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    Entries in Corporations (4)


    Steve's Holiday Gift Recommendation #5 - For the corporate design geeks like me

    We are grinding down to the end of the year pretty quickly, and glancing at the calendar I think this will be the penultimate one of these holiday gift recommendation Friday posts. Then we can get back to the normal important things we do around here like ranking types of food and making even more connections between work and the NBA.

    This week's recommedation is slightly different, in that the actual gift won't be available until the Spring, but once I heard about it and checked it out I had to include it as one of the recommendations. Maybe you can order it for that distant relative or friend you won't actually see during the holidays, but wanted to make sure you did not totally forget them. Or maybe you just want to get this one for yourself (or your favorite blogger), and won't mind the delay.

    Anyway, on to the gift recommendation...

    You may not know Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv by the name of their firm, but you certainly know them from their work. This is the design firm who have created dozens if not hundreds of iconic corporate logos, trademarks, and identity programs. The NBC 'peacock', the US Bicentennial branding, Chase Bank, and the still popular even though the company is no more, Pan Am Airlines are just a few of the images and brands that Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv have created since the firm was founded in 1957.

    To recognize, celebrate, and commemorate the firm's 60 years at the forefront of corporate identitity and design, they have created a new book titled 'Identity: Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv' which features over 100 case studies of their work, including some of the brands I mentioned above, as well as others you know and recognize like PBS, Mobil, and the Smithsonian. The book itself will be fantastic to look at and page through, as befitting the firm's focus and commitment to the image, the book is mostly images - examples of the amazing and iconic work this one firm has produced that has had an outsized impact on workplaces and business over the last 60 years.

    You can pre-order 'Identity: Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv' here and it is expected to ship in May. You can be patient. I am sure the design lover in your gift list will be happy too.

    Why is this stuff important for anyone in business?

    I think this quote from Ivan Chermayeff sums it up - “Symbols don’t make clear what you do; it makes it clear who you are."

    Reminder, I have no affiliate relationships with any of the gift recommendations. I just think they are cool.

    Have a great weekend!


    CHART OF THE DAY: The World's Most Valuable Brands

    Happy last-day-of the-month Monday!

    Quick shot for kicking off a busy summer week. Courtesy of our pals at Visual Capitalist, let's take a look at the list of the corporations owning the world's most valuable brands:

    The 'brand value' methodology is referenced on the infographic above, but the essential element is that it it is the intangible asset that exists in the minds of consumers, which is usually an image forged over time through exposure to branding, ads, publicity, and other types of personal experiences. Attaching a dollar value to this intangible asset is perhaps more art than science, but while the specific dollar values can be debated, it probably can't be debated that there is at least some value to the brand.

    So while the top companies for brand value are likely the ones that you'd expect, after I saw this chart I couldn't help noticing that these companies also seem to be the ones that show up on the various 'Best or Top of Most Awesome Companies to Work For' lists that float around on the internet.

    Take a look at just one example, from our friends at LinkedIn, on the '40 Most Attractive Companies in the World' (according to LinkedIn)

    I cut the Top 40 List off at 7 due to space concerns and also because that is all I needed to make my point

    Hey, what a surprise! The Top 5 Global Brands in terms of value, (Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook), all show up inside the Top 7 of the LinkedIn 'attractiveness' list.

    And you'd find similar kinds of results on most of the other types of 'Best Places' lists - they are dominated by these mega-tech brands that make the coolest products, have the most incredible corporate campuses, and often are led by influential and charismatic leaders.

    All of this to make the point you already know - the thing we like to call 'employer brand' is inextricably tied up in what most people will call the consumer or public brand. The most powerful, valuable, and well-known consumer brands have such an advantage in the employer brand category that it is almost laughable.

    If you are one of the companies on the 'most valuable' list, congrats, things are always going to be easier for you to attract and recruit. If you are not one of those global, mega-brands, you have to know you are starting any competition for talent at a disadvantage. 

    Some brands have all the luck, I guess.

    Have a great week!


    More reasons to wear the same thing to work every day

    Lots of folks spend 10 or 15 or maybe even 30 minutes each morning staring at the closet trying to figure out what outfit to wear to work that day.

    Recently hired University of Michigan Football Coach Jim Harbaugh is not one of those people. He is rarely seen not wearing his 'signature' Walmart Khakis and black long sleeve shirt.


    As Harbaugh puts it, "It's gotten to the point where I save so much time a day knowing that I don't have to stand in front of the closet, trying to decide what outfit to pick out. About 15 - 20 minutes a day. That adds up, day after day."

    Harbaugh isn't the only successful, famous person who adopted this 'wear the same thing every day' philosophy. So did Steve Jobs. So does President Obama (for the most part).

    Wearing the same thing every day does save time, and it may even be kind of liberating. But most of us don't even consider it. I wonder why.

    A few months ago I posted about this idea over on Fistful of Talent, and since the Harbaugh story put the issue on my mind again, I am going to run that FOT post below, because I still think it is interesting, and I am kind of too busy today to come up with anything better. <FOT Post below>


    The Corporate Uniform… Or, Are you Brave Enough to Wear the Same Thing Everyday?

    Steve Jobs.

    Mark Zuckerberg.

    President Obama.

    Karl Stefanovic. (Okay, I bet you have no idea who this guy is… hang in there, we will come back to him).

    What are these four gentlemen all famous for? Check that—a better question is this: What do these four gentlemen all have in common?

    Besides being extremely successful in their chosen fields of endeavor (even Karl—I will explain), they all at one time or another adopted a personal uniform, i.e., they essentially elected to wear (more or less) the same basic clothes every single day.

    Jobs, of course, became renowned for his black turtlenecks and blue jeans. Zuck, for his seemingly endless supply of gray t-shirts and hoodies. President Obama wears only gray or dark blue suits.

    And our man Karl, who, in case you are not familiar is an Australian morning TV host, has worn the same blue suit on the air every day for a YEAR.

    The reason that the first three men in this list elected to adopt their signature style are remarkably similar. Each man felt like they had much more important things to worry about than fashion or even simply choosing what to wear each day. So by adopting a “uniform” of sorts, they effectively eliminated one set of decisions from their daily routine.

    And there is at least some science that suggests that reducing the sheer number of decisions that one has to make can help to avoid something known as ‘decision fatigue’, a situation where the quality of decisions deteriorates after a long or prolonged period of decision making. When decision fatigue sets in, it can be hard to make appropriate trade-offs and can lead to decision avoidance and irrational—even careless—choices.

    But let’s get back to Karl Stefanovic, the person on this list you are likely least familiar with. Karl, in an experiment of sorts and influenced by his observations that there exists a double standard in TV and entertainment between how men and women’s appearance are judged, decided to wear, on air, the same blue suit every day for a year.

    Karl’s theory was that he could easily get away with wearing the same “uniform” everyday on TV, but his partner, a woman, would be excoriated by the public (and probably by management) for attempting the same stunt. And while we don’t know for sure what would actually have happened if his co-host Lisa Wilkinson tried the same move, we do know the result of Karl’s “wear the same suit on TV every day for a year” experiment.

    The result?

    No one noticed.

    Not a single viewer complained. No letters or emails or tweets about the suit. Management did not issue a correction or reprimand.

    No one cared.

    Karl was, in his words, not being judged on what he wore or how he looked, but rather on “my interviews, my appalling sense of humour—on how I do my job, basically.”

    But if co-host Lisa (or any high-profile female personality or executive) tried the same stunt, can we honestly say that the reaction would be the same?

    If Ginny Rometty or Sheryl Sandberg or Marissa Mayer wore the same clothes every day (like Jobs and Zuck and Obama), would we EVER stop talking about what they are wearing and focus on their performance?

    Probably not. Men get judged (primarily) by what they do. Women, especially in visible, important positions, never seem to be able to shake the criticism and commentary about things like clothes and hairstyles.

    The truth is that it hardly matters at all what people wear or what they look like. What matters is what they do.

    For Jobs and Zuck, we don’t give that conclusion a second thought.

    Why can’t we say the same thing for the rest of us?


    Is HR Hot?

    So during a year when the 'Is HR Dead' discussion seemed to rage on and on,and we are still talking about HR as Secretaries, out of nowhere the Wall Street Journal runs a piece called 'HR Executives Suddenly Get Hot' - about the increasing trend of current and former HR executives being called upon to serve as outside directors for publicly traded firms.Flickr - getmethegun

    From the WSJ piece:

    Once considered denizens of a corporate backwater, more human-resources executives are being tapped to serve as outside directors because many have become strategic players with bottom-line impact. U.S. companies wooing them seek their insight on hot-button issues such as executive pay, management succession and integrating acquisitions.

    I wonder how it makes some long-time HR professionals feel to know that they were 'denizens of a corporate backwater'? That line reminds me of a post I never got around to writing titled 'Trailer Park HR'.

    But I digress.

    It was interesting that several of the examples in the WSJ piece had to do with firms not just wanting help with managing risk or compliance, or with navigating the recession. Rather items like 'attracting and developing top talent' and assistance in 'detailing strengths, weaknesses, and developmental needs for top staff' were cited as reasons to bring in HR talent into the boardroom.  These are significant, and dare say 'strategic' activities.

    More HR professionals an Corporate Boards sound like a good thing for HR and for corporations alike if the increased representation drives improvements; like better alignment of strategy with workforce capability, methods to try and not just preserve jobs but to (gasp) actually grow jobs and opportunities, and for more organizations to truly live up to their myriad 'people first' mission statements.

    So maybe, after all this time and effort, HR is rising above filing forms and party planning, and getting (don't kill me for this) the fancy leather seat at the giant mahogany table.

    However, a quick glance at this article on 'The Next Hot Jobs' doesn't mention anything about HR.  Jobs like 'Bioinformatician', 'Forensic Accountant', and 'Fuel-Cell Engineer' all make the list though.

    Those all sound pretty complicated to me.

    What do you think, should more Corporate Boards have HR executive representation?

    Is HR actually hot?