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.

I’m a Fraud – Are You?

I interviewed corporate-trailblazer-turned-business-owner Patty Azzarello this week for the Social Capitalist (transcript to come soon!) and I particularly loved this quote:

“People who achieve success are willing to be scared and uncomfortable to do it. If you try to build your career and be comfortable and confident that you know everything along the way, it just takes too long. You just cannot get there. What I realized is that all executives are bluffing. This actually came to me through an executive coach. I was confessing, ‘You know, I feel like I’m going to get found out, because I don’t know everything.’ And she just laughed at me. She said, ‘Patty, every executive in the world feels the same way.’ And I was like, ‘Really?’ And then I realized, ‘Man, is that ever true.’”

I think this is particularly great advice for women. As Jodi Glickman, another previous SC guest, once told me, “Women tend to round down. Men round up. It’s time to round up.”

In other words, sometimes it’s OK for a little bit of confidence to float the gap between our expertise and our vision. We don’t have to have done something 100 times already to feel we have the right to stand up and say, “I can do this.”

When your work takes you to new places, you’re not a fraud. You’re a bright, intrepid do-er who can roll with a hefty dose of learning. The key is to make sure you’ve got the tenacity, the persistence, and most importantly, the right partners, to follow through with excellence.

Sara Grace is myGreenlight’s Program Director.

Don’t Start A Business Without Answering These Questions

A Forbes writer recently developed 23 questions to isolate “the fundamental reasons for success and failure” for anyone “trying to make money, create a job, or get a better one.” The focus, however, really seems to be on what it takes to start your own business.

Five of the 23 are questions focused on relationships and your network:

  1. Who is my role model?
  2. Do I have the right people?
  3. Am I outsourcing the right tasks?
  4. Do I have the right customers?
  5. Do I have a good lawyer?

I especially liked the author’s comment about the importance of having the right people in your corner: “Having the right people also includes cultivating outside advisors whose opinions you respect and who aren’t afraid to share them—assuming you’ll listen.” Straight out of the myGreenlight playbook.

What questions would be on your “must answer” list for an entrepreneur about to take the leap?

Ritu Walia is myGreenlight’s Member Coordinator.

Ram Dass-Style Entrepreneurship

Be here, now. – Ram Dass

The value of presence – “being here, now” – has come up in several recent Social Capitalist interviews. Christine Comaford talked about its importance to leadership, calling it the quality that gives Bill Clinton his charismatic juju. Jonathan Fields talked about the importance of mindfullness meditation to creativity.

This morning, I’ve got a new spin on it, thanks to a conversation I had at Lucinda Duncalfe‘s Grubwithus dinner last night. Presence is incredibly important to the entrepreneur’s ability to generate ideas. (So perhaps this is really another take on Jonathan Fields’.) Entrepreneurs need to be present in the moment so that we’re sufficiently sensitive to life’s minor PITAs to recognize them, pause, and think about solving them.

James Altucher, yet another Social Capitalist guest, recommends “building your idea muscle” by writing down 10 or 20 fresh ideas every morning. But my new friend Ramya from the dinner had a different approach. She talked about paying attention so that every time you experienced a problem or an inconvenience, you flipped a switch to think, “Wait, is there a way to solve this?” In other words, cultivating a constant habit of identifying problems and brianstorming solutions – and “carrying a notebook everywhere.” It’s not unlike the myGreenlight mindset of constantly looking for opportunities to be generous to people – being here, now, so you’re truly listening and responding authentically – which brings us right back to Comaford and Bill Clinton. And actually, entrepreneurship itself is a form of win-win generosity and mutual self-interest.

Ramya’s thought brought me back around to presence – paying attention, exploring sensation, experience, and the tug of an inchoate idea, rather than wandering around in future-goggles thinking about what’s two weeks out.

If you’d like to get the transcripts or recordings for the Social Capitalist sessions I mentioned, here are the links:

The Greenlight Highlight: Marketing and Sales Success

The Greenlight Highlight is myGreenlight’s monthly community member spotlight interview. On the last Friday of every month, the Highlight features a community member who has reaped the benefits from building mutually rewarding relationships and captures the essence of relationship mastery.

Allow us to introduce…

Lorena Bin de Galvez
Director Marketing & Sales / Partner, Dimensus/Logrelo
Greenlight Member Since: July, 2010
Interviewed via Skype from…Guatemala, Mexico
30-Second Elevator Pitch: I am passionate about helping industries and companies take their marketing and communications beyond the promotional cycle to create messages that express passion and address what their customer really want and need.

Favorite relationship mastery mindset and why?
Generosity.  Asking others how I can help them allows me to share my passion. That has been a powerful mindset shift for me.  Helping others has opened many doors to other introductions. Since starting my business a year ago, I have not had to invest in marketing. Leading with generosity has brought word of mouth referrals that keep leading to new business opportunities.  In my first year of business I made about $15,000.  Since I’ve begun focusing on my relationship approach, my business has brought in $50,000 this year and 70% of the proposals I’ve submitted from referrals have landed me new accounts.

When did it first click that relationships profoundly affect your success in business?
I used to work for large multinational corporations like Shell, Quaker Oats. I worked hard, I achieved my goals and I was always well rated. Other people in the company were getting better jobs than I was being offered and I didn’t understand why.  When I changed my work and started working as a marketing manager for a well-known Guatemalan real estate company, it clicked for me that internationally relationships are key to everything, relationships open doors. One day in 2006, I was in a Borders airport and I picked up Never Eat Alone. That was the piece that changed my entire outlook.… What I do today doesn’t feel like work. I’m helping others and giving value with what I do best.

How has putting a thoughtful process around relationship development benefited your business?
It’s made me focus on adding value to others. I was doing that before, but not with a disciplined or thoughtful approach. The Relationship Action Plan provided clarity on my purpose for nurturing the relationships in my network.  Before, I wasn’t sure that what I was doing was really helping.  The study and application of the mindsets has garnered success for my business that proves this approach works. Continue reading