“11 Simple Concepts” to Become a Better Leader | by: Dave Kerpen

Being likeable will help you in your job, business, relationships, and life. I interviewed dozens of successful business leaders, to determine what made them so likeable and their companies so successful. All of the concepts are simple, and yet, perhaps in the name of revenues or the bottom line, we often lose sight of the simple things – things that not only make us human, but can actually help us become more successful.

Below are the ELEVEN most important principles to integrate to become a better leader : 

1. Listening : 

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” – Ernest Hemingway 

Listening is the foundation of any good relationship. Great leaders listen to what their customers and prospects want and need, and they listen to the challenges those customers face. They listen to colleagues and are open to new ideas. They listen to shareholders, investors, and competitors.

2. Storytelling : 

“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.” -Robert McAfee Brown 

After listening, leaders need to tell great stories in order to sell their products, but more important, in order to sell their ideas. Storytelling is what captivates people and drives them to take action. Whether you’re telling a story to one prospect over lunch, a boardroom full of people, or thousands of people through an online video-Storytelling wins customers.”

3. Authenticity : 

“I had no idea that being your authentic self could make me as rich as I’ve become. If I had, I’d have done it a lot earlier.” -Oprah Winfrey 

Great leaders are who they say they are, and they have integrity beyond compare. Vulnerability and humility are hallmarks of the authentic leader and create a positive, attractive energy. Customers, employees, and media all want to help an authentic person to succeed. There used to be a divide between one’s public self and private self, but the social internet has blurred that line. Tomorrow’s leaders are transparent about who they are online, merging their personal and professional lives together.

4. Transparency : 

“As a small businessperson, you have no greater leverage than the truth.” -John Whittier 

There is nowhere to hide anymore, and business people who attempt to keep secrets will eventually be exposed. Openness and honesty lead to happier staff and customers and colleagues. More important, transparency makes it a lot easier to sleep at night – unworried about what you said to whom, a happier leader is a more productive one.

5. Team Playing : 

“Individuals play the game, but teams beat the odds.” – SEAL Team Saying.. 

No matter how small your organization, you interact with others every day. Letting others shine, encouraging innovative ideas, practicing humility, and following other rules for working in teams will help you become a more likeable leader. You’ll need a culture of success within your organization, one that includes out-of-the-box thinking.

6. Responsiveness : 

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” -Charles Swindoll 

The best leaders are responsive to their customers, staff, investors, and prospects. Every stakeholder today is a potential viral sparkplug, for better or for worse, and the winning leader is one who recognizes this and insists upon a culture of responsiveness. Whether the communication is email, voice mail, a note or a a tweet, responding shows you care and gives your customers and colleagues a say, allowing them to make a positive impact on the organization.

7. Adaptability : 

“When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” -Ben Franklin 

There has never been a faster-changing marketplace than the one we live in today. Leaders must be flexible in managing changing opportunities and challenges and nimble enough to pivot at the right moment. Stubbornness is no longer desirable to most organizations. Instead, humility and the willingness to adapt mark a great leader.

8. Passion : 

“The only way to do great work is to love the work you do.” -Steve Jobs 

Those who love what they do don’t have to work a day in their lives. People who are able to bring passion to their business have a remarkable advantage, as that passion is contagious to customers and colleagues alike. Finding and increasing your passion will absolutely affect your bottom line.

9. Surprise and Delight : 

“A true leader always keeps an element of surprise up his sleeve, which others cannot grasp but which keeps his public excited and breathless.” -Charles de Gaulle 

Most people like surprises in their day-to-day lives. Likeable leaders under-promise and over-deliver, assuring that customers and staff are surprised in a positive way. There are a plethora of ways to surprise without spending extra money – a smile, We all like to be delighted !!

10. Simplicity : 

“Less isn’t more; just enough is more.” -Milton Glaser 

The world is more complex than ever before, and yet what customers often respond to best is simplicity — in design, form, and function. Taking complex projects, challenges, and ideas and distilling them to their simplest components allows customers, staff, and other stakeholders to better understand and buy into your vision. We humans all crave simplicity, and so today’s leader must be focused and deliver simplicity.

11. Gratefulness : 

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” -Gilbert Chesterton 

Likeable leaders are ever grateful for the people who contribute to their opportunities and success. Being appreciative and saying thank you to mentors, customers, colleagues, and other stakeholders keeps leaders humble, appreciated, and well received. It also makes you feel great! Donor’s Choose studied the value of a hand-written thank-you note, and actually found donors were 38% more likely to give a 2nd time, if they got a hand-written note !!

” The Golden Rule – Above all else, treat others as you’d like to be treated !”

By showing others the same courtesy you expect from them, you will gain more respect from coworkers, customers, and business partners. Holding others in high regard demonstrates your company’s likeability and motivates others to work with you. This seems so simple, as do so many of these principles — and yet many people, too concerned with making money or getting by, fail to truly adopt these key concepts.

Which of these principles are most important to you — what makes you likeable ????? 

The “FIVE Competitive Forces”, that Shape Strategy | by: Michael E. Porter | Harvard Business Review

In essence, the job of the strategist is to understand and cope with competition. Often, however, managers define competition too narrowly, as if it occurred only among today’s direct competitors. Yet competition for profits goes beyond established industry rivals to include four other competitive forces as well: customers, suppliers, potential entrants, and substitute products. The extended rivalry that results from all five forces defines an industry’s structure and shapes the nature of competitive interaction within an industry.

As different from one another as industries might appear on the surface, the underlying drivers of profitability are the same. The global auto industry, for instance, appears to have nothing in common with the worldwide market for art masterpieces or the heavily regulated health-care delivery industry in Europe. But to understand industry competition and profitability in each of those three cases, one must analyze the industry’s underlying structure in terms of the five forces. (See the exhibit “The Five Forces That Shape Industry Competition.”) 

If the forces are intense, as they are in such industries as airlines, textiles, and hotels, almost no company earns attractive returns on investment. If the forces are benign, as they are in industries such as software, soft drinks, and toiletries, many companies are profitable. Industry structure drives competition and profitability, not whether an industry produces a product or service, is emerging or mature, high tech or low tech, regulated or unregulated. While a myriad of factors can affect industry profitability in the short run—including the weather and the business cycle—industry structure, manifested in the competitive forces, sets industry profitability in the medium and long run.

Understanding the competitive forces, and their underlying causes, reveals the roots of an industry’s current profitability while providing a framework for anticipating and influencing competition (and profitability) over time. A healthy industry structure should be as much a competitive concern to strategists as their company’s own position. Understanding industry structure is also essential to effective strategic positioning. As we will see, defending against the competitive forces and shaping them in a company’s favor are crucial to strategy.

Forces That Shape Competition : 

The configuration of the five forces differs by industry. In the market for commercial aircraft, fierce rivalry between dominant producers Airbus and Boeing and the bargaining power of the airlines that place huge orders for aircraft are strong, while the threat of entry, the threat of substitutes, and the power of suppliers are more benign. In the movie theater industry, the proliferation of substitute forms of entertainment and the power of the movie producers and distributors who supply movies, the critical input, are important.

The strongest competitive force or forces determine the profitability of an industry and become the most important to strategy formulation. The most salient force, however, is not always obvious.

For example, even though rivalry is often fierce in commodity industries, it may not be the factor limiting profitability. Low returns in the photographic film industry, for instance, are the result of a superior substitute product—as Kodak and Fuji, the world’s leading producers of photographic film, learned with the advent of digital photography. In such a situation, coping with the substitute product becomes the number one strategic priority.

Industry structure grows out of a set of economic and technical characteristics that determine the strength of each competitive force. We will examine these drivers in the pages that follow, taking the perspective of an incumbent, or a company already present in the industry. The analysis can be readily extended to understand the challenges facing a potential entrant.

“Seven” Personality Traits of “Top Sales people” | by: Steve W. Martin | HBS

The main key personality attributes of “ Top Sales-people ” and the impact of the trait on their selling style.

1.  Modesty. Contrary to conventional stereotypes that successful salespeople are pushy and egotistical, 91 percent of top salespeople had medium to high scores of modesty and humility. Furthermore, the results suggest that ostentatious salespeople who are full of bravado alienate far more customers than they win over.

Selling Style Impact: Team Orientation. As opposed to establishing themselves as the focal point of the purchase decision, top salespeople position the team (pre-sales technical engineers, consulting, and management) that will help them win the account as the centerpiece.

2.  Conscientiousness. Eighty-five percent of top salespeople had high levels of conscientiousness, whereby they could be described as having a strong sense of duty and being responsible and reliable. These salespeople take their jobs very seriously and feel deeply responsible for the results.

Selling Style Impact: Account Control. The worst position for salespeople to be in is to have relinquished account control and to be operating at the direction of the customer, or worse yet, a competitor. Conversely, top salespeople take command of the sales cycle process in order to control their own destiny.

3.  Achievement Orientation. Eighty-four percent of the top performers tested scored very high in achievement orientation. They are fixated on achieving goals and continuously measure their performance in comparison to their goals.

Selling Style Impact: Political Orientation. During sales cycles, top sales, performers seek to understand the politics of customer decision-making. Their goal orientation instinctively drives them to meet with key decision-makers. Therefore, they strategize about the people they are selling to and how the products they’re selling fit into the organization instead of focusing on the functionality of the products themselves.

4.  Curiosity. Curiosity can be described as a person’s hunger for knowledge and information. Eighty-two percent of top salespeople scored extremely high curiosity levels. Top salespeople are naturally more curious than their lesser performing counterparts.

Selling Style Impact: Inquisitiveness. A high level of inquisitiveness correlates to an active presence during sales calls. An active presence drives the salesperson to ask customers difficult and uncomfortable questions in order to close gaps in information. Top salespeople want to know if they can win the business, and they want to know the truth as soon as possible.

5.  Lack of Gregariousness. One of the most surprising differences between top salespeople and those ranking in the bottom one-third of performance is their level of gregariousness (preference for being with people and friendliness). Overall, top performers averaged 30 percent lower gregariousness than below average performers.

Selling Style Impact: Dominance. Dominance is the ability to gain the willing obedience of customers such that the salesperson’s recommendations and advice are followed. The results indicate that overly friendly salespeople are too close to their customers and have difficulty establishing dominance.

6.  Lack of Discouragement. Less than 10 percent of top salespeople were classified as having high levels of discouragement and being frequently overwhelmed with sadness. Conversely, 90 percent were categorized as experiencing infrequent or only occasional sadness.

Selling Style Impact: Competitiveness. In casual surveys I have conducted throughout the years, I have found that a very high percentage of top performers played organized sports in high school. There seems to be a correlation between sports and sales success as top performers are able to handle emotional disappointments, bounce back from losses, and mentally prepare themselves for the next opportunity to compete.

7.  Lack of Self-Consciousness. Self-consciousness is the measurement of how easily someone is embarrassed. The byproduct of a high level of self-consciousness is bashfulness and inhibition. Less than five percent of top performers had high levels of self-consciousness.

Selling Style Impact: Aggressiveness. Top salespeople are comfortable fighting for their cause and are not afraid of rankling customers in the process. They are action-oriented and unafraid to call high in their accounts or courageously cold call new prospects.

” Not all salespeople are successful, Given the same sales tools, level of education, and propensity to work, why do some salespeople succeed where others fail ? Is one better suited to sell the product because of his or her background?

Is one more charming or just luckier ? The evidence suggests that the personalities of these truly great salespeople play a critical role in determining their success ….”

The “Mall Group” to spend USD103m on expansion in Thailand,2013 | Bangkok Post

The Mall Group, Thailand’s second largest department store, plans to set aside THB 3 billion (USD 103.4 million) for business expansion this year. One billion will be spent on a face-lift for their stores, with the balance for marketing, said senior chief marketing officer Chamnarn Maytaprechakul.

The company plans to branch out with its “Home Fresh Mart” supermarkets to become retail outlets not anchored to a Mall Group property for the first time this year, aiming to raise supermarket sales.

Of the renovation budget, 500 million baht is slated for a reworking of the supermarket and food areas of Siam Paragon Department Store to update their look.

The Mall is trying to cope with stiffer competition driven by new players as well as several retail complexes also deciding to renovate in surrounding areas, including MBK and running along Rama I Road to the Ploenchit intersection. Another 500 million baht will be used for face-lifts for The Mall Bang Khae and Tha Phra, said Mr Chamnarn.

Pira Assavapirom, senior merchandising officer for supermarket business, said the company will transform the 4,000 square metres of the MCC Hall and bowling lanes on the fourth floor of The Mall Bang Khae into a food hall and city walk.

The city walk will accommodate small fashion and lifestyle product vendors in order to capture the teenage market.Renovation of all three branches is expected to be complete by the end of this year.

Mr Pira said the company plans to branch out with its Home Fresh Mart supermarkets to become retail outlets not anchored to a Mall Group property for the first time this year, aiming to raise supermarket sales.

The company will spend 100 million baht to open “Home Fresh Marts” at several retail complexes run by the Laemthong Group in Si Racha and Bang Saen in Chon Buri province.The additional “Home Fresh Marts” will raise the number of supermarkets opened outside The Mall department stores to five this year.

Chairat Petchdakul, General Manager of procurement for fresh food, is confident these branches can help build brand awareness and attract more customers.

The company plans to open another five to six supermarket branches at other retail locations outside The Mall complexes over the next three years. Mr Chamnarn expects retail business this year to be brisk, with robust sales the first three weeks of the year and crowded foot traffic at the group’s malls.

Sales of  The Mall Group reached 46 billion last year, up 8% from 2011. Its growth target is 8-9% to over 50 billion this year.

A delicate balance-“Retailers & Suppliers collaborate” to maximize returns | KPMG Research

” In tough times, retailers and manufacturers have had to resolve their differences and learn to work together. But how do they re-calibrate their relationship to drive long-term growth for the retail industry ?” 

To the CEO of a major retailer, it must look like a no-brainer – hard times call for tough measures. With consumers demanding what one retail consultant calls “extreme value”, analysts focusing on the numbers more than ever, and investors unusually willing to seek the dismissal of business leaders they believe are not performing, one easy way to satisfy all stakeholders is to cut costs. And the fast, painless way to do that is surely to pay suppliers less for more or discount their products in store.

Except it isn’t quite that simple. In May 2012, worried by the fact that 25.6% of grocery products in Europe are sold using some kind of discount or deal, Unilever’s chief executive Paul Polman said: “We will undoubtedly have to stay competitive, but these big promotions and deep cuts are not building brands and consumer loyalty. In many cases, these promotions are turning out to be zero-sum games – down if you do and down if you don’t.”

The relationship between retailers and manufacturers is incredibly complex. Retailers are customers, collaborators and, in some cases, competitors of their suppliers. Although the immediate financial benefits gained from squeezing suppliers are obvious, is this a sound long-term strategy for retailers, manufacturers or the retail industry’s consumers ?

It’s probably worth recapping how we got here. The world’s first supermarket, the Upham’s Corner Market Co. was founded in 1915 in Dorchester, Massachusetts, yet for decades brands called the shots, insisting retailers stock all sizes of a particular product, limiting supply of certain high-end products when they wanted to and having the edge when negotiating at what price items would be supplied and sold.

buying power infographic


At the root of this dominance was one crude fact: the companies making the brands were usually much bigger than the retailers they were supplying. That is no longer the case. Twenty years ago, Nestlé, the world’s largest food and beverage company, achieved sales of US$33.7bn and the biggest retailer made US$32.6bn. Yet in 2011, while Nestlé’s sales had grown to US$87.5bn, the leading retailer’s had ballooned to US$418.9bn.

The major retailers haven’t just got bigger, their reach and market share has changed exponentially as the industry has consolidated. Almost 65% of US food sales now come from the largest supermarkets, while the major supermarkets in France, Germany and the UK have a combined market share of 85%. Ambitious retail giants can transform markets.

The emergence of such global retail giants as Carrefour, Tesco and Metro Group has transformed their relationship with manufacturers. “The retailers are setting the agenda,” says Mark Larson, KPMG’s Global Head of Retail. “They have squeezed manufacturers to lower costs and tried to maximize the profitability of their shelf space through various marketing pressures, such as asking for more marketing support for shelf placement and promotions. Forward-thinking retailers want to maximize their profits but they know if the balance of power is too heavily weighted in their favor, it’s a short-term strategy.”

Manufacturers are certainly feeling the pain. “It is very difficult to make a profit as a supplier,” says the CEO of one leading apparel manufacturer. “It’s so different to 20 years ago. Our biggest competitors now are retail customers. Margins are difficult.” Difficult may be an understatement: industry analysts say that in some sectors they have shrunk by 20%.

The boom in retailers’ own private labels has piled on the pressure. In the US, one in four products purchased is a store brand – they generated around US$92.7bn in revenue in 2011. The UK’s bestselling skincare range is No – 7, a brand developed by pharmacy chain Boots (now 45% owned by American retailer Walgreens). The focus in the US is polishing up these brands so stores can charge more and diversifying into such sectors as healthcare and alcohol.

“ Retailers know if the balance of power is too heavily weighted in their favor, it’s a short-term strategy ”– Mark Larson, KPMG’s Global Head of Retail.

Retailers argue that by playing hardball on costs, seeking marketing support and developing their own brands they are merely doing what their customers want them to do – and protecting their business in an industry which has reached an inflection point, as the digital revolution gets underway.

There is some truth in that. Compared to five years ago, retailers have an enormous amount of data about their customers, but this resource has not always made the consumer any easier to predict. As Larson says: “It is harder than ever to label consumers by any one category. This is an era where consumers trade up to high-value premium brands and down to low-cost commodity goods. The mass consumer has become a hybrid consumer and retailers are having to work harder to expand their market share in a given category and their share of a customer’s wallet.”

The internet has proved a game changer, with online shopping making life harder for bricks and mortar stores. When shoppers do visit a store they are significantly better informed than at any time in the history of the retail industry. Retailers and manufacturers have responded by investing billions to acquire deeper insight into customers. Larson says: “The companies that will emerge as winners will do so, in part, because they can identify and satisfy the unmet – and occasionally un-articulated – needs of consumers”.

This is no small challenge, one Larson suggests might be more easily achieved if retailers and manufacturers work together. “We’re coming out of very tough times and the retailer and the manufacturer do their own significant consumer planning and strategies. They could benefit from the ability to have input into each other’s strategies. With collaboration and trust, they can focus on the big issue: how can they establish a more enduring appeal to their customers ?”

There are already signs that collaboration is catching on – even in the unlikely area of private labels. ConAgra, home of such brands as Marie Callender’s and Healthy Choice, acquired four store brands in the fiscal year 2011/12 and is now making products for such retailers as Costco, Kroger and Trader Joe’s. This move has confounded some analysts but others believe there is room on the shelves for both store brands and traditional manufacturer brands. Nirmalya Kumar, professor of marketing at the London Business School (and author of Private Label Strategy), says: “Manufacturers can compete with private label if they have something better to offer. They can never be cheaper than private label but if they can convince the customer they are superior, there’s space for them.”


If the retail industry is to develop the kind of innovations it needs to open up new markets and product categories it cannot afford to exclusively rely on either retailers or manufacturers. “It’s push versus pull,” says Larson. “Suppliers will invest in R&D, developing such new products as Coke Zero or Innocent Smoothies, but equally retailers are on the front line and will demand things that meet their customers’ immediate needs.”

So when UK retailers identified consumer concerns about fish being difficult to cook or prepare, or that people just don’t like handling it, Seachill came up with the concept of Saucy Fish to directly answer those issues. Meanwhile, when Tesco were looking for a premium ice cream to rival the likes of Ben & Jerry’s but at a budget price, they got together with R&R who came up with Chokablok for them.

In consumer goods, product development is seldom cheap or easy. So it’s often best to let the manufacturer push ahead. It took eight years, 450 product sketches, 6,000 consumer tests and hundreds of millions of dollars in investment for Procter & Gamble to launch its Tide Pod laundry tablet – and it still had to collaborate with an external partner, MonoSol, to develop the film that can stand up to wet hands but dissolves quickly in the wash.

Sometimes, retailers have found it profitable to behave like manufacturers and at other times it has suited manufacturers to behave like retailers. With the iconic George Clooney as its global champion, Nestlé’s Nespresso, the coffee capsule brand, achieved global sales of US$3.82bn in 2011, 20% more than in 2010. Kumar says: “Nespresso is particularly intriguing because Nestlé can avoid retailers entirely – consumers can purchase capsules, machines and accessories online straight from the manufacturer.”

Yet to keep improving its performance, the retail industry needs to be more ambitious in the way it collaborates. Intriguing win-win collaborations include Campbell’s Soup and American supermarket Kroger working together to develop the Simple Meals concept, adapted to make the most of the retailer’s end-of-aisle merchandising so shoppers can buy ‘grab and go’ meals.

Through collaboration, retailers and manufacturers could, Larson says, master two great strategic challenges: the supply chain and customer data. A two million square foot automated warehouse in York, Pennyslvania, symbolizes one potential future for the industry’s supply chains. A collaboration between such manufacturers as Del Monte, logistics firm ES3 and retailer Ahold, this direct-to-store program has cut costs and carbon usage, reduced the time products take to reach the shelf and shortened the supply chain.

“ With collaboration and trust, retailers and manufacturers can focus on the big issues” – Mark Larson, KPMG’s Global Head of Retail. 

Online shopping will, Larson says, require such flexible thinking on a grand scale: “If we continue down the path of one-hour shipping and same-day dispatch, suppliers will have to straddle some real-time inventory issues and ensure they’ve got the supply chain and logistics to meet retailers’ needs.”

Working out how manufacturers and retailers can most usefully share their insight into customers could be even more complicated. “Retailers have more information than ever before but in our experience they can struggle to take advantage of their oceans of data in a systematic way,” says Larson.

Manufacturers have long mined data to hone their consumer insights. Home appliances giant Whirlpool has standardized its data to make it more customer focused and help retailers as the brand seeks to reach out to consumers, not just as purchasers but as collaborators who can help shape the products and services the company develops.

Coke is an acknowledged master at this, harvesting data from its Freestyle vending machines, which contain more than 100 brands. Christopher Roberts, former vice-president of retailing at Coca-Cola, has eloquently summed up the goal: “You want to completely understand the science of your shoppers. You want to establish those insights you can turn into tangible actions. The aim is to walk up to your retail partner with a unique, effective, shopper-based solution for their stores.”

There’s not much at stake here, only the entire future of the retail industry. Yet ultimately, retailers and manufacturers need each other. They just have to adapt to a world where they can be in competition, partnership or bargaining over the terms under which products are sold. “There will always be conflict,” says Larson. “Yet they can still collaborate. Even now it’s not always about price. Consumers are price sensitive but they will pay more for a brand they trust, like and know what it stands for.