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Leadership

Time Management is the opportunity and challenge for all of us, so what a great topic to lead off 2015.

Brian Tracy, a leading expert on human potential and personal effectiveness, offers 21 great ways to beat procrastination and get more done faster in his best seller Eat That Frog. The title is based on an old saying that if you eat a frog first thing in the morning, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing it’s probably the worst thing you’ll do all day.

Here are my five favorite ways:

  1. Obey the law of forced efficiency — there’s never enough time to do everything, but there’s always enough time to do the most important things. What are they?
  2. Identify your key constraints — determine the bottlenecks or choke points internally or externally, and set the speed at which you achieve your most important goals and focus on alleviating them.
  3. Put the pressure on yourself — imagine that you have to leave town for a month, and work as if you have to get all your major tasks completed before you left.
  4. Motivate yourself into action — be your own cheerleader. Look for the good in every situation. Focus on the solution rather than the problem. Always be optimistic and constructive.
  5. Practice creative procrastination — since you can’t do everything, you must learn to deliberately put off those tasks that are of low value so you can have enough time to do the few things that really count.

Eat that frog and get more done faster and be happier!

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Creativity

Sometimes the solution to a problem lies within the problem itself.

That’s the premise of Cherry Split, a Michael Michalko creative process which allows you to take a challenge apart and then reassemble those parts you into new ideas.

Cherry Split divides a challenge into separate blocks which you can reassemble in different ways to create any number of alternative ideas. Check out the diagram here. There is no actual printed square, yet by splitting a target into halves, you can perceive a square where no exists (the curved sections end abruptly, so we perceive them as the edges of a square).

In the same way, by splitting attributes, Michalko feels you can shape and reshape components of a problem into new ideas. Here is a Cherry Split blueprint from Michalko’s popular ThinkerToys:

  1. State the essence of your separate into two words – for instance, if your challenge is ways of improving community the two-word phrase that captures the essence of your challenge is “improve community” as in this illustration.
  2. Split the challenge into two separate units — “improve” leads one and “community” leads the other unit.
  3. Split each attribute into two more attributes — for instance, “improve” splits into “purpose” and “communication” while “community” is split into “enhance” and “magnify.” Michalko says don’t worry about the correctness of the split as no two people will split attributes in the same way.
  4. Continue splitting the attributes you feel you have enough to work. I strive for four to five splits. More ideas, the merrier is my approach.
  5. Examine each attribute for ideas — the wonder of this method is that big ideas can dwell in the most insignificant attribute just as the flavor of the entire ocean is contained in one drop.
  6. Try reassembling the attributes — new combinations can induce new perspectives and new ideas. Splitting a challenging into several attributes is like removing a dividing panel between chambers of a very hot and very cold air: new forces rush together creating new ideas

It’s February and the cherry blossoms are still hibernating, so in anticipation, start cherry splitting for new ideas for your brand!

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Communications

Many brands use spokespeople to expand their exposure and energize the brand.

Adidas gets it as it announced in January that it tried to sign up to 500 new athletes in the next few years.

What’s the purpose of and best way to optimize athlete or any celebrity endorsement?

Essentially, it’s the idea that the most respected user and his use of your product validates its superiority in a credible third-party way. Ad Age reports on the many other rewards of celebrity endorsement with two of the most valued being –the means to promote a unique, relevant and sustainable brand attribute that might be hard to attain otherwise and the grounds for innovating the product/service offering. Rihanna’s “Umbrella” song hit big at the Grammys, and her designs for Totes’ umbrellas succeeded at retailers.

While some might be skeptical about this principle, there’s no arguing that there is a pyramid of influence that can affect consumer purchase especially with those who are first-time users and those ready and willing to switch products. Some of the best relationships feel right, don’t they, as this list suggests – the relationship with Smartwater and Jennifer Aniston was fantastic.

From a business standpoint, this Harvard research by professor Anita Elberse and Jeroen Verleun of Barclays discovered a positive pay-off to a firm’s decision to sign an endorser, and that endorsements are associated with increasing sales in an absolute sense and relative to competing brands. And experts like Shark Tanker Kevin Harrington state that celebrity branding is making a comeback.

With that positive evidence, here are five ways a brand can optimize its celebrity endorser relationships to connect with its customers:

  1. Use a celebrity to demonstrate or offer instruction about the product especially on YouTube as LeBron does for PowerAde on his training and shooting jump shots.
  2. Bond a celebrity with users and their community like Under Armour did with its Birdie Team helping to build youth programs for First Tee. And epic was Derek Jeter’s farewell Bronx tour by Gatorade.
  3. Reinforce business relationships — customer dinners, sales meetings and trade shows featuring celebrities
  4. Perpetrate the connection in all communications — ads, PR and especially social media.
  5. Create a cause-related campaign of value you to spokesperson and your brand like Speedo did with “Art of the Cap” — a social campaign featuring five Olympic swimmers and five artists. Speedo sold out the caps in 5 days, gave 100% of proceeds to charity increased Instagram followers by 127% and generated 20M social media impressions.
  6. Pick the person that best matches your brand and its story. Rob Lowe is everywhere with his Direct TV commercial (annoying to me). But the brand could have made better choices?

Best of luck with your celebrity endorsements as they can energize and gain more brand exposure.  When you need to consult a real pro and expert, contact friend Deb Durham for brand spokesperson advice and counsel.

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