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#CMOSummit: Don’t compete but change the game

This week I was invited by Ellen Seebold to be a guest blogger at the CMO Thought Leadership Summit, hosted here in San Francisco by The CMO Club. I was fortunate enough to listen in on three very interesting sessions. Below is my blog post from the first of these. It can also be found on theCMOClub.com.

KEYNOTE: Don’t Compete but Change the Game, speaker: Robert Kriegel.

What seemed at first to be a fairly straightforward talk by Robert Kriegel about the critical role of marketing in a world with rapidly changing technology quickly morphed into a whirlwind, astonishing discussion of how to be a winner – and have fun at the same time. Summarizing an hour of rapid-fire ideas and examples into a brief blog post is just about impossible, so I will simply recap highlights and key messages. Imagine everything below presented with fantastic energy and humor, well peppered with anecdotes.

Winners think ahead. Winners break the rules. The companies that win don’t respond quickly to change – they create the change. Think Apple, Cirque de Soleil, Domino’s Pizza. (Really. At one point, the fastest-growing fast-food restaurant.) These ”change-ready organizations:”

  • Constantly challenge the status quo. They don’t cling to old thinking, or “we’ve always done it that way.”
  • Always look for bold, innovative out-of-the-box ideas.

Customers’ needs are always shifting, and winning businesses continuously redefine their role with the customer.

Kriegel identified two major obstacles to innovation and gave us some tools for managing them. The second was predictable: fear. The first, however, may have surprised some: Focusing on working faster and harder. He implored us all to step back from the action to make room for our best ideas. If you are deep in the front lines, you will never get ahead. You need to be able to look at the future, not just what is right in front of you and your business.

To cope with fear, he proposed two simple steps. First, a reality check. Just how likely is that negative outcome? And then remain aware of the big picture while focusing on doing what is manageable. Take small steps. And if it is a bit uncomfortable, embrace that feeling. You are in the “challenge zone.” If it’s comfortable, it’s not new.

He left us with this thought: Everything that applies to work is just as true in daily life. What are the sacred cows in your life? You can end up doing and being more than you ever thought possible. Take risks, break rules, stoke the fires of passion, chase dreams, have a hell of a lot of fun.

I felt inspired at the end of his talk, I have to admit.

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