All posts in Business

No Guts. No Glory.

The graduation season starts this weekend for me. One niece from college, another from high school and a goddaughter from 8th grade all enjoy a little pomp and circumstance this year. I hope to enjoy a good inspirational speech laced with a bit of humor. I won’t hold my breath. In my experience, commencement addresses rarely rise above platitudes or offer a thought that will be remembered at any reunion.

Last year, at another niece’s graduation, one of the three speakers (one or two would have been sufficient) spent his allotted time emphasizing that if history repeats itself things will get better, but not any time soon. This Civil War historian told the student audience that they would probably not get a job right away and if they did it probably wouldn’t pay what they wanted or be in their preferred field. But don’t worry. If he/his parents survived the Great Depression, they will survive the Great Recession.

I applaud him for not offering any platitudes and for delivering such a depressing speech that I still remember it one year later. I don’t remember anything from the three higher education commencement ceremonies in which I marched the long aisle to receive a diploma. (Yes, three. I had a course correction on the way to my eventual career.) Not one of them included an innovative businessman (Steve Jobs, Stanford 2005), statesman (John F. Kennedy, American University 1963) or comedic pundit (Steven Colbert, (Northwestern University 2011) of whom I would have at least remembered the name if not the words. (For a list of great commencement speeches see: Time Magazine 10 Best Commencement Speeches www.time.com/time/specials/packages/completelist/0,29569,1898670,00.html)

The only words I recall from my last degree are “Not Guts. No Glory.” That phrase became my motto in business school. It’s what I repeated to myself as I prepared to take my seat in the cubicle farm wearing a floppy bow tie and pinstripe suit. In the mid-1980s I was part of the surge in women infiltrating the male business world. I needed guts and a whole lot more to succeed.

I didn’t have a motto until I was asked by my university to talk to a local news anchor doing a segment on businesswomen. Hard to imagine that just being a woman in business school was news. I guess the public wanted to know how were we different from our male counterparts? What did we want out of a career? Did we have a business philosophy?”

I looked for a sound bite so I would make the evening news and found it in a Sandra Boynton Recycled Greetings card where an adorable little pig dared a large hippo, standing on top of a ladder, to jump into a teeny bucket of water, or something like that.

“My philosophy is no guts, no glory,” I told the seasoned anchorwoman. I am not proud that I used a greeting card greeting as my anthem. I’m not so proud that I spent time trying to figure out how to game the interview. I am pleased that I made the news – that was fun. And now that I know history repeats itself I’m pulling my platitude-like motto out of the mothballs to prepare me for the challenges ahead and to offer it to any new grad who wants it.

 

 

 

What I Wish I Had Known – Earlier in My Career Volume 1 is live at http://whatiwishihadknown.org.  Cool content from 69 excellent individuals.  The download is free for the next 75 days so you can share it as widely as you would like.
“Who do you know who has accomplished my goal and how can I reach them?”

This question prompted Anita Brick, Director of Career Advancement Programs at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business to create “What I Wish I Had Known Earlier In My Career, Wise Words From Those Who Have Been There,” Vol. I.

This new ebook features rich quips and wise insights from 69 professionals, including choosing the right career, leading in challenging times, rebounding from a setback, and an A-Z humorous view of career lessons learned. (That’s where I come in…see pages 153-155 for my alphabet list of things I learned – some of them the hard way.)

The book’s contributors have paid their dues and are now paying-it-forward by sharing their life lessons.“Beyond their generous advice, participating professionals have offered to pay it forward again. Readers have a chance to win a mentoring conversation with one of the professionals featured in the book,” said Brick.  This will be determined by how well readers share the book via the Book Booster app.

Insightful, brilliant, funny and wise, these well-seasoned bite size pieces of wisdom from industries as diverse as aviation, psychology, banking, tech, health care, finance and media will resonate with individuals at any career level, be they job seekers at all levels,  career starters or career changers.

Get your free ebook today (free for the next 75 days) at www.whatiwishihaadknown.org.

Share it tomorrow.

And don’t forget pages 153-155!

 

 

 

 

The Right Price

I just returned from an 18 day trip to three cities in Asia with a group of integrated marketing communications graduate students. Our objective: gain a firsthand view of the best business practices across a broad spectrum of global marketers and advertising/media agencies. We learned how Nike Korea encourages youth to take a break from cramming for school to play a little sport. This will require a cultural shift to be successful. We were introduced to the two tiered luxury market in China. Some buy luxury for the perceived quality and others just for the bling. And we got a glimpse into the making of a video game billionaire in Taipei. Passion, perseverance and plenty of help from his friends.

While we were learning how to motivate different consumers in the different marketplaces we were also motivated consumers in our own right. From shopping the night markets in both Seoul and Taipei to bargaining in the malls in Shanghai, we were our own little economy.

One day I took a couple students to the tailor mall. The official Mall is the Lujiabang Fabric Market but a former student introduced me to the three stories of stalls staffed with tailors and stacked with fabrics as the tailor mall and so it will always be to me. After driving what I thought was a hard bargain for six pashminas of various and dubious quality – do I really believe the 100% cashmere label – the scarf vendor spotted my shoes.

“Oh those are nice, very cool, “ she said, pointing to my Toms shoes.

“Thanks,” I said. “They are brand new. Just got them for my birthday last week.” I love these shoes. They are red with white calculus formulas on them and oh so comfortable. Plus with every purchase of a pair of Toms the company gives a new pair of shoes to a child.

“How much you pay,” she asked?

“They were a gift but I think they are around $60,” I said. (In fact they sell for $54, pre tax, so I was pretty close.)

“Oooooh,” she said and her eyes widened and mouth grew into a smile. And then she said something in Chinese to her brother and he reacted the same way.

“But these shoes are more than just shoes,” I said, “they are Toms shoes and with every purchase a child in need gets a pair of shoes.” And a puzzled look came over her face.

I started explaining what I meant. Using the word poor and underprivileged and thankfully stopping short of saying developing country. It was clear she couldn’t understand what I was trying to say and it was even clearer that she couldn’t get over the fact that I had paid so much for a simple pair of canvas shoes.

“Very nice. Pay that much, she repeated as I started to walk away.

“Xie xie, thank you,” I said. As I left the mall I thought about how one pair of shoes could make me look like a do-gooder or like someone who was easily duped into over paying depending upon the situation. Or maybe it depends upon your definition of best practices and the availability of a good translator.a child in need gets a pair of shoes.” And a puzzled look came over her face.
trying to say and it was even clearer that she couldn’t get over the fact that I had paid so much for a simple pair of canvas shoes.

“Very nice. Pay that much, she repeated, as I started to walk away.

“Xie xie, thank you,” I said. As I left the mall I thought about how one pair of shoes could make me look like a do-gooder or like someone who was easily duped into over paying depending upon the situation. Or maybe it depends upon your definition of best practices and the availability of a good translator.

You Say Customer I Say Consumer

Much of my week is spent thinking about consumers, consumption, decision-making and attitude changing.  After years in the marketing and advertising worlds I now teach graduate students how to discover and employ consumer insights.  Some people in my profession prefer the word “customers” to “consumers”, consumers impling a one-way street. Manufacturers make what they want to make and consumers buy it. Customers is supposed to indicate more of an equal relationship between the maker of a box of soap and the head of household buying it a well as reflect the importance of service by the former to the latter.

I’m old school and can’t seem to shed consumer from my vocabulary. Not that I think consumers are at the mercy of manufacturer.  If and when I do think about this and manage to use a different word I use “people.”  Seems to be the most accurate word of them all.  We’re just people acquiring and using tools to sustain and elevate our lives.

Read more…

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers