June 26, 2009 | Refinancing


Archive for June 26th, 2009

How Michael Jackson Became a Brand Icon

June 26th, 2009

Countless books advise how to build your personal brand. Michael Jackson was so unique that he cannot realistically serve as anyone’s role model in that effort. Yet Jackson was unquestionably a brand icon and there are lessons to be learned. Here are the top ten factors that explain his icon status.

begin early. Michael began entertaining at the age of four. His career as the uniquely young lead singer in The Jackson Five began with the Motown label at the age of 10. National recognition came with his appearance on the Ed Sullivan show.

Let go. Jackson went solo in 1972 at the age of 13. As with Diana Ross and the Supremes, there came a point where the group constrained rather than aided the further development of his talent.

Break out. Jackson was a multidimensional entertainer. His expert dancing could be showcased via the new medium of music videos. MTV and Jackson rose in tandem when MTV premiered the Jackson video “Thriller” in 1982 from the album of the same name. The album went on to sell over 100 million copies.

Get help. Jackson benefited from his long-term professional relationship with producer and songwriter Quincy Jones. He often acknowledged the inspiration he received from James Brown, Diana Ross and other artists.

Be visible. All memorable brands have their unique visual commercemarks. Jackson understood brand image and how to build it with his fans. The moonwalk that we could all try to imitate. The glove. The uniform. Neverland.

Go global. Jackson’s music and videos easily transcended national boundaries, as well as race, age and gender. “We Are the World”, written by Jackson and Lionel Ritchie in 1985, cemented his global appeal. Jackson sold almost half his 750 million titles outside the United States.

Crown yourself. Elvis was already “The King”, so Jackson christened himself “The King of Pop.” The professional contributions–including 13 Grammies–were so substantial that the moniker stuck. The flawed personal life – the lawsuits, the failed marriages, and the Wacko Jacko incidents like dangling his child from a Berlin hotel balcony – chipped away at Jackson’s professional brand equity but never eroded it.

Be vulnerable. We cannot relate to icons without imperfections. Jackson was quirky, eccentric, mysterious. For all his wealth and professional excellence, he was – perhaps understandably – flawed, misguided, and sad, but none would say unkind.

Give back. Denied a normal childhood, Jackson was amazingly generous to disadvantaged children. Some 39 charities benefited significantly from his support. He also collaborated on Live Aid with other entertainers.

Die young. The sold-out 50 concert tour of Europe to begin next month will never happen. The likelihood of a Jackson comeback will forever be debated. Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe James Dean, and now Michael Jackson – all leave to our imagination thoughts of what might have been. When a brand icon is torn from us prematurely, unexpectedly, it figures even larger in our collective memory.


Finance News

Your Employees Are Your Customers, But Are They Buying?

June 26th, 2009

Your best salespeople possess vast knowledge about how to connect with and motivate people–and perhaps take the company to the next level. But they rarely get to share their knowledge with senior managers. As a practitioner and student of business-to-business selling for more than half a century, Clif Reichard has learned to translate sales knowledge into leadership knowledge. This post is one in an occasional series.

Leading people and selling to customers are usually seen as separate spheres, each with its own mind-set and rules, each inhabited by its own type of person. But are they really so different? Is motivating customers much different from motivating employees?

In my world of business-to-business selling, the dollar volume is so big that a customer has to reach a certain comfort level before buying. That level is reached when the customer both thinks well of us as a company and feels good about us as people.

That’s not so surprising. The big decisions in our personal lives are made in our hearts rather than our brains. When we marry the love of our life, the decision is made in the heart. When we choose a religion, we choose more on faith than fact. When we buy a house, we get the one she wants, not the one we can afford. When we buy a car, we pick the one he likes, not the one we need.

The same is true of business decisions. To sell anyone hook, line, and sinker, you have to sell the person’s heart and soul, mind and brain. If you sell on reason alone, the sale is good only until a better reason comes along for the customer to buy from someone else. But a customer who grows to love you won’t leave you.

Is leading any different? It’s only when people make an emotional connection with their work that they bring their best talents, creativity, and efforts to the party. They create such a connection when they understand that their managers and their company can make their lives change for the better. That’s what sparks the fire from within. Employees’ inspiration and enthusiasm result in superior performance that allows the company to differentiate itself from the competition. Employees’ emotional connection allows excellence to reign.

Business leaders–from supervisors to the CEO–can learn a few things from the salesperson’s mind-set and work to forge an emotional connection with employees, because leading, like selling, has more to do with the heart than the brain. What do you think? Do you agree?


Clif Reichard (creichar@ball.com) is a sales consultant for Ball Corporation, which he has served for 36 years in capacities including vice president of sales. He is in his 55th year selling rigid packaging substrates.

Finance News

Post-Crisis Trends You Have to Watch

June 26th, 2009

Ten is a nice round number, but it’s an oversimplification to suggest that there are only 10 trends that executives must track to understand how the business environment is evolving–notwithstanding the title of our contribution to HBR’s July-August special issue on managing in the new world: The 10 Trends You Have to Watch.


Nonetheless, as the context in which companies make strategic decisions undergoes a essential shift–or, to borrow a phrase from our colleague Ian Davis, as a “New Normal” takes shape–we think it’s valuable to winnow the field, and focus on small group of tectonic shifts that matter to just about everyone.

Here are the ten trends we chose:

  • Natural resources feeling the strain
  • Globalization under fire
  • Trust in business running out
  • A bigger role for government
  • Management as a science
  • Shifting consumption patterns
  • Asia rising
  • Industries taking new shape
  • Innovation marching on
  • Price stability in question

Each week in July and August we’ll introduce another one of these trends in a blog entry, indicate if the trend is accelerating, steady or decelerating, and discuss its significance.

But we also want to hear from you. We want readers to tell us what they think of this list: How does it compare the trends your company tracks? What did we get right? What did we miss?

In our minds, two critical ones that just missed the list are the looming global battle for talent as populations age and emerging markets demand workforces with more sophisticated skills, and the extraordinary productivity imperative facing cash-strapped governments.

What else is on your short list?

Also, tell us what’s on our short list that you’d question? One that we’ve wrestled with is price stability–which, if Milton Friedman was right, is more of what he called a “monetary phenomenon” (or, policy variable) than a long-term trend.

Still, we hear so many questions about it from our clients, and, as Peter Bernstein emphasized in his excellent HBR piece in the July-August issue, the transformation of the US Federal Reserve’s balance sheet has been so extraordinary over the past 12 months, that we couldn’t see leaving it off the list. Do you agree?

Our interest in your list of trends to watch isn’t academic. We’re launching a new round of research on the most important global forces influencing the strategic environment. Your ideas will help shape the research agenda–the aim of which is to help leaders and strategists in the private and public sector make better decisions for themselves and the world at a difficult time.

Eric Beinhocker is a senior fellow of the McKinsey Global Institute, McKinsey & Company’s economics research arm. Elizabeth Stephenson is a partner in McKinsey’s Chicago office and a leader of the firm’s research initiative on the global forces shaping the strategic environment.

Finance News

Dutch state plans further 2.5 bln euros for ABNAmro

June 26th, 2009

AFP – THE HAGUE (AFP) – The Dutch government proposed a further 2.5-billion-euro (3.5-billion-dollar) financial boost Friday for ABN Amro bank, in which it is a major shareholder.

Finance News

Oil drops on Wall Street, Nigeria amnesty report

June 26th, 2009

Reuters – NEW YORK (Reuters) – Oil prices fell more than $1 on Friday on a sell-off on Wall Street and news top African oil producer Nigeria would halt a battle with rebels in its energy-rich Niger Delta.

Finance News

Retail gas drops every day this week; oil follows Wall Street and falls below $70

June 26th, 2009

The Canadian Press –
NEW YORK – Retail gas prices in the United States fell every day this week, easing off their summer peak of $2.693 a gallon as U.S. storage facilities swelled with unused supplies.

Finance News

Canada’s aerospace industry expected to post $620 million profit in 2009

June 26th, 2009

The Canadian Press –
MONTREAL – Canada’s aerospace industry is expected to post $620 million in profits in 2009 despite declining business jet demand, the convention Board of Canada said Friday.

Finance News

UBS seeks fresh cash, warns of second quarter loss

June 26th, 2009

AFP – ZURICH (AFP) – Switzerland’s largest bank UBS said on Friday it expected to post another loss in the second quarter and announced plans to elevate some 3.8 billion Swiss francs in fresh capital to bolster confidence.

Finance News

Geothermal firm Magma Energy in $87 million IPO

June 26th, 2009

Reuters – TORONTO (Reuters) – Canada’s Magma Energy Corp, a geothermal power company active in the western United States and South America, has elevated C$100 million ($87 million) in an initial public offering taken up by investors around the world, sources close to the deal told Reuters.

Finance News

Spain announces 9-billion-euro banking fund

June 26th, 2009

AFP – MADRID (AFP) – Spain on Friday announced a nine-billion-euro (12.7-billion-dollar) fund to help revive the financial sector by buying stakes in banks hit by the global crisis and get them lending again.

Finance News