This book is for you. You: the hard-driving, hard-boiled, EBITDA-loving,
competition-busting, innovation-fixated, smartest-in-the-room CEO who
wants to make at least $2 for every $1 you spend. You expect to win and
We’ve worked with folks just like you throughout our careers. And we
know something that should make you very uncomfortable: the key to
propelling your business to its full potential and highest heights
isn’t balance sheet engineering, acquisition acumen, organic
reinvention, adroit board management or stunning quarterly earnings
results. No matter how expert you are, mastering these mechanics is the
cost of entry to competing and surviving.
The key to winning really big, and staying at the top of the game, is
empathy. Yes, empathy: the capacity to recognize and respond to emotions
experienced by your customers and consumers.
The greatest world and military leaders—Winston Churchill, FDR, George
Patton, among others—won wars with empathy. Guided by their
understanding of the emotions driving their enemies, each used their
insight as the starting point to map out strategies and create
unprecedented tactics to deploy troops…and save the world.
Without empathy, a leader will falter. Strategy can lose focus and the
company can become isolated from the very people on whom they depend for
success. They can lose the clarity of vision to assess their true
aggressors. Sounds soft and fuzzy and new age-y, we know. But empathy is
far from frivolous: it’s a skill that nets hardnosed, tangible
We know that from working with business leaders, like David Novak, Fred
Smith, Jean-Paul Agon, John Sculley and Phil Dusenberry. They became
legends because they knew a thing or two about building an empire—be
it Apple, Yum, FedEx, L’Oreal, Pepsi or BBDO. That it starts and ends
with understanding and being responsive to the emotions and dreams of
your customers and consumers (customers and consumers are one and the
same as far as we’re concerned—we use the terms interchangeably).
Companies and brands that prove that they really—and we mean
really—“get” their consumer are the ones that win. “They get
me” is one of the most valuable things your customer can ever say
about you. You can take “they get me” to the bank and build a 10
times multiple on it.
These days, it’s trickier than ever to “get,” and stay in step
with, your consumers. The rate at which they’re changing is rapid and
random. The new, complicating factor is that consumers are also more in
tune with themselves and each other than at any other time in human
history. They can gang up more easily to support or reject a person, an
idea, a movement, a politician and, yes, a company or brand. Companies,
more than ever, are left on the outside looking in, puzzling out how to
insert themselves into a meaningful relationship with a customer who can
turn on them, really, at any second.
Authenticity counts, now more than ever. We can all spot the fraud, but
now we see that within a nanosecond. It’s not enough to play the part
of consumer friendly, a company has to be truly accountable to the needs
and desires of the people it courts. In real-time. In fact, another
expression of empathy is “consumer accountability.”
The average stock value of companies that are accountable to their
consumer’s experience improves by a whopping 79% over 7 years, 33%
better than the average gain in the S&P index. But the big bell ringer
is this: companies that lag in accountability to consumers see their
stock value decline an average of 2.5% over 7 years. The laggards see
their company value stagnate and ultimately drop in a race to the
Getting ahead isn’t about waving a research wand or lighting an
insight or innovation firecracker. It’s also not about huge capital
investments or workforce re-engineering that drains productivity.
Becoming accountable requires discipline, a company-wide change in
attitude and an enabling methodology to help ensure that what a company
makes aligns with what customers actually need and desire.
The challenge for CEOs is how to scale empathy to the enterprise level
so it can be a sustainable advantage in creating long-term value. Think
Round is the guide to just that: an enabling approach to owning the
future by having 100% of your company focused on your consumer 100% of
Excerpted from "Think Round: How To Own The Future By Focusing 100% Of Your Company On Customers & Consumers 100% Of The Time" by Martha R. Pease. Copyright © 2015 by Martha R. Pease. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Martha R. Pease
Martha Pease is a thought leader, executive, entrepreneur and trusted advisor at the intersection of technology innovation, marketing strategy and consumer accountability. She is a frequent contributor to CNN and CNN.com. Apple, L’Oreal, IBM, Neutrogena, Pizza Hut, Dominos Pizza, Wendy’s, Elizabeth Arden, Novell, Pepsi, InterBev, P F Chang’s, Epson and Hitachi are among the companies Martha has marketed.
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