The Key to Winning in Global Markets

Winning Global MarketsAs a Kellogg Graduate School of Management alumnus, it was a true honor to receive a copy of the most recent book by Philip Kotler, our prestigious S.C. Johnson and Son Distinguished Professor of International Marketing. Co-authored by Milton Kotler, “Winning Global Markets” lays out the case that, “The destiny of the economic world today is in the hands of the interplay between global MNCs (multi-national corporations) and global cities.”

The book does a very effective job at proving this claim.

Replete with global examples, the authors clearly show how “an inversion is taking place between the role of the nation and the role of its cities.” They create a compelling case that it is the multi-national corporation that has the power to create wealth for a city and to drastically change its cultural and civic landscape, and global cities that are more attractive economically than their countries as a whole. “Mid-size and large cities in developing countries generally have a growth rate exceeding that of their host countries,” say the authors, and “top cities have grown faster in GDP than the rate of their country’s GDP growth. Major cities are the source of a nation’s wealth, not the other way around.”


Thus, for marketers, this book turns on its head the current approach for determining where to expand globally for the greatest gain. Until now, the practice has been to consider which regions in which to expand, and then narrow it down to countries, only to select a city toward the end of the process after much negotiation with national government officials. The authors call this practice ‘out-of-date,’ asserting, “Business and marketing organizations have to overcome decades of thinking that global market expansion has to proceed at a global regional level and a country level…The strategic tendency of company marketers is to investigate opportunities at a national level and do business at a centralized government level. We call this the diplomatic route and it is out of date. Economic growth is not happening at the national level. Company marketers have to shift their focus to global city growth, and they must mine city region-level economic data for company growth opportunities.”

The book presents a clear process for doing this, along with concrete examples of companies that are successfully targeting global cities based on specific industry and supply needs.


On the flip-side, the book recognizes the imperative for cities to be exceptional marketers in their own right, attracting the right MNCs to their cities to fuel growth and wealth. “The presence of large global companies and their affiliates determines the wealth of cities and the well-being of their citizens. MNC’s have been the greatest cause of growing the middle classes of global cities.”

Just as marketers need to transform their old belief systems about how to approach the globalization process, so too do cities need to rethink their strategy of economic growth: “Conventional city economic planning emphasizes support for existing local small businesses and generation of new small business start-ups…For city economies to grow to global-city status, they have to attract mid sized and large MNC company headquarters and their business divisions. Support for small business is important, but it will not make a city great.”

The book then goes on to outline exactly how cities should be marketing themselves to compete for MNCs, and how nations can help their city economies.

I highly recommend this book for every marketer tasked with global strategy decisions, at all levels of a corporation, and every government official interested in enabling their city or country to truly thrive in the new global economy. The rules have changed. As Kotler and Kotler deftly show, to win global markets you have to keep up.

Leading Through Global Tilt: My Interview with Ram Charan

Global TiltI was honored to receive an advance copy of Ram Charan’s newest opus Global Tilt: Leading Your Business Through the Great Economic Power Shift. It’s a brilliant explanation of the shift in business and economic power from countries of the Northern Hemisphere to those of the Southern.

I cannot stress enough how highly I recommend this book for all leaders, particularly C-Level executives!

In my experience as Chief Relationship Officer at CEO Connection, I can honestly say most of the strategic challenges our member CEOs currently face involve global economic dynamics and uncertainties. So, I took the opportunity to ask Ram a few questions I knew were on the minds of the CEOs I work with. I genuinely hope you’ll find his insights valuable to you in your role:

1. What would you advise a CEO who understands the importance of the Global Tilt, but whose board includes members from Northern countries, including Japan, who are risk-averse and set in old-world, command and control belief systems?

If the CEO is committed to having the company take advantage of the global tilt, he or she has a few steps to take.  First, he or she needs to think through and discuss with the management team the risk of not making a shift to take advantage of the global tilt, and share that view with the board.  Second, the CEO and the team need to gather information and expert opinions, which they should also share with the board.  Bringing in outside information should be continuous, at every board meeting.  The CEO could arrange for the board to meet with people whose knowledge and opinions they value for a half hour at the dinner or breakfast before the board meeting.  Those people could be CEOs of other companies, or one or two members of the board who have a different perspective but don’t get a chance to explain their views.

The term risk averse is a broad brush.  Before any company makes an investment, they need to explore.  Exploration has learning in it.  The CEO needs to get his or her people to survey, explore, and identify opportunities and potential competitors, then get the board engaged.

It’s now common in America for boards to be actively involved in discussing strategic options for the future, their pro’s and con’s.  In some companies, such discussions span two or three board meetings.  They’re not one-way presentations of 200 PowerPoint slides that put the board to sleep. They are true dialogues, or conversations.

It’s the job of the CEO to do a balancing act between the short-term and long-term and risk and reward.   Experimentation is a necessity for any company to build the future.  Is there an option that requires the allocation of limited resources, so that the board can accept the possibility of its failure?

If the board is completely too conservative and is living in the past, consider bringing in one or two new board members who are respected by the existing directors but will help shift their mindset.

2. What kind of “compass” should today’s CEO use, knowing – as you eloquently demonstrate – that the rear view mirror of history can no longer serve as a guide since the Southern competitors are not playing by the same rules, following Northern models or seeking acceptance by the international business community?

I am absolutely clear that the executives of Northern companies must continue to live by their values even though they may have setbacks in operating in the South.  Besides, the rules are never going to be totally uniform across the globe.  Leaders have to learn how to navigate those inconsistencies without violating their values.

Recruiting the right people can help.  If you’re going to have to deal with an uneven playing field, you can hire people who have experience doing it.  They’re available.

3. How can a CEO of a US-based company allocate the resources needed for local, southern leadership, decision-making and initiatives knowing the US street is looking for short-term gains? How can US CEOs deftly handle this dilemma and move their boards, the street and investors to a longer term mentality?

CEOs who are totally focused on the short term and do not innovate or explore or invest in the short run to build the future will be shortening their own tenure and the longevity of their companies.  Despite the felt pressure from short-term traders, CEOs must artfully balance the short term and the long term.

When they’re making a change in strategy, and when therefore they’re shifting the resource allocation, they must excel in all of these three things: 1. They must be extremely clear about where they’re going to play, how they’re going to play, and what resources they’re going to deploy—both people and money—quarter by quarter.  Clarity and specificity are extremely important, even though the actions may be risky.  2.  They must execute those actions as promised. Often top management does not spend enough time on executing flawlessly.  3.  Some 70 percent of stocks of publicly traded companies are held by institutions.  The CEO has to be extremely clear in communicating to these investors, laying out the answers to their questions, and building credibility by executing what’s been promised. has clearly demonstrated that investors will stay with you when they’re convinced that you are doing the right things. ~

Ram CharanRam Charan is a world-renowned business advisor, author and speaker who has spent the past 35 years working with many top companies, CEOs, and boards of our time. In his work with companies including GE, MeadWestvaco, Bank of America, DuPont, Novartis, EMC, 3M, Verizon, Aditya Birla Group, Tata Group, GMR, Max Group, Yildiz Holdings, and Grupo RBS, he is known for cutting through the complexity of running a business in today’s fast changing environment to uncover the core business problem. His real-world solutions, shared with millions through his books and articles in top business publications, have been praised for being practical, relevant and highly actionable—the kind of advice you can use Monday morning.

Ram’s introduction to business came early while working in the family shoe shop in a small town in northern India, where he was raised. He earned an engineering degree in India and soon after took a job in Australia. When his talent for business was discovered, Ram was encouraged to develop it. He earned MBA and doctorate degrees from Harvard Business School, where he graduated with high distinction and was a Baker Scholar, then served on the faculties of Harvard Business School and Northwestern University before pursuing consulting full time.

Ram’s work takes him around the globe non-stop and gives him an unparalleled, up-to-date insider view of how economies and leading companies operate. Through keen observation and analysis, he forms powerful insights that help business leaders face their toughest challenges in the areas of growth, talent development, corporate governance, and profitability. His timely concrete advice is a powerful tool in navigating today’s uncertain business climate. Former Chairman of GE Jack Welch says Ram “has the rare ability to distill meaningful from meaningless and transfer it in a quiet, effective way without destroying confidences,” while Ivan Seidenberg, the former CEO of Verizon, calls Ram his “secret weapon.”

Ram has coached more than a dozen leaders who went on to become CEOs. He reaches many more up-and-coming business leaders through in-house executive education programs. His energetic, interactive teaching style has won him several awards, including the Bell Ringer award at GE’s famous Crotonville Institute and best teacher award at Northwestern. He was among BusinessWeek’s top ten resources for in-house executive development programs.

He has authored 15 books since 1998 that have sold over 2 million copies in more than a dozen languages. Execution, which he coauthored with former Honeywell CEO Larry Bossidy in 2002, was a #1 Wall Street Journal bestseller and spent more than 150 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. He also has written for publications including Harvard Business Review, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Time, Chief Executive and USA TODAY.

Ram was elected a Distinguished Fellow of the National Academy of Human Resources and has served on the Blue Ribbon Commission on Corporate Governance. He has served on the boards of Hindalco in India, Emaar, Austin Industries, Tyco Electronics, and Fischer and Porter. His newest book, Global Tilt (Crown, February 2013), is a guide to leading your business through the radical shift in economic power currently underway.



The Introvert's Guide to Success in Business and Leadership

The Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership

Are you an introvert looking to use your introversion to your advantage in business & leadership or an extrovert interested in leading introverts more effectively? I wrote this eBook for you…The Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership” eBook is NOW Available! Amazon Best Seller, Amazon Hot New Release, and the inspiration behind my Harvard Business Review article! Featured on Huffington Post. BUY Now on Amazon for Kindle or Buy it at B&N for Nook! Also available on iBooks!

Click here to DOWNLOAD in PDF format. Thank you!

Being an introvert is truly an advantage in business and leadership if you know how to leverage it, and if you remain true to yourself.


Every Leader’s Achilles Heel

Achilles Heel of LeadershipThe Achilles Heel: that fatal weakness which can bring you down despite your overall strength.

For otherwise outstanding leaders, it is a lack of clarity.

You may be a brilliant motivator and leader of great character who empowers their team for success and inspires them to move to action. You may be trustworthy and a leader who lives each value of the organization in an exemplary fashion. You may approach your leadership role with a servant mentality and recognize every success and strength of your followers and organizations. And you may be the most honorable and courageous leader on the field. But if you are not clear on your:

  • Purpose
  • Vision
  • Strategies

you will either lead your followers in circles, down the wrong path, or leave them confused and bumping into each other.

In other words, you can have every attribute you need to be a strong, distinguished leader but a lack of clarity is the single vulnerability that destines you to ruination.

Ok…a destiny of ruination might be slightly melodramatic if you’re not currently fighting the Trojan War as Achilles did, but you get the point. When you read about great companies that lost their edge and their leadership status you read words that evoke a true sense of confusion. They lost their way, they lost their focus. Ultimately, they lost their clarity of purpose, vision and strategies.

It is the leader’s job to prevent this from happening, yet so many leaders don’t have this sense of clarity within themselves let alone the confidence and ability to convey it relentlessly to their followers.

This is why I love the simple analogy of dance to make this critical point…

I wrote a few weeks ago about how my renewed immersion in dance is not only lifting my soul, it’s helping me better understand the work needed to be a great follower. I am incredibly fortunate to have an instructor who not only has a genuine understanding of the soulful journey I’m on, but is committed to getting me out of my leadership “comfort zone” to a place where following feels truly natural and effortless. Let’s just say I have a loooong way to go!

But Joel is a phenomenal leader and dancer who empowers me for success by providing a foundation of clarity from which to build:

He is clear on our purpose by ensuring I know which dance we’re about to do. This seems so ridiculously obvious, but how many of us know with 100% confidence the exact purpose of our leaders? If Joel was not clear and I had to do even a small amount of guessing, I might start out heading to the side to Rumba only to be plowed over if he thinks we’re about to Tango. The result would not be pretty or soulful. Think about it, have you ever had a conversation with a follower in which what they said to you essentially equated to, “I thought you wanted me to Rumba?” I’m guessing you have.

He is clear on our vision by ensuring I know what the dance is supposed to look like when done properly, and the emotions it is meant to evoke. He has taught me which dances to dance on the balls of my feet, when to use my heels, and which dances are more staccato in nature. I know which are smooth and therefore traveling dances, and which are rhythm dances and have an entirely different carriage. All of this is critical for establishing the same vision in each of our heads as to what we want the dance – the performance – to look like. Because if we don’t have the same vision of the dance in its entirety, we cannot perform it in harmony. Think about the implication of this for you as a leader!

Joel is clear on our strategies by making sure I am clear on the steps. After all, to bring your vision to life you must align your strategies with your vision. Again, this may sound basic but how clearly do you think your strategies are being communicated throughout your entire organization? Essentially, everyone needs to be doing “the same steps” in order for strategies to be executed properly.

The crucial difference between business and dancing:

Here’s the thing about dancing with a partner: if the leader is not clear, the dance will be a disaster. This will be immediately evident. But in business, this is not always the case. It may take weeks, months or even years for a leader to realize their team is a mess because of lack of clarity around purpose, vision or strategies, but it will happen eventually with the same shattering impact.

How clearly are you communicating your purpose, vision and strategies to your followers?

Give this some thought and join me and my amazing Leadership Chat partner, Steve Woodruff (who doesn’t dance, but did invent Clarity Therapy) tomorrow night, May 22nd, at 8:00 pm Eastern Time for a global Twitter conversation with leaders from around the world about “clarity in leadership.” And mark your calendars for May 29th when we’ll host our final edition of Leadership Chat and send it off with a bang!


The Introvert's Guide to Success in Business and Leadership

The Introvert's Guide to Success in Business and Leadership

Are you an introvert looking to use your introversion to your advantage in business & leadership or an extrovert interested in leading introverts more effectively? I wrote this eBook for you…

The Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership” eBook is NOW Available! Now an Amazon Best Seller & Hot New Release, Featured on Huffington Post, and the inspiration behind my Harvard Business Review article!

BUY Now on Amazon for Kindle or Buy it at B&N for Nook! 

Click here to DOWNLOAD in PDF format. Thank you!

Being an introvert is truly an advantage in business and leadership if you know how to leverage it, and if you remain true to yourself.

Photo of The Achilles Heel by TexMex5.