Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fortune Smiles on the Brave

The MEGA World of Lil Mogul
by Richard E. Pelzer II
aka Lil Mogul

As many of you know, Richard E. Pelzer Sr., Lil Mogul’s Dad and business mentor, would tell me, "no person or company can be great without first being brave." That statement always stayed with me as an entrepreneur. In an economy that's got a lot of businesses basing their decisions on fear, it's important that companies turn up the volume on their brave stance ... because no economic climate needs or rewards bravery more than one in crisis.

Scores of other brands were born and bred during economic slumps: Def Jam, Revlon, Charles Schwab, Microsoft, FUBU and MTV. At the start of the Eisenhower recession, April 1955, a salesman named Kroc inked a franchising deal with the brothers McDonald’s. And in 2001, another year of economic and social upheaval, Apple introduced the iPod.

Outlined below are a set of practices that can help drive your company bravest work, called "A Blueprint For Bravery."

1. Build A Brave Culture
Company philosophies are about as useful as a box of wet matches unless they're part of the culture. And a culture can't be brave unless its people are. The minute you get behind your own philosophy, you'll notice that brave people - clients and employees with extra fight in them - will start to find you. Building a brave culture can include exercises such as asking new hires to participate in random acts of bravery. Or instructing your planners write "brave criteria" into their briefs. A good employee is one who knows they're on to something when an idea makes them a little nervous.

2. Make It Real
Bravery's intangible. To make it concrete, give it a physical presence in the world. Start with an identity system that communicates your position clearly. For example, I write down my thoughts, I challenge myself to overcome my deepest personal fears, displaying them in frames on my office wall.

This isn't about dressing up the office. It's about committing wholeheartedly to the value you want others to embrace. By making this abstract quality real for you, you're extending the philosophy beyond work and into lives. And that gets poured back into your business.

3. Unleash Secret Weapons (In A Stealth Way)
An army that charges blindly into the fray isn't brave so much as suicidal. Before going to battle, arm yourself with intelligence, insights and brand strategy. Gather and examine all the data in collaborative, partnerships/client meetings. During these "Brave Sessions," identify the lethal "Weapon," or marketing strength, which you'll use to slay your client's marketing "Goliaths," or challenges.

Go deeper than your typical strength/weakness analysis, because when it comes to challenger brands facing goliath competitors, the best weapon will tend to be a secret weapon-an opportunity that hasn't been leveraged fully or at all.

4. Be Firm In Belief, Brave In Battle
Unless they have something to believe in a conviction that's bigger than the battle-armies will retreat. It's important to work with clients to develop a "Brand Belief," a guiding principle that gives creative’s and clients a greater sense of purpose and meaning. It's something to live up to, bigger than any one product or service.

5. FINALLY, Speak The Truth
Brave marketers can handle the truth. They rely on their teams to hold them accountable, to turn good ideas into brave ideas. They accept the cold truth about their own ideas for the sake of bigger, bolder solutions. And they step up to tell clients the truth for the same reason.

In business as in life, you can't teach bravery anymore than you can teach creativity. But you can establish a set of conditions that allows courage to flourish. And when you do, this otherwise immeasurable quality -- without which greatness isn't possible -- produces highly measurable results. I think Franklin D. Roosevelt said it best, and with perfect simplicity: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

1 comment:

Waddie G. said...

Great post! Anyone who wants to become an entrepreneur should take notice of this list. No more what the economic climate is, bravery and confidence are the first steps of starting a successful business. It is awesome how you researched this list of the biggest businesses in your list of companies that began during a recession.




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