were selected; the attributes they possess that are unique and different from what were valued in the past. It’s important to make a big deal of the new people who are appointed to leadership positions. Others will see it and hopefully decide to adopt some of the behaviours of the new appointees.


Create a “contrarian” leadership development program

An intervention intended to shake people out of the norm; get them thinking about a different way of leading.
This program would rewrite the text books on the conventional art:
— serve from the bottom; don’t lead from the top
— execute first; plan second
— kill dumb rules
— forget about what customers need; discover their secrets
would you take your product out for dinner?
And celebrate the graduates; make a big deal of what they’ve achieved and the importance to the future of the organization.

Fire the bottom 10% of the herd every year

It’s critically important to send the message that the “old leadership stuff” is no longer acceptable — and at the same time cull the herd of unwanted members.
It’s one thing to preach about the leadership values you want and hire new people in that image; it’s quite another to let your actions speak.
The message is stronger when you see colleagues exit the organization.
In addition, you have to force churn in the leadership ranks in order to make room for the new generation; natural attrition rarely is sufficient to make the changes needed in the timeframe required.

Create a buddy program

Connect a high potential “convert” with someone who is still practicing old methods. Use your success stories to fuel more conversions from old to new. One-on-ones are a great way to use the natural imprinting process to change the fabric of the leadership team.
Get each person who successfully moved to “the bright side” to select and work with another leader to teach and transform them.

Any cultural change takes time and baby steps to achieve, but it needs to begin now.

Perhaps one day organizations will possess creative and serving leaders who inspire imagination. And maybe — just maybe — the educational system will do their part in helping to prepare individuals to assume these critical roles.


Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 4.2.18 at 04:58 am by Roy Osing
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March 19, 2018

7 proven ways a leader can pick the right people

How does a leader pick the right person when all candidates appear to be equally qualified?

This is a common question posed to leaders; but it’s one that has no answer.

The question is flawed; it’s based on an incorrect assumption.

It assumes that two candidates can be equally qualified.
The fact is that no two individuals are “equally qualified”; no two people possess identical capabilities in terms of creating value for the organization.

No two are equal

The question assumes identical academic achievements in the same discipline (never happens); equal experience (never happens), equal skills (never happens) and equal potential (never happens).

If a leader can’t choose because they are unable to see the the differences in individuals, they’re failing in their role.
If they do not have the insight necessary to break down common stereotypes in people, they are unlikely to be able to develop amazingly successful teams.

For those leaders who have difficulty seeing the differences in people these are the necessary actions to take.

Usher yourself out
Leave and seek another opportunity if you can’t see the difference in people. Because if you stay you are likely to make bad people decisions and rob your organization.
The right thing to do is own up to your leadership deficiency and leave.

Ask more detailed questions of the candidates
Ask questions that probe their DNA. I was hiring a VP Marketing and the candidate had a history of Greek dancing. I asked why it mattered to the marketing leadership position and how they would apply the dancing skill to the position he was applying for.
His answer was threaded with skills like creativity, spontaneity and risk taking which were helpful in painting a picture of what he was all about.
You can’t discover differences in people if you don’t probe in detail how their skills and experience could be applied specifically to the job in question.

Greek dancers

Insist that they ask you the top 3 questions on their mind as a candidate
This will tell you what they think is important (and how well they prepared for the interview) and how well they can focus on the few things that are truly important.
I would frame the question this way: “If I make my decision to hire you based on 3 questions you feel are vital to ask me, what would they be?”
This question separates the ramblers from those that can pinpoint their interests in a few words — good to know; the crowd has difficulty doing this.

Test their understanding of your company
Ask tough questions on your products and services, main competitors, strategic partnerships and financial performance to see if they have done their homework.
I would ask each person to rate themselves on a scale of 1 to 10 on how well they think they understood our organization and the priorities it had — amazing how you can spot the bullshit.
Truly committed candidates will have thoroughly researched your organization and will standout from others you are interviewing.

Ask them “If you were to be hit by a bus and killed what would you be remembered for?”
And ask for a one word answer. What THEY define as their special redeeming value is critical information to test whether their is a fit between the candidate and the values of the organization.
Ask “What do you mean?” questions based on their one word reply to bring out what they specifically mean answer. Most replies tend to be high level and vague — “I think I will be remembered for my generosity” which tells you little about the actions they would take (and the values they live) to be generous.

Killed by bus

Have more than one person engaged in the interview
It could be a peer but it could also be a high potential junior level manager who would gain from the experience of sitting in.
I used to invite who I considered high potential employees to sit in on candidate interview for positions more senior than theirs.
They were blown away by the trust I gave them; they returned my trust with creative questions that reflected a more inclusive view of what the organization deemed important.

Ask them what they learned from their grandmother
Grandmothers have amazing life smarts that are unmatched by most others and represent an amazing source of mentorship.
Discover what your candidates have learned about life that can be traced back to an old soul who has forgotten more life lessons than most of us will ever learn.
Individuals who can see the wisdom in experience have much to offer, and will show themselves as different from their “equals”.

Recruiting top talent is an incredibly tough job. Don’t make it even more difficult by assuming any two candidates are equally qualified.

Your job as leader is to discover their differences and select the one whose unique attributes exactly match the needs of the organization.

If you don’t see the inequality between candidates, look closer; dig deeper.


Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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8 ways marketing leaders can be remarkable

  • Posted 3.19.18 at 04:38 am by Roy Osing
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February 26, 2018

8 guaranteed ways marketing leaders can be remarkable

Marketing’s role in any organization is critical; its leaders must be extraordinary.

Unfortunately, I don’t think marketing generally has stepped up to the challenge of doing remarkable things; in fact I think the craft is currently quite boring and unimaginative.
I offer this perspective as a guy who spent at least 80% of his 33+ year career leading marketing organizations and fulfilling the role of CMO.

Sure, the internet has spawned a plethora of new tools to engage with and sell to people, but the essence of the marketing strategy employed by most organizations hasn’t changed much. There is still a relentless focus on price, mass advertising, product and service flogging and applying traditional marketing tools introduced years ago and pushed by academics and consultants alike.

Marketing leaders

Marketing leaders must take responsibility for this state of affairs; for the apathy they have accepted from their marketing teams. They must be held accountable to move the marketing discipline from an approach that was practiced in the past, and is now underperforming given the dramatic changes that have occurred in the market.
They must take responsibility to PERSONALLY lead their teams to a new relevant place, and not accept the inertia caused by their junior teams of marketing
practitioners who have been taught principles of the past.

If marketing leaders accept how their team performs its role, they can’t be surprised when lacklustre results are produced.

Parochial leaders get mediocrity.

Organizations need marketing leaders to take control; people who will not stop until their team produces unheard-of results by practising the new relevant art.

Here are eight actions marketing leaders can take if they want to stand-out and turn their marketing teams into achievers of remarkability.

Set short-term revenue goals
Focus on the next 24 months rather than be a victim of the 5-year plan. This shorter term view will force an execution and results focus and avoid the “hockey stick” phenomenon where sales are supposed to miraculously show up at the end of the planning period.
Set revenue targets monthly and review performance to ensure you are on track.

Short term

Make revenue targets bold enough that you don’t know exactly how to achieve them
Discomfort and “I don’t know” is an effective way to drive innovation and creativity. If you know how to deliver your expected revenue, there is little or no incentive to do different things.
If you follow yesterday’s path, nothing remarkable happens.

Eliminate benchmarking as a tool for marketers to use
Copying won’t step your organization up to a higher level; it simply keeps you in the competitive herd. Ask, “How can we be different?”. Apply this question to every proposal you review. 
If a proposal from one of your marketers doesn’t move your organization towards standing out from your competitors to being a “different breed,” reject the proposal out-of-hand. And fire any marketer who makes the same mistake twice.

Stop new customer acquisition programs
Insist on seeing proposals that generate more revenue from your existing customer base as opposed to providing special deals or promotions to prospective customers who you want to attract from your competition. The truth is that customers who join you from the competition can’t be counted on for any loyalty or added revenue over the long term.
Offer any special promotions or deals to your existing customers first; reward their loyalty.

De-emphasize price and establish value creation as your raison d’être
Ask what value is being created for your loyal customers, not, “How can we lower our prices?”. Everyone plays the price game and it leads not to competitive advantage but rather financial ruin.
Declare the marketing rule “There will be NO price incentives offered around here!” as the way to disrupt the momentum of using boring prices as a marketing tool.
And replace the product manager position with the product value position and reward those who are prolific at creating value solutions.

Weird people

Recruit weird people
Marketing success today is all about finding what small specialty groups desire or want (satisfying what they need is passé) and proving them with unmatched value.
Start to populate your marketing teams with these types of people who can relate better to these curious customer segments. Look for contrarians. People who have bizarre ideas and question the common ways of doing things. People who hate fitting in.
You need a team of weirdos to carry your mandate breakaway from traditional marketing ways.

Expand your marketing team to include the frontline
The new marketing excellence is produced by understanding the deep innermost secrets of people you want to serve. The customer-facing frontline in any organization is THE most effective receptacle for customer learning; what customer’s desire. Recruit these people even if they don’t meet your “minimum education standards” — which are largely irrelevant in most cases anyways.
Get their ideas and implement them. And tell the rest of the organization what you are up to; hopefully they also will recognize the value of the human face to the customer.

Develop a competitive claim that is more than just hot air
The new marketing leader is not guided by aspiration. They are practical people who covet granularity, clarity and precision when it comes to defining why people should buy from their organization and none other.
Be clear and specific that the value you deliver to your customers is distinct from your competition.
They focus their attention on answering the killer question, “Why should I do business with you and not your competitors?” and purge comparative notions like “best”, “number one” and “leader” as ways of describing their market value proposition.

Marketing leaders must step up their game and take personal ownership of the changes needed to stay relevant and survive. Their organizations depend on it.


Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 2.26.18 at 04:18 am by Roy Osing
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