Monday, August 5, 2013

Are You Leading
The Revolution or
Losing To It?

Excerpt from page 233 of Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia...

I realize now how foolish I had been to think that the technology that I was using in 1992 would stay the same. What made me scratch my head at first was how things changed so quickly and how easily people accepted the change. Now I understand that as a Liquid Leader, you have to put your company out in front of changes in technology. You have to set an example for a new generation of workers. You have to continuously evolve your brand to lead the market, or you will get left behind.

With the advent of digitization, Kodak’s brand took a beating in the commercial over-the-counter retail markets. Their $5 billion camera and film market was decimated by digital cameras, cell phone cameras, and at home desktop photo printing. Yet Kodak just seemed to sit there. Even a joint venture with Nikon didn’t seem to help. What destroyed their dominance as a consumer brand were three inventions in particular: laptop computers, the Internet, and digital photography.

The funny thing is, Kodak invented the digital camera, but for some unknown reason chose not to lead the revolution. They lost their leadership position to camera companies willing to push all things digital and invent infrastructure and products to support the new tech. Casio, Nikon, Canon, and upstart Olympus began to take a chunk out of Kodak’s market, leaving the yellow-and-red giant sadly in last place. Here was Eastman Kodak, the innovator that almost single-handedly invented the entire photography industry—and as we approached the twenty-first century, I began to wonder if they would make it.

It took time, but digital photography began to outpace film and became the apparent leader in the future of photography. High-end companies like Hasselblad didn’t require you to buy a new camera; instead, they designed interchangeable sensors that worked with their current two-and-a-quarter film-based cameras. Brilliant.

And even when Kodak reentered the digital camera market, they were seen as a dinosaur. Despite being a trusted American brand, they were no longer leading; they were following. 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.

Hire someone who knows how to turn your brand around, and keep it leading in the 21st Century landscape. Try doing what Cadillac did.

Thanks for stopping by,

Brad Szollose
21st Century Change Agent: Generational expert, award-winning author, business consultant and keynote speaker

Brad Szollose is a much sought-after generational expert, management consultant and keynote speaker who helps smart companies understand just how much technology has transformed corporate culture and behavior… and how that impacts management interaction, expectations and sales in The Digital Age.

But this is not based on management theory: With a 30 year career as an entrepreneur he knows firsthand what it’s like to grow a company from a simple idea in a coffee shop to an internationally recognized brand.

Brad is a former C-Level Internet Executive who went from entrepreneur to IPO in 3 yrs—co-founding K2 Design, the very first Dot Com Agency to go public on NASDAQ. His company experienced 425% hyper-growth for 5 straight years, expanded from 2 business partners to 4 with 60+ employees and offices worldwide. At its height, K2 was valuated at over $26 million. 

His results only management model (ROWE) was applied to the first wave of young Generation Y workers producing great results—winning K2 the Arthur Andersen NY Enterprise Award for Best Practices in Fostering Innovation.

Brad Szollose is also the *award-winning author of Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia which explores the subject of new leadership styles – mainly how to get the tech-savvy Generation Y and analogue driven Baby Boomers working together. ISBN-13: 978-1608320554

Known for his humorous and thought-provoking presentations, Szollose received the highest testimonial of his career from a C-Level audience member: "I just had my mind blown." Brad’s keynotes and workshops are highly interactive, heart-warming, humorous, and filled with high-content information that challenge assumptions and help leaders and managers create a better work environment for innovation to thrive.

Liquid Leadership has been called "THE guidebook for the 21st Century" and has won the 2011 Axiom Business Book Award silver medal for leadership, The Indie Business Book runner up silver medal as well as becoming a #1 Best-Selling Business Book on Amazon for Organizational Learning. Published in the United States by Greenleaf Book Group, in India by Prolibris and in South Korea by UI Books/Iljinsa Publishing.

Mr. Szollose also writes a monthly column on business and marketing techniques that reach Generation Y for A Captured Mind newsletter and is part of The Mind Capture Group faculty.

Today, Brad helps businesses close the Digital Divide by understanding it as a Cultural Divide – created by the new tech-savvy worker...and customer. 

* 2011 Axiom Business Book silver medal winner in the leadership

* #1 Amazon Best-Selling Author

"I just had my mind blown..." - A.S., Vistage, New York

Liquid Leadership by Brad Szollose is available at all major bookstores and for Kindle, Nook, iPad and Sony ereaders. Internationally published in India and S. Korea.

Brad Szollose Bio:


Who Is Brad Szollose?: 

Cofounder of Another Big Production. Host of Awakened Nation™. Award-Winning Author. Creative Director. Leader. Visionary. TEDxSpeaker. Web Pioneer. C-Level Executive.

First things, first. How do you say Szollose?
It’s pronounced zol-us.

From founding partner and CMO of K2 Design, Inc. the first Digital Agency to go public on NASDAQ to international leadership development expert, Brad Szollose has worked with household names like MasterCard, American Management Association and Tony Robbins, to create leadership training programs for a new generation.

As an award-winning creative director, he has been the creative force behind hundreds of high-end corporate events, personal and consumer brands, and website launches. Brad is the recipient of the Corporate Identity Design Award and the Axiom Business Book Award along with various awards for website and print design.

As a C-Level executive at K2, his unique management model was awarded the Arthur Andersen New York Enterprise Award for Best Practices in Fostering Innovation Amongst Employees (Workforce Culture).

Today, the world’s leading business publications seek out Brad’s insights on next-generation leadership development, branding and modern Management Strategies, and he has been featured (both print and online versions) in Forbes, Inc., Advertising Age, USA Today, New York Magazine, The Huffington Post, International Business Times, Le Journal du Dimanche (France), and The Hindu Business Line to name a few, along with television, radio and podcast appearances on CGTN America, CBS, Roku Network and other media outlets.

Brad continues to challenge the status quo with his new book, Liquid Leadership 2.0, and his new podcast, Awakened Nation.

After 35 years in New York City, he now calls Las Vegas home. In his free time, he enjoys hiking in the mountains, working Star Trek and Dune quotes into everyday conversation, and painting and drawing the stunning landscapes of the American Southwest.