Monday, November 29, 2010

The Age of The Transient Brand




Palm Pixi
If you haven't noticed by now, we are shifting from the Industrial Age into the Information Age. New invention, new technologies, methodologies, and a global influence have put hundred year old companies out of business. Why you may ask? Because certain products are no longer being used like they once were (think Kodak film), and e-commerce habits have changed our brick & mortar shopping habits (think browsing at a bookstore).

Trying to keep up can be a nightmare. Just look at Palm, the company that invented the PDA (personal digital assistant- precursor to today's smartphone). They used to dominate with the Palm Pilot. Now the first to invent something is usually the leader...but, Palm seemed to sit back and stagnate. They almost went out of business until last year when the company attempted to stay relevant by launching the Palm Pixi and Pre. Yes, it saved them for a little while longer....but to stay relevant in such a disruptive environment, a company has got to keep inventing things that are relevant. Things that excite the heck out of us (think iPad).

The Palm Pixi did NOT revolutionize anything.

We are entering a different age. I point this out in Liquid Leadership on page 234...

Kodak was last to enter a market they should have pioneered. Inertia had set the pace, when instead their battle cry should have been “Hurry up and follow our lead.”

Today’s brands can’t afford to make that sort of mistake. They must
watch closely at how technology is changing their business, and take action. If not, many will be left behind—eventually going out of business. Look at Polaroid, for example. What do they stand for? Who knows? I don’t have a clue. The Polaroid brand has become meaningless in the twenty-first century and needs an overhaul—fast. So far, they’ve abandoned their proprietary film technology in 2008 to focus on their sunglasses and LCD technology, along with a line of digital cameras. Recently, Polaroid chose Lady Gaga as their creative director and new face of Polaroid. After years of controversy, Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and ping-pong ownership, this may be the comeback Polaroid needs.

This is the era of unstable, transient brands.
Those that don’t evolve, adapt, or do
something will die out."

When I first started talking about the Internet at K2 back in 1994, very few people knew what we were talking about. Within a year, everybody wanted a Website...from American Express to IBM to Xerox. But the funny part was, very few consumers were comfortable shopping online back then. A phenomenon was about to happen that would change who would survive the leap into Cyberspace...

As their markets shrank and were redefined, The Sharper Image, Fortunoff, Spiegel, and many other companies couldn’t figure out how to reinvent themselves in a way that would keep potential consumers from tossing their catalogs into the garbage. These companies failed to adapt quickly enough to a changing market because they kept clinging to the past. Internally, they assumed they were leading the market no matter what happened.
Boomers grew up on the brands and considered them solid and trustworthy. What these companies failed to understand, however, was that no such relationship existed with the Internet consumer.

The companies failed to understand that in cyberspace they would have to start fresh and create a new story."

And there you have it...to stay relevant in the 21st Century, you have to keep reinventing your brand for a consumer that keeps moving. Not an easy task.

Thank you again,


Brad Szollose



Friday, November 26, 2010

What Happened
to The Future?



Apollo 17 mission commander Eugene A. Cernan makes a short
checkout of the Lunar Roving Vehicle during the early part of
the first Apollo 17 extravehicular activity at the Taurus-Littrow
landing site. Courtesy of NASA Image of The Day.

Most Boomers remember this from our childhood: We were promised that in the year 2000, technology was supposed to solve everything.

By now I was supposed to be living in a domed city on the moon and flying to work with a jet pack.

I point this out in Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia on page 1...

"Imagine a little boy sitting on the floor of his family’s living room, watching television. He is fascinated by a live broadcast—in black and white, of course; the flickering image on the screen is of a man in a space suit, descending a ladder. Anyone alive today knows that image: the first man landing on the moon. It was 1969, and two men were actually standing on another world more than 250,000 miles away. It was the beginning of a new era.
Imagine being that young boy. Everything in his world promised a future where men and women could travel to the farthest corners of the galaxy. This wasn’t science fiction or an overactive imagination; all across America, television shows and the media were all telling him, This is going to happen. His toys were about the future. Theaters were putting out a barrage of movies to tell him about the future: The Day The Earth Stood Still, Forbidden Planet, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Omega Man, Planet of the Apes, Soylent Green (was Charlton Heston busy back then or what?). There were British shows too, like Dr. Who, Space: 1999, and UFO. Eventually, THX-1138, Star Trek, and Star Wars would also make it to the big screen.

In the future, the young boy would be able to work in a domed city on the moon, use a flying car or a jet pack to fly to work, and have a business meeting in a floating satellite encircling Earth. His teachers were telling him so. His parents were telling him. Even his scoutmaster was telling him. There was proof—now “astronaut” was a job title, and there he was, driving a jeep on the moon.

This future was going to happen . . . it was real . . . it was just a matter of time.

Well, if you haven’t guessed it by now, that little boy was me. And if you were anything like me, by the time you grew into adulthood, a tiny part of you still expected that future they promised—a world where technology would be the support structure, seamlessly integrated into our lives. By the year 2000, technology was going to solve all our problems. We were also warned about the future. If we didn’t keep up, we would be feeling a sense of overwhelming anxiety, what Alvin and Heidi Toffler called “future shock.”

Currently our country is going through a bumpy ride.  Our economy barely has a pulse...(even after Black Friday and the Christmas rush), our school system needs an overhaul, geopolitics are heating up, and Baby Boomers are wondering: What the Hell Happened?

Plain and simple, Generation Y is the generation that was actually prepared for the future, whereas us Baby Boomers were told about the future, and what to prepare for. If you think Gen Y is about to grow up, have kids and get a mortgage, you are mistaken. They have a skill set that most corporations are in desperate need of...and the idea of working their way up the corporate ladder is a strange paradigm to them. Instead, they believe in running the company before the age of 30 while skipping the entire linear idea of a career.

If you need to understand how to survive and remain employable, I suggest you pick up my book. If you don't want to take the plunge just yet, here is a FREE chapter for you to ponder your future: Just click on the image and download the PDF.

Now I want you to understand, I am not trying to promote me, me, me...I am a Boomer, and what I am trying to do is get the word out through my writing. The entire reason I wrote Liquid Leadership was I started to realize that my fellow Boomers had no idea that there was a storm coming. A storm that if they did not keep up, would leave them out of a job.

Please let me know if my work is relevant to you, and what needs more. I encourage all your stories from the front lines of leadership. After all, leadership is about adapting to change.

Thank you,

Brad Szollose



Thursday, November 25, 2010

Welcome Aboard




Book Signing at Waldenbooks/Borders in Lebanon, PA.

I want to thank all of you, and welcome you to a unique experience. This is where Liquid Leadership will be discussed and tested.

Please feel free to comment and ask questions...this is how we all learn. I will be posting excerpts from my book from time-to-time.

...and thank you for your time and interest in my work,
Brad Szollose



Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Reverse Mentorship is a Great Idea...

but NOT for the reasons you think




A few days ago I came across a great article on Reverse Mentorship by Erica Swallow at Mashable - an idea I point out in my new book Liquid Leadership - an idea whose time has come.

Why is Reverse Mentorship so important you may ask? 
This is type of mentoring is necessary in today's disruptive climate of change for many reasons. First, Reverse Mentorship is a great idea, but not so executives can learn how to use Twitter and Facebook, but because Generation Y is in touch with technology that just might put your company out of business.

Today, many a Baby Boomer (I am a Boomer myself) are out of touch with what is happening. Cynical business executives may not be aware of a simple phenomenon that is taking place right in front of them: their favorite brands are dying away. Brands like Fortunoff, The Sharper Image and K.B. Toys are shrinking or even disappearing. Much like Drive-In Movie Theaters became ghost towns, the local Mall is soon becoming one as well.

The reason many a Mall Brand is dying is they didn't realize that early on, The Internet was destroying their foot traffic. On top of that, many established brands assumed they had the same relationship with the real world consumer as they did with the Internet consumer. Au contraire! 

The new trend to capture our attention away from Internet shopping is the Mega Mall - complete with a built-in amusement park, giant theater, super food courts and a big time entertainment complex.

But what they may not realize either is that many of the billion dollar companies we are all going gaga over, were started by 20 somethings!

So as a Boomer you can continue to ignore the trend, seeing the young Millennial as a "kid" and suffer the consequences, or you can start listening to that Web designer.

You see, companies that are staying relevant in the 21st Century are adapting to new technology...technology that digital natives can't live without. Take a look at Kodak, a survivor. They adapted by acquiring young companies that were developing new products. Today, 50% of their 10 billion dollar revenue comes from products that did NOT exist 5 years ago. Products that a Baby Boomer may not be aware of that Generation Y uses every single day!

If you are a Baby Boomer and want to stay on top of your game, you need to get rid of that generational cynicism and listen. Millennials have a skill set you do not, and the jobs of the future require those skills.

Want to learn the hard way, or learn the easy way? Erica's article is right on track, we need to get rid of the "us" versus "them" mentality. Try a Reverse Mentorship program today.

Thank you for you time and interest in my work,

Brad Szollose

PS: Happy Thanksgiving 2010!!!


All of this is covered in my new book Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia. Available at Barnes & Noble, Borders, and Amazon, as well as your favorite ereaders.

http://tinyurl.com/2aphkgq