Friday, March 09, 2018

Short bursts -- with longer lines

This is the first blog posting since October 2017. Did you miss TGR? Ok, moving right along...

There are way too many channels with nothing on -- to borrow an old T.V. phrase. Content is everywhere, both bad, good and somewhere in between. In a previous posting, the statement, "community trumps content," was made with conviction. But the message also unintentionally overlooked a key dynamic. We may engage in community, but each message reaches individuals differently, at different times and on different channels: Media, friend to friend, social, mobile, tablet, etc.
Leaders tend to reflect their own realities, starting with the first one: It's all about them, one channel at a time. With attention spans at all-time lows, getting a message to stick has never been more challenging. Unless, of course, you're the owner of a certain Twitter handle. Which you're not so best to keep moving. 

Credible individuals, first. Fake news, second. According to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, trust in institutions remains at epic lows. Yet trust in experts and individual journalists has increased. Despite what we hear every day at ad nauseam.

Which means if you work for a "fake news" outlet such as CNN or The New York Times, while the brand may take shots, individual reporters have increased their standing. Due, in part, to their own personal branding efforts on social media. It also doesn't hurt to have a subject named Trump around to cover 24-7.

T-Rex playbook. If you think your boss is demanding, then consider Rex Tillerson's day-to-day.

The best broadcast interview of the year so far has to be the February 18th "60 Minutes" with the Secretary  of State. Even the well trained would be wise to accept a few cues out of the T-Rex playbook. Tillerson is an expert at delivering a message, diffusing the negative while appearing to stay true to thyself. Not many can do all that, much less in a single interview. Then again even fewer have worked globally at such a high level. Tillerson's vow to "ride for the brand," is a great battle cry, IMHO. Full disclosure: TGR is a big fan of Rex Tillerson, an American CEO original if there ever was one.

Digital governance. The mighty Coca-Cola Company, or Coke for short, recently named two new members to the company board, raising the total number of directors from 14 to 16. During a time when no large company is expanding their board, but that point digresses. 
Those with longer memories may be able to recall when who was (or who was not) on the Coke board was a really BIG deal. Not anymore. One of the new appointees, an executive named Caroline Tsay, is a digital native. Meaning her entire career has been focused on the cloud and other digital-based software systems. There aren't many major company boards that have actually embraced digital realities despite the ongoing blather. Early in an accelerating trend if you're looking for the takeaway. Unlike diversity, digital reality may have real teeth. Disclaimer: This does not include the much hyped FANG masters of the universe, or Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google.  

Yawn in succession. Staying with boards for a minute, has anyone in that sector really looked at themselves in the mirror lately when it comes to CEO succession? They might see a big yawn such as what's outlined here Bored boards and their enablers have been saying the same things to themselves for so long, it takes a healthy dose of Five Hour Energy

to find anything new or remotely interesting about what's going on. And maybe that's the whole point. If you don't know it's succession, and remain asleep, then oblivion is a great place to be. If you're a CEO and there's no succession plan in place, then you better keep moving because something or someone will swing around at some point and bite you in the you know what. Or not if you're lucky.

Then there's General Electric (GE) and their epic board shake-up in the face of management failure of the first order. Their problems are a far cry from the last paradigm when GE management practices were widely lauded. That paradigm is now over if it wasn't already a decade ago. If you're looking for a proxy on how to struggle with change, then look no further than Boston or Connecticut, or wherever GE's base resides these days.

Next posting: TGR will go deeper into the divide between the CEO/board level and the rest of the masses. Feel free to send through any particular lines or thoughts. Reverse mentoring seems to be a positive trend, would love to hear others. 

Happy Spring hunting. Robins, grab those worms!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Renewed call

It's now a norm. Something bad happens in the cultural zeitgeist, causing widespread reaction. If it's on a large global scale, such as the recent Las Vegas tragedy, there's a pause to reflect for about 24 hours. Then the opinions, argument and divisiveness come. Like a boulder rolling down a steep hill. Or train travelling down the track. Pick your own analogy.
The only agreement struck anymore is that some things are truly heinous for no readily apparent reason. Or at least not one that can be offered up immediately to inquiring minds. The Why question rarely gets answered during tragedies yet that doesn't stop us from asking it over and over. What remains odd is how that's really the only time anyone cares about the Why.

And then there are the moments that are so personal and individualized that no one else can possibly understand what’s happened despite all the means to share at our fingertips. Someone who used to be pretty close died recently after a tragic accident. Details were sketchy via Facebook. It didn't exactly hit like a ton of lead as if someone nearer had passed, but it did provide pause. On the same day, the car I was driving hit something, causing a bad flat on the side of a busy interstate here in Atlanta. Thankfully, Jake from State Farm came to the rescue. Sometimes things just happen; sometimes they happen for a reason. There is no single either/or that stands up to time.
When things happen on the public stage now, it's  nearly impossible to watch the range of reactions, most of which are overblown, lacking perspective and loaded with opinion vs. fact. Anything and everything is fanned like a fire straight from the T.V. set or smart phone screen to wherever we're taking it all in. Everyone suddenly becomes an expert if they weren't already. Hours are spent arguing over issues that don't really direct impact us.

Thankfully, this is not the case when you travel to Italy or to Israel, or at least that wasn't my experience during a two-week trip in early September. The first obvious difference is TVs set to 24-7 news channels don't permeate every public space. Nor do people sit around on their phones texting and talking as if the world is going to end. No, they're actually out, living and going about their lives in wonderful places with great sunsets (see below.)

Torri del Benaco, Lake Garda, Italy

Tel Aviv beach, Tel Aviv, Israel

It's refreshing to be among people who choose to live first, work second. This isn't an endorsement; just an observation. Any American worth his or her salt misses efficiency after a while. That may be our greatest asset. Another admirable trait is our creative spirit. We are an ingenious, industrial and innovative people. Or at least most are -- short of a few who haven't experienced disruption yet. 

It's my sincere hope that with a little more grit, shared values and sensory leadership that we can emerge stronger and better for the next season. If we can't, well, I know who remains in control, always.
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"The Garlington Report" (TGR) represents the first new media forum devoted exclusively to executive-level leadership from the talent and search points of view.

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Thanks for continuing to read, JG