CLP Beacon - Business Issues and Solutions

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Following Willie's Canine Habits Could Make You a More Effective Human

Like many of us, I have always been a lover of dogs. My wife and kids tell me I prefer hanging out with dogs more than people. It is hard for me to argue. Each dog I have been close to has had a dominant personality trait that defined his or her character. Peggy, the dog I grew up with, was loyal. My first dog as an adult, Sandy, was a natural hunter, Charlie a cuddler, and Hank stubborn.

Two years ago this week, we lost Willie. Willie was a miniature dachshund, 12 pounds soaking wet. However, he was a “master of results.”
I didn’t just love Willie; I admired him. I admired him because he taught me that I could be a more effective human being by being more like him.

Here are Willie’s behaviors that I found admirable:

  1.        Willie was unequivocal on his goals in life. First was food, second comfort, and third play. There was no fourth.
  2.        Willie was focused. If he thought there was food to be eaten, he was laser focused on getting it. It didn’t matter if it was a breadcrumb or juicy slice of beef. His focus was complete. Needless to say, he oftentimes enjoyed food that was not meant for him.
  3.     Willie was an avid explorer. He saw the neighborhood as a potential smorgasbord of worms, lizards, and other treats just lying on the ground.
  4.      Willie knew his priorities and was single-minded in his pursuit of them. He was tireless in his quest for food. Only when he concluded there was no possibility of getting food would he seek comfort. He would play hard when he was well rested. 
  5.     .Willie was purposeful.  Even when he played, he was serious. Retrieving a toy seemed to be more about getting in shape for his explorations than pure fun.
  6.     Willie was fearless. He would take on much larger animals if he thought they threatened his circumstances.
Although I miss Willie, I feel good that he lived his life to its fullest. He knew what he wanted and never wavered in his priorities. For example, when we lived in Ohio, Willie did not like the cold weather – it made him uncomfortable. Consequently, he would sometimes take care of business in the house. He didn’t care that he would be punished because pleasing humans was not on his list of priorities. He knew the punishment of being confined to his crate was a consequence of his actions and just accepted it. He had no fear.

Imagine what more we could be accomplishing in our lives if we had Willie’s (1) clarity and priority on what’s important, (2) laser focus on achieving our goals, (3) courage to explore, and (4) conviction. If Willie could have talked, I’m sure he would have told us he lived the life he wanted to live and had no regrets.  

If you have stories about your favorite pet that can teach us humans something please share!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Some Thoughts on Thought Leadership

by:  Vince Ferraro, Managing Director, C-Level Partners.

This week I was I featured as one of 50 top marketing thought leaders in Brand Quarterly Magazine for 2015. (the complete list is at   I am privileged to be part of such an illustrious list of talented and accomplished marketing professionals. All of the people mentioned are experts in their respective fields.

It got me thinking about what exactly is a thought leader and how you build authority, influence, trust, and credibility - attributes that most often go along with thought leadership? What makes a thought leader different from an expert, public figure or guru? What do they say, what do they do, how t do they act and how does that translate into thought leadership? My belief is that your combined experience, accomplishments, skills, consistency, and combination of other factors (over time) make you a thought leader. Many people can claim to be an expert in a specific area. That is an internal claim.  However, true thought leadership comes externally, from people who see and watch you. Thought leadership is bestowed by the people who give and individual or institution that status.

Marketing thought leader Jay Baer once said: "A thought leader is someone with proven expertise and experience who isn’t afraid to share it with the world without direct compensation.” This is partially true; however, I also like the list of quotations on thought leadership here.

Here’s my top 7 items that are useful to judge whether you are or can become a thought leader:
  1.  Developing unique ways to look at a problem that were not considered previously.
  2.  Not being afraid to look foolish for suggesting an idea. (think Isaac Newton and the apple)
  3.  Challenging the prevailing wisdom and institutional theories.
  4. Having internal emotional resilience in light of others vehemently disagreeing with your viewpoint. Be able to defend your positions.
  5. The ability to take ideas, concepts, and explain them so even people outside your sphere understand what you are doing.
  6. Be visible on as many credible interviews, podcasts, panels, speaking engagements, TV appearances you can get. Thought leaders are able to attract an audience.
  7. Publish, Publish, And Publish! Get your ideas out there in the form of blog posts, guest posts, press releases, presentation slides, books, videos, and educational courses. Like academic intuitions, frequent and high quality content will get you noticed and respected.

There are no shortcuts to thought leadership. It comes from inside and outside your sphere of influence. What I can say this … writing and speaking are great pathways to thought leadership for you, your company or your brand. Produce content that challenges the status quo, is interesting, and thought provoking. Be willing to put your ideas and thought there and create a “smoothie” of new ideas, concepts, and theories. Though leaders are always pushing the envelope and challenging the status quo.

Whether we are a church volunteer, politician, business person, professional, company, or non-profit, thought leadership is derived from earning it.   Everyone has the ability to be a thought leader because everyone has a unique background and experiences that can be applied.  What is also interesting is that these unique diverse experiences collectively make for great teams that can conquer complex problems.  More to be said about this in the future.

If you want to continue the dialog, contact me at