In case you haven’t noticed, it’s presidential primary
season. There are any number of reasons to pay attention to primaries, one of
which is you can learn a lot about leadership communications strategies and
tactics by watching how the candidates do what they do. The most successful
ones tend to go both broad and deep with their communications. They send
messages to very large groups of people while at the same time try to establish
personal connections with individuals.

Sometimes it’s a coffee klatch for a small group and other
times it’s a rally for thousands. Sometimes it’s standing for hours taking
selfies with a line of supporters and other times it’s giving a big speech to
mark out their positions and platform. Sometimes it’s a text message or phone
call and sometimes it’s a 30 second television ad on what seems like every
commercial break.

Successful candidates are masters of both retail
communications (the coffee klatches and selfies) and wholesale communications
(the rallies and ad campaigns). Retail and wholesale communications have
applications far beyond politics. The distinction definitely has importance for
leaders of any kind of movement or large organization.

Here’s a rundown of the similarities and differences between
retail and wholesale communications and some ideas to consider as you work out
your leadership communications game plan.

Many Channels, One Strategy:  Choosing a retail or a wholesale
communications channel depends on the need, the reach and the moment.  Either way, the channels and the approaches
within them need to be tied to an overarching strategy. A simple framework for
building a communications strategy can rest on three questions that you keep
coming back to:

What? – What are you trying to
accomplish?So What? – Why does it matter and why
should people care? (And, by the way, what do they already care about?)Now What? – What do you want people to do
next? What do you want them to know or think? How do you want them to feel?

Narrowcasting or Broadcasting? Narrowcasting is
another way to think about retail communications. It allows you a lot of
opportunity to tailor your “So what?” to individuals or small groups of people
with common interests. It gives you the chance to be more nuanced in your
messaging. Broadcasting is a wholesale communications approach. It’s delivered
through online and offline channels that can reach a lot of people at once.
It’s best used for establishing themes and value propositions that can fit on
the proverbial bumper sticker. Highly effective communications campaigns use a
combination of narrowcasting with key influencers and broadcasting to the
larger group.

Simplicity vs. Complexity – Building off the
narrowcasting and broadcasting distinction is the need to hit the sweet spot on
the spectrum of simplicity vs. complexity in your messaging. As a general rule,
simple messaging (again, think bumper stickers) is the way to go when you need
to wholesale your communications. You can definitely be more nuanced and
complex in your retail communications but be careful not to make the messaging
too complex. The human brain can only process a limited amount of ideas at any
one time. Make your points for sure, but keep them short and memorable. Simple
and familiar analogies help a lot on that last point.

Adjust Your Energy Dial – As a general rule, the
bigger the room, the bigger your energy needs to be. This point was driven home
to me years ago by a client. My natural energy setting is friendly but low key.
I’m not usually going to be the loudest voice in the room. When I was getting
started in my career as a speaker 15 years ago, I had a client organization
where I spoke to 40 or 50 high potential leaders three or four times a year.
Sometimes those sessions went great and other times they were kind of flat and
I never really understood why it went one way or the other. After watching me
in action a few times over the course of a year, my client contact gave me some
incredibly valuable feedback. She said, “I notice that when the group has a lot
of energy, you have a lot of energy. And, when the group starts out kind of
flat, you’re flat. I need you to lead the energy of the room, not be led by the
energy of the room.” That’s something I worked on for several years and I’ve since
learned to adjust my energy to lead the people in the room toward a particular
outcome. That lesson has a lot of application to effectively using both retail
and wholesale communications. The more intimate channels of retail
communication usually call for a level of energy projection that is appropriate
to the room. You want to hit the sweet spot and not overdo it. In the wholesale
communication scenario of much bigger rooms where you can’t make eye contact
with everybody there, you almost always need to dial up your energy. The goal in
big rooms is not an inauthentic version of you; it’s a bigger version of you.

CTA’s Beat FYI’s – One thing we know for sure about
communications in 2020 is that people aren’t going to stay with you very long
if you don’t keep them engaged. CTA’s (calls to action) almost always beat
FYI’s (you know what that means). Whether you’re using a retail or wholesale
communications channel, your messaging needs to be delivered in a way that
encourages interaction and/or action between you and the audience, within the
audience, from the primary audience to other audiences and especially within
the minds of individual audience members. No matter what communications channel
you’re using, always be thinking about the Now What? What do you want the
audience to know, think, do, feel or believe? What’s your CTA both during and
after the communications event?

So, that’s a recap of some my experiences and observations
on the ways successful leaders use both retail and wholesale communications.
What have I missed? What do you agree or disagree with? What’s one takeaway
that you intend to act on?

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As I’ve written here before, effective leadership communications involves two distinct activities – transmitting and receiving. You can think of it like a two-way radio or a smartphone. They only work when they both transmit and receive. For your leadership communications to be inspirational and influential, you need to do both as well.

Too many people in leadership roles overemphasize the transmission and underemphasize the reception. These folks equate leadership with giving inspirational speeches or pep talks. Before you can have the inspiration, you’ve got to have the conversation. To inspire and influence others to action, you have to know and address what they care about.

To do that, you need to be super-intentional about putting yourself in reception mode. An easy and proven way to do that is to conduct a Listening Tour. I talk at some length about how to stage an effective Listening Tour in chapter 8 of The Next Level but, for now, here are some tips for getting started.

Identify Representative Stakeholders: The groups of people you’re trying to inspire or influence are made up of real human beings with hopes, fears, wants and needs. They’re all people who have a stake in the movement you’re trying to lead or the outcome you’re trying to create. Go have conversations with a representative sample of them. Note that I said “have conversations” instead of “talk with.” The distinction turns on transmitting vs. receiving. “Talking with” is usually transmission-oriented; “having a conversation” is usually reception-oriented. You want more of the latter and less of the former.

Start with Open-Ended Questions: Once you’ve figured out who you’re going to listen to on your tour, develop a list of open-ended questions that will help you learn more about them. Some of my road-tested favorites include:

What will make this a great year for you?
What difference would that make for you?
What’s helping you accomplish your goals?
What’s getting in the way?
What’s going on that has you excited?
What’s going on that has you concerned?
What kind of help do you need to be successful?
What can I do to help?

Compare and Contrast: Take notes during or immediately after each of your Listening Tour conversations and then compare and contrast. What similarities do you see across the conversations? What differences do you see? How do the dots connect into a bigger picture that could give you guidance on how you should lead and communicate?

Spending some quality time in receiving mode will make you much more effective in transmitting mode. Get the balance right and you’ll be a more inspiring and influential leader.

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Think about the last time you made a big purchase like a car, a major appliance or a mattress. With the possible exception of the car, there’s a pretty good chance you bought the product online after reading a lot of customer reviews. Why was that the case? Of course, one reason is that Amazon and other online retailers make it really easy to buy things online. Another likely reason is that you would do anything to avoid an aggressive sales pitch at the dealership or the store.

There are very few of us who like to be sold to. It feels insincere and competitive because our interests rarely align with that of the sales person. A win for you is great value for your money. Unless the incentives are thoughtfully considered, a win for the salesperson is to maximize the money you spend. Making a major purchase in this kind of scenario is usually a stress-inducing experience.

Even though most of us don’t like to be sold to, many of us regularly engage in selling our ideas or initiatives at work. And how effective is that? All too often, the answer is, “Not very.” I was recently reminded of a better way to make progress on your most important priorities – don’t sell, enroll.

That idea comes from Donagh Herlihy who, when I interviewed him for the first edition of The Next Level back in 2005, was the CIO for Avon. These days, Donagh is the chief technology officer for the restaurant company, Bloomin’ Brands. I’ve been reading through my interviews with him and other executives for the third edition of The Next Level that’s coming out this Fall. He offers a lot of wisdom on the difference between selling and enrolling in this quote from the book:

“One thing I constantly coach people on is enrolling others.  Your job as an executive is not to sell ideas; it’s to enroll people in ideas.  People get kind of resistant to being sold a strategy.  The way to go is to bring them in early, enroll them, get them engaged and then there is no need for salesmanship.”

Here are five simple steps you can take to act on Herlihy’s advice about why you should quit selling and start enrolling:

Involve Others Early – True enrollment requires trust. You build trust by bringing people in early. I used to have a boss who insisted that my peers and I not spring ideas on her that had been “grown in a dark closet like mushrooms.” What she was looking for was the opportunity to influence the big initiatives before they became fully baked. If she wasn’t involved or at least aware early on, she didn’t buy what we were selling. Involvement is the first step to enrollment.

Receive More Than You Transmit – As a communicator, you can either be a transmitter or a receiver. If all you want to do is sell your ideas, go ahead and transmit away. If you want to enroll people in your ideas, put more emphasis on receiving. Ask open ended questions that give your colleagues space to think out loud and share what is most important to them. Show that you’re processing what they’re sharing. Incorporate their needs and ideas into yours. That’s another behavior that builds the trust that enrollment requires.

Look for Mutual Interests – Life and business don’t have to be win/lose propositions. Look for the win/win opportunities that come from identifying mutual interests. Ask yourself, “What’s in it for them?” and then verify or improve upon your idea through collaborative conversations.

Share What You Know – Don’t play your cards close to your vest. Share what you know and put it out there. You’ll either influence your colleagues’ thinking or you’ll learn what their concerns are (or both).

Create a Shared Vision – Co-create a shared vision of the future that connects with people’s sense of purpose. Work with your colleagues to sketch out a picture of what the future looks like when you implement your improved-upon idea.

You may have noticed that these steps lead to more of a collaborative approach to leadership than a heroic approach. It requires more patience but yields more sustainable and meaningful results.

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Over the last several years, I have become addicted to reading, writing and talking about success. I follow motivational speakers on Twitter. I regularly listen to tips and tricks on podcasts and YouTube about how to find success in your career, business, relationships, or extracurricular activities. I’ve gone to talks, networked, made connections, and sought out like-minded individuals. I’ve made friends and I tried to influence people. I even wrote a book on how to set better goals based on my own research and interviews.

Nonetheless, I’m sick and tired of talking about success. I’m sick of it because I feel like my definition of success is different from everyone else’s, and by filling my mind with other people’s definitions of success I am effectively losing a part of myself. I’m tired of it because there is so much noise out there (here I am again… contributing to that noise).

In the world of success and motivation, there is no shortage of advice around success tips, life hacks, and tricks of the trade that will act as fast fixes for all that ails you. Because of this, we need to stop talking so much about how to attain success. Instead, we need to spend more time training our brains to see opportunities for success all around us.

Here are 6 reasons you need to rethink success:
1. Talking doesn’t lead to doing

Sure, it’s exciting to listen to the latest podcast from Tim Ferriss as he shares expert wisdom from the world’s top performers. Likewise, it can be fun to sit around with friends talking about a new business idea or think about how to strike it rich in the next 6 months, but talking doesn’t lead to doing.

Consider how you spend your time. Don’t get caught up trying to do just a bit more research or analyze a situation just a little bit more closely. Take 5 seconds to sort out your thoughts and then dive right in to action on something you know you should do.

2. Success is different for everybody

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, success is defined by the individual. For someone living in poverty and struggling just to provide enough food for their growing family, success may mean getting a steady job anywhere that will pay the bills. For those of us lucky enough to have a stable job or a defined career, we may often find ourselves defining success by what we see online. Usually these definitions of success are completely unrealistic and require an adjustment to truly be achievable. So, rather than fitting into someone else’s definition of success, ask yourself what really matters to you in this moment, and then go for that.

“Success is different for everyone; everybody defines it in their own way, and that’s part of what we do in ‘Close Up’, finding what it was each person wanted to achieve and what their willingness to sacrifice for that was.” – William Shatner

3. It’s all about mindset

Today, more and more people are struggling with mental health issues related to anxiety and depression. Many have drawn the connection between high stress lifestyles and the need to constantly be comparing yourself to others around you. For most of us, stress can be incredibly detrimental to work productivity and overall happiness. If you want to become truly successful, it’s important to develop a growth mindset that allows you to live in the moment and reduce stress.

4. Striving for perfection is demoralizing

While striving for excellence can provide much needed motivation and inspiration, striving for perfection can be demoralizing and depressing. By its very nature, perfection is impossible to achieve, so it is highly unlikely you will be able to achieve it in any facet of your life. Don’t let yourself be demoralized by never reaching your goals. Instead, focus on achieving excellence to the best of your abilities and then slowly improving over time.

“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” – Vince Lombardi

5. Your values will change over time

Whether you like it or not, your values will change over time. You won’t necessarily want the same cherry-red Corvette Stingray you wanted in high school after you get married and have kids. Nor will you see the value of saving a dime towards retirement before you hit the ripe old age of 30 if you’re like 50% of the millennials out there I know.

6. Look for your main driving force

Deep motivation requires continuous learning, having the ability to develop a feeling of competence and having a deeper sense of purpose. Being open to learning is a key component of success. Ironically, many people that strive to become successful feel that they already have to know everything and be the expert before they can reach any level of success.

Always strive to learn like the Fortune 500 CEOs who read roughly 50 or more books per year on personal development. Likewise, motivation comes from developing competence in a certain skill or area of expertise. Combining this interest in learning with a competence in a specific area of expertise allows you to better uncover your deeper sense of purpose.

It’s hard to get out of the mindset of comparing yourself to others around you. We live in a world that is constantly connected. Now more than ever, we see everyone’s news feeds in real time, and we are able to know instantly who is doing well compared to everyone else. You will always have opportunities to compare yourself to others, but the truth of the matter is that we will only be able to claim success if we are happy with ourselves and our own definition of success.

What does success mean to you? Let us know in the comments!

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I’ve always been highly interested in the similarities amongst the world’s wealthiest. Their habits, successes, mindset, and failures have fascinated me. The journey to great prosperity can seem overwhelming, but if you apply success principles to any endeavor you can quickly and efficiently overcome challenges and expand.

Michael J. Gabrielli, founder of WeRunAds, has spent hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of dollars studying billionaires and their habits. Michael has also studied over 2000 different billionaires and from this experience he’s found three principles they all had in common.

Here are the 3 principles the billionaires all had in common:
1. Be in a rapid growth industry at the right time

Timing is so important. Billionaires know when the time is right to enter a market. Most billionaires do not enter first or second into a market because of the inherent risks involved. Many billionaires let the pioneers pave the way and then leverage the knowledge gained to innovate and optimize in order to create something that works.

The key is to find an industry that is soon to take off. Stepping in at the right time is important. Let’s take a real life example that is known all too well– the founder and CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. When he entered the scene, the idea of a social network was moderately known, but it was still not quite predicted to be the monster it is today.

Others like Friendster, Myspace, etc. had made some headway into this fledgeling industry and then Facebook entered leveraging the knowledge and expertise gained from the early pioneers. Zuckerberg saw the huge potential of social networking, took what was done previously and made it better.

He is presently worth over $66 Billion and the company has surpassed the 2 billion users mark with 1.4 billion using the platform daily. Not surprisingly, many billionaires were not the first to pioneer the industry they would later find success in. They came in at the right moment, learned from the mistakes and triumphs of their predecessors, and made a lasting final product.

Here’s a practical 3 question exercise you can do to judge if you have the right timing with your current venture:

Look at your industry and say—is this brand new?
Am I trying to invent something that doesn’t exist?
Am I too late to the party?

2. Position yourself better

In addition to finding the right industry and getting in at the right time, billionaires position themselves in the best way. They provide the solution to the need and they think outside the box to do it. Optimal positioning is a commonality amongst billionaires. For example, during the California Gold Rush, people rushed to mine for the gold itself blinded by the promise of large profits.

However, it turned out that Sam Brannan had the better idea for how to position himself for success. He knew the chances of finding gold were risky, so instead he committed to a sure thing. He manufactured the tools that were needed by all the miners to mine gold. As each new miner migrated West, they were happily met by Brannan and his company who were ready and waiting to sell these new hopefuls the shovels and tools they’d need to strike it rich.

Digging for gold seemed to be the most profitable route, however, greater returns were yielded in the supplying of materials required to mine for gold! A good company that also illustrates this concept is Microsoft. They did not seek to create their own computer, but the software that computers would run on. Most people mistakenly think they have to “go for the gold” to attain wealth, but it’s evident in history that selling the necessary tools to the gold miners can be far more profitable.

The two questions you need to ask yourself to see how you could position yourself correctly are, “What industries will need the supplies that I could provide? And, “Am I following the trend instead of innovating?

“Big shots are only little shots that keep shooting. I can see your sun rise out of obscurity. Keep shooting” – Ikechukwu Joseph

3. Take calculated risks

Most people choose the safe bet that is secure, however, this is not common among billionaires. Billionaires take big calculated risks in order to propel themselves to higher levels of influence and success. The most important thing to note here is that while to others the risks seem big—to billionaires, they are calculated.Risk and Calculated Risk are not the same. Calculated risk is measured and well-thought-out. Risk is impulsive and immeasurable. Understanding the difference between the two is a commonality among billionaires. The world’s most prominent figures have at some point in their lives disagreed with the ordinary and took a shot at the unknown. Proper calculation and clever thinking certainly accompanied the bold moves they made in their careers.

Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, is a great example of this. He had grown up in poverty and made his way out to earn a comfortable wage as an executive at a company that manufactured coffeemakers.

“Risk more than others think safe.” – Howard Schultz

He risked it all when he discovered a small coffee shop named “Starbucks” in Seattle that prompted him to quit his job and step out to create a company that was inspired by the Italian coffee culture and personal relationship people could have with their coffee.

Of the 242 people he spoke to, 217 said no to investing with him. Despite the discouragement, lack of agreement, and investment, Schultz kept pushing on. Fast forward to present time, and Starbucks’ is a massive success. Strong intuition and unshakeable belief is common among high achievers. Many successful billionaires risked their safe jobs, personal assets, and even their reputation to take calculated risks that they knew would pay off huge in the end.

The questions you need to ask yourself now are, “where can I take a calculated risk? Am I holding back when I should be going forward? What tangible steps can I take today to move forward?”

These 3 success principles are staple elements that are common among many billionaires. Now, there are more principles that you must discover and implement in order to become a billionaire. Work diligently and do all that can be done each day. Be inquisitive and study those that you wish to emulate.

Which one of these principles do you need to work on more this year? Let us know in the comments below!

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