Focus, Leadership, and Squirrels: Think Big, Act Bigger Author Jeffrey Hayzlett on the 200th Episode of Marketing Smarts [Podcast]

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This week’s episode of Marketing Smarts marks our 200th podcast! We love bringing you insights and stories from the smartest marketers around, and we appreciate your listening in every week.

Our guest for this landmark episode is Jeffrey Hayzlett, a global business celebrity and speaker, author, contributing editor, and host of “C-Suite With Jeffrey Hayzlett” on Bloomberg Television. He’s also CEO of The Hayzlett Group, an international consulting company focused on leading change and developing high-growth companies.

I invited Jeffrey to Marketing Smarts to talk about his latest book, Think Big, Act Bigger: The Rewards of Being Relentless.

Here are some highlights from my conversation with Jeffrey:

Smart marketing executives kill the squirrels (04:26): “It’s important for us to be able to keep focus, and that’s just something we don’t always do. We start going down rat holes of various time wasters—time-consuming kinds of activities. Now, some of them are valid because they get us to a different place, but a lot of times it’s just a diversion from our real focus on the things that we’ve got to be driving, or what I would refer to as our ‘conditions of satisfaction.’ Those things that we need to be able to deliver on. I’m not talking about goals or objectives. I’m talking about promises, and I think that’s a big difference.

“When I was at Kodak as a chief marketing officer, or at any business that I’ve owned or participated in—I’ve bought and sold over 250 businesses in my career—the key thing is to focus in on ‘what are we delivering?’ Usually, I see no more than five or six things that we’re going to deliver or that I can handle at any given time, so what are the five to six things I’ve got to deliver for the CEO? What are the five or six things that my team—each of the VPs or senior VPs that are reporting into me—need to be able to do, and what are the five or six things that all the folks (managers and directors) that are reporting into those people need to do. And that’s kind of how you build that up.

“Even in a big corporation, there was one item that the CEO reported to the board of directors about marketing that we were doing, yet I had five or six things that I was always focused in on, whether it’s increasing the value of the brand, increasing margin, reducing cost. Whatever it might be…. Those were my promises that I had to be able to deliver. It’s very, very important for us to focus in on those items and say ‘of the things on our plate for today, or the week, or the month, what do those things that I’m looking at have to do with delivering on those five or six promises? If you start doing that more often, it cleans up your day pretty quick. Because you’ll find ‘I don’t need to set that meeting. I’m not doing that. I don’t need to be there.”

Want to be a star employee? Follow the Caitlin Rule. (10:16): “The rule came about from a real person named Caitlin. (I got her permission to use it in the book, and I wanted to use her real name because it’s more authentic.) Caitlin’s fairly new. She’d been out of college for a couple of years. I met her at an event and was so impressed with her that I hired her—just a real superstar. So, here we were in my office in New York, about to go over and meet with the CEO of a company that we were going to help take public.

“As we’re about to leave…Caitlin stops over at my desk and says ‘Jeff, should we take color copies of the presentation that we’re going to be presenting with us?’ I turned to her and said, ‘Caitlin, you’re new here, so I’m going to tell you the rules. The rules are that you only get to ask me 21 questions during the month. That’s it. That’s all you get…. You can ask me the meaning of life. You can ask me where the best Italian restaurant is. You can ask me the directions to get uptown, downtown, or where you should go on your vacation. Whatever you’d like to ask me. Now, I want you to know, right now, is that one of your 21 questions?’ And she said ‘I don’t think so,’ and I said ‘well, good career move, because if I have to answer that question, what do I need you for?’ It wasn’t about being rude or mean or arrogant: It was about stating the conditions of satisfaction.”

Become a more effective leader by cleaning your own bathroom (13:30): “Every business should have a servant mentality with it, and leaders should have a servant mentality whenever possible. That is, ‘how can I serve others?’ And then, with that comes the leading by example. That’s what I’m talking about [in the book] with ‘cleaning your own bathroom.’ In every business that I’m involved in, I always do some task like that. I particularly like to clean the bathrooms (because then I know they’re clean), but…it also sends an example to everybody that, ‘hey, if I can do this job, then you can do any other job I ask you to do,’ because I like to have everybody in our operation take turns cleaning up the kitchen, take turns emptying the garbage, things like that. Because it gets us involved in making sure that those tiny details are taken care of. Someone cleans the whiteboard. Someone cleans the conference rooms, and does a little dusting and waxing so to speak. And when we do those kinds of things, I think we take a greater pride….

“The other piece of it is, by leading like that I get my hands dirty and I get to see the insides of the business. For instance, if you’ve got Salesforce, I make sure that I understand how to operate inside of Salesforce pretty well, even though I might be the CEO of the company, because when I’m talking to salespeople who say ‘well you can’t do that,’ I can say ‘yes, you can, and here’s how you do it.’ I don’t mean for you to run every aspect of the business, but if you’re out of touch with the business and you’re not getting your hands dirty, you got some real issues.”

Learn more about Jeffrey Hayzlett at Hayzlett.com, or follow him on Twitter at @JeffreyHayzlett, and check out his latest book, Think Big, Act Bigger, at ThinkBigTour.com.

Jeffrey and I talked about much more, including how self-imposed limitations might be holding your marketing team back, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!

This episode brought to you by Localytics.

Localytics is a lifecycle engagement platform for Web and mobile apps. The company’s integrated approach to app marketing and analytics helps customers automate and optimize every stage of the app lifecycle to keep their users engaged and to deliver more personalized experiences. Learn how to better monetize your app by downloading this free e-book! 

Music credit: Noam Weinstein.

This marketing podcast was created and published by MarketingProfs.

Kerry O’Shea Gorgone is instructional design manager of enterprise training at MarketingProfs. She’s also a speaker, writer, attorney, and educator. She hosts and produces the weekly Marketing Smarts podcast. To contact Kerry about being a guest on Marketing Smarts, send her an email, or you can find her on Twitter (@KerryGorgone), Google+, and her personal blog.

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