The 8020Info Water Cooler

  Highlights from the latest information
  for managers, leaders & entrepreneurs



In this 8020Info Water Cooler we look at setting priorities for non-profits, managing up, the big fat hippo in advertising, the myth of using body language to assess credibility, five habits for human connection and seven key ingredients for building trust. Enjoy!


1. Setting Priorities for Non-profits

Non-profits are expected to deliver results on multiple fronts, observes Columbia Business School Professor Rita McGrath. But the trade-offs involved can create a nightmare for setting priorities.

To handle that problem, she advises starting with clarity of mission and impact.

“Non-profits often have grand mission statements that leave the question of what success would look like unclear. Instead, specify impact,” she writes on Medium.

Next you have to find a balance — between resources, which clients to serve, and the advantages you have in addressing the issue. She breaks it down with 10 options (see those alternatives in a helpful chart here).

  • Consider the situation where mission fit, resources and advantages are all strong for serving a particular type of client. If they are currently well-served, you will be in a competitive situation and must compete to win. If they are underserved, you should grow services for this segment aggressively.
  • If mission fit and resources are strong but you don’t have many competitive advantages, divest from serving that client population if their needs are well met by others. If they are not well-served, invest in building your strengths; otherwise get out.
  • If your mission fit and relative advantages are strong but resources at your disposal are weak, work collaboratively with the best alternative agencies (assuming they serve the segment well). But if those clients are underserved, you face a conundrum because they need you but you lack resources. McGrath suggests cross-subsidizing services with counterparts who are richer in resources.
  • If mission fit for a group of clients is great but both your competitive advantages and resources are weak, work collaboratively if clients are underserved and divest systematically when others can serve them.
  • When your mission fit for the client segment is poor, just get out.


2. The Big Fat Hippo in Advertising

The obvious but unpleasant fact we need to acknowledge in advertising — the big fat hippo, as ad veteran Jim Morris put it — is that advertising is often worthless because most people are not aware of the ad and fail to process it in their brain.

“To the extent that an ad goes unnoticed or unprocessed, the money the advertiser has spent on it is a complete waste,” he writes in Badvertising, a critical look at the advertising world.

Ad blindness is growing. From the time we are young we are inundated with ads and, in defence, we have learned how to disregard most of them.

“The problem is that people don’t suffer from ad blindness — they cultivate and value it. We’ve even invented tools to help us ignore ads,” he notes. “Just think of the online advertising that you successfully screen out.”

From Ad Blindness to Ignoring Emotion:

He also warns against the conventional belief that the message is what matters in advertising. Consumers behave in emotional and irrational ways so that, in most cases, what you say matters far less than the way you say it.

He adds that emotional appeal is less effective in business-to-business advertising where the people you are pitching need lots of rationale to justify the purchase as the decision goes up the approval chain.

He takes issue with the notion that your best prospect is the person who most resembles your current customer. Not necessarily. Maybe you have already fully mined this group and must move on.


3. Teach Your Employees How to Manage Up

Teaching your employees how to manage up is one of seven skills that employees expect of a leader, HR specialist Sharlyn Lauby suggests.

“Managers and leaders need to know how to get the best performance out of their staff. But employees need to know how to bring out the best in their manager too,” she writes on her HR Bartender blog.

You should know enough about yourself to share information about your working style. Indeed, she thinks such guidance could be effective throughout the office, with managers and employees putting together a personal user manual that helps colleagues learn more about them.

Employees also expect you to:

  • Acknowledge your biases.
  • Run a good meeting.
  • Create actionable goals.
  • Communicate effectively in writing.
  • Coach an employee’s performance.
  • Be a good follower, adopting servant leadership.

Those are all important for you to ponder as well. But helping employees manage up stands out because it’s unusual advice. Give it special attention.


4. The Myth of Body Language as a Credibility Assessor

Many managers feel they are adept at reading body language. In fact-finding investigations, particularly of the “he said/she said” variety, that can be a handy way to make judgments.

But HR consultant Devan Corrigan warns it can be deceptive.

“Research shows that relying on body language to assess credibility can be a flawed approach and that body language provides no greater predictive power of honesty/dishonesty than chance,” he writes on the Queen’s University IRC website.

There can be many factors causing the behaviours you see, notably anxiety triggered by the glare of an investigation. So, question your presumptions and consider what other explanations there could be.


5. Zingers

  • Reverse Your Meetings:  Productivity author Cal Newport argues you should combat Zoom meetings with “reverse” meetings. Have everyone on your team maintain office hours at set times when they are available for  conferencing. If you want to discuss an idea with them, do it then, one-on-one, rather than calling a group meeting. You will spend more time on the issue since you have to visit each one of them, but they will spend less time in virtual meetings, and the rich individual conversations should be valuable for decision-making. (Source: Study Hacks).
  • Unlearning Ideas:  Most people don’t want accurate information. They want validating information, says author James Clear. Growth requires you to be open to unlearning ideas that previously served you well. (Source: JamesClear.com)
  • Putting Buyers First?  In a LinkedIn survey, 65% of salespeople say they always put the buyer first. However, only 23% of buyers say sellers always put them first. Sellers also overrate themselves (compared to buyers’ evaluations) on transparency about price and how actively engaged they stay after the sale is made. (Source: MarketingProfs.com).
  • Firefighter-Arsonist:  Entrepreneurs can be the best firefighters in their organizations but also the chief arsonist, says executive coach Todd Palmer — they enjoy the dopamine rush that comes from the excitement. Firefighters move beyond putting out the blaze to investigating the cause and preventing future fires. (Source: ThoughtLEADERS).
  • Benefit of the Doubt: Every time we fail to give the benefit of the doubt to someone who can create value, we hurt not only them but ourselves as well, notes entrepreneur Seth Godin. (Source: Seth’s Blog)


6. The List: The Five Habits of Human Connection

To build strong relationships, former Vancouver TV host Riaz Meghji says in his book Every Conversation Counts, we must follow the Five Habits of Human Connection:

  • Listen without distraction. Support the other person by being fully present rather than worrying what you will say or do next.
  • Make your small talk bigger, through authentic curiosity.
  • Put aside your perfect persona. Real connection comes from the ability to embrace imperfection.
  • Be assertively empathetic, even when what you are hearing is distressing — it’s how we “go high” in conversations.
  • Make people feel famous, lifting them up through gratitude.


7. Around Our Water Cooler 

Brené Brown’s BRAVING Elements of Trust
We’ve written often about trust this past year — a stressful period of novel strategies and decision-making processes, new challenges, and pressures on (often distanced) relationships.

So many clients have appreciated this checklist — requested our slide on it after presentations or commented in emails after planning sessions — so we thought we’d share it. Here is Brené Brown’s The Seven Elements of Trust:


  • Boundaries (Respect boundaries. Clarify what’s not okay. Be willing to say no.)
  • Reliability  (Do what you promise. Be aware of your limitations.)
  • Accountability  (Own your mistakes, apologize and make amends.)
  • Vault  (Respect confidences. Don’t share what’s not yours to share.)
  • Integrity  (Choose courage over comfort. Practice the values you profess.)
  • Non-judgment  (We can both ask for what we need and share feelings without being judged.)
  • Generosity  (Interpret the intentions, words and actions of others as generously as possible — give them the benefit of the doubt.)


What We’re Reading:

  • Rob’s Pick:  Since first writing about it here, we continue to find value in this distinction:  Do you play to win — or not to lose? In Focus (Use Different Ways of Seeing the World for Success and Influence), Heidi Grant Halvorson and E. Tory Higgins, explain the difference between these two mindsets and how they motivate behaviours.  Prevention-focused people work carefully and play it safe — playing not to lose, rather than to win. Others focus more on taking chances, dreaming big, and thinking creatively. Can you see both types on your team?
  • Harvey’s Pick:  In a world where communication is often by text and email, we need to learn Digital Body Language, to replace the facial expressions and other cues of face-to-face conversation. Communications consultant Erica Dhawan has the guide.


●  §  ●

8020Info helps senior leadership teams and boards develop, clarify and build consensus behind strategic priorities. Our services support strategic planning and change processes, marketing communications and research / stakeholder consultations. We would be pleased to discuss your needs and welcome enquiries.


8. Closing Thought 

“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”

Coach John Wooden


Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Vol-21_No-9_June_28-2021



This is a line break