And the next President is…

Actually, we don’t know yet. It may take awhile to determine the winner.

As you watch votes flow in, here are some point-of-view (lower case) overtones to consider:

If Bush wins, he’ll be able to point back to the War on Terrorism as his “One Big Thing” that got him through a close race. It’s amazing to watch how disciplined Republicans are with staying on message, often to the extreme of clouding facts with reality. But in a rapid image, 24-hour news cycle, the schtick seems to work, especially if Bush holds on to win a second term.

If Kerry wins, he’ll be able to point back to his ability to differentiate views and values on issues as a deciding factor. He never established a message along Clinton’s “It’s the Economy Stupid.” However, Kerry did appear authentic and different enough to force a deciding vote. If he loses, Kerry will wish a “Vote for Change” message had been portrayed instead of the Vietnam memory lane stuff.

And if neither wins and it’s a tie? Or worse yet, a repeat of 2000 where one candidate gets the popular vote and the other wins the electoral map? For point-of-view purposes, it won’t prove anything that substantial. And that may be the greatest takeaway.

Instilling and portraying a consistent point of view will only take you so far; at some point, other factors such as sheer will, luck and outside influences take over.

Happy voting,


Why Disney Won’t Get What it Needs

So Disney needs a new chief executive officer. No big news there.

Realistically, will they be able to attract what they really need? Not likely. Here’s why:

1.) The same company built on the reputation of one man, Walt Disney, now resembles the reputation of a hundred convicts. Just as it took nearly 20 years to undo the company’s brand under Eisner, it’s going to take a long time to bring back the magic. One individual can’t do it alone. Neither can Mickey Mouse, Doofy and all the other characters that define Disney.

2.) Special interests serving their own needs vs. a shared cause. The recruiting process will probably yield star candidates, but is that what the company really needs at this point? Another imperial ruler would prove devastating to the company’s future standing.

3.) Who really wants the job? Fallen brands usually don’t find out how far they’ve fallen until it’s too late. One of the key areas where this reality turns up is in retention of leading talent. Beyond the obvious number two, it’s hard to name anyone still within the ranks that can lead the company out of its mess.

While the flashy headlines will be aplenty, underneath, it’s a perfect case study for why companies that lose their bearings have to face the music sooner or later.

To Be An Oracle

The Point of View (POV) of the week goes to Deval Patrick, the coming and/or going? General Counsel of The Coca-Cola Company.

In a rare, off the corporate text moment, Patrick addressed a crowd of Atlanta leaders earlier today with some of the most pointed remarks you’ll ever hear from a corporate executive. Particularly one from the tight lipped, button downed company otherwise known as Coke.

Patrick used the context of globalization to drive home points related to how crises can often present a mandate for change. But only when individuals and companies can recognize the basics contained within the mandate.

More than the speech text itself, the performance clearly put Patrick in his own class of point-of- view leaders.

Here’s hoping Coke can retain this stunning example of world class talent. Local executive circles could use more upper tier, role models such as Patrick.

Top 10 Ways How NOT to Create Value

1.) Be all things to all people. Obvious, right? Well, look around. You’ll find at least three to four entities guilty of this practice everyday.
2.) Allow the market to determine your pricing. Markets may set parameters, but you’re the only one who determines the final level.
3.) Give away services for free.
4.) Related: Do what the other guy does for less.
5.) Maintain the status quo. Lawyers and accountants feel compelled to practice this one because, in their minds, the “profession” demands that they do so. Maybe they’re right, but for the vast majority, this is the wrong way to go.
6.) Over-rely on your sponsor or parent organization. Once you’re more defined by a sponsor, be prepared to face down the value question with more frequency.
7.) Don’t differentiate along individual lines. Can anyone tell any difference between the Final Four accounting firms or firms in any other services sector?
8.) Rely on proven techniques at the expense of exploring new ones. Hey, if it works, keep doing it until it doesn’t, right?
9.) Stay in the standard comfort zones. If you’re not doing at least one thing a day that makes you squirm with discomfort, then don’t expect any breakthrough moments.
10.) Quantity at the expense of quality. If we just get five more clients, everything will take care of itself, right? Well, that obviously depends. But you get the basic point.
Happy business and brand building,

When You’re Number Two

Chief Operating Officers and other c-suite subordinates, take note. Tuesday’s vice presidential debate will show the importance of serving the team, while at the same time, how to use your own views and values to create differentiation.

Vice President Dick Cheney is the consummate number two role player, but don’t let appearances fool you. He can speak candidly and persuasively about the president’s policies while remaining strong and independent in his own views. Vice presidential hopeful John Edwards has a different challenge. How to show gravitas yet still advance the candidacy of the Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry.

What to watch or look for:

1.) Who pulls the first punches on issues vs. personality

2.) Who makes a better emotional connection with voters

3.) Who shows that while he may be his “own man,” this race isn’t about them

Tuesday’s debate will present the standard bearer of effective leadership brand: When to know when it’s about you, and when to know when it’s about your organization or something larger.

Ultimate Job Interview

Thursday’s presidential debate represents the ultimate job interview.

Two candidates vying for Leader of the Free World will square off and share their views on foreign policy. That’s pretty heady stuff.

What if…you had to debate directly for your next job or major business opportunity? Would the potential high stakes make you stronger, sharper and more aware of the need to differentiate?

Chances are most of us would shudder at the thought of open debate with a competitor. But that’s exactly what we face in today’s climate.

Think ‘debate’ during your next interview or presentation. The exercise will do wonders.