Welcome to the Influency Group blog.

Here we will take up various topics related to developing a valuable business from 360 degrees, oranges are spherical after all (see our opening post for more on this). I like 360 degrees. It’s something I try to apply to all aspects of my life, but most especially in business—it makes it sustainable, spheres don’t fall in.

As you can tell, we’re a little different. So if you’re tired of peeling back the same old onion and are ready to talk orange peels, give us a call. We are ready to provide a fresh perspective and help you take your business to the next level.

Get Out of Your Office

September 22nd, 2016

Hey, I won’t lie, it’s been a while since I posted. I apologize to my loyal followers, I intend to get back to my own blog.  I rather miss it. The good news is I’ve been so busy with client campaigns and blogs…you know the story of the cobbler’s children…However, I read this article today and my immediate reaction was, “She understands orange peels!” You might recall several past blogs on the topic of staying present with your team, culture, etc. Or a particular post, “Meet the Boss, and Don’t Skip the Locker Room…or Concessions, or Nose Bleed Seats…” So today I’m reposting an article from Lolly Daskal with my comments, and watch for more posts to follow.

The Best Free Leadership Advice You’ll Ever Get

Reposted. Original by in Blog, Lead From Within, Leadership, Leadership Development, Personal Development, Workplace

– See more at: http://www.lollydaskal.com/leadership/best-free-leadership-advice-youll-ever-get/#sthash.8b630DKT.dpuf


If you’re like most leaders, you’re always looking for ways to improve your leadership.

People are constantly asking me what they can do to make their leadership exceptional. They usually expect the answer to involve costly coaching sessions, or expensive training programs. But the best advice I can give is a simple technique that will improve your leadership immediately without costing a penny.

Here it is: Get out of the office.

The leader who is always in the office behind closed doors is not the kind of leader people want to follow.

Get up and get out.

Talk to (“with” in orange peels, a message from, “Orange Peel Anecdotes, Words to the Wise) your team, connect with your advisors, speak to your people.

While you’re there, make sure you try out these leadership practices:

Smile with sincerity. Smiling is a powerful tool. It helps people relax around you; it draws people closer and allows you to connect easily with others.

Engage wholeheartedly. A recent study found that 70 percent of employees are miserable at work and most people feel their boss or leader doesn’t engage with them. You can do better. Connect with your team and find ways to let your people know they are important to you.

Listen carefully. Keep your ears open. Too often leaders think they have to do all the talking, but the best thing you can do is smile and genuinely listen. People have a lot on their minds, and they need someone who is available to listen to what they have to say.

Question with curiosity. The best leaders are always asking questions—not only to elicit information but also to help others better understand the issues.

Answer earnestly. Most people on your team probably have questions they want to ask, but they may feel too intimidated to ask or they’re concerned about disturbing you. Make it easy for people to find you and speak to you—keep yourself available and accessible. You may want to schedule a listening session or another time when people are specifically encouraged to ask what is on their mind so they can be as productive and effective as possible.

Get feedback. Most leaders don’t really want honest feedback, so they don’t ask for it—and as a result they receive it only in rare cases when it’s forced on them. The best leaders know that feedback is the most reliable path to improvement, and it’s an important part of their efforts to be better and lead better. But it’s not all about criticism and improvement—feedback is also the best way to discover your strengths.

Give feedback. Leaders need an open channel of communication with their people. Learning to give feedback well opens the dialogue and leads to more candor in both directions, enhancing credibility and competencies on both sides.

Show that you care. There is this big misconception that leadership is all about power and influence, and that showing care and compassion is a sign of weak leadership. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The best leaders are remembered not for their power but for how they made people feel. Let people know you care, be there for them, and show that you appreciate and value them.

It’s easy to get bogged down in everyday responsibilities and accountability, but in the end it’s the small, simple things that end up mattering the most.

Lead from within: When was the last time you left your office and engaged with those you value the most?

See more at: http://www.lollydaskal.com/leadership/best-free-leadership-advice-youll-ever-get/#sthash.8b630DKT.dpuf

Why Attitude Is More Important Than IQ

January 20th, 2016

This article is so spot on, I had to repost so I can keep it close to mind for myself and all the Influency Group clients, entrepreneurs, students, mentees, and followers.

This post is by Travis Bradberry, and appeared in Forbes online, January 19, 2016. Travis co-wrote the bestselling book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and co-founded TalentSmart, the world’s #1 provider of emotional intelligence tests and training, serving 75% of Fortune 500 Companies.


When it comes to success, it’s easy to think that people blessed with brains are inevitably going to leave the rest of us in the dust. But new research from Stanford University will change your mind (and your attitude).

Psychologist Carol Dweck has spent her entire career studying attitude and performance, and her latest study shows that your attitude is a better predictor of your success than your IQ.

Dweck found that people’s core attitudes fall into one of two categories: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.

With a fixed mindset, you believe you are who you are and you cannot change. This creates problems when you’re challenged because anything that appears to be more than you can handle is bound to make you feel hopeless and overwhelmed.

People with a growth mindset believe that they can improve with effort. They outperform those with a fixed mindset, even when they have a lower IQ, because they embrace challenges, treating them as opportunities to learn something new.

Common sense would suggest that having ability, like being smart, inspires confidence. It does, but only while the going is easy. The deciding factor in life is how you handle setbacks and challenges. People with a growth mindset welcome setbacks with open arms.

According to Dweck, success in life is all about how you deal with failure. She describes the approach to failure of people with the growth mindset this way,

“Failure is information—we label it failure, but it’s more like, ‘This didn’t work, and I’m a problem solver, so I’ll try something else.’”

Regardless of which side of the chart you fall on, you can make changes and develop a growth mindset. What follows are some strategies that will fine-tune your mindset and help you make certain it’s as growth oriented as possible.

Don’t stay helpless. We all hit moments when we feel helpless. The test is how we react to that feeling. We can either learn from it and move forward or let it drag us down. There are countless successful people who would have never made it if they had succumbed to feelings of helplessness: Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas,” Oprah Winfrey was fired from her job as a TV anchor in Baltimore for being “too emotionally invested in her stories,” Henry Ford had two failed car companies prior to succeeding with Ford, and Steven Spielberg was rejected by USC’s Cinematic Arts School multiple times. Imagine what would have happened if any of these people had a fixed mindset. They would have succumbed to the rejection and given up hope. People with a growth mindset don’t feel helpless because they know that in order to be successful, you need to be willing to fail hard and then bounce right back.

Be passionate. Empowered people pursue their passions relentlessly. There’s always going to be someone who’s more naturally talented than you are, but what you lack in talent, you can make up for in passion. Empowered people’s passion is what drives their unrelenting pursuit of excellence. Warren Buffet recommends finding your truest passions using, what he calls, the 5/25 technique: Write down the 25 things that you care about the most. Then, cross out the bottom 20. The remaining 5 are your true passions. Everything else is merely a distraction.

Take action. It’s not that people with a growth mindset are able to overcome their fears because they are braver than the rest of us; it’s just that they know fear and anxiety are paralyzing emotions and that the best way to overcome this paralysis is to take action. People with a growth mindset are empowered, and empowered people know that there’s no such thing as a truly perfect moment to move forward. So why wait for one? Taking action turns all your worry and concern about failure into positive, focused energy.

Then go the extra mile (or two). Empowered people give it their all, even on their worst days. They’re always pushing themselves to go the extra mile. One of Bruce Lee’s pupils ran three miles every day with him. One day, they were about to hit the three-mile mark when Bruce said, “Let’s do two more.” His pupil was tired and said, “I’ll die if I run two more.” Bruce’s response? “Then do it.” His pupil became so angry that he finished the full five miles. Exhausted and furious, he confronted Bruce about his comment, and Bruce explained it this way: “Quit and you might as well be dead. If you always put limits on what you can do, physical or anything else, it’ll spread over into the rest of your life. It’ll spread into your work, into your morality, into your entire being. There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there; you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you. A man must constantly exceed his level.”

If you aren’t getting a little bit better each day, then you’re most likely getting a little worse—and what kind of life is that?

Expect results. People with a growth mindset know that they’re going to fail from time to time, but they never let that keep them from expecting results. Expecting results keeps you motivated and feeds the cycle of empowerment. After all, if you don’t think you’re going to succeed, then why bother?

Be flexible. Everyone encounters unanticipated adversity. People with an empowered, growth-oriented mindset embrace adversity as a means for improvement, as opposed to something that holds them back. When an unexpected situation challenges an empowered person, they flex until they get results.

Don’t complain when things don’t go your way. Complaining is an obvious sign of a fixed mindset. A growth mindset looks for opportunity in everything, so there’s no room for complaints.

Bringing It All Together

By keeping track of how you respond to the little things, you can work every day to keep yourself on the right side of the chart above.

Do you have a growth mindset? Please share your thoughts and comments.

Does Your Business say Male or Female?

September 22nd, 2015

Can you say orange peels or what? I talk about brand persona all the time (as you are aware). I tend to ask, “dusty, fresh, or bloody?” Loved this article in Sunday’s Dallas Morning News,  reprinted here for easy access, and commentary of course!

We frequently talk about buying being an emotional decision (unless talking commodities, then it’s all about price, and only price). People buy from people they like, how or why they like you is a sum that is much greater than any of the individual parts. Your branding, messaging, people, how they present themselves, the culture you create and, if done well, permeates your brand are all large components of this sum.

Read below for a different perspective on many of the orange peels we have taken up here, or in the classes I teach, or the clients with whom I have walked this pathway to success!!!

emotional decision

CHICAGO — Shortly after Jenny Niemann launched her office furniture dealership last year, a branding consultant asked her a question that put her back on her heels.

Is the brand male or female?

“That one really caught me by surprise,” said Niemann, CEO of Chicago-based Forward Space, a dealer for office furniture maker Steelcase.

Do cubicle walls and swivel chairs have a gender? What does that even mean?

It doesn’t mean what people might first assume: that if it’s a woman-owned company, which Forward Space is, or it caters to women, which it does not, then it must be a female brand.

Rather, branding consultant Bradley Peacock from Chicago-based Peacock Nine was helping Niemann craft the brand’s personality based on the feelings she wanted the brand to evoke in her customers. And in the process, her company underwent something of a sex change.

Declaring brands male or female can seem like a throwback to a Mad Men era. But gender can be a powerful part of shaping a brand’s story, and some in the field say shifting social norms are enabling traditionally masculine brands to embrace feminine characteristics, or mix the two, as they fight for shoppers’ attention.

“It’s interesting for brands to consider a gender reassignment,” said John Manley, senior vice president and group strategy director at ad agency DDB.

Not everyone sees it that way. Leo Burnett chief strategy officer Mick McCabe said gender rarely comes up in conversations about brands, especially those with mass audiences, like Coca-Cola, Samsung or McDonald’s.

But for Niemann, the male/female question inspired a moment of reflection.

Niemann formed her company after acquiring and merging two Chicago-area Steelcase dealers that were male-run and felt “a little more masculine,” she said, in part because of the hard-edged associations people have when they hear “steel.”

But Niemann wanted her company to be known for helping employers think strategically about their workspaces — more of a creative, counseling role.

“Jenny understood that people are buying furniture to help change culture,” Peacock said. “One of the keys to building culture is having empathy, listening first rather than solutions first, and that is generally more female.”

And so Forward Space embraced its feminine side, which informed a series of decisions, including its logo design (softer edges) and thematic color (purple). Its purple showroom sends the message that “we can help our customers to create innovative work environments that inspire people to excel wherever and however they work,” said Niemann.

Conflating empathy with femininity — and purple — may ring of stereotype. But brand genders are not about being pink or blue or skirt or pants, Peacock said. Rather they are archetypes — in the case of Forward Space, the caregiver/creator — that evoke an emotional response and help companies and their consumers understand where they fit in the broader story of their lives.

“If you don’t understand what your unique meaning is, then you can spend millions of dollars on advertising and it just won’t resonate,” Peacock said.

The importance of a brand’s gender depends on the category. Krissy Vanderwarker, art director and strategist at Chicago branding consultancy Seedhouse, which specializes in consumer packaged goods, said clients increasingly want their brands to be gender-neutral.

“Now a lot of people are doing the shopping because traditional gender roles are breaking down, so there is less of a target to moms,” she said.

But shoppers seem to find comfort in easily recognizable gender cues. In a study of 140 brands, European researchers found that higher levels of perceived masculinity or femininity in a brand are associated with higher levels of brand equity, which translates to greater brand loyalty and ability to command a price premium, according a report last year in the journal Psychology and Marketing.

For example, highly feminine brands like Dove, Nivea and Chanel and highly masculine brands like Adidas, Audi and Mercedes scored better in brand equity among the 3,000-plus German consumers polled than brands that shift between genders (like Peugeot and H&M) or gender-neutral ones.

When a brand’s gender identity is not obvious, Peacock’s company surveys current and potential customers and asks what they want from the brand. If they seek empathy and patient counsel, it might send them into a more female space, whereas if they are driven more by price and efficiency, it might send them in a masculine direction.

“All of the great service companies are more female than male,” Peacock said, such as Zappos, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines and Johnson & Johnson.

The strategy does not come without risk. Several gendered branding attempts have “failed miserably,” said Linda Tuncay Zayer, associate professor of marketing at Loyola University’s Quinlan School of Business.

The 2012 launch of Bic for Her, “sleek” pens in pastel colors, was met with ridicule. And Under Armour has disavowed the “shrink it and pink it” strategy of a decade ago that assumed athletic brands could attract women by making products smaller and pinker.

“In today’s society, gender roles are increasingly fluid, so businesses and brands should not fall into old stereotypes,” Tuncay Zayer said.

A brand can be patient and caring without necessarily being female, she said, and labeling it as such is not a useful distinction. Better for marketers to define the brand personality as a whole rather than risk shilling to men or women and putting people off, she said.

Despite social strides toward gender equality, the prevailing theory in marketing has been that it’s easier to sell a masculine brand to men and women than a feminine brand to either sex, Manley said. With men making up the vast majority of the nation’s chief marketing officers, that approach still dominates, he said.

But there are signs of a shift. Manley points to McDonald’s Archenemies ad campaign, which launched earlier this year, in which historic antagonists — Batman and the Joker, Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote — expressed affection for each other, sometimes by sharing a burger or offering a fry.

“That’s an interesting one that feels like it has more of a feminine sensibility,” Manley said. “Working out differences instead of just fighting over them.”

Anyone who teared up watching Dove’s Men + Care commercials during the Super Bowl, in which fathers were seen lovingly comforting their children, witnessed a strong female brand using a feminine characteristic — sensitivity — to appeal to a male audience, he said.

Younger generations are driving some of the rethinking. Manley described a focus group his firm did with young men last year as it was developing creative concepts for Miller Lite. One of the ideas presented was about “being with your bros, homeboys.” The young men said it felt like pandering.

“The interesting quote was, ‘Some of my bros are women,’” Manley recalled.

Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz, Chicago Tribune