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Episode 8: “Acting Bigger and Creating Heroes” with Jeffrey Hayzlett

You may know Jeffrey Hayzlett as the global business celebrity, well-traveled public speaker, chairman and CEO of C-Suite Network, or former Fortune 100 CMO. You may also know him as the author of four best-selling business books, including his most recent book "The Hero Factor: How Great Leaders Transform Organizations and Create Winning Cultures." No matter your point of reference, Jeffrey has a lot to share with Matt in his latest “Reimagining Communications” podcast, “Acting Bigger and Creating Heroes.”

Express Your Values and Prepare to Embrace the Haters: “I watch a lot of thought leaders try to be somebody they're not. The first way to be a thought leader is to have some freaking thoughts. And, by the way, if you're going to be a thought leader, you're going to have haters because you're there to push it. That’s the key thing for any business person thinking about being a brand; a brand is really about a promise delivered. It’s about being fundamentally focused… When you see a CEO come into the room, you see the company; and, when you see the company, you should see the CEO, as well as every employee in the operation because it should be tied to your culture and your culture should be tied to the values and the values should be expressed.”

Creating Kodak Moments on “Celebrity Apprentice”: “Those were the best marketing dollars I think I ever spent. It started putting Kodak back on the map… we were just living in the hubris of our success and living in an old story rather than a new story of who we really were. The campaign looked like crap but the message was right. Some of it is gut, but you have to have what I call ‘Conditions of Satisfaction.’ You have to figure out what's the reach of voice, what's the relevancy, what will be the reciprocity, what will come as a result of it. Bottom line, what's your ROI.” 

Go for the Message: “I came up with a campaign and it was kind of risqué and my CMO said, ‘You know, anybody can be cheap." What he meant by that is anyone could go for sex or anyone could go for comedy, but it takes a really great marketer to go for the message. It was good advice for me.”

Win Fast: “I took some risk and I screwed up and failed. All right. But, you know what, no one died in that process… You're going to have to take risk and understand you're going to fail… Failure is just my fast way of getting to a win because I want to win fast, not lose fast.”

Mix it Up: “Direct mail is still a trusted source. It's just getting the right kinds of pieces to the right targets. Now, a lot of people call it junk mail, but highly effective conversational messages – regardless of where they're going or how they're delivered – are effective. That's the key. It's about being effective and not overusing the channel. If your email isn't getting through, then mix it up, change it up. I send people hand-written messages and overnight them with a video mailer… and I find those on people's desk a year later.” 

“Running the Gauntlet”: “You run a gauntlet every day in your business… And we know what a gauntlet is. It's when the Crow Indians or the Sioux Indians would capture you and you were a trapper back in the 1820s or whatever it might be. They would line them all up and they would have sticks, knives and stones and they would make you run through the middle of it and then say, ‘If you survive, we might let you go.’ And that's what it's like in corporate America every day or in most companies. You come up with the greatest idea, the best change, or a way in which to move the company forward and they make you run the gauntlet. They start saying, ‘We don't have a budget for that. We've tried that once before. You know, if you do that, you're going to get fired…’ And, you know, you just have to overcome that.”

Millennial Trapped in a Baby Boomer’s Body: “If you look back over history, there was less innovation, more followed the tried and true… I say I'm a millennial trapped in a baby boomer’s body and I think you have to have that kind of a mentality. Digital has allowed us to find the answers quicker and better… I think it's just allowing us to scale quicker than we've ever seen before. And the key is how do you find the scale, how do you take your business from one dimension to two or three or even to four faster? That's where I'm focused today.”

Give It Your Best Shot: “Try things. A brand is nothing but a promise delivered. We think that we are the owner of the brand. We're not the owner of the brand, the brand is owned by the people we do business with, by the people who serve us, the people that vend to us as well. And so what is it that we can do with the brand to get it out there more and faster and quicker and bigger? That's what we should be doing. Many times we're so protective and inwardly thinking that we stifle things. My big thing for most people is to focus in on how we might do things differently, how we might do things better, how we might just try it… Give it a shot. And if you do make a mistake, own up to it. Tell people, they don't mind. They'll appreciate that you gave it your best shot.”  

To dive into these topics and more, check out our podcast, Reimagining Communications.