What the CEO Wants you to Know

I first heard about Ram in Fortune magazine in an article titled The strange existence of Ram Charan, where his travel regime was dissected: he travels non-stop and regardless of his location, his assistants in Dallas send him new clothes via courier and he returns his dirty laundry to them.

What the CEO wants you to know was the first of his books that I purchased.

This book is from a similar approach to Winning and The Art of Profitability
in terms of it's ease of reading and practical views on business.

In it, Ram takes the principles of 'street smarts' and relates those basics to how a good CEO looks at, and runs, their business. Those principles include margin, velocity and ROE but in a far more engaging way than any business textbook you could pickup. Moreover, it does remind the reader that everyone in a business, whether it is the CEO or the receptionist, is responsible for the organisations profitability.

I managed to bump into Ram in the Qantas lounge in LA whilst returning from Chicago in November of last year - he's quite a nice guy and judging from the people chatting with him, quite populate with Australian executives.

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posted by Lee Gale @ 1:29 AM, ,

Predictable Irrationality If You Build What They Ask For, They Will Not Come

Traditional approaches to defining and deploying enterprise software fail to account for that fact that people are influenced by their environment, emotions, shortsightedness, and other forms of irrationality. How do we get past the predictable irrationality of people to redefine the problem and create experiences that people will embrace?

Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

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posted by Lee Gale @ 3:02 PM, ,

Life's a Pitch

I originally bought this book knowing of my leaving Adobe so thought it would be useful to get my brain into the right head-space for my next role. My partner also constantly accuses me of being too 'nice' at work and not trumpeting my successes nearly as much as I should.

So it was with those points in mind that I picked this book up at the airport on my way over to the United States in December, but as usual, didn't get through nearly half the reading material I took with me.

Fast forward to late February 2009, with several job options available to me, I finally opened this book (and ignore that it took until November for me to blog about it).

The book is organised into halves with each of the authors providing a different approach. Roger Mavity writes the first half and Stephen Bayley the second. Roger's style is more end-result oriented that is concise, organised and business-like, where as Stephen's style is a journey that is more philosophical and colourful. I gravitated more to the first half initially, but after a few chapters the second half grew on me.

This really is a 'must read'. For everyone. At first glance, you'd believe it was only for sales people but about 80 pages in you realise that "the whole of Life's a Pitch".

The first half of the book opens with a brilliant explanation of why 'pitching' matters:
"Life is not a pattern of gradually evolving improvement. It's a series of long, fallow patches punctuated by moments of crucial change. How you handle the long fallow stretches doesn't matter much. How you handle the moments of change is vital

These big moments are not decided by chance - they're decided by how you handle them. How you pitch your case is what makes the difference."
You can either choose to believe that or not... I do - as I made the point in my blog Optimism & Staying focused where I called out Po Bronson's point of similar effect as well as the underlying them to Outliers.

We're then guided through chapters such as:
Beautifully, we're then taken to the application of the pitch with examples such as job interviews, which as Roger notes: "All pitches are a personal test. But they are not a test of you alone. They may be a test of you and your team; they may be a test of you and your idea.... Except in one very special case: the interview".

Finally, Roger finishes up with the psychology of pitching - understanding the transfer of power. Again, to quote "It's about the removal of negatives and the creation of positives". It relates a little to the book All Marketers are Liars in terms of understanding the dynamics of what you are attempting to do. It's this chapter and the following six that segway so nicely from the 'how' into Stephen's... I guess you'd call it the 'why bother?'.

Read it and you will be better for it. Chop chop!

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posted by Lee Gale @ 1:54 AM, ,

Understanding business development

As usual, Seth Godin makes some good points in his blog Understanding business development.

Definitely worth reading if your are in a business development role (and we're all in business development these days) or alliance role.

I think Seth's points echo and expand on the comments I made in Making business alliances work - I particularly like point #3:

Courtship, negotiation and marriage. Every deal has three parts, and keeping them straight is essential. During the courtship phase, you win when you are respectful, diligent, enthusiastic, engaging, outgoing, and relentless in your search to make a connection. Do your homework, research people's backgrounds, learn about their kids, visit them--don't make them visit you. Look people in the eye, ask hard but engaging questions, you know the drill. Basically, treat people as you'd like to be treated, because the people you most want to work with have a choice, and they may just not pick you. Hint: if you skip the courtship part, the other two stages probably won't come up.


posted by Lee Gale @ 1:11 AM, ,

Platforms vs Eyeballs aka Assets vs Expenses

I was reading closely related blogs of Seth Godin the other day.

The first was The platform vs. the eyeballs where he looks at the shift in marketing to building a platform which which to collaboration & communicate with your community vs targeting eyeballs with your message.

As usual, Seth has some great points there everyone in sales & marketing should think about.

The second was Do marketers have assets? which when read after the blog above, really should jolt you into thinking about where you are investing in your business to build assets, vs just building expenses.

Image by Sanja Gjenero


posted by Lee Gale @ 1:14 AM, ,

Making business alliances work

I promised back in a May blog to write about "the pitfalls of alliances".

First of all, there is always a lot of debate over terminology in this area, but to be clear I think these factors apply to both joint ventures, business alliances and strategic alliances.

I thought a cool definition of an alliance was by Rosabeth Moss Kanter in an HBR article: Alliances are the corporate equivalent of "friends with benefits." The partners combine forces to achieve strategic goals of their own without getting married, being engaged, or dating exclusively.

Secondly, I'm pretty sure there are entire semesters devoted to this and related topics at business schools around the world, so this blog is by no means exhaustive - just my two cents on the topic. :-)

My personal views as to why alliances fail are as follows:
  1. The business model wasn't clear;
  2. There wasn't a shared plan & measurement;
  3. There wasn't a clear enough value proposition for customers;
  4. Senior Management didn't make a commitment to making the partnership work; and
  5. The people factor.
Trying to get a square peg in a round hole is simply a lesson in futility, so setting out with a partnership or alliance without clarity on the business model is going to end in a world of hurt.

A good article on the "why are we doing this and what is the best structure for us to achieve our objective" is the Booz Allen Hamilton article here. In The Art of Profitability the issue of business model design is simplified into easy to understand models. And of course, there are tonnes of assets online including at McKinsey's wesbite and HBR.

With any business endeavour - if you want to get from A, to B, to C - you've got to have a plan. And for a plan to work, you've got to ensure everyone with something at stake is involved.

Sounds obvious, right?

What's amazing is how hard it is to get 'busy people' to commit to joint planning to put on paper "here's what I want, here's what you want, and here's how we're going to win together".

Planning by itself, however, isn't going far enough. As an Open Texter said in his blog "if you don't keep score then you are only practicing" - a statement Lou Gerstner echoed with "people respect what you inspect".

There are some really good tools out there to make both the planning & measurement easy. Checkout Salesforce.com and Channel Dynamics for ideas.

To point #2 - a good example of 1+ 1 = 3 is how Open Text has selected it's strategic partners, Microsoft and SAP. In both cases, the partner is a leader in a segment (Knowledge Worker vs Enterprise Processes), lacks the value that Open Text provides (Enterprise Content Management) and customers are clear on why they need the combined solution.

With any endeavour, if senior management isn't committed to the deal, no one is going to get behind the partnership. Jack Welch makes this point in Winning where he advises managers have to become cheerleaders for the new project.

Finally, the people factor. Like all relationships, you've got to work at it. Advice given to me a long time ago by a great boss & mentor was that "people deal with people". I think all too often people come to the party with their point of view and their agenda forgetting that the other party could be doing that as well.

Image by Mateusz Stachowski

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posted by Lee Gale @ 1:04 AM, ,


A handy concept to understand in sales is yours and the other parties BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement).

BATNA is the course of action that will be taken by a party if the current negotiations fail and an agreement cannot be reached - a party should generally not accept a worse resolution than its BATNA.

I'm always amused when I enter a negotiation with someone who hasn't looked at the situation from a position other than theirs. Equally amusing is someone who hasn't fully explored their options to understand which ones are actually available and/or suitable.

BATNA is the key focus and the driving force behind a successful negotiator and it has interesting parallels with the battle strategy of Helmuth von Moltke.

Moltke's main thesis was that military strategy had to be understood as a system of options since only the beginning of a military operation was plannable.

As a result, he considered the main task of military leaders to plan for all possible outcomes. His thesis can be summed up by two statements, one famous one that I often repeat: No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.

Worth noting with any negotiation, people's positions and what they value will change over time (timing is everything).

The important thing is to ask for what you want - don't make people guess!

Image by Sanja Gjenero

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posted by Lee Gale @ 1:29 AM, ,

SAP Value Engineering

As part of my recent travels to Ontario, I spent three days with the Open Text APJ SAP team and some smart guys (Bill & Kris) at Open Text's head-office learning the in's and out's of SAP's Value Engineering process, specifically how it pertains to Open Text's solutions for SAP.

SAP Value Engineering is the process of looking at the value lifecycle for a company's IT investments from discovery to optimization:
During the training, our focus was on the Value Discovery process - essentially building the business case.

Now, for the cynics out there, you'll be chuckling away wondering: what sane customer would put any value on an IT vendor's business case?

Having gone through this process and having spent years working in the SAP ecosystem, I can tell you the key reason customers value this process is not solely for the initial business case itself - although that is quite value.

What is truly valuable is gaining a thorough understanding of what you need to deliver in order to generate value from an investment. This insight is equally useful for both parties and helps create a partnership on the road to actually realising that value.

The alternative process is that an organisation sets their budget for a project, engages vendors, picks the lowest price offer and delivers a project that could be on-time and on-budget... but totally misses the opportunity to deliver spectacular business transformation and returns because the parties involved don't really understand where the opportunity was.

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posted by Lee Gale @ 1:12 AM, ,

Boost Your Sales Productivity, Effectiveness and Collaboration

For those of you in sales, I'd recommend investing 10-30 minutes of your time checking out this webinar content presented by Jigsaw and Salesforce.com.

There are some great reminders, including:
You can either View the recording or simply View the Slides.


posted by Lee Gale @ 2:10 AM, ,

SAP accounces recipients of the Pinnacle Awards 2009

On May 12th, SAP announced the recipients of the Pinnacle Awards 2009 for partner excellence.

I'm proud that the efforts of the Adobe Asia Pacific team in 2008, were recognised in Adobe winning "Regional Software Solutions Partner of the Year - APJ".

Whilst I'm no longer with Adobe, having left on Jan 31st 2009, I had the opportunity to lead the SAP sales business for Adobe in Asia Pacific during that period and I can tell you that the teams at SAP and Adobe in each office locally, regionally and globally pulled together to execute seamlessly.

A few shout-outs I'd like to make for those that deserve thanks for that award:

Getting two software companies to work together successfully isn't as easy as it would seem on paper. In fact, any alliance will be fraught with challenges from both within and externally. I'll take a crack at the topic of "the pitfalls of alliances" in my next blog.

Having now joined Open Text on May 1 2009, I'm looking forward to the challenge of winning that award again next year. :-)

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posted by Lee Gale @ 3:06 AM, ,

Nine steps to PowerPoint magic (and Seth's Best of 2008)

When I blogged about All Marketers are Liars, I had indicated I was a fan of Seth's opinions, not just that book. I follow Seth's blog regularly and thought his "best of 2008" worth sharing.

Of particular note is the blog on Really Bad PowerPoint and it's close relative, Nine Steps to PowerPoint magic.

I think Seth takes a point and sharpens it to such a fine point in order to absolutely guarantee it breaks through. Therefore perhaps a few of these suggestions can be casually applied. :-)

Having said that, how many presentations have you sat through as a conference/meeting attendee that just plain sucked? As Seth says: "Communication is about getting others to adopt your point of view, to help them understand why you’re excited (or sad, or optimistic or whatever else you are)."

Perhaps a tactic I'll employ in 2009 is to send people these articles as part of my MS Outlook meeting acceptance email. :-)

For the next big presentation you are asked/invited to do, try the points Seth outlines:
  1. Use cue-cards. I cheat and use the presenter notes in PowerPoint;
  2. Make slides that reinforce your words, not repeat them. I love using pictures instead of words/bullet points; and
  3. Create a written document to leave-behind. I really need to do this more as I just can't help myself in trying to pack in as much data as possible (I'm a detail person!!);

Kudos to

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posted by Lee Gale @ 3:57 AM, ,

You Suck at Photoshop

I was introduced to this video series whilst attending Adobe's 2009 sales conference in San Jose.

What a riot!!! This guy's sense of humour is great, if not a little dark. My favourite is episode #4: "strap on your stupid and get at it"... "you've only been using about $75 worth of Photoshop and this is going to open you up to, like, at least $250 worth". :-)

Aside from the hilarity of the clips, there is quite a lot you can learn from this professionally. The first point is the authentic style of the presenter - uber critical in gaining the audience's respect. Another key lesson is the role YouTube can play in how an organisation can support it's customer base with fun and interesting tutorials on products. And finally, this series reiterates that learning doesn't need to be boring!

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posted by Lee Gale @ 5:38 AM, ,

Marketing lessons from the US election

Following on from my blog on State of Denial and the recent inauguration of President Obama, I think it's worth taking a look at Seth Godin's Marketing lessons from the US election.

In doing some additional research to provide counterpoint for this blog, I Googled "analysis us election 2008" and found 3m+ articles.

Shortly before just closing the browser in an uncharacteristic moment of laziness, :-), my eye fell on the URL http://english.aljazeera.net. This took me to their analysis of battleground states for the election. This goes to show just how programmed by mainstream media I have (had?) become. I see "aljazeera" and think "terrorist news network". After a quick read, their analysis reads just like CNN's or BBC's. In fact, it has more facts and less sound bites. I've subsequently left the site with a reprogrammed view of Aljazeera as an "Arab and Muslim world news network".

But let me leave you on a humorous note... Jon's highlights from the Bush years:

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posted by Lee Gale @ 2:54 AM, ,

Timing is everything

Continuing from my blog about the book The 4-Hour Workweek, I'm known to be in the habit of saying: Timing is everything.

I picked up this view with respects to sales, but it applies to so much of what we do.

Tim outlines in his book, "when you ask for something often has a bigger impact than what you ask for".

Think about how this applies to:
I think the big challenge for a lot of people when dealing with timing, is that it really requires you to be thinking about the bigger picture and other people i.e. not yourself.

Searching high and low for the right terminology here was challenging. I went past sapience, consciousness, self-awareness, conscientiousness and settled at empathic. Being empathic means being able put yourself in the other person's shoes (not literally please), but don't confuse being empathic with sympathetic (the former is awareness where the later involves having a positive reaction).

Of course, the counterpoint to "timing is everything" is that "the timing is never right".

I hope you enjoy mulling over the yin and yang of timing. Next time you need to ask for something from someone, take some time to think how timing plays a role in getting the result you want.

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posted by Lee Gale @ 12:59 AM, ,

All Marketers Are Liars

I was first introduced to Seth Godin's views and style on his regular "Change Agent" posting on Fast Company. The article that hooked me was his amusing views on business schools.

So, on a rare occasion when we were dashing through the airport on our way to a holiday (not work), I quickly grabbed his book All Marketers Are Liars from the shelf.

Seth offers his views on how marketers can discover and tell authentic stories that are believed by those who tell them and listen to them.

It appealed to me as pretty much the whole book is relevant in my work in software sales.

Note, there are extensive references to:
I'd recommend checking these out first in order to get more value out of "All Marketers Are Liars".

Essentially, the key take-away I saw in All Markets Are Liars, was the concept of appealing to people's worldviews and developing marketing (messaging) around that, rather than trying to buck the system.

As Seth proposes, people’s worldviews are different and we don’t all want the same thing. People can see the same data and make a totally different decision - so don’t try and change someone’s worldview. Seth contents that marketing succeeds when enough people with similar worldviews come together in a way that allows marketers to reach them cost-effectively, and therefore your opportunity lies in finding a neglected worldview, framing your story in a way that this audience will focus on and going from there.

But one caveat: a worldview is not forever - it’s what the consumer believes right now.

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posted by Lee Gale @ 3:09 AM, ,