The Inside Story of How Creative Business Is Done

Translating the backstory of the iconic Robin Williams photo into lessons on leadership

When extraordinary talents work together, results can be truly spectacular. This is the story of Robin Williams and Michael Dressler, who took the Time magazine cover photo that the National Portrait Gallery installed to memorialize Williams following his death on August 11. The original Time cover from March 12, 1979, bore this bold cover headline: “Chaos in Television…and What It Takes to Be No. 1.”

The historic Time magazine cover photo courtesy of Michael Dressler

The historic Time magazine cover photo courtesy of Michael Dressler

Former colleagues called Williams a human vente structure gonflable dynamo, a genius—the guy in Juilliard’s scholarship program who left in his junior year after being told there was nothing more they could teach him.

Dressler is an accomplished photographer of people—from presidents to humorists, scientists to athletes, celebrities to the Ku Klux Klan. Driving him is the passion for taking photographs that would be important 10 years from the day he shot them.

In any competition, success is sweetest when the stakes are high—like making it to the cover of Time, the nation’s top news magazine in 1979. Time’s West Coast photo editor demanded “impeccable perfection,” and it was Dressler’s job to get it.

Two Talents, Like Minds

At the launch of his TV career and before the Time cover shoot, Williams held an audition for a photographer. Dressler got the nod, after an hour or two. In an interview with him, Dressler told me, “[Williams and I] hit it off. We were very much of the same mind. We had the same humor. We even looked like brothers.”

Often, Williams invited Dressler to visit him and his wife at their Malibu beach house. Dressler would ask, “With or without camera?” It was always the photographer’s call. When Williams encouraged him to body surf, Dressler would decline, preferring to walk on the beach and snap a picture of the actor in action.

The two played off each other’s humor and strengths: Williams, with his boundless spirit, and Dressler, with his quest for taking photos that were honest, which meant nothing staged or contrived.

Dressler explained to me, “I usually don’t do multiple shots at a single time. I get it, or I don’t.”

He felt responsible to capture the moment for the many people who weren’t there.

Plans for the Time shoot unfolded quickly. Dressler got the go-ahead around 8 p.m. Williams met him at the studio at 10 p.m., following a rehearsal. Assistants and observers converged, including Williams’ agent and Dressler’s brother, who had worked with him in advance on the setup and strategy. Dressler, who aims for spontaneity, had to get his best, honest shot in a film studio where everything is controlled.

Williams was playful that evening, and as usual, the two helped each other. Dressler suggested ideas, Williams gave them a try, and the ideas evolved. A lively Robin Williams was photographed holding a brightly colored card, until someone suggested replacing it with a small TV. The drama intensified; it was late in the evening when assistants rushed out to locate an open appliance store. They finished the shoot at midnight, ran the film to Hollywood, then to LAX, where a private plane was waiting. Once in New York, the Time staff inserted the image of a mellow Williams onto the blank screen.

Was it the impeccable perfection Time wanted? The mystery loomed until the very last minute. Dressler received the “yes” call after the cover was in print.

“When I told him, Robin was so excited,” Dressler recalled. “He was off the charts, so touched that the two of us did it together.”

A few days later, it felt like everyone in Malibu had that cover in hand.

Takeaways for Business and Leadership

Dressler’s Robin Williams story helps me understand the challenges of a creative business. Once again, I realize that when you reach out to creative people, you become more sensitive to the creative mindset and how to bring it into your life and work.

• “Make It Honest” was Dressler’s mantra, passion and style. He focused to seize the moment and make it real. In business, honesty affects everything: the quality of decisions, relationships, outcomes, success in the marketplace, credibility and trust. More than ever, honesty is a business imperative as 24/7 news, social media and engagement expose problems and poor results faster than ever.

To keep it honest, executives need to create an uninhibited exchange of ideas. It takes candid, open relationships to get unfiltered facts, unburdened by spin and politicking. It requires you to be honest with yourself and to expect that colleagues will do the same. Only with the best information and dialogue can you stretch and make that “iconic shot.”

• Be Flexible. But there are no guarantees that a challenge will match your strengths. Business managers need to be flexible, which can be difficult for tough-minded executives. Many are locked into an approach or a career track, even as it becomes obsolete. Becoming a dinosaur can happen overnight. You need to stay current and adapt to change. I encourage my colleagues to talk with people from different fields to spark creativity and spot new possibilities and threats.

• Create the Shared Thrill of Pursuit. The Williams/Dressler relationship demonstrates what happens when talented people share common views and values. It is easiest to do your best work when you collaborate with people who think the same way about the factors affecting success and innovation. The alignment of minds fuels the thrill of pursuit, a focus to create something incredible and an openness to figure out how.

• Recognize Accomplishments. Unlike many business people, Williams was comfortable giving feedback and recognizing great work. Dresser remembers the actor’s spontaneous reactions. Williams was so proud of what they did together, and he made it known. Following the cover shoot, he told Dressler, “I think you have the cover of Time magazine.” Robin Williams was joyful, at peace.

Posted on the Wharton Magazine blog, October 9, 2014

Are Entrepreneurs the Most Ambitious Career-Builders of All?

The Wall Street Journal’s “These Entrepreneurs Make Mark Zuckerberg Look Ancient” recounts the surging demand to develop entrepreneurial skills in the prepubescent set, an offshoot of the growing fever to make it big, younger and vente toboggan gonflable faster than ever. In this roaring app economy, startups have created the new must-have capabilities for big businesses, as entrepreneurs define the new fast track to success and wealth. Ambitious career-builders take notice.

Why care, if you’re not an entrepreneur? Read entire post on The Wharton Magazine site.

 

The Case for Thinking Differently about Consultants

Pricey engagements too often disappoint

Your client wants to accomplish an aggressive list of priorities. As a consultant, your job is to help them create the right change that will make a substantial difference. But that’s not what usually happens.

Pricey consulting gigs too often disappoint. Acquisitions hobble companies when their leaders are unable resolve conflicting views. Transformation, initially the goal, becomes a debacle as mid and lower levels watch the big ideas crumble. Unfortunately the human side of change and growth is hugely neglected, including the biases and faulty assumptions of leaders and their advisors.

In 1995, John Kotter, Professor of Leadership, Emeritus at Harvard, published research showing that only 30% of business change initiatives succeed. McKinsey’s survey of executives in 2008 showed that the number of successful change programs was still 30%, and several years ago, two of its consultants pointed to “The Inconvenient Truth About Change Management: Why it isn’t working and what to do about it.”

With this record as a backdrop, I was fascinated with the commentary about Duff McDonald’s new book on McKinsey. The author explores “the remarkable… disconnect between the advice McKinsey offers and the ultimate results.” The list of bad advice is startling. So are observers too quick to blame a company for a failed initiative or strategy, as though the vente toboggan aquatique gonflable data, facts and logic behind a strategy or deal tell the entire story? A client’s inability to convince others to act on a final plan is just one of many factors that fuel bad outcomes.

A consultancy needs to keep ahead of change and make the most of a client’s strengths while bringing forth fresh ideas, new behaviors and insights. They should be engaged to add value and do what the company can’t do alone. Their advice should help the client avoid the missteps that lead to bad decisions and botch implementations. I’d push expectations even higher: consultants need to inspire innovative, but “doable” recommendations and plans.

Broad-based innovation is one of the most important drivers of growth today. But it won’t happen unless clients are able to think differently and honestly about their businesses, their M.O. and their leadership. Companies can’t lock into a model for success when the environment is radically changing, or the consumer is moving to a different place. A consultant that gets the client to reimagine or invigorate a business, even to include ideas that were once off the table, has a valuable and much needed skill set.

What makes these consultants uniquely effective?

They ask the right questions, for example: Are the big ideas big enough, and supported by the right data? Are clients so afraid of risk that they are overlooking some of the most promising opportunities of the century? Are they stuck in their own story? Are they afraid to deal with the currents and truths that are blocking results?

They listen, ask, and then listen more. In the creating strategy and the solutions, they look for the missing pieces, connect the dots, and spot connections that create new options. They are able to present alternatives, backed by facts and logic, in a way that the client will hear and engage. They suggest ways to leverage emerging trends and needs, even if the client is inclined to stay the course.

They encourage clients to develop new collaborative efforts inside and out – to save development time and create the discipline to invest in their own ideas with greater confidence. They understand how connections beyond stakeholders can open doors and spark new partnerships.

They seek information and opinions from a wide group that goes beyond the “inner circle” of top executives and cuts across generations and levels.

They think broadly even if the client doesn’t; they know that in a complex, unpredictable world, no one problem can be considered or solved in isolation. While a client asks for a study that targets a single function, product, or problem, context matters. Casting a wider net catches the critical insights and the intriguing ideas beyond the client’s usual line of vision.

They view each business from all relevant perspectives, which means taking a global view, looking outward considering critical constituents, competitive activity, customers, and technology, as well as inward including infrastructure, capabilities and capacity.

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My research shows that innovative business leaders know that actions designed to make their current businesses marginally better aren’t enough in today’s markets. They understand the importance of speed and creating a strong sense of urgency. They have a “ruthless” focus on people and their cultures that is hardly typical today. These leaders need consultants who can think big but create proposals that work. I’ll continue to explore this new breed of consultant in a future blog.

With New Realities, Come New Rules in Business

The New Normal has morphed to include consequential elements of a “stable disequilibrium.” Be sure to stay close to the market realities and understand the probable scenarios, says Mohammed El-Erian, CEO of PIMCO, who coined the idea of the New Normal following the Financial Crisis of 2008.

Stable disequilibrium sounds pretty heavy to me, and thinking about the consequences of continuing disequilibrium is an unsettling thought. But there is a new reality in managing investments and businesses.

PIMCO’s CEO warns that to navigate with any success in the current environment, investors need to shift away from conventional views, solutions vente parcours obstacle gonflable and practices; they must deal with outdated assumptions, strategies and benchmarks. Every business leader needs to take this warning seriously.

The New Rules

Amid economic uncertainty and an environment of transformative change, expect to see an acceleration of non-traditional business strategies, career moves, and innovative ecosystems. Success requires speed, collaboration, innovation, engagement, and a business culture that motivates everyone. While six percent of the U.S. workforce was categorized as freelance in 1990, the number is now 20 to 30 percent.

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We’ll see less focus on Ivy League degrees, and more attention to personal capabilities and passions, and doing “good.” And despite populist talk about corporate greed and heavily compensated CEOs, there will be a greater appreciation for the leaders and leadership throughout the private sector. Well-defined career ladders and rigid hierarchies are becoming passé. In just a few years, your businesses or products could be dramatically different requiring different mindsets, skills and relationships.

This flexibility and forward thinking were rare 10 years ago. The CEO of a Fortune 10 company told me that he was deeply concerned that his marketing heads were promoting a woman in marketing research into a coveted position in marketing. The decision shattered a long-standing intentional division between two silos – the geeks in research and marketing strategists/business leaders with P&L responsibility. Now with a chance to cross the line, this new leader would be a contender for president of a major operating division, if successful.

It’s a very risky move, he said. But his discomfort was more about the woman’s age than her capability to do the job or her femininity. She was already 37, and in an up-or-out company, how could she compete with men in comparable jobs who were five to seven years her junior? “While it might be an altruistic decision, our management is doing her a disservice.”

Well the research geek adjusted to her new environment and performed extremely well. Of course this should be a silly conversation today. The thinking and rules are different; many of the conventions and biases of “yester-year” are no longer relevant. But too many businesses are still relying on outmoded assumptions, solutions and practices. Their strategies – business, human capital or otherwise – aren’t worth their investment in the graphics used to showcase their grand plans.

Then there’s the issue of doing good. It’s so important that Havas’ CEO David Jones says, “If you don’t have honorable motivations for doing good, at least do it to avoid getting taken down, because at a time when social media has broken down any last walls between brands and corporations and consumers, bad practices have nowhere to hide. So the new rules for marketing, he said, are the same as the rules for social media: transparency, authenticity and speed.”

Today we need and expect a flexible, more open CEO. The old stereotypes and mental models are getting creaky and creepy. The story of David Karp, CEO of Tumblr is one example. Karp never graduated from high school, yet alone Harvard – dropping out “to live his passion, which was all things computers,” says his mother. Now thanks to the Tumblr/Yahoo deal, he’s almost a billionaire. Another refreshing insight: Karp is an introvert, and doesn’t try to hide it. But it’s conventional wisdom that most leaders are extraverts.

Focused, innovative organizations are not built around pep talks and spin. When people are skeptical or disengaged, they often feel powerless. They are probably operating outside the circle where decisions are made; constrained or underutilized because of the rules or culture. Disengaged employees can also be on autopilot, getting the work done – with little insight into why, what’s involved, and afraid to suggest an alternative or to ask, “Is this approach the best way forward?”

Your teams are more likely to “lean into the business” when they feel ownership for decisions, future strategies and plans. Ask yourself if the optics of leadership are helping or hurting morale in your business. We’ve seen skeptical, even dysfunctional, organizations rebound quickly once employees and managers have access to critical information and are able to engage in an honest dialogue with members of the leadership team.

 

A Shoutout to Dave Cote

Unified, innovating and thriving, Honeywell is riding some of the biggest global trends thanks to its unconventional, forward-thinking leader.

Dave Cote, chairman and CEO of Honeywell, is one of the best leaders in business, running one of the best-managed companies. In 2002, he was recruited to vente jeux gonflables spearhead a major turnaround of a dysfunctional, hobbled organization. None of the three CEOs in the four years before him could fix it; on Wall Street, there were no believers. Read more on the Wharton Magazine site.

No Middle Ground for Change

Corporate executives can either take ownership of emerging trends or risk irrelevancy.

Driving innovation and change is no longer optional. Do you know how to do it? In real life, you scramble to manage the day-to-day much less create the next vente aire de jeux gonflable big thing. Fortunately, creating change is a competency. It’s complex—involving mindsets, skill sets, culture, partnerships and collaboration—and it can be mastered.

Read entire post on Wharton Magazine Online.

 

In the News

Happenings, ideas and insights that caught our eye

Morgan Stanley: high stakes, high rewards! 

Here’s a case study in the making: Colm Kelleher, head of sales, trading and investment banking at Morgan Stanley, is spearheading an ambitious initiative to get the retail brokerage and wealth management organizations working together to drive higher profits in both businesses.

To quote the NYT: “Morgan Stanley has a horrible history of getting these groups to work together,” said Richard Bove, an analyst with Rafferty Capital Markets….But, if Mr. Gorman can make it work, Mr. Bove predicted the chief [executive] could return Morgan Stanley to its former glory, “albeit in a different form.”

To achieve big results, Kelleher will have to reinvent/rethink underpinnings of the business that will promote Gorman’s strategy – or block it if left unattended: for example, adjusting and managing expectations in the retail branches, changing mindsets and breaking down silos, re-envisioning performance (what does success look like?), designing compensation and rewards, and fixing frictions between the business cultures.

There are 35 initiatives in the works. Let’s vente tente gonflable hope the MS teams hit all the right touch-points.

High profile companies in the throes of image crises: How truthful are they willing to be? 

Jonathan Baskin raises this question in “The Real Creative Challenge…” Ad Age, 2/12/13. Baskin says the real marketing challenge is how to explain the realities of the business (including external realities) to your customers “to help lower the likelihood that consumer expectations will be missed or shocked.”  Think Coke (sugar and obesity), Boeing (787 batteries), and Burger King (horse meat in UK hamburgers).

True, this is a major issue for the CMO; it’s also one that should be on the radar of all corporate and business leaders and managed with rigor. Some of the obvious questions: what issues or risks should we anticipate, assess and track for this business; how do we avoid a crisis in the first place, and what’s the plan to manage the crisis, should it occur?

Managing communications around brand-sensitive crises is tougher today. Social and digital media now divulge the uncomfortable secrets of business that used to be swept under the carpet or handled by the company’s controlled media. Leaders need to get their messages out effectively and quickly – or others, including their own employees, will speak the truth or spin it to the detriment of the brand.

What business leaders can learn from the GM bailout

We’ve heard about the red tape and bureaucracy – too hard to get things done with required government approvals and layers of input. Charlie Gasparino goes deeper in his column in the New York Post. His punch line: “In the end, the lesson to take from [former GM CEO] Whitacre’s muddled message about GM and its partnership with government: Be wary of handouts.

Gasparino says, “As Whitacre notes, the partial IPO that the bankers allowed went well. On that day, GM didn’t just get a few additional orders for its $20.1 billion offering (then the largest IPO ever) but orders worth $86 billion — enough, he notes, that GM ‘could have easily repaid the government the entire $43 billion it owed, and given taxpayers a nice profit for their time and trouble on top of that.’ But they didn’t.” The government had other agendas.

NEWS

Great journalism at Univision, Exciting Breakthroughs at BMW, NFL Quarterbacks Master “Gibberish.” Plus The New Ruthless is featured in the fall issue of the Wharton Magazine.

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Univision’s “tell it like it is” reporting:  Their news and special programs are so worthwhile, many analysts believe they should be translated for Americans who don’t speak Spanish. Bloggers report that in separate pre-election candidate interviews, co-moderator Jorge Ramos asked President Obama some of the toughest questions of his campaign. Univision is also cited for its serious investigative reporting on Fast & Furious.

Getting to Iconic:  From Ultimate to Iconic in 60 Seconds asserts that BMW wants iconic; that could be the single best strategy to thrive vente parc aquatique gonflable today. Now the car maker is ready to move laser lighting from the lab onto the road – a decision that will transform headlamps and completely open up the possibilities of front-end design.

Change at the NFL: Technology continues to change the fans’ experience and the way the game is played. With new TV audio (starting guards or centers are required to wear a mic), the world and the defense can hear the chatter clearly. The result: quarterbacks now speak gibberish to camouflage the plays.

The substance behind charisma: LaserBeam’s Sharon Terry explores the importance of charisma and suggests how to keep the sizzle in your message in The Charisma Debate.

Reinventing Leadership: Change looms over the corner office and every cranny of the business. That’s why I wrote The New Ruthless - about the leaders who are changing mindsets and agendas in modern businesses and building dynamic companies.

What Makes a Formidable Innovator?

Does an unstoppable innovation company simply sell ahead-of-the-herd products that give customers exactly what they want? No doubt, Apple is one of the most innovative companies of the century. Their superior products command premium prices from the stickiest customers imaginable. But head-of-the-curve products regularly appear in the market, only to be one or several-hit wonders.

So what makes a company a formidable innovator capable of transforming industries and consumer behavior? I can think of several things, largely invisible to the naked eye.

1.  A company’s strategy successfully moves the business and consumer to another place and gets people to think and act differently.

Steve Jobs made Apple great by moving beyond computers and deciding that Apple would sell the public something they didn’t know they wanted. The parc gonflable innovative thinking behind the new devices allowed Apple to invent new markets and up-end industries.

The combined iPod, phone and Internet connector called the iPhone changed consumer behavior and captured the attention of the business world. I remember watching the traders on CNBC’s Fast Money ridicule the new phone on its launch day, 2007.  These same market strategists soon became believers.

Then with the iPad, Apple penetrated the barriers of established markets, including stodgy law firms and financial institutions. This newest device intrigued the business world by engaging entirely new consumer segments, educators, the medical community, Gen Y – even the parents of children with severe forms of autism (see 60 Minutes). Consumers discovered they could do things they never did before, and marketers jumped to make digital media part of their consumer and in-store strategies.

Bloomberg Businessweek said in late March, “The iPad was at once familiar [to iPhone users] and radically new to consumers – an instant hit.” It was a huge game-changer. Tech observers predict that the tablet could overcome the PC “as consumer tech’s center of gravity” as competitors rushed to redefine their offerings, add features, and create new partnerships.

Apple proves it’s a formidable innovator every time its products strengthen or build the capabilities and competencies of consumers, businesses and universities. Its specialists have worked with prominent media companies to develop marketing innovations to support their franchises. Independent developers (a burgeoning industry) have created over 600,000 apps for the iPhone (plus another 500,000 for Android phones). “Boundary-less” has moved beyond theory to the real world as silos, language barriers and technical hurdles are torn away.

2.  The business’ culture bolsters and sustains innovation.

So-called innovative companies are everywhere, though many can’t sustain their markets and ultimately go away or play a diminished role. The business culture needs to drive innovation if a company wants to be a formidable innovator – and that starts with the mindset and behaviors of the business’ leaders. Apple came up with the iPod, not Sony.

In 2005, Motorola took the market by storm with the RAZR, but couldn’t duplicate its success in a quickly changing market. They stopped innovating following the sudden death of CMO Geoffrey Frost, [called the father of the RAZR and an iconic marketer], and failed to invest in the next big wave of groundbreaking consumer devices. CEO Ed Zander is said to have abandoned Frost’s mission and his distinct culture for growth in which the marketing and technical development teams thrived.

That hasn’t happened to Apple – not yet. CEO Tim Cook acknowledges that Innovation is their focus and their culture fuels it. For Cook, his company’s culture is “so unique and special” that he’s committed to work hard and keep it that way.

3.  Leaders have big ambitions for change even when their markets look challenged or sleepy.

There are leaders who can find a different angle, a way to create a more unique customer experience, to rethink what’s possible amid the most entrenched or difficult environments. Look at Kohler and Ikea, for example, when each was confronted with the Great Recession.

In 2008, Kohler moved quickly to counter a declining U.S. market – they cut production at domestic factories by 30% to build the export business and altered the product line to capture the Chinese market, especially the top end. A priority product was the Numi, a robotic toilet that sells for $6,400 to consumers who are obviously looking for more than utility in a plumbing fixture. Expensive but luxurious, the consumer enjoys leg-warming porcelain, music, special lighting, motion detectors and three bidets. In March, the Wall Street Journal reported that half the revenues came from China.

But Ikea took a different course – to restructure the way the business is run with the goal of continuing to improve the lives of customers while giving them lower prices each year. Managers would separate good and bad costs and use every cost reduction to build up the essentials of the business or turn the savings back to the customer in lower prices. The results were noteworthy –10% top line annual growth and stable margins in a severely challenged economy.

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A formidable innovator commands admiration, respect and wonder in the marketplace – formidable means a powerful contender, but not always the biggest. These companies sustain their position over long periods of time. At the opposite end of the innovation continuum is what John Bell, former CEO of Jacobs Suchard, calls the Hustlers: companies that make incremental changes – tweak after tweak, easy to copy.

Figure out what’s right for your business. But weigh the costs and benefits of the path you choose.

The Charisma Debate

The issue of charisma emerged early in this presidential election: concerns that Romney lacks sizzle while Obama wins the charisma bowl. Some experts say leaders (political or otherwise) must be charismatic to succeed. Others – including some of the best CEOs I know – believe that great leadership has less to do with personal magnetism. It’s strategy and results that really matter.

Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s, was a bigger-than-life executive whose reach extended far beyond the fast-food industry. His self-effacing style and charisma connected him to his consumers in over 800 TV commercials – 90% of Americans knew who he was! But it wasn’t just charisma that made Thomas’ Wendy’s the third largest fast food restaurant in the nation. Even “born leaders” need a compelling strategy and message, and the people behind them to make change happen.

I’ve found that charisma will not sustain confidence among a leader’s constituents unless he develops a credible message and reinforces repeatedly how vente chateau gonflable and why the strategies will work – and are working. Without a candid exchange about the future and a viable strategy for change, a leader is likely to face intractable apathy and subpar performance.

In her blog on 9/11, Rosabeth Kanter, professor at the Harvard Business School, argued that we can’t discount charisma: She says, “The emerging leaders and rising entrepreneurs on whom I place my bets have one thing in common besides a promising idea: a lot of charisma.” Kanter believes that, although we tend to discount charisma of late, this personal magnetism makes people believe a leader can attract the best talent and deliver.

Certainly charisma is helpful, but executives with less charisma can succeed with the right messaging, a convincing commitment to get it done, and decisive action. I encourage my clients to formulate an impelling vision, spark excitement for change, and develop a viable plan for action. Creating the excitement of charisma through messaging and vision usually works when coupled with the right amount of input and practice. Ultimately, an organization needs to feel successful and see that success in the numbers.

Harry Cannes was a young business leader who lacked long-held accomplishments in the high tech world. He was extremely charismatic, eager to make a mark in his company – and that’s what he did. He listened to advice and worked hard to demonstrate new behaviors and skills needed in the business. Even veteran managers rallied around him and helped him develop his big ideas. The business soared.

No doubt, it wasn’t easy. Harry worked hard to lead the change; he methodically mapped out a number of action steps. Among them, we shaped messages that encouraged change and respected everyone; we aligned the structure and organizational capabilities with the intent of his new business vision. We also looked at the culture and adjusted both goals and incentives to balance risk-taking with a focus on customers and profits. And we engaged large groups of leaders and staff in re-creating the culture.

A less charismatic Alan Jones was highly respected and known for his ability to turn businesses around. His message was charismatic in substance and tone: “A turnaround is in our future, and essential to sustain the business,” he proclaimed. “Without question, we’ll have to work hard. I am confident we have the strategy and know-how to get this done. Trust me – I promise that the results you deliver will be rewarded.”

How did Alan fare? The organization bought it. They believed his message. The new focus and follow-through generated a palpable sense of spirit and confidence across the organization; we saw it in the actions of people in every discipline.

If you believe you have charisma and want results, it’s important to persuasively express any change you are promoting. Whether you have the “sizzle” or not, it’s vital that you create a powerful message and support it with broad-based strategies that will evoke excitement and commitment. People need to believe in the importance of what they are doing.  In business, magnetism helps, but will get you just so far. You need to package your message so people get it, want it, and want to be a part of it. There’s much you can do to get everyone to lean into the business.

We’ll see how the presidential race goes. Governor Christie of New Jersey assured the press that qualifications will trump charisma. He says, Romney is who he is – look at what’s he’s done. He may just be right.

Let’s hear about your experience. How do you create the right amount of magnetic excitement in your business?