Big Bird: The Big Brand

Big Bird has been in the news frequently, thanks to mentions in the Presidential debates. The outpouring of support for the yellow puppet showed just how relevant Sesame Street has been across decades and, it turns out, across cultures. Sesame Street is currently running in 146 countries.

HBR’s recent article identified some of the reasons that Sesame Street is such a universal brand:

  1. Identifying the country-specific critical needs first.
  2. Willingness to try new operating models in new countries.
  3. Embracing new and multiple means of distribution.
  4. Propagating lessons learned throughout the organization.
  5. Taking the long view.

Sesame Street pursued a global strategy long before globalization became a common business goal. “It has done so by being clear and steadfast about its essential brand values while also seeking to understand deeply and flexibly adapt to local conditions and norms.”

Do you agree that these values help make brands universal? What would you add?

Ritu Walia is an FG Analyst.

Take the Leap and Clear the Hurdle of Fear

In an article on CNBC, author Tom Reiger discusses a key issue covered in his book Breaking the Fear Barrier: How Fear Destroys Companies from Inside Out and What to Do about It.

Due to the past and current economic climate, anxiety and fear has become a staple in the workplace. “In the midst of all of this uncertainty, managers and employees will inevitably feel compelled to build walls to protect themselves, regardless of the impact on the overall company. If left unchecked, this attitude can pit the good of the individual against the greater good of the organization—spelling death for companies.”

Two kids of courage are at play in this situation, and they are at odds:

  1. Vital courage: the inward focus of survival, which could be thought of as our Reptilian brain
  2. Moral courage: our compass of morality that leads us to take a path for the greater good

In companies that have a high level of fear, employees may be asked to make decisions that tap moral courage and suppress vital courage. But humans are wired to focus on our vitals. Thus Reiger advises companies to “make employees feel comfortable and motivated to perform acts of moral courage. The key is to design rewards and performance management in a way that balances and aligns both types of courage. ”

Have you even been in a situation where you felt at odds? Please share!

Ritu Walia is an FG Analyst.

Check Negative Emotions at the Office Door

Smiling is contagious! And that’s just one example of how our environment and the people we surround ourselves with have a profound impact on our mood. That’s why it’s so important to maintain a healthy work environment. As a recent HBR article points out: “emotional contagion can take down your whole team.”

Author Tony Schwartz makes clear just how much emotions matter in the workplace. Remember the feeling of dreariness that envelops you when you’re at the DMV? Compare that to the level of energy and happiness that charge your experience at the Apple Store.

Emotional contagions can make or break your team. The author enumerates five takeaways on emotions in the workplace: Continue reading

Creating a Work Culture that Gets Things Done

Creating effective company culture is a core focus of Ferrazzi Greenlight, so Keith and the team at FG were very interested to hear how LinkedIn Founder Reid Hoffman, our recent Social Capitalist guest, ensures that his team is aligned, friendly, and efficient.

Here were a few things Reid mentioned as being important to a culture at LinkedIn that gets things done:

  1. Spend your time on customers, not internal dialogue: “Stay focused on the classic stuff—on getting the work done, on customers, and so forth, and not get overly distracted by internal meetings, internal dialogue, where your primary universe is very naturally all of you talking to each other, as opposed to what you’re doing in the world…things for customers, projects you’re launching, these sort of things. Continue reading

The Workplace Drone and How to Silence It

Your work environment can have a profound impact on your workday and the quality of your work. The current trend is to steer away from isolation, making offices tear down the walls, both literal and figurative. The problem is, it’s hard to concentrate when you can constantly hear the conversations of your coworkers. A recent New York Times article sheds some light on this particular issue.

To some people, it is very difficult to work through the constant chatter that comes with an office space. So if there are no walls, we make our own. Headphones. Giant filing cabinets. Books. You name it, we do it.  “After surveying 65,000 people over the past decade in North America, Europe, Africa and Australia, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, report that more than half of office workers are dissatisfied with the level of ‘speech privacy,’ making it the leading complaint in offices everywhere,” according to the Times. Continue reading

Is Facebook Your Pleasure of Choice?

“Facebook is as pleasurable as food or sex” says the title of a recent Yahoo News article. Two neuroscientists researched and led this study and came to the conclusion that “‘self disclosure’ produces a response in the region of the brain associated with dopamine, a chemical associated with pleasure or the anticipation of a reward.”

Apparently, the reward that the brain receives after posting our thoughts and views on Facebook is very similar to the pleasure from food or sex. This is attributed to a less complex idea that we’re all familiar with. As humans, we love talking about ourselves. In fact, we spend about 30 to 40 percent of our speech disclosing our subjective views. Continue reading

Is “Being a Mensch” Among Your Company’s Values?

At the risk of sounding like an Asana fan girl, having written about it just last week, I wanted to highlight something else they did right.

On their About page, you’ll find this list of Company Values:

Awesome, right? I’m sure they had fun hashing them out.

My favorites are 1-4, 9, and 13-15. Which of these resonate most strongly with you, and which do you actually see reflected in your own company’s culture?

Sara Grace is myGreenlight’s Program Director.

How Networking Affects Your Paycheck

“Among executive board members, women earn 17 percent less than their male counterparts,” according to a recent Economist article.

The article offer explanations for why this might be the case, including career interruptions associated with having kids and simple discrimination. But the most interesting of these possible explanations is the idea that women’s networking style isn’t as effective for career climbing as men’s.

The author suggests that women tend to have smaller networks, but with stronger relationship ties. Men meanwhile stack up weak ties, or acquaintances, and do a better job keeping a high profile within those broad networks. Weak ties are well known to be the more frequent source of new jobs and opportunities. Continue reading