Athletics as a predictor of business success

China and Lenovo – International Business News –

This article in Portfolio taught me something about our CEO I didn’t know — he was a wrestler (apparently a very, very successful wrestler), which makes him my second boss in a decade who was a champion mat-man.

“Amelio used to wrestle for Lehigh University, and at 49 he still has the bearing of a guy who might enjoy pile-driving an opponent into the mat. He has a short, neat beard and eyes that lock onto whomever he’s talking to like a sniper’s laser sight. “

The other was Lowell Bryan at McKinsey, who was an NCAA Heavyweight champion in the 1960s. I was captain of my high school wrestling team — and I sucked and I am not a CEO — but with other noted wrestlers like Donald Rumsfeld occupying position of leadership the question to be asked, are there certain sports that lend themselves to certain professions or titles?

I recall an article in the Wall Street Journal years ago about investment banks recruiting college rowers because of their proclivity for suffering and great teamwork. It would be interesting to look at various leadership profiles and determine if there is a correlation between say quarterbacks and presidents, defensemen and attorneys. etc. etc.

Forrester Consumer Forum – Day 2

Josh Bernoff – the Forrester warhorse on digital media, opens the second day with a preview of the book he co-authored with Charlene Li — Groundswell. Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies.

Being a wave geek, let’s digress and look at the definition of a ground swell – essentially it’s a subtle heaving of the sea, a “sub-wave” generated by activity such as a storm hundreds of miles away. It’s the foundation of oceanic wave structure. It can be flat calm, with no ripples on the surface, but the sea can subtly heave and pulse due to the momentum effects from the distant event. (I feel like a coprolite this morning, so I am out of Chicago at noon to try to make it to a bed before I slip into what feels like an incipient flu)

End of digression, Bernoff is providing a framework with case examples

  • Listening: cancer treatment facility that listens to patients complaints about scheduling
  • Talking: Let fans spread the message more easily through social networks.Adidas on MySpace as more effect impressions than banners.
  • Energizing: help best customers recruit others. Sales strategy. Guy who gets worked up about his laptop bag he bought on E-Bags where customers are asked to review their product. Zipper breaks. He beefs. Company contacts him, takes suggestions to factory. Guy becomes a fanatic. Brand ambassador programs.
  • Supporting: Talks about “Predator” guy – Dell support forums. “I actually enjoy helping people.” 473K minutes online in Dell forum helping users. Enable customers to help customers with their problems.
  • Embracing:
    involving customers in product development. cited. Idea-Exchange, people suggesting improvements. Vote capability.

Now Bernoff is pitching ROI of an executive blog. As David Armano said yesterday, you know you’re at a Forrester conference when ROI gets invoked. ROI of Support Forum – I buy into that. Blog shouldn’t need an ROI justification – if it needs one, to quote Christine Hefner, polish up the resume and look for another company. But forum ROI – very key as there are some substantial economic benefits around call-reduction/avoidance.

Q&A: how do I get one of them there communities? Just add water? There are actually vendors who do it. Hmm. I can see why you’d need to hire pros if you’ve never moderated a seething flame fest …..

What does SMM do to traditional marketing functions – like email? Email?

(Jeremiah Owyang – formerly of Podtech, now a Forrester analyst, is collating conference blogs at

(Word is actually a good tool for conference blogging)


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