Archive for the ‘CEO PR’ Category

12 Leadership Lessons of “The Drive”

January 12, 2012
Tips to Lead Your Team to Business Success

Twenty-five years ago, a young Denver Bronco quarterback named John Elway demonstrated a set of historic leadership lessons.

The lessons, now older than current Bronco phenom Tim Tebow, could help you as a CEO reach your business goals or provide a real-world example to your team. They stand the test of time.

Quarterback Elway guided his team on an improbable 98-yard drive to tie the Cleveland Browns in the AFC Championship Game with only seconds left to play. His team would go on to win the contest over the then-stunned Browns on a field goal in overtime.

Video documents the extraordinary event known as, “The Drive.” Watch some great leadership:

The Drive: John Elway

Over 15 plays and 5 minutes and 2 seconds, “The Drive” featured:

  • A clear vision
  • An audacious goal
  • An unequivocal deadline
  • The right talent on the Denver bus
  • Inspiration from the leader and from within the team
  • Team members who understood their roles
  • Clear communications
  • Great tactical execution
  • Stops, starts and learning along the way
  • No quit Success
  • Celebration

We’ve all been a member of a high-performing team.

Lessons from “The Drive” of 1987 can boost your team’s performance today.


If I Ran Your Newsroom…

November 15, 2011
Social Media, Journalism and Engaging Business Communications

An international media network recently surveyed me, seeking advice for improving how its newsrooms and journalists around the world engage with their audiences on social media.

One tip I offered:

  • Engage with followers vs. broadcasting to them. More social media tools exist than ever to join an ongoing, online conversation. Get in there. Participate. Build stronger relationships, increase loyalty and be the go-to resource. The ROI? Trust, credibility and viewership can be measured. Plus, it’s good for business and fun.

Bottom Line:
Viewers / readers desire to know you, as they seek news and information.

Engage with us, share and reveal yourself and your day.

Market leaders are engaging. Social media leadership reinforces your reputation, as it  improves the “customer” experience.

Think of it this way:
When you tweet us back – even “RT thanks” – it’s like getting an autograph or shaking hands.

The Heart of Steve Jobs

October 7, 2011
An Untold Story: Steve Jobs made this Work, too

In 2003, a younger family member battled cancer in his Bay Area home. My son: Let’s go to Calif., care for family and visit WWDC. Me: As a single parent, how to afford WWDC and travel? I’ll ask Apple. Son: I’m a developer if that helps. Me: You’re just 13. Son: “Been programming since age 8 … on your Mac… .”

Fast forward: We both attended WWDC 2003 as “VIP” guests of Steve Jobs, who also saw to it that we had time to care for my family. Until now, our story’s gone untold. Apple / Steve Jobs made it “just work.” I want his family to know this … and more. See conclusion.

So, I email Apple PR: “We live in Colo., younger family in Bay Area is fighting cancer, my son just had a birthday and an idea: Can he attend WWDC as a student to see Mr. Jobs’ Keynote? He may be Apple’s youngest developer. If so, we could both do a trip that combines my son’s technical gifts with private family needs. Cancer – chemo.”


Apple: “We checked. As a student/developer, your son can attend. He will be Mr. Jobs’ VIP guest.” Whoa! “Your son should check in at Moscone Center.” Me: “He just turned 13. Can I escort him to the door?” Apple: “Are you a developer?” Me: “No. I blogged before there was a public Internet, used Macs since they were invented, and may’ve been the first to do a master’s thesis (communications and physics) at UNM on a Mac. We’re trying to combine family care, experience our passion for Apple / Steve Jobs, and afford both.”


Apple email: “You two will both be VIP guests of Mr. Jobs. You’re all set.” Guests of Mr. Jobs! Front and center. Below is a pic before the Keynote – son, Jake, already a programming / cyber security catch – now, out-of-the-park technical / leadership talent:

Apple, WWDC 2003

Apple WWDC 2003, S. Francisco

Keynote … innovation elegance. So many, “Why didn’t I think of that(s)?!”

Confession: During the Keynote, I secretly snapped a picture. I had to. Thank goodness no flash!

Steve Jobs, Apple, Keynote, WWDC  2003

Steve Jobs, Keynote, WWDC 2003

After his Keynote, in that huge room, Mr. Jobs greeted, Jake, my son, and his guest: Jobs: “So, what did you think?” Son: “Neat!” Jobs: “NO, what do you REALLY think?!” The two chatted. Mr. Jobs sought out the kid in the room, first, before the reporters, etc. He gave us all iSight’s – the cams. I still have mine, treasured.

Apple iSight 2003

Afterwards, chowder on the Wharf, combing through the press packet, reliving the Keynote. A dad, a birthday boy, Apple, Mr. Jobs. The Jobs-Keynote glow was insanely magical. Then, we drove over a Golden Gate Bridge to help my family face cancer. Very hard emotionally and physically, but we were there, thanks to Apple / Mr. Jobs. He helped get us to Calif. to help our family.

This was before Mr. Jobs announced his own cancer. During our time in the Bay Area, we made a difference – my family moves on, raising two, healthy kids. Mr. Jobs’ heart helped us provide support.

Big picture: Apple / Mr. Jobs knew about my family’s cancer … allowed my son and me to see his Keynote … and got us to SF to help my family. He got it.

Steve Jobs touched generations, and, until now, I’ve not told this story. But there’s one more thing.

This summer, many years later, my son, Jake, physics degree in hand, computer science degree soon, too, worked at Apple, for Mr. Jobs! I don’t know on what, and would not say if I did. Apple magic, I’m sure. Once a guest … he attended WWDC 2011 as an employee.

Apple Headquarters, Cupertino

Jake outside Apple Mothership 2011, Cupertino

Jake just wrote:

“I first met the man years ago, and finally had the opportunity to work under his culture this year. I have really come to admire the vision, leadership, and impact that has been exhibited by no other man in history. Rest in peace, Steve Jobs.

Let us look forward to the next Big Innovator; time will tell if he will compare with the greatest innovator the world has ever known.”

Peace and love, Steve Jobs and Apple. You’ve touched my family. There is great beauty and comfort in the Circle of Life. #ThankYouSteve

Apple, WWDC, Jeff Schwartz
WWDC 2011
Apple Headquarters, 2011, Cupertino

Author - Jeff: Outside Apple's Mothership Summer 2011, Cupertino

Disclosures: Jeff Schwartz is a Colorado-based communications consultant. He owned Apple common stock in the past as an individual. He uses Apple products as a consumer. He does not market or review them. His son worked for Apple this summer. Jeff wished he could’ve. Apple is not and has not been a client of his directly or indirectly. Jeff has worked directly with Nobel Laureates, astronauts, Presidential appointees, etc. – but considers himself blessed to have met Steve Jobs and experienced his innovation.

One, Must Metric for Apple, CEOs…and You

April 15, 2010
Apple’s Stock Price: A Fast Metric for Evaluating the iPad’s Success

When Apple and Steve Jobs announce something new…people are quick to share their opinions. Including me.

Such is the case with the iPad’s recent launch. But was the launch successful and how would you know – reading newsclips, sales estimates, blog postings and product reviews? All are legitimate metrics.

Here’s another, powerful and fast way to evaluate the market acceptance of an announcement…and your company:  Analyze your stock chart. This fits with an old business adage, “The charts don’t lie.”

In Apple’s case (NASDAQ: AAPL) the stock is up almost $50 since the unveiling of the iPad. That’s significant. I’m not saying that the stock will remain ballistic. I am noting that key market research is in from the big institutions, hedge funds and large investors that “move” stocks. And according to the stock chart, Apple management and its products, including the iPad, earned widespread market confidence. In a nutshell, the investing whales voted with their money…and the vote is two-thumbs up. That is important and available information.

Question: How does your PR or Marketing firm measure success for your campaigns…can they read a stock chart and use it to help evaluate your reputation, business and ROI? Few can. “That’s something for Wall Street analysts,” they might say. I disagree. Stock charts are a metric available to all – and it is real information, and can be followed minute-by-minute.

I track stock charts all the time. They are part of my “toolkit” for measuring success and sizing up your reputation.

Short of that, there are other types of market research and reputation management. Enjoy this one:

The Bottom Line:
Just because analyzing a stock chart may be difficult is not a reason to leave the information it displays out of your set of reputation-management metrics. Why leave research to the dogs…err…cats.

I wonder what “story” Toyota’s stock chart is telling.

iPad: Steve Jobs Makes History. Again

April 3, 2010
Apple’s iPad is Here: Confessions of a Media-Technology Veteran

Steve Jobs, Apple, make history because they are about innovation. Not about being biggest, (although the firm’s market share is increasing). But about being first, being inventors. It’s what he and his teams live for.

Apple Steve JobsMy son and I were VIP guests of Mr. Jobs at WWDC 2005, where he reinforced Apple’s value proposition by showing a single slide to capture the firm’s passion, “Innovate.” One word: ‘Innovate.”

I quietly took the picture to the left. The picture I wish I had taken was that of Mr. Jobs and my son. After he finished another historic keynote address, Jobs came down to the audience, bypassing initially the reporters to ask my son, “What did YOU think?” He wanted feedback from the youngest tech-KID-guru in the crowd! He wanted feedback straight and unpolished. They chatted it up. Two “kids” connected before my eyes.

I admire greatly the view of tech-journalism-legend Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal. He has already test-driven the iPad and says:

Wall Mossberg iPad Apple“What’s missing? If you asked me. I wish it played Flash.”

“It’s wicked fast.”

And, wrote Mr. Mossberg:

“For the past week or so, I have been testing a sleek, light, silver-and-black tablet computer called an iPad. After spending hours and hours with it, I believe this beautiful new touch-screen device from Apple has the potential to change portable computing profoundly, and to challenge the primacy of the laptop.

It could even help, eventually, to propel the finger-driven, multitouch user interface ahead of the mouse-driven interface that has prevailed for decades.”

The iPad could revolutionize (rescue) the print media, publishing industry, academia and personal computing. Put another way, how many read a newspaper every day or a book? Now, how many of you surf the web for your news and information? I thought so. Me, too.

And, with a nod to Jobs (because it’s his line), “One more thing.” The iPad is the start. Just as iSight and iPod morphed seamlessly into Mac Laptops and the iPhone, so will the iPad evolve. In a short order, it could be so thin that it is a smart “refrigerator magnet” or multi-media wall display for living and bedrooms.

Steve Jobs Apple iPadRemember, the iPad is not a stand-alone product. Apple innovations have a magical way of fitting together, like pieces of a puzzle. One leads to the next. Applications sprout, too.

I admit to saying many times since the launch of the Mac in 1984: “How did they do THAT…and why didn’t I think of it, too?!” Generations will be grateful that this moment, the unveiling of the first Mac, was captured.

One thing is very clear from Mr. Mossberg and other iPad testers: Wherever they carried the iPad, people NEEDED to TOUCH it…to pass it around and SHARE what they had on the screen. The iPad created, no attracted, social interaction, with the mere touch of fingertips. No mouses and cords.

That…that is the stuff of behavioral change, and the potential start of a new consumer-technology revolution. I’m not surprised. Apple — Steve Jobs and his teams — live for moments like this.

He is a modern-day Edison.

Apple iPad Steve JobsP.S. Somehow I will resist the urge to buy immediately. I’ll wait for the second version of iPad. But I admit: I want to stand in line at my local retail store in a few hours and get one RIGHT NOW. Waiting will not be easy. Apple is hip, cool, but it’s revolutionary. Apple’s about innovation…about being first, about “trying it first.”

I still have my Apple II. And even my Mac Performa circa 1993 still just gets “it.” Apple lives to innovate this “just-gets-it” for the world…and for the history books.

Apple is about experiencing “next”…now.

Australia’s Economy: Signs of Recovery, Lessons for America

July 2, 2009

Economic Growth Fuels Business Reputations and Investor Confidence

MelbourneAre you looking up, when you should be looking “down-under”? Let me explain. You know how the weather can change – cloudy one day, sunny the next? There are signs that Australia’s economy may have weathered the worst, but do not expect to hear the forecast call for a return to complete economic-recovery sunshine, just yet.

But it does appear the clouds are passing. There are hints of blue sky ahead. Here are some ways to tell. Business journalists get accomplished at reading between the lines…and so should you. Why? What you learn is of interest to your CEO. The economic weather “down under” is very much linked to worldwide economic conditions. In short, Australia’s economic forecast is watched closely by U.S. business and investors, alike. What happens in Australia, does not stay in Australia. What happens is vital to America.

Question? Are economic experts beginning to use words to describe the economy of Australia, such as “bottoming, flattening, stabilizing?”

Answer: “Yes.” Are big real estate firms seeing any increase in sales in their residential business? According to Lend Lease: “Yes.” And how is consumer sentiment? That means, what are you thinking and feeling about the economy ahead?

The National Australia Business Bank monthly business survey shows improvement in its index of business conditions. Optimism is showing itself. But the economy does not go from cloudy to sunshine in one month. Bottoming is a process.

Still, any improvement is another sign that the process of moving from “totally cloudy” to “partly sunny” may be underway. Finally, here is an important indicator: the stock market. Stocks typically move up before other economic indicators.

Stock Market

After its March low, the market gained about 17 percent. Market participants reacted positively to what they see coming for Australia’s economy. That not only makes consumers “feel” better, but also industry, too, as balance sheets improve.

“Yes,” the market may pullback. A pullback is actually a healthy thing after such a strong move up. As long as the March 9 low stays the low, then you now know that there are a number of positive hints about the economic conditions ahead.

And you now know that when the world, including America and Wall Street, sees conditions looking UP “down-under,” it’s also anticipating an improving global forecast. Economies and investors are geographically connected.

Note to America: Look “down-under” to see if the economy is looking up. Not only that, communicate what you see throughout your organization.

Good economic weather does wonders for the reputation of and confidence in business, Wall Street and investments worldwide. Economic growth is superb public relations, works magic on corporate reputations and fuels stakeholder confidence.

Your CEO already knows this. So should you, your PR and marketing firms, and key stakeholders. Economic trends somewhere “else” are important, wherever you look.

The Benefits of Leadership: Attracting Good Press

October 22, 2006

Leadership Stimulates the National Climate Agenda

Choosing a leadership position on an issue of societal importance has important benefits. Witness the dialogue stimulated and coverage earned by California’s position on greenhouse gas pollution. Being a leader is not easy. There are inherent risks. Why not just play it safe? Yet, I believe people are hungry for leaders, and they are looking to you, the CEO, to be one.

Strategically, leaders stand out, attracting attention, stimulating dialogue and getting involved in shaping the public agenda.  Tactically, leaders earn support, admiration and media coverage. Successful leaders, like Pacific Gas and Electric’s Peter Darbee, can seemingly come into the public eye from nowhere.  Rest assured, their conviction is not a path easily chosen. In full openness, I provide consulting services to support one of the company’s initiatives.

Question: Are you missing a leadership opportunity?

I continue to find leadership refreshing and more strategically sound than “followership.”

[Full Story…]

Bad News: Break Your Own Story, First

June 30, 2006

Apple Finds ‘Irregularities’ in Employee Stock Options, Including Some of Jobs’s

Apple Computer Inc. just became “the best-known of several Silicon Valley companies to acknowledge that some stock options awarded to employees might have been mishandled and said the options included a batch granted to co-founder Steve Jobs,” according to the Associated Press.

Both “good” news and “bad” news present CEOs and their organizations with a simple but criticial leadership imperative: Break your own news, first. That means be the first to tell your organization’s story. 

Questions:  Could you have done what Apple’s Steve Jobs just did (attached)? Do you recognize the strategy in Apple’s announcement?  It is a superb case study.

Going public with good news — that’s an easy decision. Ask your PR or Marketing Communications Department to brief you on their media and stakeholder relations plan and then enjoy the headlines or web coverage.

Going public with bad news — that’s a leadership moment. I’ve seen world-class CEOs and management teams freeze like the proverbial deer in the headlights when faced with these moments. What will my boss think? How will our stock react? What will this do to my career?

All the media training in the world will not help you without the fundamental understanding that you and your enterprise are better off telling your own “news”…than letting someone else do so.

I am not saying that sharing “bad” news is easy. I am saying that sharing it first, is. It’s about credibility and leadership. In good times or bad, people look to their leaders to do the right thing.

Being first to “market” with your own news is an important tenant to earning long-lasting credibility, support and even sympathy for your organization. I’ve announced hundreds of stories, good and bad, from Nobel Prize-winning discoveries to the dramatic shutdown of the nation’s entire Cold War-era operations…from historic groundbreakings and computing breakthroughs to plutonium contamination and patient deaths.

Leadership: Steve Jobs

The best approaches had a commonality: Be the first to break your own news. And if you do not know how to do it, especially with bad news, bring in the expertise to train you and/or help you right now. It is not amateur hour. Bring in an experienced vendor if you lack the expertise in-house.

Most of all, do not “hope” something will blow over unnoticed…or think that a “crisis” will not happen to you.

Instead, prepare…beforehand…and demonstrate the leadership your employees and shareholders expect of you.

Apple’s Steve Jobs did just that. The rest of Wall Street should follow his lead.
[Full Story]

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