Leadership and Success Through Incremental Changes

Leadership and Success Through Incremental Changes

Most of our friends know that at ROBYN, we are focused on honing our marketing skills... And we enjoy sharing what we have learned! To this end, we are thrilled to introduce a side project we've been working on: The 7 Minute Smarketer.

The premise behind the podcast is to sit down with innovative marketers who are experts in different disciplines and give them 7 minutes to make us smarter. The podcasts are hosted on the 7 Minute Smarketer website, which you can hear by clicking the button below...


7 minutes smarketer          Libby Gill




Brian Blake:  Well, hello everyone. Welcome to the 7‑Minute Smarketer. Whether you're a small business, a solo entrepreneur or manage a large marketing communications department, this is the fastest place to get caught up on tools and techniques to make you a smarter marketer.

I'm your host, Brian Blake, and I'm here with my co‑host, Bobby Lehew. Today we're talking with Libby Gill, the CEO of Libby Gill & Company. Welcome, Libby.

Libby Gill:  Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Brian: Glad to have you here. Now some of you probably know that Libby is a PR genius. She's a best‑selling author and an internationally respected executive coach for some very big names. I just want to toss a couple out here. Not that I'm name-dropping, but I think it's a good way to set the stage.

You might be familiar with Sony, Universal, Turner Broadcasting, Dr. Phil, Microsoft, Nike, Pfizer. I could spend our entire time today naming these companies. Let's just say that you know your stuff, and we're very excited to have you with us.

Libby: Well, thank you.

Brian: Before we get too far in, I want to check in with my cohort in crime, Bobby Lehew, who is manning the controls today.

Bobby Lehew:  Yeah.

Brian: We're going to set the clock for seven minutes. And you know the deal, right, Libby?

Libby: I do. I've got to talk fast and give you some smarketing tips.

Brian: That's right. If you can't make us smarter marketers in seven minutes, you owe us a beer. And I'm pretty confident that I'll be buying at happy hour today.

Libby: [laughs] I'll do what I can.

Brian: [laughs] You're considered by many to be a branding expert, and branding is one of those catch words that is sometimes really hard to define. So can you tell me, what do you mean by "branding"?

Libby: It really is. And people I find tend to either oversimplify it or they overcomplicate it. It is really just the articulation of your brand value. What is it you're going to do for me and how are you going to do it?

Brian: You had some great points in a speech that we just saw you give. Can you hit a couple of those real quick? I think it was five of them.

Libby: I did. OK. You've got to have what I call "sticky language." You want to create a whole brand language around what you do. Obviously there are certain things... People go right to the "Oh, we provide results." Well, excuse me, but duh. Who is in business not to provide results?

Brian: Exactly.

Libby: "We have integrity." Oh, really? The rest of you are felons. I mean, you know, it's just so silly. You have to be very specific. And I tell people to find the specificity and the universality. In other words, in this big world of lots of problems that marketers solve, what is it that you specifically do and how do you do it that makes a difference?

Brian: Right. I like that. I'm going to jump to the next thing here, and that's this word that you also used, that's "unstuck." In fact, you wrote a book called "You Unstuck" that kind of gets into overcoming your fears to achieve your goals. I know many of our listeners own small businesses, so marketing is just one aspect of their realities.

What would you say to them about getting unstuck?

Libby: The most important thing is you really have to have is a plan, because a plan will take you past fears. So you do what I call the "CSE method." You clarify the vision. What is it you're trying to accomplish? What do you want?

And to make it simple, think of it in terms of "What do I want this quarter, this week, this year?" Bring it down to earth. Then simplify it. What's not the hardest way to get there but the easiest way to get there?

And finally you've got to execute. You've got to move forward on that plan. To me, the best way to do that is to have something that holds you or someone who holds you accountable.

I have an accountability partner. We talk to each other every Monday and Thursday. We go through "What's on your short list for the week? What do you have to get done? What are your challenges? What are your fears? What are your concerns? Where do you need more information?" Just having that other person to report into makes me get stuff done.

Bobby: That's great. Libby, you've had so much experience working with teams. How does that apply to teams? Same exact principle? Are there any different dynamics? Because I know we're dealing with a lot of large marketing departments and you've got a lot of experience with that.

Libby: Well, sometimes a team can be... The bigger a team the more obstacles you have to work around at times. So you can't let the hierarchy or the politics get in your way. You have to stay very much focused on "What is the end result?"

And another really important thing with teams is you've got to understand your own value. What does the value of your personal brand bring to the team and what does the team bring to the organization? So your brand is all about value. It's always looking at "What is the value that I myself provide?"

Bobby: That is great.

Brian: That is great. Speaking of teams, that's a nice segue into leadership. I know that you coach executives. That's one of your fortes. And I'm fascinated with the various styles of leadership. What skills or strengths do you encourage executives to use themselves?

Libby: Well, of course communication to me is the crux of everything. But a lot of it still goes back to personal branding. I think to be an executive and a senior executive, there is a kind of executive presence, a confidence, a skill level, an ability to inspire and motivate people to act, that comes with that.

People can be very good managers. They can direct traffic. They can get things done. They can manage other people. But to go beyond that and truly be a leader, you've got to find every ounce of that personal brand, that executive presence, and bring it out and put it in front of people.

Frankly, it can be very scary. But when you get to the point where you've decided you're willing to take the risk, people are either going to applaud or throw tomatoes and you don't care which one. Then you've got a shot at really bringing out that real leadership style of your own.

Brian: I love seeing the difference between manager and leader. I think a lot of times they're kind of confused, and there is a definite line between them.

Libby: Yeah. Managers ‑‑ I think Peter Drucker had the great line about it, that, let's see, managers... Oh, I'm not going to remember it right. But basically, leaders are the ones who set the vision and managers are the ones who make sure the vision is carried out. That's essentially what it is.

Brian: Yeah.

Libby: And there's a different between getting things done and articulating a vision that inspires everybody to grow beyond what even they think they're capable of.

Brian: Very good. You also mentioned the Kaizen model or method?

Libby: Oh, it's just the word Kaizen. I call it the Kaizen concept.

Brian: Concept, there we go.

Libby: Right.

Brian: Can we talk about that a little bit? I thought that was great.

Libby: Sure. Kaizen is a combination of two Japanese words, "kai" meaning "change" and "zen" meaning the word we're familiar with that literally means "good." You put those together and it's "change for the good," or "incremental improvement."

I think people are so daunted at trying to be better, to be bigger, to be bolder, all of which I'm in favor of. But we don't necessarily get there by setting this huge, lofty vision that can often shut us down. That's one way people get stuck.

But you've got to be able to set that vision and then take it apart, put it in those bite‑sized pieces so that you are always looking for ways to improve. When I speak and do presentations, I change it up every single time. I can't not.

It's not only studying the organization but what is it that really makes people take action? What is it that inspires them to leave the room and do something? It's the same for any business. How are your systems? How are your operations? How's your sales path? All of those things.

I look at what I'm not good at. And I'm not a great systems or operations person. So that's what I'm constantly looking to shore up. I can think of a million ideas. Getting them done can be the downfall. So I've always got to look at ways to build that.

Brian: I think that's a great message for marketers, in setting goals that they can achieve and then even taking it one step further.

Libby: That is exactly...

Brian: We like to call that "turning it up to 11."

Libby: There you go. And it never stops. It's once you hit 11, then you've got to hit the next 11 or 12 or whatever comes after 11.


Libby: But it is that constant sense, and it's not radical changes. I will often do an initial coaching session with someone where we're looking at different areas of life and business on a 1 to 10 scale. I'm a big believer in making intangible things numerical.

[phone rings]

Libby: Better take that call!


Brian: I know.

Libby: Turn it up to 11! Never stopping!


Libby: But once you see that you're at a two in your, maybe it's your leadership or your brand presence or your sales... I'm not somebody that likes to pick up the phone and call people so I've got a little bit of that call fear. I'd give myself about a three on that. I don't have to ramp it up to a 10 but I've got to ramp it up to a 4.

Brian: Right. That's good advice.

Libby: So that's the incremental improvement. Ramp it up a notch. Then after you've done that, you've hit your 11, ramp it up another notch.

Bobby: There you go.

Brian: That's great. OK. I'm getting the sign that we're about out of time. Is there anything else you want to get in there at the end here?

Libby: Oh, that was the sign? I thought that was your callers calling in!

Bobby: Bad alarm.

Brian: The conga drums.

Bobby: It should have been like a beer opening up.

Libby: Yeah, exactly. I think it's just really look at those ways that you can connect with your audience emotionally. Hit them where they live. That's the most important thing to do, is really give them something of value that's relevant to their lives.

Brian: Well, thank you so much for taking the time to join us today on the 7‑Minute Smarketer.

Libby: My pleasure. Do I owe you a beer?

Brian: Without a doubt, I owe you a couple.

Bobby: That's right.

Brian: And I want to thank you for listening today. You can learn more about Libby Gill on her website libbygill.com. Have a great day.