What CEOs Can Learn From the Goddess of Vision

I recently attended a conference at which a number of CEOs and marketing executives were present.  One morning when at a breakfast table with seven others the discussion turned, as it often does, to how we could be of help to each other.

One CEO in the group asked the marketers present for some creative ideas on using social media to grow his new, non-profit business.  The perfunctory questions about the business and his goals were asked and answered, and then the conversation quickly turned to the use of various social media tools.  Now, to the credit of the marketers at the table, the ideas were quite creative, but I found myself a bit dumbfounded by the answers the CEO had given.

Why? He had not clearly articulated a vision for his business.

What happens when marketing executives start talking about tactics of growing a business without first having a clear vision of the direction of the business?  You reach goals, but they don’t necessarily get you where you want to go!

Case in point: I stopped the conversation and asked the marketers what they believed the CEOs vision to be.  The overwhelming consensus was that his vision was to drive awareness of the problem that his non-profit was set up to address.  I turned to the CEO and asked him, “if everyone in the country becomes aware of the problem your non-profit is addressing, will you have successfully brought your vision to life?” His answer, (of course), was “no.”

He didn’t want to just make people aware; he wanted to fix the problem. Once he realized that, he also realized that he hadn’t created a vision in his mind, or in his heart, of what life (and the country) would look like when the problem was fixed – and thus, he didn’t really know just yet how to get there. 

To be successful, he had to start with the vision literally in his mind, and then work backward from there.

Isis is the Goddess of Vision and Insight.  Yes, she is associated with femininity and guess what gentlemen, every single human has a combination of male and female energy – just in differing amounts.  I’ve noticed over the course of my career that many leaders – both men and women – are afraid to “trust their gut” or their intuition. 

If the CEO had been honest with himself up front he would have admitted that as he was talking about his business he was talking in rigidly straight lines.  He was presenting a structured case that had no colorful vision – no inspiring dream – to it.

Once he started thinking about how truly beautiful life would look when his vision came to fruition – how it would taste and feel to him – he was able to much more clearly articulate with passion where he wanted to go.  From there, the goals, strategies and tactics fell much more easily into place.

Moral of the story, don’t be afraid to tap into your intuition, your feelings and your dreams as you talk about your business and the vision you have for it.  As a woman who myself avoided doing so for many years, I am now tapping into the power and wisdom of my own personal “inner goddess” like I never have before.

How about you? Can you clearly articulate a vision for your business? If not, anything Isis can do to be of help?

I would be honored if you would share your insights in the comments…

Comments

  1. Hi Lisa,

    This is a great post! It is so true that many times we, as men, forget to tap into our Intuition, feelings and dreams and instead try to calculate a solution, without crafting it through our hearts.

    I am a person that has learned to do that, but occasionally I lose my way. I like the way you framed this up with the “inner goddess” analogy. Very well put.

    Your blog looks great and I am impressed at how quickly you got it up there.

    Congrats.

    @michaelmccurry

    • Mike,

      You, my brilliant SOBCon Mastermind Teammate, are officially my very first blog commenter ever! Thank you so much for commenting and for your help getting me started!

      I appreciate the kind words and love how you recognize that you sometimes lose your way when it comes to honoring your intuition. That insight in and of itself feels very poignant to me.

      It has been such a gift to work with you, Mike! I look forward to “masterminding” all kinds of great, new ideas with you in the future,

      Lisa

  2. “To be successful, he had to start with the vision literally in his mind, and then work backward from there.”

    Lisa this is an excellent point and especially true for non-profits. From the social media side of the table, I think that those of us that evangelize these tools (Hi!) can sometimes forget to step back and look at the bigger picture. Sort of like putting the cart before the horse, building awareness wouldn’t work if the non-profits vision and story wasn’t incorporated into the process.

    Great reminder Lisa, and amazing first post, I’m jealous! ;)

    • Mack,

      First, I can’t thank you enough for all the blogging insights that you have shared with me over the past year through #blogchat and as a friend. You are a tremendous inspiration to so many people, and in particular to me. :)

      I love that you use the word evangelize in your comment – it is such a powerful word and I love the picture it creates. I agree that when you have the passion that comes with evangelization it can sometimes be hard to remember to step back and make sure everyone (team, client, the Board…) has a clear picture of where they are headed – and that everyone is rowing the boat in the same direction.

      Thank you for your encouragement, Mack!

  3. Even those CEOs that I work with who have a vision don’t often have it as richly described to where they can “taste and feel” what completing that vision will be like, what it will do for their organization, and their community.

    Keep going, this is a great first post.

    • Brad,

      I am so glad you said that! It seems so often in the business world we throw the word “vision” around (especially in the C-suite) without really absorbing its full meaning. Thank you for recognizing that.

      And thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support – it means so much! I would be honored if you’d come by again. :)

  4. Vision is a tricky thing. I find that it is often articulated up front and then gets lost in the daily tactics. It needs to be revisited often to see if the tactics are in line with where you want the company to go…

    • Barry,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and respond! Just getting to know you as little as I have (you were missed on those second and third days of #SOBCon!) I know that we have a very similar business perspective and value system. I think that’s a great point you make – to not only clearly articulate the vision up front, but to ensure it gets translated in its entirety as the business gets built.

      Thank you again, Barry! Please come by again soon…

  5. Lisa,
    I’m all about tapping your inner Isis in the vision process – whether male or female. What ever works to hit the core of a person’s voice to help them articulate their vision.

    There’s an inner well of wisdom that contains a juicy elixir that we often ignore. In the silence can emerge great creativity. It we can get quiet enough to listen – all else falls into place. Business is hard, but I teach that the competitive edge is that silence. Making decisions from a place of wisdom sans fear. The sign of a true leader.

    • Judy,

      I absolutely *love* your “juicy elixir” comment! What a vibrant way to talk about the power of our inner wisdom! And what a brilliant observation that it often takes the silence to enable creativity to spark! Truly brilliant! I would love to have a conversation with you someday about how you get to that place of wisdom without fear – it’s no wonder you are an extremely successful woman. Thrilled that I got to meet you at #SOBCon!

      Please come by again and let’s definitely get together when you’re in Chicago!

  6. Mark Kapsky says:

    Lisa,

    As an entrepreneur who is deep into the daily details of running his own business, I had to stop and admit that my vision and dream must be clearly articulated, not just to my customers and business partners, but to myself as well. It is that end state, of “how beautiful life would look like” when the vision is realized, that is the real source of motivation and persuasion. Thanks for that reminder of the power of a clear vision.

    Great first post!

    • Mark,

      I am absolutely honored that my post would enable you to admit that – truly. Thank you. And I love how you mention motivation because I think you’re right, if the vision is clear and you have passion for it then that’s all the motivation you need.

      Thank you so much for the encouragement – I genuinely hope you’ll stop by again!

  7. Hi Lisa,

    Great post for anyone who is wondering why their tactics aren’t taking their business to the next level. Tactics without strategy will move you, but not necessarily in the direction you want to go. Strategy without tactics sounds good in the boardroom, but doesn’t change anything.

    I’m looking forward to more of your insight.

    You’ve kicked your blog off in hyper-drive. I’m glad you decided to skip the “Hello world, I’m blogging” post and jumped into the good stuff.

    @wilsonellis

    • Debra,

      No one told me I was supposed to write a “Hello world, I’m blogging” post…! Oh well… :)

      That is so true what you say about what sounds good in the boardroom doesn’t necessarily change anything! What a great insight, Debra. Unfortunately there are too many boards, I suspect, willingly agreeing to strategies without challenging the Chairman to clearly articulate where the strategies will lead them.

      Thank you so much for your “vote of confidence!” Coming from you that means so very much. :)

  8. Hi Lisa,
    Great post. I’m in the middle of two projects right now where we are trying to get the CEOs to discover their inner Isis.

    It seems brand values, vision, etc. are out of vogue right now. Many CEOs and CMOs have shifted their focused to all the shiny new social media tools at their disposal. Ironically, nothing will highlight problems with your brand quicker than a successful social media program. So I’m hoping it all comes full circle.

    Until then, I will refer my clients to your post. Thanks. – Sean

    P.S. Congrats on the blog – it looks great!

    • Sean,

      You do know that the fact that you are trying to get them to discover their inner Isis makes you one of the smartest consultants/agencies on the planet, right?!

      Sean I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the fact that you came by and commented. You have become such a cherished colleague since I met you in Mack Collier’s presentation at the MarketingProfs Digital Mixer, and I really appreciate your insight into how the social media tools are going to come full circle and force them to clarify a vision. Brilliant.

      Thank you for the kind words of encouragement – I genuinely appreciate them. :)

  9. Lisa,

    Congrats on launching your blog with such thundering appeal for C – Level executives. It’s so important in all aspects of business to not only have concrete goals to achieve, but also a vision on how to accomplish them in the manner you expect.

    I look forward to more insight on how to be the best possible C – Level executive.

    Great work!
    Lou

    • Lou,

      Can you believe that you and I are on parallel paths here! How wonderful to have someone to go through this new experience with. :)

      I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the words “thundering appeal!” I’m touched. I look forward to sharing insights with you as we both navigate these new waters together. Thank you so much for the encouragement!

  10. Hi Lisa

    Like the post!

    As someone who’s worked with a lot of senior level executives in my life, I’ve always found it interesting as to how few of them either don’t know, or aren’t able to articulate, what their “Vision” is.

    I probably spend a disproportionate amount of my time working with them to solidify this – both for my benefit, as well as for theirs.

    Innovation, as a discipline, can transform companies radically if done well, and it requires a well communicated vision in order to deliver against it.

    People always seem to think that the hard bit is delivering results – I actually find the hard bit is delivering the right results – the difference usually being in whether the client has clearly articulated what it is they want to achieve or not.

    Keep up the good work, and welcome to the blogging world :)

    Best

    Boris Pluskowski
    http://www.completeinnovator.com
    @bpluskowski

    • Boris,

      I so appreciate you stopping by! You know I love your innovation posts… :)

      Awesome comment about how the hard bit is “delivering the right results” – and not just results themselves.

      Thank you for the very kind welcome and for your words of encouragement – they mean a lot to me!

  11. Great first post Lisa, I will be here often.

  12. Terrific job in launching the blog, Lisa,and for pointing out why “the vision thing” can’t be just a poster on some wall to tick a box.

    It drives everything.

    • Sheila,

      I am so honored that you stopped by, thank you!

      And a simply eloquent way of putting it, “it drives everything.” I love it. Thank you so much for the comment and for the kind words of encouragement!

  13. Lisa…here I thought I would rush over to your blog to comment and be the first one…and find that over 20 comments are already here. I can see that you’ll take to this “blogging” thing quickly.

    First, congrats on the blog. Fantastic.

    Second, the story that comes to mind from reading your post is this. When I would be at the agreement table selling a custom magazine or other content project years back, the last question that I asked was this…

    “What’s changed 1 year from now?”

    The answer to that question was put into the agreement, because ultimately the answer (vision) was how the team was going to measure the project itself. Sometimes we just need two seconds to step back and ask ourselves how exactly we envision change happening. An important part of strategy and one you hit on directly.

    Congrats
    Joe

    • Joe,

      I have had some of the best “masters” to learn from – including you! Thank you so much for the kind words, you know they mean the world to me because of the tremendous respect that I have for you. To be honest, I think it was the Author Teleseminar that you did in February of last year that really got me fired up about social media and content marketing in all its forms… Yes, I have you to blame… :)

      Thank you for sharing your experience about how you personally ensured that “vision” was incorporated into your business relationships. I am really struck by what a powerful move that is – not only for the client but for your team as well. Kudos to you for recognizing its importance and, in essence, guaranteeing that your client would embrace it!

      Thanks for everything, Joe!

  14. Vision is everything. When we operate from action first, we miss so many opportunities. I spend a lot of time keeping myself certain that the vision I have for my companies matches what we’re doing day to day. I’m grateful for this post and the reminder. Congrats!

    • Chris,

      First I must say a very sincere “thank you” to you for being so genuinely gracious when we met at SOBCon. The world should know that you “walk the walk” and are a gentleman in every way!

      Thrilled to hear that you keep vision front-and-center for your businesses and that the reminder within this post was helpful. Your words of encouragement mean so much…thank you. :)

  15. Hi Lisa,

    Great first post. Congratulations on getting yourself out there.

    I just wanted to share that my experience has been that my experience has been that creating a larger meaning for any project or initiative that I’ve led has always been the key to success in motivating the team. It doesn’t matter how seemingly small or insignificant the project is… If the vision can engage peoples’ hearts even in some small way, reaching the goals is likely to happen.

    • Keith,

      I can’t tell you how much the encouragement means to me – thank you!

      The way you talk about “engaging peoples’ hearts” with the vision – in your case with a larger meaning for your projects – is really inspiring! Thank you for sharing and for taking the time to read the post. I am sincerely grateful and hope you’ll come by again soon. :)

  16. Lisa! First, congratulations on your new blog! It looks great and, if your first post is any sign of things to come, this is going to take you in a wonderful new direction. I speak as a journalist who recently began blogging and is now enjoying BOTH. Really appreciate what you had to say, especially the part about men and women both having the masculine and feminine qualities. The doors of opportunity fly open when you listen to your heart! Thx again for the reminder. And best of luck. Amy

    • Amy,

      Thank you – I genuinely appreciate those kind words of encouragement!

      How wonderful that you are writing as a blogger and as a journalist – there must be some fascinating nuances. Thanks for the comment about the masculine/feminine thing – and for the beautifully put “the doors of opportunity fly open when you listen to your heart!” I just love that.

      Finally, sincere thanks for the good wishes. :)

  17. How many meetings have I sat in where we were supposed to hammer out a “mission statement” for whatever organization I was involved in at the time? And how many times did we come up with some watered down run-on sentence full of trendy keywords that did not truly resonate with anyone? To the point where just hearing the phrase “mission statement” makes me roll my eyes.

    However, your post identifies the real meaning of, and need for, a mission statement. (And even before that, a mission.) If the vision for an organization can be articulated in a concise, clear way, then it gives each member of the org. a measure they can hold up against any business decision to see if they are on task. Worth its weight in gold.

    • Hilary,

      Were we in the same meetings??!! :)

      You are bringing back so many bad memories… (in a good way, of course!) You are so right about how the vision can actually be helpful to every member of the organization if articulated clearly. It astounds me that so many organizations fail to understand this like you do. And yes, worth its weight in gold for sure!

      Thank you so much for reading and for commenting – I am genuinely grateful! Please come by again.

  18. Tara Sybrant says:

    Lisa,
    this is a great post! I think that one thing I have had to learn along the way is that “vision” is a moving target and should be re-visited. The vision you first have for a project, a business or even in our own lives is an evolving thing that changes with our experiences and grows as we grow.

    Your post is beautifully written, looking forward to learning more.

    T

    • Tara,

      Thank you so much for the lovely comments – I am so genuinely appreciative!

      You’re right about the moving target. Great point about how it will evolve with our experiences and grow over time – thank you for sharing that insight!

      I hope very much to see you back here!

  19. Lisa, excellent post! In corporate, “mission,” “vision,” and “values,” have become meaningless words, oft used labels that describe content but without any real, human connection. Since I’ve been in business, I’ve heard the same words joined by “passion” but with such ardor that others wonder why all the fuss. It is not enough to talk about engagement but we must first be engaged. When we tap into that we get to the heart of what drives us and our business and it is that excitement and belief that will draw our market to take the desired actions.

    • Karen,

      Thank you! And hallelujah for pointing that out about those three words that are devoid of soul without any human connection. Thank you for bringing that up!

      It means so much to me that you took the time to read this and I swear, I had no idea on Thursday when we talked that I’d be launching a blog – let alone so quickly! Talk about tapping into the heart of what drives us… (as you so eloquently put it!)

      Thank you for everything, Karen! :)

  20. Followed a tweet link from ChrisBrogan tweeted – glad I did. Everything you said rings so true. I’m still fumbling on my vision. I do so many things with writing and painting, I haven’t focused fully on either. – feeling scattered. Thanks for the reminder..

    • Perle,

      Well, that Chris Brogan is the best, isn’t he?! :)

      I’m glad the post connected for you – and am sorry to hear you’re fumbling. But, having said that, knowing that you’re fumbling, and having a desire for clarity, is actually a brilliant first move that many people and companies don’t make. Kudos to you for being there!

      I have every confidence that with your talent for painting and writing that you can use those colorful skills to help you tap in and connect with a vision for your true path. All the best to you – and please don’t be a stranger!

  21. “He was presenting a structured case that had no colorful vision – no inspiring dream – to it.” – the word “colorful” makes this. It’s so easy to think of ‘vision’ in blacks, whites, or greys. But we all want color. And what a colorful first post to kick off your blog – good show, sister!

    • Steve,

      You know that means the world to me…

      Here’s the truth: If you and I had not had such inspiring conversations at SOBCon, I don’t know that I would be writing this today. Thank you for listening to me and for inspiring me and for being there for me in every sense of the word. You are helping me to find my voice – I cannot thank you enough!

  22. Lisa, thanks, good food for thought in this article…

    Something that strikes me about C-level is that they are rarely in a position to innovate, and have an (understandable) tendency towards safe and sound (which can be fleeting).

    With the blindingly fast levels of innovation available today, any company can get side-swiped, which then forces rapid innovation/new vision.

    An Innovation Czar or someone who actively plays that role, will become more necessary – someone who “connects the dots”, sees around corners, has development budget, and can pursue “crazy ideas” sometimes based on intuition.

    Company vision will continually be shaped by adjusting to business realities, which are coming faster than ever – best to stay ahead of that curve.

    • Thank you Paul!

      I think you’re right, business realities will cause visions to evolve over time. Your thought about an Innovation Czar is interesting – hopefully that person would use innovation to help bring a clear vision to fruition. Fascinating how you say “crazy ideas” in the same sentence as intuition! Sometimes intuition is telling you which ideas is the most sane. :)

      I am so grateful you read the post and commented – thank you from the bottom of my heart!

  23. I think we often jump to tactics because they are fun and easy, but without the vision in place they rarely scale to accomplish our goals.

    And to you’re story’s examples, it’s amazing how often we go full steam into applying our tactics to the wrong problem.

    Great new blog Lisa!

    • Bill,

      First, it was such a pleasure meeting you at SOBCon – albeit late in the weekend. Next year we have to spend some real time together!

      And you’ve got it – that’s exactly what was happening that morning. Mix a great new, non-profit idea with a lot of creative souls who love new ideas and you’re off and running with tactics. How perfect that you call us out on the fact that we sometimes apply them to the wrong problem!

      Thank you so much, Bill, for reading and commenting! I really appreciate it. :)

  24. Lisa,
    I love that you tie the vision thing to trusting yourself. Too often, it seems that people compartmentalize the vision/strategy/big picture and tackle it with all the analytic tools we’re so used to using.

    Taking time to make sure it all “feels” right is important too but somtimes gets missed.

    Great post – I look forward to more.

    @PhyllisNichols

    • Phyllis,

      Compartmentalize is a really great word – how right you are. If it’s just an “exercise” that the organization goes through once a year then you hit the nail on the proverbial head! And then, as you say, addressing it with analytical tools that we are comfortable with…recipe for disaster and loss of focus. :)

      Thank you so much for your support and your encouraging comments – I really appreciate them!

  25. Congrats on your first blog post Lisa.

    Clear goals are so important to achieving success in business and it’s so shocking at how many people, C and non-C included, fall into the trap of redundancy without vision. It’s so frustrating when we look up the proverbial org chart ladder and see more than sometimes those sitting at the top should see.

    I am looking forward to your next blog post.

    @RonScottJr

    http://ebusinesstuneup.com

    • Ron,

      I have been on that proverbial ladder and have seen the same thing – thank you for being bold enough to say that! Perhaps that’s a topic for another post, on why those of us who are sometimes not quite at the top can have a clearer view?

      Thank you for the “congrats” and for your words of encouragement – I look forward to seeing you back here so we can further the conversation and mull over this together!

  26. Congrats on your first post, Lisa! I love it! It is a unique and different way to look at vision. I absolutely agree with you on “trust your gut”. Worked well for me so far :)

    looking forward to more insightful posts!

    • I am thrilled you came by Ekaterina and thank you so much!

      I love that you have tapped into that “inner goddess” of yours and it’s worked well for you. I know you’ve got big things ahead for you in your career!

      Looking forward to more great conversations with you!

  27. Vision is important and so is the ability to communicate that vision, which is where a lot of people struggle.

    I’ve found that branding exercises that help marketers, CEOs or startup founders think of their company/vision in terms of an archetype with defining statements and core traits can help people articulate that vision.

    This stuff can feel esoteric and squishy, but I think these types of exercises help to distill thinking and help people hone their thoughts into a clear vision that can be articulated. Having data and developing data-driven strategies is important, but so is having a gut-check formula.

    Love your thoughts :) I’m so glad you’re blogging now!

    • Shannon,

      That’s a fantastic suggestion on how to get the leaders of the company to be able to clearly articulate the vision – what you’re essentially doing is giving them structure to make them more comfortable because you are absolutely right, it can feel esoteric to them. Getting them back into a comfort zone makes tremendous sense.

      Thank you for taking the time to drop by, to read and to comment. It means quite a lot to me – especially your encouragement! I never would have “thunk it” when we met a few weeks ago at SOBCon that I’d be blogging this soon – it’s the inspiration of people like you that I met that weekend that has brought me here! Thank you!

  28. Congrats on the blog Lisa! Way to blow open the door with such a great introductory post.

    Thank you for this refreshing perspective on vision. It’s applicable not only to business, but to all individuals attached to it. We all going through singular journeys in tandem with our business and often times lose sight of that vision, or fail to identify it in the first place.

    This is truly helpful for me today, thank you again and good luck in future blogs!

    • Eric,

      I must tell you that our conversation at SOBCon about energy felt so empowering to me! Your encouragement to me was something that really stuck with me and has made a deeply personal impact. So, thank you!

      I am thrilled that you find it to be a refreshing perspective and that you found the post to be helpful to you today. That means a lot to me to hear that! Thanks for the well wishes – hope to see you back here. :)

  29. Nice post. True strategic thinking is *so* overrated. You know what I’ve found in terms of developing strategies for social media? That it’s not unlike developing strategies for brand development. Or advertising. Or PR. How is it that people seem to think that social media is akin to waving a magic wand? Think, people.

    • Thank you, Jim!

      Perhaps they are searching for magic in social media because they have not yet created a clear vision – and thus none of their strategies are getting them where they want to go?

      I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to share your thoughts! Hope to see you here often. :)

  30. Thanks for sharing this post, I found this article while searching for some information on SQL, thoughtful comments and good points made.

  31. The CEO is only the starting point. Once a CEO has identified a compelling vision, it’s essential to share it with managers and staff across the organization. The group can’t be successful unless everyone understands the overall goal and how their roles support the vision. Helping employees see that connection usually falls to managers, but it needs to start with the CEO.

    • Mark,

      Couldn’t agree with you more! That’s why it has to be crystal clear to start with so it can be properly communicated from there, I think.

      So glad you stopped by – thank you for not only reading but taking the time to comment. I sincerely appreciate it!

  32. Lisa-
    Great insights and congrats on your new blog (very sharp looking). I think that your point of starting with the end game and working backwards is very powerful and right on the money.

    Looking forward to reading more!

    • Carol,

      Thanks for the kind words and I appreciate your thoughts on how it looks, too!

      Glad to hear you agree – looking forward to getting together and planning some serious collaborations! All the best & thanks again. :)

  33. Lisa Diomede says:

    Lisa,
    You’ve selected an excellent introductory post and I enjoyed your personal commentary and perspective on the topic which gives it such a nice balance.

    I couldn’t agree with you more — if you trust your instincts and are passionate about what you do, you won’t lose sight of your overall vision or have difficulty defining it from the start.

    Love the design! I look forward to future posts.

    • Lisa,

      I am so glad you came by! It means a lot to me that you felt the personal commentary and perspective gave it balance – that was the piece I was most concerned about sharing because, as you say, it’s personal. :)

      It is clear from the passion with which you create relationships that you truly do embrace and trust your instincts – you are such a beautiful example of serious goddess power!

  34. Hi Lisa,
    I stopped by earlier today after Chris Brogan tweeted about your new blog. I try to check out what he tweets about and learn.
    First, the look and feel of your blog is really inviting. It gives one the feeling that they stopped by your real desk and noticed your leather blotter/portfolio, complete with stitching.

    Secondly, I enjoyed how you told the story of the breakfast meeting culminating with the new CEO learning about vision and thinking about what his vision might be and perhaps what it is not.

    Third, your post made me think and ask questions. Indeed, it was provocative and I probably spent an inappropriate amount of time today thinking about the issues you raised. Here are some of my thoughts.

    I always worry if I have landed somewhere I don’t belong when I do not understand a blog’s title. In this case, “C-Level Strategies & Awakenings”, can I tell you I had to look up the meaning of C-Level? I have worked in the corporate world for over 40 years and while I have been an AVP, VP, Chief Privacy Officer, etc, I have never heard of the term C-Level! I get it, short hand for corporate titles that actually include the job function.

    Anecdotally, today as I was gathering an understanding of C-level, I was reminded of an incident from when I was working as a senior systems business analyst for a major property/casualty insurance company. There came a time when the CTO (Chief Technology Officer) was named the CIO (Chief Information Officer) and a new CTO was recruited and hired. I won’t bore you with the politics of this maneuver, but within a few weeks the new CTO brought in his own administrative assistant. This administrative assistant gave himself a title “Chief of Staff.” While most of us were dumbfounded by this move, he did take us through the process of having a quarterly IT meeting and he worked with a little committee to write a Vision and Mission statement for IT department of our multi-billion dollar corporation. But then he sent a memo to the entire IT staff and copied the Chairman of the Board (company founder and former CEO/President). Within hours the “Chief of Staff” was relieved of his duties. We learned later that the Chairman was quoted as saying: “There is only one Chief of Staff of this company and the last time I looked it was me!”

    Speaking of “Vision” and “Mission” statements, today I came across a site http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-vision-statement.htm that I think explains both succinctly. “While vision statements and mission statements are very similar in nature, there is a fine point of difference between the two documents. A mission statement is more concerned with the overall aim of the business, a simple statement of the company’s reason for being. Often the statement will include verbiage that makes a pledge to deliver a superior product or service to customers on a consistent basis. From this perspective, a mission statement is about maintaining a certain quality or attribute. The vision statement, by contrast, is not about what the company currently is, but what the company hopes to become. As an example, a vision statement may acknowledge that the company already meets industry standards in customer support, while at the same time setting goals for moving customer care to a higher level within a given time period.”

    As you counseled the CEO of the new non-profit, he should define his vision in what he hopes to achieve with his dream(s). My question to you is this: These days do you find that most companies eagerly display their Vision and Mission statements? For example, this is how deep you must go to find the Disney Mission Statement. http://corporate.disney.go.com/careers/who.html

    I know I have rambled on, remember I told you that you made me think. One last question, can you provide a point of reference for Isis being the Goddess of Vision and Insight?

    It was nice meeting you and I hope someday we will meet in person. I will stop back to read and learn more.

    • Judy,

      You are amazing! This is such an incredibly thoughtful and insightful comment with so many great points…where to start?
      First, thank you for your very kind words about the look of the blog, the story and how it made you think – I love that it got you questioning so much!

      Your C-level story is just awesome. I am writing my blog for executives who are either already in the C (Chief) Suite or are working their butts off to get there – not the folks who give them self the title and deem themselves worthy. :) Unbelievable story!

      Thank you for that link and you are so right – mission is something that is very succinct about what you do. Vision is much more aspirational and it’s the vehicle through which you create the destination. I really believe that by seeing that vision with *all* of your senses you will know, throughout the course of getting there, if you are on the right path.

      I love the point you make about Disney. In my experience the mission statements are very readily available – but not the vision statement. It has always led me to wonder if a vision statement existed, or if it was something more “personal” to the company – more “squishy” as Shannon Paul said, and thus not something that gets “put out there” quite so much. Great question and I’d love to hear others’ thoughts on it.

      In regard to Isis here is an admittedly very cheesy link: http://www.goddess.com.au/goddesses/Isis.htm. The little I have learned about her has been in books about Greek and Egyptian mythology. She is more commonly associated with other things – but the insight of the “3rd eye” (intuition, vision, insight) is something associated with her as well.

      I am thrilled that you will be stopping by again – I think we’ll have wonderful conversations in the future!

  35. Barry Curewitz says:

    Lisa, thanks for sharing this story and insight. It’s a great reminder that too often we get caught-up in “doing” before “thinking”. It’s similar to the shoe maker whose kids run a round barefoot.

    This applies to not only executives in a busy work-world, but also people in transition. If you can’t clearly articulate your headline, the one reason why someone should be interested in you, why should anyone care?

    We should all think a little more before doing.

    Thanks Lisa!

    • Barry,

      I am simply thrilled to see a fellow MENG colleague stop by! Thank you!

      Yes, isn’t it true about the “doing” part? Seems easier to jump into, I suppose. And I love how you relate this to being in transition (which applies, I think, not only to job search but to life changes as well) – you need to be able to clearly articulate what you want and where you want to go or no one can help you.

      Thanks for the insights, Barry! I really appreciate them.

  36. Lisa,
    What a way to start your blogging life! A thoughtful, insightful, tangible post. I call it “news we can use.”

    The “vision thing” was seemingly downgraded to a punch line by a certain president a few years back. Where would we be if Martin Luther King hadn’t had a “dream?” Or, if JFK hadn’t asked us “what can you do for your country?” The list goes on and on.

    I have no problem opening up the executive suite to a little Isis-izing. God or goddess matters not – wherever that inspiration comes from, we all need to spend more time and dig deeper not just to find it, but to share it.

    Looking forward to following your blog!

    Cheers,
    Ted

    @tedlsimon

    • Ted,

      The fact that you call this “news we can use” makes me just beside myself – thank you!! :)

      I *LOVE* your comment about “Isis-izing” the executive suite! I think we may have a new business buzz word on our hands… I simply love it. No longer will we do “visioning exercises” – we will “Isis-ize” – which burns more calories and is much more powerful! :)

      Thank you for your incredible support – it means so much to me!

  37. Lisa: all good things here – nice to see you blogging, too! Vision and the intuitive side of marketing strategy is often the difference between powerful brands and the others. We don’t, or can’t, articulate the in-between spaces unless we’ve clearly thought through the emotional results we’re after.

    In defense of your marketing table, perhaps this sort of conference small talk is normal – and perhaps they simply assumed that the CEO had this in mind already – so providing tools that can be broadly applied was all they were on the hook for. Tools are great in the hands of the right craftsman, after all. When the barriers to entry are low, it’s easy to offer off-the-cuff ideas.

    However, nice catch on your part – I’ll look forward to your future posts.

    PS: Do I refer to you as the Goddess of Vision at this point? Let me know either way…

    • Thank you Stephen,

      I sincerely appreciate the kind words and love that you say that nailing the vision is the difference between powerful brands and everyone else. That’s the perspective of someone committed to and headed for real success. Great insight.

      I’m thrilled that you are looking forward to future posts and will need to mull over that question about calling me the Goddess of Vision…it would have its pro’s and con’s…! ;)

  38. Great post. Great discussion. If I’m reading this right, “vision” is the realization of purpose. Critical for a CEO to have vision. More critical to get others to see themselves in it. No one really cares about their CEO. People don’t follow CEOs per se. Instead, they follow CEOs that are pursuing a purpose they care about, towards a vision they can see for themselves.

    • George,

      No wonder I love working with you so much! Thanks for the kind words and that poignant and harsh reality that no one cares about their CEO; they care about the vision they can see (and feel part of) for themselves.

      Thank you so much, George. I am honored that you stopped by and hope to see you back here!

  39. Patricia Friedman says:

    What an inspiration your insight is. i hope to see my work as clearly as you see yours. Keep it going.

    • Patricia,

      I am just so delighted that you stopped by and even more so that you plunged in and commented! Thank you, my dear friend! You already see your vision clearly – I can’t wait to see it play out in your own blog!

      It means so much to me that you stopped by – please come by again soon!

  40. I just started reading your site – thanks for writing. I wanted to inform you that it’s not displaying correctly on the BlackBerry Browser (I have a Blackberry 9700). Anyway, I am now subscribed to the RSS feed on my PC, so thanks again!

    • Hi Gaylene,

      Thank you for reading!

      In regard to the BB thing – I am so new at this that I have absolutely no idea what to do. I’ll have to look into it – and I genuinely appreciate you letting me know!

      All the best!

  41. Nice article. I have seen many CEOs who clearly didn’t have any vision which is in my opinion one of their top responsibilities. Otherwise how can they steer a company?

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