Specializing in social marketing and business communications training

9 Ways to Benefit from Social Media

IMG_20150502_141223074[1]Most of us who are entrenched in social media are driven by the goal of growing our credibility, visibility and revenues. Yes, we’ve met wonderful new people and friends along the way. Had a few yucks online and maybe a few drinks in person.

However, the goal is business development.

When you think back on what you’ve learned since embarking on this technological journey, it’s quite amazing. Sometimes, I have to just pinch myself. Would you agree?

Here are the 9 Cs of social media that have had a significant impact on my professional and personal development.

  1. Clarity. 140 characters. Six second videos. Infographics. Data visualization. Memes. All of these require clarity in our communication.
  2. Community and curation. Was there life before #hashtags, groups, chats and hangouts? Now, we enjoy sites, apps and platforms such as Kik, ooVoo, Flipboard, 99U, the Skimm, Vice and more. By nature, human beings long to be accepted and be part of a group. There are plenty to choose from in the world of social media.
  3. Compelling. The most successful people in social media are the individuals and brand managers who realize they have something valuable and compelling to share. Their willingness to pass along relevant and timely information that piques the interest of others is magical. It leads to a curiosity that motivates people to want to learn more about you and your business. When your messages and content resonate with others, they’ll be compelled to reach out to you.
  4. Cultivate. Have you learned the lesson of patience? Social media is a fine teacher of patience. It takes time to cultivate relationships, friendships and business. If you’re looking for instant gratification, you’re in the wrong place. We can all benefit from slowing down a bit.
  5. Competency. You’ll be able to grow your business, community and yourself when you stick with your core skills and expertise. Social media demands transparency. You can’t fake competency; long-term anyway. Social media affords all of us the opportunity to commit to a life of learning and the development of new competencies.
  6. Communication. The cornerstone of success is communication. Haven’t your communication skills significantly improved since you began this online journey? Aren’t you savvier about your Tweets, posts and messages than when you first published your profiles and set up your accounts? You’ve likely dabbled in video and are getting more acclimated to different forms of communication. Never say never.
  7. Crisp. Our world and attention move at such warp speeds that we have to use crisp words, language, metaphors and images to connect and influence people. Twitter and texting have taught me to be much more selective about every single word and sentence I use, sans abbreviations and emoji’s.
  8. Charisma. You won’t build business if you’re a social media wallflower. Our new form of networking, blogging and chatting requires personality and allure. Boring doesn’t build business. Introverts are learning how to navigate in this environment, and when they do, they are enjoying it on their own terms.
  9. Comment. Yes, people want to know your opinion! How cool is that? The prerequisite to a meaningful comment (not “great post!”) dictates that I take the time to read someone else’s prose, think about it, consider my own opinion and insights, and try and add to the dialogue. When we comment on posts, we improve our outreach, writing and critical thinking skills. Above all, we invite differing opinions and may just open ourselves to new perspectives and ideas.

What would you add to this list of social media benefits? What have you learned?


Why We Need Chief Digital Officers

2 reframe picturesWhat do Gannett, New York City and Columbia University have in common?

Each were early adopters when they created the role of Chief Digital Officer. The CDOs bring together strategic business practices, technology, skilled leadership and internal and external communications. Most Chief Digital Officers can be found inside of media companies, sitting just a seat or two away from the CEO.

A recent post on emarketer.com says CDOs are most common in these five sectors:

  • Advertising
  • Media
  • Publishing
  • Nonprofit
  • Retail

In 2010, there were lively conversations that CDOs were those who didn’t get the coveted title of President. Others maintained organizations that supported the CDO position were advocating for silos, the curse in marketing and communications.

Today, demand for CDOs is outpacing supply.

A report from The CDO Club released last month finds the estimated number of CDOs worldwide would double between 2014 and 2015, to 2,000. That’s an 800 percent growth from 2012, when there were some 200 CDOs.

The CDO Club, a community of executive digital leaders comprised of 1,000 members, has just named Starbucks CDO Adam Brotman as its 2015 U.S. Chief Digital Officer of the Year.

A complex blend of talent and leadership

Chief Digital Officers are not self-described social media gurus or community managers. CDOs have competencies in the convergence of technology, business, boards and organizational development.

“Business strategies now must be seamlessly interwoven with ever-expanding digital strategies that address not only the web but also mobile, social, local and whatever innovation there may be around the corner,” write Rhys Grossman and Jana Rich of Russell Reynolds Associates, a global executive search firm. In their article titled, The Rise of the Chief Digital Officer, Grossman and Rich state: “To help meet these challenges, companies are increasingly looking for a Chief Digital Officer who can oversee the full range of digital strategies and drive change across the organization.”

To lead a business through a technological transformation is no easy task. CDOs are innovators despite internal skeptics who whisper and rant about the pitfalls of social media.

According to emarketer.com, a 2015 study from Accenture asked executives worldwide about their progress in leveraging digital governance and decision-making. The results: Eighty percent of those surveyed say they had a CDO or comparable role to oversee the use of digital technologies.

CDOs must have the following five competencies: 

  1. They must be comfortable as a possible successor to the CEO. CDOs have to lead a global culture and drive an online presence. He or she must have experience in business operations, management and recruiting and retaining top talent. A CDO is a visionary, especially in our technology-based world.
  2. They must act as agents of changeand grasp the underlying psychology of consensus-building and conflict resolution.
  3. They must have Board experience and solid communication skills. This is imperative, as the CDO is the conduit between stakeholders and senior executive leadership.
  4. They must know how to set—and implement—sound business strategies. An assembled team of seasoned project managers to implement strategies must be a priority.
  5. They must possess deep knowledge of technology, e-commerce, consumer behavior, and social media. This is especially important for media organizations, as the industry’s entire business model continues to transform.

Where is this person?

You may be wondering: Does such a person exist? Where do organizations find one individual who encompasses this blend of intellect and talent?

And if you work in PR, marketing or communications, you may be curious if you have what it takes to be a Chief Digital Officer.

Grossman and Rich maintain that people considering CDO positions “may be reluctant to join established organizations, viewing them as old fashioned.” The co-authors note that many CDO candidates come from cutting-edge, entrepreneurial organizations.

Here’s another noteworthy point from Grossman and Rich. “Companies… have to move very quickly when they find and meet talent that has potential. The current state of supply and demand almost guarantees that other opportunities will be available to talented candidates.”

The bottom line about the evolving role of CDOs brings us to the real bottom line in business. Chief Digital Officers are leading new revenue streams through digital channels that can leave many people and employees feeling uneasy.

If the CDO is unable to succeed in brand management, e-commerce, transactions and customer engagement efforts, his or her organization can soon face financial disaster.



7 Everyday Tasks PR Pros Had To Do Without Technology

PRPros_Beforetechnology_edited1At the risk of sounding like I live in the Smithsonian, please allow me to reflect on how times have changed. Modern day public relations preceded the Web by decades, and many working in the profession may not realize how archaic—and different—our daily work really was. Mind you, I began working in PR 15 years ago, but the points I mention below also apply to my first 15 years out of the gate—in a broadcast newsroom as a news director and anchor. Sure, Mad Men shows us advertising execs who were smoking cigarettes and drinking hard liquor as part of their daily routines. However, in the real world of PR and news, what was happening before Google, YouTube and satellite media tours? In 1947, the Public Relations Society of America was formed. In the 1950s, PR executive Dan Edelman, founder of the global agency bearing his name, created the first media tour. Fast forward to the 1990s or so, and the work of PR pros had evolved, but was markedly different than how we roll today. Every day, we depended on:

  1. Rolodexes, not databases. Without Help A Reporter Out (HARO) and other repositories to connect reporters with sources, offices and desks were decorated with tattered overstuffed rolodexes. They were bursting with weathered business cards and scribbled tabs with coveted names, home phone numbers and private extensions of elected officials, civic leaders and community movers and shakers. Oh, to clarify, the word “community” meant neighborhood or geographic area.
  2. Press releases, not direct message pitches. These documents were often typed on Olivetti or IBM Selectric typewriters. PR budgets included white out, corrector ribbons and paper that wasn’t recycled. Envelopes and postage stamps, too.
  3. File cabinets, not online archives. These ugly metal storage boxes contained news clips, magazine articles, and other placements you secured with blood, sweat and tears.
  4. Research, not Google Alerts. This depended on previous projects, microfiche records and speeches recorded on cassettes and videotapes. Trips to the local library were frequent, and lengthy. World Book Encyclopedias were also part of the PR practitioner’s toolbox.
  5. Telephones, not smartphones. With phones hard-wired to the wall and no voice mail, if you weren’t at your desk when someone returned your call, oh well. Some really important people had electronic pagers. When their “beepers” went off, they found the nearest pay phone and dialed. Callers never had to worry if a live person would pick up. What other options were there?
  6. Press conferences, not Satellite Media Tours. These events were scheduled. And people actually came to them, especially if there was food.
  7. Press kits, not infographics. Overpriced and glossy is how I remember them. Documents contained in these folders took weeks to write and edit. The design, off-site printing and subsequent stuffing gives a new meaning to collaboration. The cost of mailing five of these packets was equivalent to a catered office lunch for 12 executives.

You may want to hold onto this post and re-read in five weeks, five months or five years. If you’re a digital native, you’ll likely be able to write your own version. Addingmachine_PR

Fundamentals Lead to Success

With plenty of talk about the astonishing end to Super Bowl XLIX—and the Seattle Seahawks coaches—it’s important to remember another big sports story that made headlines recently.

Coach K book coverDuke University’s esteemed basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski (aka “Coach K”) celebrated his 1,000th career win when the Blue Devils beat St. John’s University at Madison Square Garden in New York.

The 67-year-old is the first NCAA Division I men’s coach to reach the milestone, another highlight of his 35 coaching seasons at Duke.

How has Coach K amassed such an outstanding record with the Blue Devils (927-249)?

Players from years ago still talk about the many leadership, discipline and sportsmanship lessons that they have learned from Krzyzewski.

In his best-selling book Beyond Basketball, Coach K winds his way through the alphabet and explains his key words for success.

You don’t have to be a basketball fan to appreciate the chapter on Fundamentals:

“I sometimes find myself trying to devise complicated schemes, trying to be more creative. Because I have been coaching for so many years, I sometimes forget that a team, even a veteran team, needs a solid foundation. Business mogul Steve Wynn is right, I need to remind myself that I can be the best in the business by merely doing the basics, better.”

He goes on to say:

“To help turn fundamentals into habits requires intensive, intelligent and repetitive action. If any one of these elements is missing, something will be missing from the foundation of your team. This is why, in every practice, even late in the season, I always have my team continue to work on fundamental drills. It is vital that the athletes actually drill these basics. I constantly remind myself of the most basic formula of teaching: you hear, you forget; you see, you remember; you do, you understand. And when you truly understand, that is when the basics become habitual.”

Which fundamentals have you moved away from? Which fundamentals have to be revisited?

Do you need to get back to basics? F is for fundamentals.

(Image via)

How One Man on a Ferry Changed Twitter and Breaking News

360_us_air_crash_0115How would you like to be called “the most famous citizen journalist of modern times?”

The man who changed the way news is reported—and propelled Twitter to the front line of breaking news—is Janis Krums (pronounced Yanis Krooms).

He had a first-hand look at the “Miracle on the Hudson.”

On January 15, 2009, the world was captivated by U.S. Airways Flight 1549.

The plane, piloted by Captain Chesley Sullenberger, had left New York when it hit a flock of birds. Capt. Sully and his co-pilot were able to safely bring the plane down on the frigid Hudson River. Passengers were seen huddling on the wings of the aircraft awaiting rescue. All 155 people onboard survived.

I’ve interviewed Krums a few times about his role in the moments and months that followed. As a former news director and reporter in New Jersey and New York, I am especially grateful for Krums’ insights.

Krums told me he was on a ferry between New York and New Jersey when the plane went down. He had a cell phone, but remember, this is six years ago. Technology wasn’t as prevalent as it is today. This was long before selfies and Snapchat.

Here are excerpts from our interview:

SY: When you first saw the plane in the Hudson River, what went through your mind?

JK: We were all in disbelief, and then I noticed the other passengers taking pictures with their cell phones. I figured I should, too. So I started to snap a few pictures. It’s not my picture that changed the perception and use of social media and citizen journalism; it’s the fact that I knew how to use my technology and share the photo on Twitter.

SY: You were at the right place, at the right time, with the right knowledge and tools.

JK: At that moment, I saw the value in what it was, but I didn’t see the value of what it could become. I don’t think anyone could see that it could be spread around the world the way it was.

Once something is happening, it’s too late to be learning the technology. I had the tools to spread the message and knew how to use them. If you have the ability to spread the message, you have the power.

SY: So you had no inkling of the magnitude or role in which you would play in the way Twitter now seems to break much of the news that happens worldwide?

JK: I had a very modest following on Twitter of less than 300 people. I thought there was a public forum, and I should Tweet the picture because it could be valuable. At that time, Twitter wasn’t very mainstream, so I didn’t see how big it could become. I didn’t send the picture to CNN or Fox. I just sent it to the followers I had on Twitter. And from there it spread. I don’t think newspapers, journalists and news organizations were using Twitter as a source quite yet. It was pretty new.

SY: You became the news crew, the first on the scene.

JK: Traditional journalists will always be second on the scene from now on, especially in the developed world. That’s because more people have smartphones and video capability.

The younger generation is consuming news not through Television or newspapers, but through the Internet. People now interact with their news. You can get into an online community and start talking about a topic. It makes it special for people once they figure out how to use it. The new generation wants to share and have their opinions out there. If a reporter misses something in a story, a commentator can say, “Hey, you missed this”, or “add that”, and it becomes a living story. Before, it was, “This is how it is and you don’t get a change until an update later on.” Now it becomes a living story and not static.

On January 15, 2009, every person in the world was given a press pass.

With that, we each have enormous power, and an even greater responsibility to get it right.

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5 Things Communicators Must Know About Social Media Marketing

Austin hiway rampsI think it’s safe to say we’re well past debating the relevance of fresh content, online etiquette, and building an engaged community. Would you agree?

Let’s take things to the next level. Here are critical areas communicators must grasp, and be able to apply in everyday business:

1. Understand social sales. Short sales are the name of the game in social media. Inbound marketing, calls to action, memberships and affiliate marketing should be part of your mix. Think: Multiple revenue streams.

The Science of Social Selling: 5 Studies that Prove the Power of Social

How to Find the Value of a Lead

12 Proven Ways Your Copy Can Get More Conversions

2. Start spreading the news. Frank Sinatra sang New York, New York decades before anyone muttered the word “Internet.” Today, we must all cross promote and use numerous platforms to spread content and news about our brands, products and services.

Infographic: 25 Tweaks to Capture Attention in Social Networks

14 Podcasts to Make You a Better Social Marketer in 2015

How to Choose the Right Social Media Networks for Your B2B Marketing

3. Think in images. Research has proven that the human brain thinks in pictures, not words. We are visual junkies craving something to look at. Straight text is dull and leaves readers wanting more. Give them more.

Infographic: 8 Ways to Use Instagram for Business

Visuals, Schmisuals: Here’s What Your Business Really Needs to Pop

Grab Consumer Attention with the Power of Images

Flipboard: The Next Big Thing in Public Relations

4. Include podcasting. Podcasts are easy to produce and are powerful because they can be used virtually anywhere. Unlike video, slide decks, or blogs, people can listen to podcasts while driving, exercising, doing chores and flying in an airplane. As a former radio news anchor and news director, podcasting resonates with me. Basic audio, an engaging conversation with a credible guest and a relevant topic are all you need. Use your voice!

How to Successfully Launch Your Own Podcast

How to Make a Good Podcast/Radio Show

Infographic: 21 Tips to Maximize Your Podcasting Results  

5. Concentrate on inbound marketing. Chasing money and potential clients is a waste of everyone’s time, energy and resources. Inbound marketing is not disruptive. It allows you to gather quality leads and interact with people who choose to engage with you based on your reputation and content. This means list building, opt-in boxes and segmentation. If your database includes people who never voluntarily signed up for your information, that’s called spam. Seth Godin says that if the receiver thinks it is spam, then it is spam.

3 Steps to Stellar List Building

6 Key Aspects to Inbound Marketing

Rethinking Today’s Inbound Marketing Mix 

Consider bookmarking and sharing this post, as these shortcuts to fresh ideas and resources can help you easily navigate our new world of marketing, sales, and communication.

PS: For hundreds of tips and ideas on social media and business communication, order my  e-book here.

Do Leaders Really Think ‘It’s a Jungle Out There?’

A leaf on the vineLeaders and business professionals will have plenty of work in 2015, and, hopefully, there will be some downtime as well.

Yes, it’s important to unplug and take a break from the office and daily responsibilities. A change of scenery is equally as important.

Motivational coach and business author Denis Waitley takes an annual pilgrimage to Africa that is worth noting. He has written about The Safari Called Life. The metaphor of the safari and work is what’s most important.

“I view life as a way of traveling on a mysterious, ever-challenging safari, where the trail is blazed by our daily choices, actions and responses,” says Waitley. “There is an oft-repeated cliché I have heard ever since I was a boy: “It’s a jungle out there!”

We hear incessant news reports and dismal accounts of violence, unhappiness and instability around our neighborhoods, cities, and the world. People are hurting. Pessimism is permeating our minds and spirits.

How can we survive and achieve success and serenity in this savage paradise called life, ponders Waitley.

“Life in every environment today is a savage paradise. Savage to the ignorant, uneducated, unskilled, prejudiced and ill-informed. A paradise to those who have learned to adapt to and manage change, remain flexible, unhook prejudices, view failures and mistakes as temporary detours and target corrections, and remain lifelong learners. Our safari guides were comfortable and at ease in the dangerous ecosystem of Africa. We, on the other hand, felt vulnerable, insecure and hesitant. We were the newcomers, the tourists. They were the guides, confident through training and experience.”

Using the safari metaphor, Waitley says the quality of your journey will depend on your preparation, choices and responses. He urges us to become a guide, instead of a tourist.

How will you prepare for your own adventure?

Here are Waitley’s suggestions:

• Learn from those who have gone before

• Travel lightly; no extra baggage

• Be prepared and expect the unexpected

• The more you learn the less you fear

Slow down, watch and listen

• Respect your environment

• Leave your ego behind

• Anticipate, innovate and make do

• Be optimistic; tomorrow did not exist before

• Collect memories instead of souvenirs

• Enjoy the journey

• Celebrate all life, not just your own

So, is it a “jungle out there” or a glorious adventure awaiting each of us?

Do Business Leaders Communicate with Respect?

Train on the tracks in Metuchen 2013It’s not a joke but many senior executives in business are kidding themselves.

They mistakenly believe that they are communicating to colleagues and employees with respect and kindness. But with some brief introspection and coaching, leaders can quickly discover a level of self-deception and betrayal that deeply impacts the performance and behaviors of multitudes of people.

This is the foundational work of The Arbinger Institute, a global management training and consulting company.

One of Arbinger’s best-selling books, Leadership and Self-Deception, explains that there are two kinds of people.

Communicators who are “in the box” have a distorted view of themselves and others. They are isolated and treat others as objects; entities that lack feelings and emotions. Leaders who are inside the box are disrespectful in subtle ways as they operate with an absence of empathy and compassion.

Executives who are “outside the box” are thoughtful and considerate of other people. They are attentive and treat people—including strangers—with kindness.

If two people in a conversation are both in the box, there’s little room for progress, negotiation, and positive outcomes.

A simple way to know

Consider this example from Leadership and Self-Deception:

You are sitting on a crowded commuter train and the seat next to you is empty. Do you put your bag on it and hide behind your newspaper hoping no one will squeeze in? We’ve all been on both sides of this situation—the one who is seated and in the box, and the stressed passenger desperately searching for a place to sit. If the seated passenger was out of the box, he would make eye contact and smile at someone, silently sending a welcome signal to take the open seat.

Those in the box are betraying themselves, according to Arbinger.

Self-betrayal is about a time when you had a sense of something you should do for others, but didn’t.

Read between the lines

When communicating at work, you may realize now that the few words you exchange when greeting your administrative assistant are rushed?

Were you inside the box as your admin responded to your “How are you doing today?” obligatory question as you breezed past the desk? Did you forget that your admin is a human being with feelings?

You may not have recognized your actions as being insensitive but your assistant likely did.

A recent blog post on the Arbinger website explains that garnering respect or disrespect comes not from outward behavior but from deep within the spirit and heart of the leader.

“What is that spirit? In Arbinger terms, we describe it as a leader’s ‘way of being.’ It is how I choose to see others around me. I see them either as people who count like me or as objects to manipulate or ignore. This spirit, or way of being, is a choice with consequences. If I choose to see others as people instead of objects, and hence manifest a spirit of respect toward those I lead, I inspire or invite responsiveness and respect from them. If I choose to see others as objects, and manifest a spirit of disrespect, I excite strong resistance to my leadership, despite the appearance of compliance…This awareness provokes an ‘others-mindedness’ that benefits the whole.

In a responsive way of being, we are open, yielding and present in the moment, whether we are working with people or trying to solve problems. We let the influence of others guide how we see and treat them. We have the freedom and courage to be self-critical and thus adaptive. We become leaders…who are poised for success…”

Self-awareness about being in or out of the box is the first step towards improving your communication and leadership.

How to Carve Out Your Niche in the Proverbial Rabbit Hole

CheshireCat2The tale of Alice in Wonderland was penned by Lewis Carroll some 150 years ago.

Bored little Alice follows the White Rabbit down a rabbit hole, and comes face-to-face with adventure. They encounter locked doors, gardens, secret keyholes, and of course, the Cheshire Cat.

For the past 150 years, the expression, “we went down a rabbit hole” translates to being distracted or wandering aimlessly down an unplanned path.

It’s especially true with the vast amount of information that’s available to us on the Internet. It doesn’t take much to get lost in the rabbit hole known as Google. The maze of links and related topics are fascinating, yet they can make all of us feel like we have attention deficit disorder.

The roadmap to the niche

Is the proverbial rabbit hole such a bad place? Often, we find ourselves pondering, “How did I even get here?” It usually takes some backtracking to recall the purpose of the original search. When we think about the amount of time that’s been pilfered away, frustration sets in.

Social media has served as a keen reminder to business professionals to stay focused on the needs of their target audiences. Author and marketing expert Seth Godin says, “Don’t scream to the masses; whisper to a few.”

In business, whispering to the few is the rabbit hole. It’s not a time warp or a place of distraction. It’s quite the opposite.

The rabbit hole is the niche.

The rabbit hole can be a place of abundance because it forces us to identify our target audience’s needs and challenges. But more importantly, working in the rabbit hole demands that you craft and create solutions for those in the smallest tip of the funnel who need—and can afford—to pay you.

Opportunities lie within this crevice.

Going my way?  

The rabbit hole is the vertical within a vertical that’s within a vertical.

It’s the deep niche that differentiates you from competitors. Opportunity presents itself because you know where you fit in within the niche. You’ve researched, studied, learned, and made mistakes. You’re entrenched in this narrow pinpoint that offers opportunities most will never experience or understand.

The rabbit hole represents a fine balance of comfort and curiosity. You don’t feel trapped or bored with “cabin fever” for one reason: You have a true sense of deep and wondrous curiosity within what appears to be a tiny place. It keeps you intrigued rather than yearning to escape.

The rabbit hole where successful people dwell is the niche, the sweet spot, the vertical, the real differentiator. We must view the rabbit hole as the golden place to reach, a space that has doors of opportunity awaiting us. It’s a vast niche.

Don’t think of the doomed rabbit hole as the wasteland that pulls us off task. Instead consider the rabbit hole the specialized knowledge and expertise that you have that’s missing in the marketplace.

Go there.


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How Leaders Communicate Their Vision

YOU editedIf you’ve ever had your pupils dilated during an eye exam, you know the frustration of the distorted vision that lingers for hours.

People in all walks of life and occupations deal with blurred distorted vision every day.

  • There are eye doctors who have no vision. No, they don’t need drops to dilate their pupils. They are bright, educated professionals with tunnel vision and closed minds.
  •  There are graceful and poised dancers and actors who can make all the right moves on stage. Yet they can’t seem to get out of their own way.
  •  Ever spend leisure time with teachers who know everything?
  •  Have you talked to truck drivers who have no sense of direction in life?


Leaders must have clear vision, the right moves, the willingness to learn, and the discipline of direction to be successful.

The ‘Ralph Kramden’ big idea moment

There is actually nothing mystical about vision, states a post on Bates-Communications.com, an executive leadership consulting firm.

“A vision is a picture of what an organization could and should be. A hallmark of great leaders is that their vision includes big ideas. Big ideas get people excited. Nobody wants to do something small. Leaders want to feel motivated about coming to work, because what they do matters. Some examples of big ideas that most of us are familiar with are Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech and President John F. Kennedy’s vision for the space program, ‘We choose to go to the moon . . . not because it is easy, but because it is hard.’”

The post goes on to say that great business leaders also know how to paint a vivid picture of the future. They make it look easy. However, most of them have worked hard to develop and articulate their powerful thoughts.

Steeped in value and structure

Matthew Richter is a global management performance consultant who says leadership requires a vision that isn’t just a picture in someone’s head. It has to be a complete understanding for the big picture of where the leader wants to be.

“Leadership guru Stan Slap says that the vision should be a better place than where we are today. It should be a clearly communicable picture of the future, steeped in value, and philosophy, as well as structure,” writes Richter. “A clear vision provides direction and establishes purpose. For example, a training department may have a clear vision for curriculum development. They know what it will look like three years from now. When a problem arises, their vision facilitates them toward a solution. When their vision is challenged by outside forces, they have the structural strength to defend it.” Richter points out that not everyone has to agree on the vision, as it belongs to the leader.

The followers work with the leader to find the best way to get to it, he says.

“Great visionary thinking utilizes a symbiotic relationship between the leader and the follower, fostering collaboration, innovation, and camaraderie,” notes Richter.

Speaking of vision

Leaders also know when to speak about their companies and articulate their visions.

Stanislav Shekshnia is anaffiliate professor of entrepreneurship and family enterprise at INSEAD. He has interviewed many Fortune 500 leaders, and concludes:

“Not only did we feel the sheer passion of these individuals, but saw that their personal ambition is merged into the goals of their organizations. They appeared to be on a self-defined mission, rather than on a job.”

What do you envision?  Is it clear?