People are waiting for “follow-me” leaders. They’re watching for alignment between what is said and what is done. They’re looking for people they can trust. They’re looking for people like you.

Russell, Nan S.. “Introduction”. The Titleless Leader: How to Get Things Done When You’re Not in Charge. Career Press. © 2012. Books24x7. <; (accessed May 3, 2012)

I’ve been thinking and paying attention to the world around me. A lot. It’s a purposeful research, getting to know new things about how I work in different environment, especially when change is everywhere. Leadership is everywhere.. or at least it should be. It is amazing to find out in practice different types of leadership, to build up models for oneself from gathered experiences of others. Have you met “follow-me leaders” in your organisation?

I wrote this article for CEMS Magazine. I would gladly answer your comments.


Whether you are a company or a customer, you must have heard of online brand communities. As a matter of fact, the first thing that comes to one’s mind upon hearing the term is social media: a fad or an opportunity? Nevertheless, online brand communities have existed since the dawn of the internet communications. Companies such as Lego, Apple, Coca-Cola, Nutella, Harley Davidson etc. have been thriving in this area, connecting consumers and acting as platforms for collaboration and innovation. And they’ve been doing it well!

According to famous researchers Muniz and O’Guinn, brand communities are powered by three main characteristics: a consciousness of a kind, shared rituals and traditions, plus moral responsibility. In the virtual world, these are equally important in terms of context, creating the base for trust creating initiatives.

Building context, creating networks

The future of branding is happening now – it is all about conversations around brands. By creating context through dialogues, big brands are always present in the media, in their consumers’ minds. However, establishing relationships with consumers is not easy. Online brand communities are a tool for marketing together with the consumers – or prosumers. The value of talk in these communities has the potential to connect, listen, promote and engage. Explorations of consumers’ identities and loyalty may lead to strategies of self-expression that inspire others to create their own identities. This is the future of branding, because brands connect nowadays more with consumers. Online brand communities are the perfect medium for these relationships to thrive for the benefit of all parties involved.

Engaging your customers

There are still debates regarding the best way to engage customers in online brand communities. After all, communities exist through their users’ participation. It is no doubt the focus is the brand. Nevertheless, the conversations that happen are what drive the brand forward. How do you inspire other to tell your brand’s stories? How does your company involve consumers? How does CEMS involve its members?

LIFE magazine is exceptional. I have come across old issues on google books, for example this one from 1949, and I am amazed and delighted. Something simple, yet enticing makes these old ads and magazine articles to appear fabulous to me. Perhaps the thought that back in those times, life was indeed simpler.. or just the fact that I adore and collect vintage ads.

Courtesy of Google Books

Brodie (2009)

A slideshare presentation inspired me to think more about the development of branding, more specifically digital branding.

Why does a company brand itself and its products? My response is to create a link between the customers and itself. Links in terms of web 2.0 refer to dialogs, dialogs about the brand, about the people – involving thus a community, developing a sense of togetherness around the brand. When people talk about your brand, your brand exists. The more people talk about it, the more visible and efficient your branding channels are.

People crave for guides for everything nowadays. Somehow they’re reticent to discover and create their own ways. On twitter there are links to lots of guides, best SEO strategy, monitoring your brand awareness, your revenue, how to use twitter best, how to use Google Wave and so on. However, new 2.0 tools don’t yet have a certain way of being utilized.

The beauty of 2.0 communication is that rules are being created as we speak, its novelty can be intriguing at times and that’s what scares people who are constantly in need of guides. Why not be bold and discover new ways for creating dialogs with your customers? Experiential marketing is about co-creating value without predetermined rules. Risky you might think. Indeed, there are budgets and risks. Some companies do not risk, or are just not visionaries. Blue oceans and new rules for competitions will emerge.

Secrets gathered from an article in Very good learning tips that can be applied. I took each and added to it myself a few words.

  1. Stick with it: startups don’t die, they commit suicides –> that when entrepreneurs get bored, discouraged or just don’t persevere. Start-ups need work and faith, and most of all a clear vision and game plan.
  2. Simplify your mission. Know for sure what your business is, what the goal is. Eric Koger from ModCloth recommends the 60- to 90-second synopsis.
  3. Ditch your safety net, because it might keep you from moving forward and trying harder.
  4. Exceed expectations.  When you over-deliver, you draw attention and most likely success.
  5. Do more with less. When you are creative, you can do with fewer resources. It works the other way around too. As a consequence you spend less on better more creative products/services.
  6. Don’t go it alone. This one is sometimes difficult, especially when you do not feel you can transmit the same excitement and vision about your start-up idea. It happened to me at a small level, but still. Emily Olson from Foodzie recommends you partner up with someone, build a great team and support each other through the tough times. Because there will be tough times.
  7. Be nimble. Be aware of changes, as well as opportunities. The idea is constant adaptation, flexibility and awareness of what’s out there.
  8. Have a plan for actually making money. This one speaks for itself.. No one will come to offer you money. When you have a plan, it means you know the steps you should take in order to reach a goal. It also motivates for trying harder, improving weaker spots.
  9. Do your homework. Be clear about what assumptions you make about the industry, the competitors, the products you’re planning to introduce. Verify assumptions and be cautious. Better be safe than not.
  10. Be prepared. Linked to the previous one, by doing your homework you are not prone to be taken advantage of. Know when and how to negotiate, be realistic and know what you can expect.
  11. Stay genuine. Do what you love doing and do it well.
  12. Send in the geeks. What can I say, having them on the founding team sort of ensures web technology flexibility and hence quality from the very beginning.
  13. Don’t manage angry. Anger means lack of emotional control; if you cannot control yourself, don’t expect to be able to control others.
  14. Don’t be afraid. “If you have an idea, do it! Apply your idea while you’re still in your 20s or 30s, so you can be bold and take risks.
  15. You can’t mask mediocrity. “Be undeniably good.” — Anthony Volodkin, Hype Machine
  16. Do what you love. This point can’t be stressed enough. Loving what you do makes everything else easier.

Nestle’s strategy in a period of recession focuses on nutrition values from its sweet products. The Economist has an article about this, questioning whether the shift towards healthy chocolates and sweets is advantageous in present times.

Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, the firm’s chairman, and Paul Bulcke, its chief executive, hope to transform the food company into the world’s leading health, nutrition and “wellness” firm.  The Economist

I truly wonder at the realistic venture of such an idea, be it as commercially logic as it is argued to be. It does sound rather preposterous when one tells you that what you should not actually eat, would become the healthiest products on earth. Would chocolate and sweets become medicine? Where would then be the treat in the  indulgence? How would the subconscious justify the “food for soul” and (most likely) the money spent? Indulging in medicine.

I love chocolate, in small pieces, in exquisite packaging and because of it resemblance to something beyond the green, the healthy or the “right” thing to eat. If chocolate becomes like medicine and sweets become recommended by specialists, the world might as well turn upside down. What can I say, I am a skeptic in this matter 🙂

Let us think back at the fantastic product that chocolate is. It represents lust for the taste and delight for the senses. Its concept is represented along the concept of love and romance. It’s effects are wondrous in senses, without having to be in large quantities. As a matter of fact, chocolate is best savored in small pieces/quantities, as a marvelous treat. I don’t believe in chocolate as “food” – it’s more of a delight for the moment.

Nevertheless, the overall movement towards green, ecological, ‘the healthiest” will undoubtedly have an effect on the chocolate/sweets industry. With Nestle being the leader, this has already started. It makes me curious. I just cannot picture the exquisite chocolate treats promoted as nutritious healthy products – food for the healthy, instead of food for the thought (love and indulgence). However, in the end it is all a quest for better, most innovative, a competitive R&D action that hopefully will still benefit consumers.

I am reading an exciting article in the Financial Times on the purpose of economists and their role in predicting the crisis with all its mismatched predictions. David Marsh considers that economists don’t really serve any special purpose, that they’ve come in the same package with modernity and now we just can’t do without them. His article is most wonderfully written in the literary sense and I find great similes that make one smile, were they of the profession or not.

“a continuous carousel of spectacle that helps put the things we don’t know about the world into some sort of warped perspective”

However, Mr. Marsh finds some sort of use for economists in behavioral studies, wraped in a predefined project:

Studying their attributes and affectations has become an advanced branch of behavioural psychology.

Robert Skidelsky considers that the economics profession does not have pretenses beyond other sciences, it is not more special and therefore could not have entirely predicted and foreseeing “the exact risk in the system”.

There are more opinions in a well-written combo of trying to define the purpose of economists. You can read them all here.

I have recently read an article in Project Management Today magazine, about being involved in projects and the difficulty of bringing them successfully to completion. No doubt it is not easy at all to stop a project, be it so that we might be blinded by several factors on the way – one being the must-do task of completion itself, no matter whether the project is itself successful in the first place.

Some featured causes for the reluctance of stopping a project are:

–          Emotional attachment

–          Confirmation trap

–          Where’s my next job

–          Fear of not reaching personal goals

–          Fear of disappointing the sponsor

–          Sunk-cost bias

If your project is not what it should be, would you rather stop it or go on with it changing things on the way? Which is your immediate goal?

We encounter such projects in our every-day lives. The important point is to be aware of your motivations and how they match the actual environment and state of things.

Example: Is it a good time to renovate the living room? Can I really do it myself? Do I need to borrow money for this? Is it too big of a hassle at the moment? Do I need to do it because of my own personal goal and sense of achievement? Can I rather hire someone to do it?

“Customers want to see inside your organization, they want to talk to the people who make it what it is, they want to hear their stories. What they don’t want to hear is  you telling them why your company, producs and services are the best.”

Enterprise 2.0 by Niall Cook