How do you interact with others? What is your leadership style? How does that affect the team around you?

Since I’ve recently had my leadership style assessed I will reflect using the DISC model.

I have been categorized as having a reserved personality and being results oriented which make me fall into the “C” category. Although the executive coaches determined that I fall into the “C” category is my primary personality, they also found I have the ability use the others styles once I know what is required of the situation.

Many executives and CEOs fall into the D or I categories, I’ve been told the greatest CEOs and innovators are Cs (Steve Jobs for one is listed as a “C” personality).

So, how does this play into my leadership style? I, for one, need to be self-aware of myself and my downfalls and advantages, as well as take into account the individual DISC styles of the others I’m leading. I am data and accuracy driven, my favorite phase as work is, “If you don’t have any data you’re just another person with an opinion”, please come back with data.  Now, this may affect others behavior and performance because they may not be of the same mindset. Sometimes I need to take a step back and bite my tongue to make sure I approach the situation the correct way; based on the individual personality traits of the person in front of me. I notice that some of my go to people are of similar thought pattern, they are C personalities, and are detailed orientated.

By knowing what type of personality I am, as well as analyzing the personality traits of the others I lead, I know how to better respond to issues that arise during the work day, and how to go about motivating others to get the results we need to get the job rolling in the right direction.  Being able to understand other people and motivate them in the way they think is more productive than, “my way or the highway’ approach. It is through knowing my core personality traits and being able to understand how others ‘think and react’, that impacts how I approach and motivate people on a daily basis.  It is so important to be self-aware of YOUR characteristics, so you can then analyze OTHERS characteristics, as what is the right methodology for you may not be the right methodology for others. Each one of us is different and it is important in leadership positions to be able to think outside your comfort zones and to be able to think like those you are leading.



Anything but Mint Toothpaste (Estimating Market Size for New Product)

We have decided to come up with a new line of toothpastes, all of which do not have the common ingredient in all other toothpastes, mint.  The current global toothpaste market is forecasted to reach an all-time high of 12.6 billion dollars by 2015. The continuous surge of sales is fueled by toothpastes with various formulas like whitening and sensitivity as well as the common public’s greater awareness of oral hygiene.

So how can we actually being to determine the size of the market we hope to gain by producing our new innovative non-mint flavored toothpastes?

  1. Demand:  With the projected sales reaching 12.6 billion over the next 3 years, how would different flavored toothpaste be accepted? We conducted a survey that asked basic questions about peoples hygiene when it comes to tooth brushing, whether or not people felt that their toothpaste interfered with their foods, whether or not people actually like mint toothpaste, and then we polled what flavors would be appealing to the respondents.

We received approximately 250 surveys from the follow age groups:

From our survey we were able to learn the following

  • Roughly 76% off people brush their teeth 2 or more times per day, with 49% of people brush their teeth after a meal.  56% of people brushed their teeth in the morning and 30% of people felt that their toothpaste interfered with the taste of their food.
  • 70% of respondents said they would try new flavored toothpaste. Out of the flavors given as an example Strawberry, Mango, Coffee and Honey were the 4 highest rated respectively.
  • In respect to the size of the toothpaste package, 69% of the respondents said they would be willing to try different flavors if they were available in smaller sample sizes. 57% also concluded that they expected to pay between $2-4 for a 6oz package of toothpaste.

Estimating The Market:

  1. Addressable Market: From the 250 people that took our survey 59% of the respondents were in the age bracket of 18-44. I feel that the age bracket of 18-35 as well as younger than 18 would be the preferable target ages to market to. I feel individuals that are 45 and above who have used mint toothpastes all their lives may not be so willing to try something new, as what they use works so why change it. With a younger audience you can give it an innovative look, a new innovative toothbrush to go with it, and for the little ones, I think it would be very easy to get them to brush with a flavor like Strawberry-Mango.
  2. Opportunities vs. Competition:  Mint toothpaste has been used since 1600AD. It’s been there forever and has been the staple flavor of all the toothpaste giants like Colgate and Crest. It will be hard to convince people to try a new product, as the mentality of if it works don’t fix it exists. Also dentists give away both Crest and Colgate products in the office, as these 2 brands of mint toothpastes are both ‘doctor recommended, it creates another barrier to market entry.’
  3. If we were to market our toothpaste using the Razor and Blades model, we could have a specialized toothbrush created that works with only our toothpaste cartridges. The toothbrush could take 1 of these flavor cartridges or a few. Those way consumers could try one flavor or try a few flavors at once; making a custom flavor based on the consumers preferences. We could make the toothbrushes in fun stylish prints for the older age groups, like paisley or plaid designs. And we could also cater to the youth and toddlers making fun bright patterns, and receiving licensing rights from some companies such as Disney and Nickelodeon.
  4. ”Winnable Market Opportunities”: With the Razor and Blade business model, we could have a sample pack of our toothbrush and toothpaste made up to give away. This would allow the customer to try the product out at home and experiment with mixing and tasting the different flavor combinations included. Once the favorite flavor or all the flavors are used up, the consumer could then go to the store and pick up another value pack, or the individual flavors that they liked.

On an interesting note I thought it would be fun to include the responses we got from our ‘Savory flavor’ questions. I can totally understand the coffee flavor, especially if you were brushing your teeth in the morning, but I personally don’t know how I feel about brushing my teeth with meatloaf flavored toothpaste- but apparently there are some of you out there that do!

Can a company survive alone on inbound marketing?

I think this question could definitely be coined as the million dollar question to all companies. I feel it is important to point out though, regardless if you own your own business and you’re the only employee or if you own a business with 1 or 1,000 employees, there is no such thing as a free lunch. While inbound marketing might be considered ‘free’ traffic sources, it’s not really free, there is still a cost associated with in bound marketing- time. Even if you’re the sole owner and sole employee, there should always be a monetary value associated with time.

Let’s take for example an online only retail store. Let’s say the only thing the online store deals with is baby products.  You are going to have a core website (which I’d like to add has a hosting fee each month) it is with this website that you create your brand, add in pages about yourself, and whatever other pages you might think would be handy for the customer, like Q&A. When you list the items online, there are certain attributes you have to put in, like the brand, keywords, price and description. It is with correctly setting up your website and listing your item online that you can satisfy basic SEO, and White Pages/B2B listing. Once you have your website up and running it is very easy to call the manufacturers that you purchase from and get referring links from their website to yours.

After you get the basic inbound marketing satisfied it is now time to explore all the avenues. But I really feel they need to be explored with the following considerations:

  • How much time it will take to complete the project & maintain it
  • How much would you get paid or would you pay someone in your company to do it
  • Once the time is considered and given a per hour rate a comparison, a thought needs to be given as to how effective the inbound measure will be.
  • Effectiveness and cost should then be compared to other outbound marketing measures. It should then be determined whether or not it is cheaper to pay for an outbound service versus putting all your time and effort into something that may not be worth the time and effort you put into it.

Let’s take social media, webinars, online videos, podcasting, emails and blogs. You could spend hours putting together blogs, videos and podcasts of new products or instructions on how to use products. You could do giveaways on your Facebook page, or contests for more likes or followers. Does all this effort give any real, measurable ROI?

Say I write up a contest on my baby store blog to give away a free pack of baby bottles ($20 value), it takes me an hour to write the blog about these new bottles and why they are so great (Say I make $25 an hr) and I decide to run the contest for a week. The requirement is for people to like the Facebook page then travel to our blog and write a comment as to why they need or would like the free set of bottles. During the week people are commenting and liking the Facebook page, and I am answering questions on the social media sites, and at the end I have to select a winner and get in contact with them (Let’s say I spend another 2 hours on the site in that week interacting with likes and comments).  So I’ve spent approx. $95 on this contest in merchandise and time. Have I really gained any customers? What becomes the ratio of dislikes in the next few days to the total likes accrued throughout the contest? Have any of the people who liked the page or interacted on the blog actually purchased anything from the store? Would my $95 been better spent if I had just paid for an outbound advertising service like having coupons put in diaper bags of new moms leaving the hospital with their newborns?

So, ‘Can a company survive on inbound marketing’? Maybe- It really depends on the type of business and the demographics of the customer base. More than the word ‘surviving’ though, it should really be thought of as ‘is it cost effective’.  If you’re spending 10 hrs. a week (remember we’re making $25/hr.) on inbound marketing and you’re not seeing any results from all your efforts. It may be more cost efficient to spend $200 a week and pay for a service with proven results. Not only are you theoretically saving yourself money, you’re freeing up precious hours that you can focus back into your business. I’m not saying eliminate the inbound marketing, just be smart about it, things need to be judged by how much effort you put into it and the results that come out of it. Sometimes it’s just not worth all the time you’re putting in.

Why Big Companies Can’t Innovate ~ Gerber Singles- Adult Baby Food


Gerber has been synonymous with babies, well, since the company’s inception in 1927. So why Gerber thought that adults would buy something marked Gerber Singles for themselves for dinner is beyond me.

The idea, in 1974, was genius. At this point in time more families were experiencing both parents working, since people were away from their homes for longer, the idea of fast home cooked meals was fantastic. In fact, Hamburger Helper was introduced to the public in 1971, amongst other still produced fast dinner options. But what went wrong for Gerber?

 ImageFirst of all, the packaging should of hid the brand name of Gerber, or at least put it in small font on the back of the label. It also should have said something along the lines of a ‘quick, healthy meal for busy adults’. So at least the customer almost knew what the purpose of the mystery mush in the jar was.

Secondly, Gerber should have put more thought process into what the final product was going to be. By placing baby food in a jar and giving it a fancy name, it didn’t really represent the original idea of a ‘quick healthy meal for adults’.

Needless to say, the product was pulled from food store shelves and returned to Gerber within 3 months.

How did such a big corporation blow such a big idea? Gerber was a baby food company, they were making money selling baby food, and they were hoping that by slapping on a new label they could bring in a different scope of the market. As with all larger corporations there is a fork in the road when it comes to a new avenue: can you make more money doing the same thing that you already do without having to throw any more money at it or do you invest in the idea to its fullest and create a new spin on what you are already good at doing?

Gerber went the route of attempting to create a new line without investing in it and the product backfired. Today, Gerber makes toddler food trays with separate vegetables and pastas, I could see those meals being created in a larger tray form and geared toward adults- perhaps they should re-visit this idea today.

Odwalla on the other hand is a company who decided to go the latter route, they stepped out with innovation, researched and created a smoothie and cereal bars. Instead of just marketing the juice they already made, and labeling it something else, Odwalla put money into their ideas, researched and marketed successful new products.

Now the route to getting a new product within your organizations isn’t cut and dry. There are many factors that all decisions rely on such as profit margins, stock holders and profit growth. If you’re a publicly traded company you may not have to ability to convince the shareholders to make a little less now so that they can potentially more in the future. Established companies can only innovate if everyone is on board. If the executives aren’t up for change, then the company needs to stick with what it does best, making money at what it already does, without innovation.

Persona Pain-Gain Map (Anything but Mint Toothpaste)

Our team’s new business idea is to create an anything but mint flavored toothpaste.  Let’s face it, not everyone likes mint, or mint mixture flavors, so why do toothpaste companies make everyone buy into this flavor?

My individual spin on this idea is not for a new flavor, but a flavorless toothpaste!

Let’s take Anne for example, a 25 year old business professional who’s health conscious and hates mint. She has tried many types of toothpaste and hates the fact that toothpastes are either mint or mint mixed flavors as well as artificially flavored and filled with artificial colors. Most mornings she wakes up, brushes her teeth first, gets dressed, and then makes breakfast to take to eat on the 30 minute commute into work.  Anne has learned that if she brushes her teeth right when she wakes up, the awful flavor of mint has worn off by the time she goes to eat her breakfast about 40 minutes later. But, on days like today, when somehow she has forgotten to set her alarm clock and she is late waking up, Anne knows there is no way she will be able to enjoy her breakfast if she rushes to brush her teeth and get ready. Should she skip brushing her teeth, or should she brush her teeth and not enjoy her breakfast routine?

What if we could offer Anne a flavorless toothpaste?  Without a flavor, Anne could brush her teeth and eat right away if she liked, as there would be no lingering tastes in her mouth. Also by eliminating flavors, whether natural or artificial, there would be no need to add artificial food coloring to the toothpaste to match the color to the flavor. With flavorless toothpaste we could satisfy both of Anne’s needs in regards to taste as well as her mind set in being health conscious.

Toyota’s A3

Toyota’s A3 analysis is a standardized way of telling the story of an issue; using several boxes to outline the who, what, where, when, and how of a problem.  It is based in root cause analysis and operational learning to create a simplified chart laying out the scientific methodology of analyzing a problem, creating plans on solving the problem, and following up on the plans ensuring the methodology works.

The core basics of the A3 are:

  1. Establish the business context/important problem or issue.
  2. Describe current conditions of the problem.
  3. Identify desired outcome.
  4. Analyze situation to establish causality.
  5. Propose countermeasures (countermeasures, not solutions, since solutions usually lead to new problems, it’s not an end all be all).
  6. Define action plan for getting it done.
  7. Map out follow up processes to ensure the countermeasure is working.

The A3 process is a way for top executives to mentor and distribute authority to other levels of employees while achieving desired business results. All employees in the A3 process learn through experience, both trials and errors, much like the hypothesis process in scientific methodology. When all employees are taking part in the problem solving process it creates an operational learning environment where all employees are encouraged to become thinking, learning problem solvers.

Analyzing Druckers Seven Sources of Innovation by Gasparino

Peter Drucker, born in 1909, saw the world grow from the end of the agrarian stage through the industrialization period into our current state of a more service driven society. Drucker was well known for his influential writings and studies in management consultant.  He lightheartedly labeled himself a ‘social ecologist’.  In his ‘Seven Sources of Innovation’ he outlines the S-Curve description of the inception of a product through its death or evolution. There is argument as to whether the first 4 Sources are more of the producers (internal) and the last 3 sources are more of society (external), versus the 7 sources overlapping with society and the producers, where each source requires a little of both to exist.  I clearly believe that it is not a cut and dry situation and each of the 7 sources relay on both the producer/inventor of the product as well as the society around him.

 Seven Sources of Innovation:

  1. The Unexpected- This is the ‘oops effect ‘in inventing.  Like in 1965 a scientist at the drug company G. D. Searle & Co was working on an ulcer drug, he accidently put his finger in his mouth only to realize that the mixture was sweet like sugar and Aspartame or NutraSweet was born. Sometimes the best inventions happen by accident.
  2. Incongruities- Conflicts in the overall key features or functions of an invention. In today’s market consumers want a car with horsepower but they also want an automobile that is gas efficient. So how does one create a car with a larger engine that uses less fuel?
  3. Process Needs- If we follow the rule that ‘Necessity is the mother of all invention’, then we create things out of what we need on a daily basis. So how does one re-create the product found to be of necessity for the mass public? It is inefficient to apprentice each worker needed to be hired for the economic demand. It is on the other hand; easier to create machines that can make the product in precision, and hire someone who’s only training needed is that of running the machine. Machines as well decrease quality control issues as there is a very small machine error versus human error.
  4. Industry and market structure- What opportunities are there for new products or services, is it possible to create a product that can cover more than one mass public necessity? If you’ve ridden the S-Curve past the objective point up the society adoption level, what happens when you approach the physical limit of your invention? Can you re-create the wheel? If everyone has a television in their homes and a computer, why can’t we combine both technologies and have a television and computer in 1? For the TV Company, it may require the extra cost of outsourcing of the computer components, but if it puts your invention back into the adoption level of the curve where everyone has to have one, then it may be worth it.
  5. Demographics-Age, geographical location, education, occupations all weigh into whether or not your product will sell. Correct marking of your product based on demographic principals will determine whether or not your product will sink or swim in the long run. Take Facebook for example. When the idea was formed it was born from the fundamentals that it was a platform for college students to keep in touch with each other. So what happens when your college users graduate from college? Facebook changed their marketing to include everyone, from businesses, to social advocacy groups of all ages, to paid advertising and games. Instead of just keeping their platform to the college demographic, they opened it up to all demographics and created sectors within the platform that targets all demographics.
  6. Changes in Meaning/Perception- In past farming practices from the turn of the century to the late 1990’s farmers have used pesticides and GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) seeds to create perfect, blight free food. As of the early 2000’s people are starting to ask for pesticide free, non-GMO food.  Now you can go to the store and find a whole section of the store dedicated to Non-GMO and certified organic foods. Not only has there been a creation of organic foods in our market, there has also been a creation of the organizations that certifies the foods as organic.
  7. New Knowledge- There are always thinkers, if one person creates something that is a sheer necessity, there is also someone out there thinking how to make the product better. Take modern day computers. What started as a machine the size of the room is now this tiny little computer in your hand that is also your telephone. As society progresses, new knowledge are added into the mix creating faster, stronger better products. Like the ‘Bionic Man’ there is someone out there that can “… rebuild him. We have the technology. We can make him better than he was. Better…stronger…faster.”