5 Reasons to Rethink “Having It All” (Response to “Why PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi Can’t Have It All”)

Posted by on Jul 15, 2014 in Inspiration, Leadership, Vulnerability | 2 comments

In her response to David Bradley’s question about work-life balance (see interview here), PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi made some basic assumptions that I respectfully suggest we consider a little more deeply, before anyone takes as fact her statement that women “can’t have it all”. 1. Somewhere, somebody, actually does “have it all”. Who has such magical powers that their choices in life do not also, always involve sacrifice? It is a ridiculous expectation for any human being, why single out women as a specific gender incapable of it?  No one can “have it all” – doesn’t matter who they are, what they do for a living, how much money they make or …least of all…whether they are male or female. 2. “Having it all” means the same thing to everyone, or even to the same person throughout a lifetime.    At 43, I am still figuring out what success means to me. I know a lot more than I used to, though, thanks to a lot of trial and error.  Trial and error is, in fact, the only way to figure out what works for you. Taking someone else’s experiences as fact for yourself may not be the best thing for you, because you are not them. It’s a tragedy if a young person hears from a role model that they can’t “have it all” and therefore opts to limit their life and career experiences before they even know what “having it all” means to them.  3. Sacrifice is bad. Sacrifices are just choices, opportunities to move closer to your ideal as you figure it out. Some men sacrifice career advancement in order to have more time for their hobbies.  Some women find themselves on the “fast track” because they love what they do and work is their passion. Whatever! It’s your life, and at anytime you can make a different choice anyway – so what’s there to be afraid of?  Stop shying away from making contributions to the world because you’re afraid of having to make a sacrifice. In fact, don’t make choices based on what you are afraid of …period. 4.  If your top priority isn’t work, you can’t be successful. For me –  wanting to be a good partner and mother at home, and a good contributor at work creates a kind of balancing tension that actually makes me better all around. At work, for example, the desire to be home by 5:30 every night is an extremely focusing force. I am much better at knowing what needs to get done and finding the most efficient way to get it done (including mentoring and empowering my team) than I was before parenthood. On the other side, if...

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Retailers Competing with Amazon: Lowe’s Foods

Posted by on Jul 12, 2014 in Amazon, innovation, Leadership, Retail Disruption, Strategy, Vulnerability, Walmart | 0 comments

Found this example of a brick & mortar retailer trying to do what Amazon & Walmart are doing – playing to their advantages, in this case – the fact that they have a physical, multi-sensory experience to offer and real humans to facilitate it. I’m not 100% certain it will translate into higher Share of Wallet, but their approach is on the right track … and that’s the key, when you are willing to to risk failure – you’ll try more things – and you’ll find success faster. Retailers Compete with Amazon: Lowe’s Foods This is a follow up datapoint to two previous posts: Amazon vs. All Other Retailers: Is It Really An Unfair Fight?   and   WMT vs. Amazon: War as a Catalyst for Innovation....

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Amazon vs. All Other Retailers: Is It Really An Unfair Fight?

Posted by on Jun 2, 2014 in Amazon, Digital Strategy, innovation, Leadership, Loyalty, Online Grocery, Online Marketing, Personalization, Retail Disruption, Strategy, Target, Technology, Walmart | 1 comment

              I have been pondering this quote from famed author James Patterson, which you may have seen: “Amazon seems out to control shopping in this country. This ultimately will have an effect on every grocery and department store chain and every big box store and ultimately put thousands of mom and pop stores out of business. It sounds like a monopoly to me. Amazon also wants to control bookselling, the book business and book publishing. That’s a national tragedy. If this is the new American way, it has to be changed by law if necessary.” While I understand the frustration that Patterson and his publisher must feel about their lack of leverage against Amazon in negotiating retail price, it would be a greater national tragedy for government to step in and legislate – any more than they already have – an unnatural competitive advantage for brick and mortar retail. Yes, Amazon is out to control shopping in this country. The only way they can do it is by finding better and better ways to serve consumers. Yes, “we” shouldn’t allow Amazon to control shopping in this country. But brick and mortar retailers have an advantage, and should not allow a lack of creativity or fear of failure to serve as an excuse to go whine to Mom & Dad (er’ the government) that someone isn’t playing fair. We should prevent Amazon’s dominance by… (revolutionary thought)… GETTING BETTER AT SERVING CONSUMERS! Brick & Mortar retail has the advantage of proximity (75% of all retail spending occurs within one mile of the consumer’s home, not online), the advantage of “I want to see it before I buy it”, the advantage of “I want to take it home with me now”, and – theoretically at least – the advantage of human touch. Amazon  (and Google Shopping Express and eBay Now and others) are investing aggressively and thinking creatively about how to erode the first three advantages – but what about the last one? How important is the human in retail? It used to be very important, before the age of Big Box and Discount Retail. Before chain retail the shop owner and his family – they were the brand. They gave personal, knowledgeable service. They were the epitome of personalization and high touch. This is what actually got me hooked on marketing technology – the possibility that technology held to make that epitome of the shop keeper/consumer relationship actually efficient. I wonder now, if we marketing technologists and our love of data and analytics have created  more distance than we’ve closed – especially when I read that 52% of consumers believe that shopping is too impersonal (mediapost)....

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Big Data Says The Answer is 42!

Posted by on May 23, 2014 in Big Data, Consulting, Consumer Data, Digital Strategy, innovation, Leadership, Learning, Strategy, Technology | 0 comments

It’s been a long, long time since I read Douglas Adam’s “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy“. But I’ve been trying to dive deep into understanding this “big data” craze more…pragmatically. At present, my brain feels pretty scrambled on the topic – but lots of associations and analogies keep coming to mind – a riff on “Maslow’s Hierarchy”,  Hitchhiker’s Guide… So I did some searching to try and figure out why these things were coming to mind, thought I’d share this tidbit. “O Deep Thought computer,” he said, “the task we have designed you to perform is this. We want you to tell us….” he paused, “The Answer.” “The Answer?” said Deep Thought. “The Answer to what?” “Life!” urged Fook. “The Universe!” said Lunkwill. “Everything!” they said in chorus. Deep Thought paused for a moment’s reflection. “Tricky,” he said finally. “But can you do it?” Again, a significant pause. “Yes,” said Deep Thought, “I can do it.” …… [Seven and a half million years later…. Fook and Lunkwill are long gone, but their ancestors continue what they started] …… “Good Morning,” said Deep Thought at last. “Er..good morning, O Deep Thought” said Loonquawl nervously, “do you have…er, that is…” “An Answer for you?” interrupted Deep Thought majestically. “Yes, I have.” The two men shivered with expectancy. Their waiting had not been in vain. …. Both of the men had been trained for this moment, their lives had been a preparation for it, they had been selected at birth as those who would witness the answer, but even so they found themselves gasping and squirming like excited children. “And you’re ready to give it to us?” urged Loonsuawl. “I am.” “Now?” “Now,” said Deep Thought. They both licked their dry lips. “Though I don’t think,” added Deep Thought. “that you’re going to like it.” “Doesn’t matter!” said Phouchg. “We must know it! Now!” “Now?” inquired Deep Thought. “Yes! Now…” “All right,” said the computer, and settled into silence again. The two men fidgeted. The tension was unbearable. “You’re really not going to like it,” observed Deep Thought. “Tell us!” “All right,” said Deep Thought. “The Answer to the Great Question…” “Yes..!” “Of Life, the Universe and Everything…” said Deep Thought. “Yes…!” “Is…” said Deep Thought, and paused. “Yes…!” “Is…” “Yes…!!!…?” “Forty-two,” said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.” ― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Pretty funny, huh?  Get it?  I laughed out loud. I’m a fan of data (love, love, love it … the more the better). But in this passage above, can’t you imagine that “Deep Thought” would be the poor, unfortunate team you’ve hired to make sense of your big data  – so many times without a...

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How to turn Ignorance into a Competitive Advantage

Posted by on May 20, 2014 in Digital Strategy, innovation, Inspiration, Leadership, Learning, Strategy, Vulnerability | 0 comments

In 2010 I was the 4th most traveled person at my company, helping to introduce a new digital offering to clients. I was in such high demand because entering into a discussion about digital marketing with their clients made the sales professional feel vulnerable, for very good and logical reasons (these sales people are some of the most impressive individuals I’ve ever met, they aren’t easily intimidated). The client would ask…  “Well, have you heard of company X? They said they could do A, B and C…you guys can only do B” (I paraphrase of course). The salesperson would feel stupid if they didn’t know the company, or they couldn’t match the capabilities in the meeting. I was essentially on the road and in these meetings to handle this one question over and over  and over. The truth is, in many areas of tech (and definitely in Marketing Technology these days) it’s IMPOSSIBLE to know all the companies. The barrier to entry in “marketing services” is flat out non-existent. And here is something has and always will be true about the vast majority of technology start ups (and many new ventures within non-startups)…but established companies tend for forget this:  More often than not – there is no there, there. (shhhh, don’t tell anybody) And the newest of ventures have very little to lose by overselling what they can do (whereas an established company, trying to take a new capability to existing clients, has quite a lot to lose… the clients trust for one, opportunity cost of selling what they know works for another). If someone asks you about a company or a person you’ve never heard of (but your client thinks you should have), IT’S AN INTELLIGENCE GATHERING OPPORTUNITY! Say, with confidence and without losing a beat, “Nope, I haven’t heard of them. But we have a team tracking the space very closely, tell me more about them & I’ll see what I can find out for you.” Here’s what that statement just got you: The chance to learn something, and gather intelligence. In fact, the most valuable intelligence…such as, what your real or potential competitors are saying to your clients. You leveraged your role as an already trusted, existing advisor to expand your expertise into this new field. You demonstrated good, active listening skills, let your client know that what’s important or of interest to them is important and of interest to you. You bought yourself time to research and come back with a thoughtful, useful and well-positioned reply. You have an explicit reason to follow up and continue the conversation with your client about the new capability. If you lie, or skirt over the issue, and pretend either that the...

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