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Posts in leadership
2nd Place: A Winning Business Strategy

There is a great story about the battle for dominance between McDonald’s and Burger King. There was a time - just like when television only had 3 channels - that you really only had 3 or 4 choices for a quick meal. McDonald’s was the category leader (although not a phrase used at the time). They had process and procedure. They built an empire, including an efficient real estate empire. They sent teams to scout new restaurant locations and worked with local owners to determine the exact best place to expand their restaurants. Traffic patterns were analyzed and detailed information was obtained to negotiation the land and start building …

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The Art of the Ask: Seeking Professional Advice

It is so easy to find and connect with someone these days. So easy, in fact, that we often fail at "The Art of the Ask." If you don't know how to ask, no amount of access with help you. Recent grads, inside sales people, eager entrepreneurs, and career changing networkers send countless daily requests for both guidance and time. "I just need ...." messages flood social media and in-boxes. On the receiving end, most people can't invest the time to know which request is a scam, going to be a huge time-suck, or which might be a rewarding experience for you both. Odds are that if you can't separate the poser from the purposeful, you won’t respond to either.

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It Will Be Google And Amazon In The End

Call it GAFA or FAGA or throw in Netflix for the "N" to get be FANG person, but the big four have been Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon. All four of them are competing for ever increasingly overlapping territory. Think of this as a Venn diagram of 4 circles getting larger and larger until they almost completely overlap.

But in the end ....

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The New ABC: Always Be Changing

Any sales person or Mamet apostle will tell you that ABC stands for "Always Be Closing."  It is a now parodied mantra of the motivated sales person. "'A' is for Always. 'B' is for Be. 'C' is for Closing. Always Be Closing"

But as the end of the year is a natural time for reflection and review, the new ABC should be Always Be Changing. Always be growing. Always be evolving.

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The Evolving Language of Power and Predators

The Predator in Power problem is now being reveled as endemic. No longer is this just an isolated incident or a single industry that we can view like a side-show attraction at a zoo. We are no longer voyeurs to this problem. As every new day brings new charges, new allegations, and new admissions, we are finding we are no longer sufficiently equipped with the language to deal with this issue. Every conversation is now forcing us to evolve our language to describe, support, or address the issues.

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To Be Your Best, Try Being 'Uncomfortable'

It seems like our nature is geared toward comfort and the pursuit of comfort.  Isn't that the goal of our labors - to achieve some coziness? To be your best, however, the place to be is "uncomfortable."  This is not to mean wearing your pants too tight, or putting on Red Sox attire at Yankee Stadium.  "Uncomfortable" motivates and clarifies our direction. It gives us insight into the problems around us and our very best innovations come from those very uncomfortable places.

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Silicon Valley Schadenfreude

Has competition in the technology sector given way to something more mean-spirited? Have we moved from the guise of providing value to our stakeholders (be they shareholders, employees, or our buyers) into a philosophy of hyper-competition, or "win at any cost?" Is the sole object now to just win?

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The Entrepreneur’s Dilemma: Fear of Focus

Your origin story might be a “Eureka!” moment or you might have been drawn to the idea for years, but you are bringing your innovation to the market. A few early customers come over via word-of-mouth or friends in your network. You have some early funding. It’s hard but you love it.

Then, as the saying goes, “stuff is about to get real.” It becomes harder to win at scale. Pressures to continue to grow mount and your path to revenue becomes murky.

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Thoughts on FastCompany's Waning Love of Silicon Valley Article

If you haven't had a chance to read FastCompany's Why The Public's Love Affair With Silicon Valley Might Be Over, give yourself the 9 minutes required to peruse it.  The article describes the path of misogyny, greed, exclusion, and overall bad behavior that now seem the permeate the sector.

Unfortunately, this seems to be the direction we are heading.

What was once the shiny example of progress and innovation has now been tarnished by scandal and some bad actors.

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The Surprising Rise Of The Human Executive

Over the last 10 years we have seen a dramatic rise in the more human side of our executives. This has not been caused by our leadership suddenly joining support groups, seeking counseling, or - as HBO's comedy Silicon Valley would have you believe - going on a drug fueled vision quest. Our executive class has become more human because the markets and the customers have demanded it.

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10 Leadership Lessons I Wish I Learned In My 20's

All of us would do well with a second bite at the apple, another chance to go back and do it all over again.  Our mistakes, as much as our successes, define us and can help steer us forward today.  With this in mind, here are 10 lessons learned over the last 20 years of doing business that are now part of my thinking.  Or put another way . . .  during the interview question where they ask you "what is your management or leadership philosophy?" Well, here it is. [View the downloadable slideshow here]

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Don’t Tell Me You Don’t Pee In The Shower And Other Oddly Human Things We All Do

We all have our crazy little things we think that are ours alone; the secret passion or goofiness we only let our closest family members see. That secret shame of thinking we are the only ones who do this. There is a great quote “If you are one in a million, statistically there are 7,200 more of you out there in the world.”

We all hide a part of ourselves to the outside world and create these odd little realities for ourselves that no one gets to see. In truth, we all do the same stupid stuff, we are all not that dissimilar, and if you do it, you are guaranteed not alone ....

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Good Leaders May Think It; Great Leaders Know It, But Ask It Anyway

There are few guarantees in life. But in over 25 years of experiencing leadership at large established Blue Chip companies, Silicon Valley startups, regional offices around the world, and seeing a few "Is this legal?" enterprises, there have been a score of moderately good leaders and only a few really great ones. 100% - every single time - the good ones don't even think to ask; the great leaders always ask one simple question.

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Does Your Future CEO Come From Marketing?

Traditionally, the CEO has come from just about anyplace but marketing. Companies bent on operational excellence might look to their finance teams or their COO to take the top slot.  Organizations focused on innovation might look to a CTO type.  Those focused on market share fished in their sales pool for their next big tuna.  But rare was the organization that focused on the dynamic relationship between company and customer.  Is it time for a marketing CEO?

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'Bad' Leadership Advice Now 'Good': Learn To Fail, Serve, And Just Say No

Efficiency has been replaced by effectiveness.  Organizations have awoken to an era of social business, customer centricity, and new ideas of what constitutes a leader.

I recently stood up in front of my colleagues at SAP and professed my 4 greatest failures . . . and the lessons learned from each, which directly led me to the role I have today  - helping to change how a world-class brand rethinks our approach to the new marketplace. What was folly just a few years ago is now being taught for the next generation of leaders at B-schools around the globe and in practice in some very smart organziations.

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Leadership Is All About Change And Adaptability

Change agent. Entrepreneur. Innovator. Incubator. Good disruptor/friend Chris Heuer calls them "Work Hacks."  Whatever you call them, disruptors the world over have similar traits.  Good ones - the professionals - have learned skills that help their ideas become reality.  Most disruptors often just feel frustrated that their ideas aren't taken seriously.  The worst have a Cassandra Complex and just feel like they can see the future, but are unable to do anything about it.

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