Welcome to the Heroik Hour, the podcast where we discuss and bring together Technology Leadership and Culture giving you a little Heroik TLC to get your growth engine rev’d up and mission ready for life. I’m your host, Nicholas McGill , Chief Experience Officer for Heroik Media. Thank you so much for joining us on episode 10. Wow 10 episodes in – I’m so grateful you’re listening to this and to me but a humble and fellow growth minded explorer of work, life and beyond – like yourself.
On this episode – we’re going to dip our toes into 4 of the biggest crises that brands face today. So if you’re a leader, a manager, or a solopreneur, you’re going to want to listen up.
Here’s the Heroik Theory of Business, Every Brand Deserves a CAPE, a super-charged sense of character, alignment, purpose and energy. A CAPE. Every brand deserves a CAPE and should seek to cultivate one. And your customers deserve to do business with a brand that has one.
Yet all these brands and business owners are in a CAPE crisis – by that I mean they don’t have a CAPE, they don’t have a solid sense of character, alignment,purpose and energy. And they’re walking around with a lot of anxiety, low energy, and diminished capacity for growth. This is the antithesis of mission ready for life, so today, on this episode we’re going to talk about why every company deserves a CAPE and how to iron out some of the wrinkles in yours.
And full disclosure, this is exactly what Heroik Media does. We build, iron, hem, CAPEs for a living. Seriously. We work to bring Character, Alignment, Purpose and Energy to brands, leaders and teams. We use our unique lens & multidisciplinary methods to build, refine and advance communities, cultures, experiences and ideas that focus on the powers of TLC (Technology, Leadership and Culture).We defy status quo, the basic attitudes, and reject models that rely heavily on fear and scarcity. We provide them with better ways of working, thinking, and enjoying life, work and business. We help them transform. We make them Heroik. And we’ve been doing it for quite a long time. If you enjoy the topics on this podcast, and need a little help ironing out the kinks in your CAPE, check out Heroik Media at www.heroik.org thats HEROIK.org
Let’s talk about that CAPE crisis or the great CAPER, okay, that’s a bad pun, but let’s talk about these 4 HUGE crises that companies, leaders and owners are struggling with.
- Character Crisis
- The brand identity is ill defined, poorly known, and no one including leaders, executives, managers and employees don’t really know what the company stands for or what sets it apart from the competition.
- This paralyzes you from aligning your company’s practices, defining your culture, and really knowing what sets you apart. In turn this impacts the company’s ability to market, engage and retain customers and employees alike. No one believes you if there’s no consistency between your word and deed, your values and your actions, practices, policies, etc. And if you don’t know who you are, what you stand for, what sets you apart, and how you prove it, you can’t move forward in alignment. This is what it means to be in a crisis of character.
- Alignment Crisis
- Companies and leaders don’t know how to align the brand, the values, the culture, in a strategic way the fuels the growth and performance of the organization. And the demand for this is growing right with the customer expectation. Gone are the days where you could say you stand for 1 thing and yet practice in a completely different way and use PR to spin and provide cover. Those days are over, and a lot of established organizations are in a near panic, or heightened state of anxiety, because they have no playbook or framework, or process to bring all of these critical parts into alignment.
- Purpose crisis
- We seem to live in a time when a sense of purpose is more valuable ever, and harder for people to connect to, harder for leaders to explain in a way that resonates with employees and customers alike. But in this
- Energy crisis
- All of these other crises of character,alignment and purpose, contribute and cause an energy crisis where the capacity to perform the energy, the spirit of the team and organization as a whole is low. And the lower it is, the lower the performance. And the lower the performance, the higher the anxiety and the increased likelihood of panic and poor management practice. Is a manager more or less likely to allow their team to rest after a major sprint, if the entire organization is still in crisis mode?
- At a personal level, if you’re on high alert, or high anxiety are you smart enough to give yourself what you need to rejuvenate and recharge your energy banks? Or more likely, are you going to double down, try harder and risk burning out? Imagine being the executive, and feeling the pressure and anxiety of the entire organization, how would you allow that to impact your management practice?
Every Company Deserves a CAPE, – it is what empowers good willed people, what glues them together and allows them to be a force for good, to add value to the world and advance themselves as well.
There are the 7 things that have changed that suddenly made the CAPE an essential, strategic requirement for the Heroik brand, rather than a nice-to have luxury or eye candy.
#1. Increased global competition – Competing in a connected, global economy means facing increased competition both directly and indirectly. Often times competitive challenges can come from unexpected verticals and new upstarts that are leaner, meaner and hungrier than you. A robust brand can set you apart from the pack.
#2. The sheer volume of available information – Information of all kinds is available at the touch of the button or an instant voice search. This alone has increased what consumers and customers know about who they do business with and thus, it has of course raised the bar, raising expectations, putting brands under the microscope and holding them far more strictly accountable than ever before.
#3. Transparency & X-Ray vision – We live in fast paced, digital age of transparency, where the masses are equipped with x-ray vision into companies, and the observations and information circles the globe in the blink of an eye. The days of pretending to be someone or something you’re not, pretending to operate with more integrity and virtue than you really do are in danger. The glory days of putting lipstick on a pig are over. These days the standard expectation of customers be they consumer or B2B is that your values and actions are aligned. Period.
#4. Speed of Communication – Word travels at the speed of light. The Brand is experienced within the office as well as outside of it. The audience on both sides has the ability to critique and review the brand and tell millions of people how things are going, whether you like it or not.
#5. Volatility – The speed of change is faster than ever and these are volatile times. A robust brand, aligned and steadfast can help a company navigate the storms ahead.
#6. Strong connections between alignment and performance. There is a direct correlation between brand alignment and performance. There are so many studies and book that show the benefits of Brand Alignment and the connections to performance, retention customer loyalty, employee retention and more.
#7. Brand and Culture are now in the same bucket – Most importantly, here’s the connection that most people don’t get or haven’t made yet – BECAUSE of all of these other changes, Brand and Culture are no longer two different things or at the very least are much harder to separate and distinguish. An authentic and aligned company would treat them with as almost the same. Yet few professional advisors have risen to the new demands of aligning the brand and culture of the organization, let alone defining it in a way that is strategically useful for the organization.
These are the 7 shifts that have created the need for all these CAPED crusaders out there.
Let’s talk about some strategies to address and meet the challenges of ironing out or building your cape.
1. Alignment is key to an authentic brand. And Authenticity breeds trust, trust is the foundation for retaining relationships and preserving loyalty. Authenticity means being strategic as you re-articulate the character, culture and brand of the company. The values and aspects of the company need to fit with the business strategies or they’ll appear as insincere and disingenuous beliefs, common salesy PR Bullshit, and you’ll risk disengaging teams and customers alike from the start. The litmus test for alignment answers this question:
How are the values of the company integrated throughout the business model
- Management Style
- Customer Service
- The product / service Experience
You and your team should have robust, thorough and convincing answers here. This is the goal, the minimum standard not the nice to have luxury.
- Know the difference between mission, vision and purpose.
Purpose guides, mission drives, and vision is the future state of abundance.
Everyone get’s hung up on defining their purpose – knowing their why – let me help you there right now. When you dig deep enough, there are universal purposes, human beings, as much as we like to think of ourselves like unique snowflakes, we share a lot in common. Organizations are not all that different.
I’ve developed countless culture books and brand narratives for companies large and small and can tell you there is a secret, pro-tip or growth hack to defining one’s purpose.
Here it is
Defining the purpose of business, your why – at the end of the day is going to be a certain level of positive quality of life for a group, including you and your customers. It may or may not include a community, country or the whole world. The real variance is what kind of life you want and for who you want it for.
The purpose of Heroik Media is to build live and enjoy the great life by transforming and aligning technology, leadership and culture.
This guides the core business strategy, product direction and ensures we stay in an abundant space designed to create high value returns for ourselves and our clients, so we can have more, do more and become more.
How awesome is that!?
This is exactly what your purpose should achieve it should guide and energize you. Now this purpose is fine and dandy, but in order to deliver we need a mission.
Purpose guides, mission drives.
So we talked about our mission of transformative TLC, technology, leadership and culture, but how does that take form in the company?
Our mission is to create experiences that elevate, connect and grow, people, business and teams from thought to profit.
In plain English, outwardly we might say
Heroik Media is a consulting firm that develops and implements growth strategies for business.
And we might share..
We strive to build, live and enjoy the great life by helping people, businesses, and ideas elevate, connect and grow.
I want to point this out – our purpose is for us. It’s true for us. It helps us do a better job and fuel our capacity for high performance and our highest level of contribution to drive tremendous value for others. It is our firm belief. Your purpose and mission are for the team FIRST, they should be so awesome, so true and so well worded that they naturally attract awesome prospects who believe what you believe, but that is secondary to serving the team.
Tip # 1 – A real purpose statement should meet your needs and some higher goal that connects to others as well. Your purpose should tell me thematically what value you seek to create, what you’ll do with it, or why I as an EMPLOYEE AND CUSTOMER care. If you don’t resonate with both you’re doing something wrong. It’s most common to neglect connecting with the employee.
Tip # 2 – Stop saying your purpose is to change/save the world. No it’s not – This is just bad writing and it doesn’t guide your team, employees strategically, or help differentiate you from the competition. Grow a pair. Be honest and tell us why you’re really here.
If your mission is to help Eugene Oregon Carb up on delicious waffles before game day, then you sound like an awesome shop I know called Off The Waffle. – I love that place. I drive all the way from California to Oregon to Off the Waffle in Eugene, to smuggle waffles over the border. They are that frickin good.
Anyway my point is, your purpose and mission can scale in complexity with the spirit and complexity of the company. My company operates in a highly complex atmosphere, so we need to think things out to the Nth degree, because we also guide people and organizations on their journeys as well. And you wouldn’t want to be guided by an ametuer would you? Probably not.
You can over do it and drive yourself crazy trying this.
Moving on to defining values of the brand –
- Don’t just list your values – map your valued behaviors so how they are present in your strategy and the regular work day of your team, and how they’re brought to life in the experience of the products and services.
Values will live and die on the page, but when you map out valued behaviors, and show people which behaviors in their job embody those virtues, you will show them and the world how strongly you believe in those values.
Character – real, deep, character.
- Give your company, your character, your culture – a sense of human aspiration and humor. I talk about this in the Heroik Guide to the Dark Arts of Social Media – available at getheroik.com, but basically, a heck of alot more is expected out of brands these days.
They are expected to have more characteristics in order to engage and resonate with the audiences, these include shared aspirations and a sense of humor. These two things will show to the degree of which you understand yourself and your target audience. Think of this in advance.
Outsourcing the definition or aspects of your brand as a character, gives some third party who cares a lot less about it to present content and messaging that’s not in alignment with your company. Don’t do it – it will water down your brand, and your efforts.
- When it comes to putting the E in CAPE, we’re talking about putting the big E in energy. You need to shift to a 3 dimensional management style that addresses time, attention and energy.
Most management strategies rely on a linear one-dimensional formula to drive performance and productivity – widgets produced per unit of time.
The problem with optimizing for this is that it leads to burnout and treats human beings like cogs in a machine – which in turn creates even more problems.
Humans get bored, and disengaged when treated like robots. Their attention wanes, and the quality of production suffers. And the harder and faster they work, the more energy needs to be replenished, and we’re not just talking about food and sleep.
6. Energy is important and there’s more than one fuel tank that needs to be regularly refilled to create that rocket fuel formula for high performance. There’s physical, mental, and spiritual energy. If you’re wondering why your company’s energy is low, or why your energy is low, when’s the last time you took a break? Or are you discouraging breaks now?
When anxiety is high, when finishing a sprint, you need to allow your team to rest. You have to show your team that you will take care of them, especially when they go beyond the call of duty. If you just turn and burn your team into the ground, you get what you pay for and deserve every ounce of notoriety for such a poor management practice.
If you worship the components of burnout, discouraging rest, rejuvenation, balance, and personal time, maxing out employee hours without overtime, because you can legally get away with it, you cannot sincerely take the position that you give two shits about your people. They’ll figure it out quickly enough and hold back their performance, knowing that no rest will be given nor balance.
Character, Alignment, Purpose, and Energy – CAPE. Every brand, every company, including yours DESERVES A CAPE. Take the time to plan it, work it, refine it, and make it count. Don’t beat yourself up if it is refined over the years as you figure things out. You’ll look back in a few years flying over the competition, and be glad you decided to get Heroik and made yourself a CAPE.
There you have it. I wish I could deep dive into all of these aspects, as this is one of my favorite topics, but this brief overview will have to do. If you’d like some additional tools to help you build your CAPE, you can download a free brand narrative exercises at our corporate site at Heroik.org that’s HEROIK that will help guide you through the beginning process. We’ll also have links in the show notes over at getheroik.com If you have any questions, comments, or discuss any number of things I’ve left out, feel free to connect with me via our Heroik Insider Slack Group or visit our site at www.getheroik.com – If you like what you heard, please subscribe to this podcast, tell a friend, share an episode and connect with me. Until the next episode, it’s time to get your energy back up there, finish strong, and rock out.