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.

Don’t Hire Someone Else to Talk to Your Customer, and Other Lessons

Today marks my last day as myG’s Program Director. With amazing support from Keith and the team, I’m striking it out on my own in the online editorial and publishing space, a pretty exciting scene these days where I’m looking forward to making a mark.

As I pass the torch to my beyond-capable colleagues — Kibibi Springs helming at myG and Kevin Strehlo running editorial for the parent company — here are a few things I learned launching myGreenlight. Some I learned from doing it right, and some from doing it wrong.

1. Executing in near total uncertainty is what it takes to create something new. Get used to it and get something out there so that you can get help making it better.

2. Flatfooting on firing people when the fit isn’t right is bad for everyone involved. And if the conversation completely surprises them, you screwed up.

3. Customer feedback is most essential in the idea formation stage of the process. Don’t base your foundation layer on a hunch; back it up with data. Ask questions and do your research upfront so that you can “fail fast,” Lean-Startup style.

4. Communicate transparently with customers and set reasonable expectations. Your early adopters will be a lot more patient if they understand what’s happening and know you’re working hard to get it right.

5. Don’t hire someone else to talk to your customer. Obviously, there are exceptions, but as a rule of thumb in the early stages of a product or company, these relationships and the learning that comes from them are the most important to your success and should never be outsourced.

6. Invest in your employees by paying them well and mentoring them. Cut every other corner before you cut this one.

To everyone I’ve worked with at myGreenlight – and I’m talking about our ambassadors, founding members, and coaches, not just our team – thank you SO MUCH for being my partners in learning and growing. You are a caring, resourceful bunch, the only kind for me.

Please continue to “hang out” with me at least once a month on the Social Capitalist calls, which I’ll continue to produce and host. This month’s call is July 26th, with Jeff Hayzlett, the author & marketing expert about whom Gary Vaynerchuk has written, “If Jeff were a wine, it would be strong, sassy, and bold – just like his savvy business advice.” Register here.

Fifty Shades of Success

Do you recognize this quote?

“Business is all about people, Miss Steele, and I’m very good at judging people. I know how they tick, what makes them flourish, what doesn’t, what inspires them, and how to incentivize them…I have a natural gut instinct that can spot and nurture a good solid idea and good people. The bottom line is it’s always down to good people…having the right people on your team and directing their energies accordingly. I think it was Harvey Firestone who said ‘the growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.’”

If you do, you’ve succumbed (as I did) to the national furor around the risqué book Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. You’re caught!

I’ve only read to page 70, but unfortunately it’s already clear that the character who says those words, sexual improprieties aside, fails at what we consider one of the most fundamental rules of good relationships: Intimacy.

In other words, this is definitely not an endorsement! But the humor in finding a “myGreenlight” sounding quote in such an unlikely source made it worth passing on.

Ritu Walia is MyGreenlight’s Member Coordinator.

Instant Mood Booster- Record Your Gratitude

In true holiday tradition, this past week we had our NY team Thanksgiving potluck. Since we didn’t take a picture – whoops –  here’s a pic of Ferrazzi Greenlight LA’s food fest.

But we did eat – a lot – and play the gratitude game.

Your turn to chime in: What are you most thankful for this year? Taking 30 seconds to reflect and write it out can have a profoundly positive effect on your day.

Ritu Walia is myGreenlight’s Member Coordinator.

Relationship Roundup

This week in the Relationship Roundup, examples of how relationships make our world go round.

Beyond Facebook, How Business Is Getting Social – Alistair Rennie, IBMs General Manager shares how social technologies are creating stronger consumer relationships and creating new business cultures. Read it here

The Math of Favors – Love Seth Godin’s thoughts in general. Love this thought in particular for his take on the art of generosity. Read the post

What’s your listen to talk ratio? – Listening is the foundation for any good relationship, including the relationship you build with your customers. This HBR post shares how to start monitoring your Talk/Listen Ratio.

How influential are you?  — Speaking of listening, author of Just Listen, myGreenlight community member and former webinar guest Dr. Mark Goulston is helping people increase their influence.  Find out how you rate at  and receive 5 tips for dramatically increasing your influence today.

The relationship isn’t over – Maintaining good relationships in your organizations could get you rehired by your old company. Everyone misses a good thing when it’s gone. Read the article in the Wall Street Journal

Window Shopping 2.0 – No you’re not hearing things. The retail windows you just passed may soon be whispering to you as retailers explore new ways to build a relationship with consumers.  Springwise shares the future here.

Kibibi Springs is myGreenlight’s Community Manager.

RMA is Now myGreenlight!

Greetings from Sara Grace, program director at what was formerly Relationship Masters Academy.

Today, welcome to myGreenlight!

When you point your browser to, you’ll be taken to You’ll find a new logo, a new look and feel, a streamlined user experience, and several new features, with new course development to come.

All your old RMA data will appear in your new account. If you encounter any tech issues, let us know by posting to this forum thread. Please also use it as a forum to share your feedback – we want to hear it all.

About our new name:

Whether you think of “greenlighting” a Hollywood movie, a traffic light granting your right-of-way, or the bright glow of thriving plant life illuminated by the sun, a green light signals progress and optimism for your future. Our new name connects us to our sister company, Ferrazzi Greenlight, signaling a plan for increased collaboration between the two.

Our new tagline is “Relationship mastery for mutual achievement,” which signals that we are, now as ever, solely dedicated to helping you create and develop the relationships that make greenlights happen – not just in your own professional life, but in those of everyone you touch with the principles our program instills: Generosity, Intimacy, Candor, and Accountability.

New feature highlights:

  • Updated interface and look and feel: Thank you for all of your feedback on how we can make the site better – it has allowed us to produce a site that makes it easier than ever for members to move forward in the course and build the skills that transform their professional success.
  • Social Capitalist blog: Never Eat Alone co-author Tahl Raz offers the inside skinny on his popular interview series with leading figures in business.
  • Self-service Coaching: We have created a searchable library of your most popular coaching questions and the answers provided by coaches, in video, audio, and text.

Coming soon:

  • The myGreenlight blog: Design is still underway, so daily posting will start next week. If you have a blog of your own, please let Associate Community Director Ariana Good (agood at know so that we can share links and contact you for a guest post.
  • Course II: We’ll be offering Relationship Action Planning instruction as an independent course, along with an improved RAP tool. (Estimated launch: October 2011.)
  • Course III: In a brand new course, you’ll achieve the highest level of relational excellence by becoming a true social capitalist – someone who creates success primarily by making a contribution to his or her broader network, rather than asking for help. Our advanced course will be a step-by-step program to guide you to organize and execute a philanthropic event. (Estimated launch: January 2012.)

This is just another step toward developing a site and a program that will revolutionize how the world does business – starting with the individual success of each and every one of our members.

Please stop by the forum and tell us what you think!

All the Best,

Sara Grace (on behalf of the very excited and proud team at myGreenlight!)