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The Power of Teamwork

By cmiadmin | Jul 09, 2015 | Comments Off

 The Power of Teamwork

An Interview with Robyn Benincasa by

With a trio of Guinness World Records to her name, a CNN Hero designation and a world champion Eco-challenge Adventure Racer, few people are better placed than full-time firefighter Robyn Benincasa to talk about Human Synergy, the force which allows ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things. She brings her experience of leadership, teamwork and overcoming adversity to her inspiring presentations.

Since 1995, Robyn has been working with racing teams around the world to take on the most extreme challenges imaginable—from the jungles of Borneo to the Himalayas, from the rain forests of Ecuador to the deserts of Namibia. Racing against time to complete seemingly impossible challenges, Robyn has developed a unique knowledge of what it takes to develop a world-class team and to lead them through challenges and changes to success.

A “we thinking” leader inspires their team to not just walk side by side together, but to literally and figuratively carry one another when they need to. All problems are “ours,” and responsibility for success and failure is shared as one.

SPEAKING.COM: What are some of the main challenges and opportunities faced today in organizational team building and leadership?

BENINCASA: “We thinking” is probably the most overlooked aspect of team building. Most people think of a team as a group of individuals, moving forward together towards a common goal. But a “we thinking” leader inspires their team to not just walk side by side together, but to literally and figuratively carry one another when they need to. All problems are “ours,” and responsibility for success and failure is shared as one.

For example, when we race, every team at the front of the pack is utilizing tow lines that stretch from the back of a stronger team member’s pack to the chest strap of a team member who is slower at the moment, so that the slower person can be pulled along at a faster pace with less effort, and we can move faster as a team than the four individuals can move alone. We will all be that strong team member and we will all be that weaker team member at some point in the long run, so all egos must be focused on team success versus individual glory.

In our day-to-day life, “we thinking” is manifested in how we choose to lead our lives. Who is on your team? Is it just you? Is it just your family? Is it your clients? Everyone in your company? We all decide every day who is on our team and who is not.

For the most part, if we’re honest, we’re all pretty competitive and we tend to operate as soloists. But “we thinkers” make the conscious and important effort to leave their house every day and see a world full of potential teammates versus a world full of potential competitors. They capitalize on their strengths and barter their weaknesses to their “team”. And in doing so, they get a lot further, faster.

SPEAKING.COM: How do you suggest people embrace team building principles?

BENINCASA: You have to be a part of the right team. If you don’t feel motivated or productive in your team, you may not be in the right team, or in the right role. On a great team, all of the members bring something unique and valuable to the table that they share with the team; on this team, you are absolutely recognized and applauded for your contributions. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be there for very long!

It’s a common misconception that team building is a completely selfless endeavor. But while it is true that a great team member must wrap their ego around the team’s success instead of their own individual glory (egos must be left at the start line–but not confidence!), the whole point of “strategic team building” is to seek out people who have strengths that you don’t possess, and to share your core talents with them. All of this is for mutual gain.

For example, over a few years of ups and downs with teams, I formulated a recipe for success in my sport. The four team members who would travel together, day and night, non-stop for six to ten days had to be great teammates first. I needed two of the team members to be world-class navigators, two to be solid mountain bikers, two to be very strong paddlers, and one had to be a great strategic thinker who was great at interpreting the road rules we were given.

As you can imagine, everyone on the team got to be the hero when it came to their unique strength, and they were recognized and applauded by everyone on the team for their efforts. Then it would be another team member’s time to shine as we switched sports, took care of one another, navigated successfully through the dark of night, etc. We genuinely needed one another and openly appreciated and applauded individual effort, and we were on the podium race after race as a team.

We don’t inspire others by showing them how amazing we are; we inspire them by showing them how talented, smart and capable they are.

SPEAKING.COM: Can you give us five tips for building human synergy and peak performance?


1. Your ego is the heaviest thing in your backpack, so leave it at the start line.

2. Acting like a team is more important than feeling like a team.

3. We don’t inspire others by showing them how amazing we are; we inspire them by showing them how talented, smart and capable they are.

4. We work for people, not for companies. The best leaders always remember that

5. Great leaders change their leadership style like a golfer changes his clubs. Use the right style for the job: coach, visionary, friend, pacesetter, consensus builder, etc.

Are you consistently doing what it takes to win versus simply not losing? It’s a completely different mindset, leading to vastly different outcomes

SPEAKING.COM: What are some of the key leadership principles leaders should cultivate?

BENINCASA: Be ruled by the hope of success versus the fear of failure!

Are you consistently doing what it takes to win versus simply not losing? It’s a completely different mindset, leading to vastly different outcomes. Fortune favors the bold. Great leaders are shattering the norm, changing the game, and doing things that have never been done in an effort to propel their team to the next level. They are courageous–not only in terms of innovation, but in terms of perseverance: taking step after step, day after day, relentlessly pursuing excellence.

We’ve won many a race not only by slowing down less than the other teams, but also by coming up with some game changing solutions. Once, in a 100-mile whitewater canoeing leg to the finish, my teammate taught me the “be ruled by the hope of success” lesson through some tough love.

We were paddling our whitewater raft near the front of the race on day 6 and every couple of minutes, I looked behind us to see where our closest competitors were. That is, until the teammate sitting behind me grabbed the top of my head, spun it back around to face forward, pointed down the river and said, “Winning is THAT way!”. My other teammate overheard the admonishment and realized my teammate was right. We had to focus on winning versus not losing.

So in the next leg, when race organizers gave each team two separate inflatable canoes, my innovative teammates decided to tie our two canoes together with our climbing rope, end to end, creating one very long, rigid and FAST new boat, powered by every member of the team. We also switched out our canoe paddles (single blades) for kayak paddles (double blades), which was far outside the norm for canoe travel. With those visionary changes, we caught the team that was an hour ahead of us and went on to win the race by 2 hours on that final leg.

In another race, the Borneo Eco-Challenge, we took the lead halfway through the race by turning a proposed ‘hiking leg’ of the race into a swimming leg by jumping into the rising whitewater rapids, generated by a recent flash flood, and swimming for several hours downriver (just yards from the hiking trail). Much of this was in the dark. It was extremely risky, but also cutting-edge cunning. We never looked back, and lead the race all the way from there to the finish line.

We did what it took to win, and not to “not lose”. Leaders need to be working with their teams to build what is needed in innovation and teamwork to beat the competition continuously rather than being satisfied with being ahead of the competition only because the competition isn’t doing anything. Don’t be satisfied with being less than you can be because you’re afraid of failing. Let the need to win because you are the best rule your actions instead.

That’s another important leadership skill: when to inspire, when to instill tough love, when to coach, when to lay down the law, when to get out front and show your team the way, or when to let them lead… and when to cut bait.

SPEAKING.COM: What is “kinetic leadership” and how does it help advance teamwork?

BENINCASA: As an example, someone on your team may not be exceptional at face-to-face client meetings, but you discover they have a talent for writing great copy for graphic design, or they’re fantastic with strategy. Keep digging until you find the gold that that person can offer the team. Let them lead based on their strength versus their title.

If at the end of the day this person isn’t cutting it on any level, you have to do the rest of the team justice and move that person off of your team before overall team morale is diminished. That’s another important leadership skill: when to inspire, when to instill tough love, when to coach, when to lay down the law, when to get out front and show your team the way, or when to let them lead… and when to cut bait.

SPEAKING.COM: What are your main professional passions?

BENINCASA: My professional passion is speaking! And I enjoy inspiring others to find the powerful team-builder, teammate, and leader in themselves. I genuinely love connecting with corporate audiences and adventurers on our Project Athena events. I love sharing the incredible winning synergy that we learned while inspiring semi-exhausted people to a nearly impossible finish line for days on end in the sport of adventure racing.

My other professional passion is firefighting! I would love to say that becoming a firefighter was a mission I had as a child, but I was pretty sure I was going to be a garbage person. I really dug the way they hung off the back of the truck.

When I graduated from college with a B.S in Marketing, I worked as a hospital supply and pharmaceutical sales rep for about seven years, but I was still equally drawn to my athletic life. So in 1996 I ditched the panty hose and heels and picked up an application for the San Diego Fire Department. I passed all the tests, but there was an unfortunate three-year hiring freeze.

So I had some fun as a substitute teacher and semi-professional athlete (the nice way to say “lived with roommates or on friend’s couches”), until I got my shot at the fire academy. Being a firefighter allows me to be all of the things I love the most–an athlete, a rescuer, an emergency medical first responder, a teammate, and an adventurer. It’s never the same day twice!

For the last 4 years, my team of Athenas and I have taken cancer survivors and survivors of other medical or traumatic setbacks and trained them for some incredible endurance adventures.

SPEAKING.COM: What other projects are you working on currently?

BENINCASA:I founded Project Athena back in 2009, after my own personal experience battling my body. My mission behind Project Athena started when I was in the middle of the 2007 World Adventure Racing Championship in Scotland. I came to a point where I could no longer move forward on the course without literally picking up my leg and moving it forward. My teammates had to tow me to the finish line.

When I arrived home, I went to an orthopedic surgeon and discovered I had stage 4 osteoarthritis in both hips. I was in complete shock and didn’t want to believe it. That marked the beginning of what is now a total of four hip replacements in four years. (My first two failed). But it didn’t mark an end to my adventurous life. It just sparked a change of sports and a new beginning.

After my first hip replacement, I knew I would get my spirit back by planning new adventures and embracing new sports. Then it occurred to me that other women who have survived setbacks far worse than mine might really benefit from getting outside and inspiring and amazing themselves through adventurous and athletic goals. So for the last 4 years, my team of Athenas (all survivors helping survivors) and I have taken cancer survivors and survivors of other medical or traumatic setbacks and trained them for some incredible endurance adventures, surrounded by a cohesive and supportive team.

Our new Athenas have crossed the Grand Canyon twice on foot, ran a marathon on the Great Wall of China, completed their first triathlons, etc. It’s the best adventure of my life to combine a love of teamwork and inspiration, with elevating the people around us who need it the most.

CNNMoney Interviews Robin Crow and Rising Country Star Olivia Lane

By cmiadmin | Jul 09, 2015 | Comments Off

Vanessa Yurkevich sits down with Robin Crow, owner of renowned Dark Horse Recording Studio, to talk about some of the big names that have passed through his doors. Country, Rock, and Pop singers from all around come to the studio not knowing it may be the start of something big, including rising star Olivia Lane.

Watch the Interview Here

Are You an Optimist?

By cmiadmin | Jun 24, 2015 | Comments Off


Three Ways to Become an Optimist

by Ty Bennett 

Last week I spoke at The Million Dollar Round Table in New Orleans, Louisiana. I had a chance to sit in on a few of the other sessions and in one of them I listened to Shawn Achor.

Shawn Achor is a New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness Advantage. He is the winner of over a dozen distinguished teaching awards at Harvard University where he delivered lectures on positive psychology in the most popular class at Harvard. Shawn’s work on happiness and positivity became mainstream when his Ted Talk went viral.

Shawn shared three habits that have been scientifically proven to make you an optimist. These simple habits are powerful enough to counteract your genes, your environment and your habitual pessimistic thinking.

Three Ways To Become An Optimist:

  1. Take 1 minute every day and vocalize three things that you are grateful for in your life. Make sure each day you come up with a new list. This process will change your focus and your thinking.
  1. Everyday write an email, text or note to someone where you praise them or thank them for who they are, what they do, or how they have helped you.
  1. Work out for 20 minutes every day. Studies show that 20 minutes working out is the equivalent to taking and anti-depressant.

These three habits may seem simple but they are scientifically proven to turn you into an optimist.

Your new positivity will affect your life in every area for good

Ty red carpetTy after his standing ovation at one of the MDRT Annual Meeting Sessions 


Digital Transformation Starts With You | Mike Walsh

By cmiadmin | Jun 24, 2015 | Comments Off

BigData_350New, stronger OTT players to put pressure on 'first wave' and telcos -- futurist



So-called OTT players will struggle along with telecoms operators to sustain success in the long term unless they can think bigger about the full impact of digital disruption.

That was the warning shot fired by ‘futurist’ Michael Walsh (pictured) during his keynote at Amdocs’ APAC summit in Singapore last week.

But the common denominator for both, insisted Walsh, will be finding a new level of customer engagement as the next wave of OTT companies puts pressure on the “incumbents”.

As companies consider embarking on a digital transformation, the least important part of the journey is digital, he argued. “Because what digital transformation really begins and ends with is a deep understanding of the human, who tomorrow’s customer is, what motivates them, what it takes to engage them, and what it takes to keep them.”

Walsh outlined three questions that operators need to address for success in the 21st century. The first is, how to innovate around customer experience? “We’re heard a lot about it, but I think we are still at very early days when it comes to re-imagining what a telco could be for customers.”

The second is, how to enable enterprises to reinvent themselves using tools and communications? And the third is, how to build a truly distributed computing infrastructure platform?

The problem, he pointed out, is that it is very difficult to be good at all three of these things. “But there are companies that are going to be very good at engaging customers, very good at helping enterprises and very good at building infrastructure. But they won’t just be doing it in one market, they will be doing it globally.”

Next move for OTT guys
The traditional OTT app players also are starting to think about the future in a different way. Based on what upstarts like Uber — which just hired the entire robotics team from Carnegie Mellon University — are doing, the first wave of OTT players are falling behind, he claimed.

“In some ways early success in the consumer market is just table stakes; it buys into the game. But the smart applications are playing for a much deeper strategy, as they know to stick around they actually have to go deeper into the core infrastructure that is going to power the future web. And they have got to do that because they are in a race against time.”

For example, market leader Netflix is on target to spend $4.4 billion by 2017 buying content, and 70 per cent of every dollar Spotify earns is paid out to the music labels.

The OTT guys will struggle for the long-term sustainability of their model unless they can think bigger, he said. “The long gain is not about the rise of the OTT apps and whether they are taking away from your voice and messaging revenues. The real gain is whether they can leverage their initial success to dominate the web’s future infrastructure.”

Beyond voice & SMS
A few weeks ago Facebook launched Hello, which he said is an attempt to marry a user’s social graph with their traditional voice system. “It’s caller ID, so when someone calls and you know them on Facebook, it shows all the details from Facebook. But it goes beyond that and allows the user to create special block lists. It adds a layer of intelligence to traditional voice services by leveraging the social graph.”

But Facebook is not doing this because they want to be in voice services, he explained. “It doesn’t see voice as a revenue item, it sees it as an engagement strategy. So it’s important to remember that these new competitors entering your space have a very different motivation and a very different agenda.”

Google’s MVNO in the US is another case. Project Fi is said to be easy to use since its advanced switching technology can dynamically move between T-Mobile and Sprint or WiFi depending on which signal is better.

Walsh asked, is Google doing this because it wants to be in the mobile business or is it for something completely different? “My theory is that what is really driving Google Fi is that Google wants to do for mobile operations what it did with hardware for Android. It wants to build a platform that developers can build on top of to unbundle voice from telephony and messaging from the hardware platform.”

In another example, he said Twilio provides the in-app messaging for services like Airbnb and Uber and has about half a million developers building on top of its platform to bring communication services into apps.

“This is an early glimpse of a world where potentially operators can build networks that can have programmatic access to voice, SMS and instant messaging. The scary thing is that the people doing it have never worked in the telco space previously,” he said.

Excerpt From Upcoming MDRT Presentation

By cmiadmin | Jun 02, 2015 | Comments Off

MDRT Ty Bennett June 2Million Dollar Round Table Keynote Teaser:

The Power of Storytelling 

In financial services you describe some very complex concepts and you use terminology that most people don’t understand – so metaphors are a way to make your information understandable and transferable.

I started as an entrepreneur when I was 21 years old. And one of the challenges that I faced in getting my business going was establishing credibility with people because of my age—or, more accurately, my lack of age. I tried several different ways to overcome the perception that I was too young to be taken seriously. What ultimately worked best was a metaphor-based story I developed. When I sat down with people who clearly had a bias against me because of my youth, I’d start off by saying, “You know, it’s interesting as I’m talking to you because I know some people look at me and they think what does this guy know about business? He’s young, He’s 21. He really doesn’t have a ton of experience. But you know, I kind of feel like a young Bill Gates.” And when I put it that way, most of the time they would smile and then I’d say, “What I mean is, you know, Bill Gates was 19 years old when he started Microsoft. He dropped out of college and he had this vision, he told everyone that he was going to take computers, which were the size of refrigerators, and he was going to put one in every house in the world. People probably thought he was nuts. Who was this young, naïve entrepreneur?”

Then I’d continue: “Now, I’m not saying that I’m going to change the world, and I’m not saying that I’m going to make as much money as Bill Gates. What I am saying is that I have something here and I know where I’m going with this, and I want you to really sit down and take a look at it. Are you willing to do that?”

That metaphor-based story worked like magic to establish credibility. I compared myself, an unknown entrepreneur, to a known entrepreneur, Bill Gates, and that little story caused people to forget about my age and concentrate on our product. Eventually we ended up building an incredibly successful business.

Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins


To See More From Ty Click Here

Dealstorm Your Way to the Finish Line

By cmiadmin | Jun 02, 2015 | Comments Off

Tapping Into Your Team’s Brilliance To Solve the Hardest Sales

By Tim Sanders - Former Yahoo Chief Solutions Officer Tim Sanders has sold over a half a billion dollars of products and services during his career.  He’s worked for hard-charging luminaries such as Mark Cuban and weathered multiple acquisitions and mergers along the way.

The bestselling author of Love Is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends unveils a methodology that sales managers and account executives can use to get high-potential deals un-stuck by combining the wisdom and creativity of everyone who has a stake in the sale. There is not a single big idea that saves the account or closes the deal.  It’s a matter of organizing the right team for the challenge, then giving them the tools and motivation to create solutions faster than the competition.  He’ll reveal the dealstorming methodology that includes creating the Deal Brief, running the meeting and executing on the best of the ideas to move to the next level of the sale.


Selling is getting more complicated:  technology is increasingly a part of services, competition from the cloud and the crowd emerges daily, and account penetration won’t always land you the deal. Too many companies are leaving huge, game-changing deals for dead, stuck in their pipeline, the kind of multimillion dollar strategic deals define the success of your sales team and your company.

At the root of the problem, Tim Sanders says, is that too often, strategizing a sale takes place between a sales person and a sales manager in an age old deal-review process, where they return to the same old scripts and frameworks that have let them down in the past. When a deal gets stuck, the standard procedure is to make one more attempt to close, offer better terms, or move on. There’s a better way to close high-potential, high-difficulty deals: through dealstorming.

Dealstorming is the scalable, repeatable process that any B2B sales team can use to find a breakthrough on a high potential sale that has gotten bogged down at some point along the way. By including every person who has a stake in the sale in this highly-structured process, questioning existing assumptions, and channeling the collective experience of the group, sales teams will uncover creative solutions to move along the deal that would be impossible otherwise.  In Sanders experience as a sales executive and consultant, this process has led to a stunning 70% close ratio.

Sanders explains how dealstorming works to break a deal deadlock, how to organize a successful dealstorming session and who to include, and how to use your results to push a stuck deal to the next stage of the sales cycle.

Lior Arussy Interviewed by 33Voices

By cmiadmin | May 26, 2015 | Comments Off

Moe Abdou and Lior Arussy discuss how to rise up to the exceptional performance within organizations and as individuals.

Exceptionalizing Your Customer Experience

Have you tried to call your mobile phone provider lately?  How about your cable or satellite service?  If you have, chances are, you experienced a mechanical operator, long hold times, and a less than satisfactory result.  As consumers, we expect those from which we buy to deliver extraordinary service, but because such experiences are so rare, we’ll often settle for anything above average.  The puzzling thing, however, is that those same individuals who are delivering such subpar service are themselves consumers; and I’ve often wondered how they’d react if the roles were reversed?  I posed that question to a highly respected customer experienced connoisseur and Founder of the customer service consultancy, Strativity Group.

Having dedicated his entire professional career to the study of service excellence, Arussy just revised his customer experience manifesto, to help you transform each of your customer touch points.

Here’s what guides our conversation:

  • The first thing your customer will notice about your company
  • Why bad customer service is contagious, while exceptional experiences are rarely imitated
  • The missing ingredient that’s likely prevent you from exceptionalizing your service
  • The ethos at the heart of exceptional service
  • The correlation between workplace culture and customer experience
  • The price of loyalty
  • What distinguishes top-tier content providers

If You Aren’t Using Your Data, It’s Just Taking Up Space

By cmiadmin | May 21, 2015 | Comments Off

If You Aren’t Using Your Data, It’s Just Taking Up Space | Mike Walsh

By Frank Konkel at Next Gov


The government collects a lot of data.

Tax records, financial transactions, census information, demographic intelligence and a myriad of other data sets on millions of American citizens make the federal government the largest data collector on the planet.

Yet that data does little more than take up space in agencies if it’s not being analyzed to change leadership decision-making or to improve the experience of users and customers. That’s according to Mike Walsh, CEO of Tomorrow, a consultancy and research firm.

The big question is: “How will the rise of the Internet of Things and growth of data change the way we approach decision-making and leadership?” Walsh said, speaking at the Management of Change conference May 18. “In the era where we not only have data but also have it in real time, how will we change our applications, how will that data empower leaders in organizations to make better decisions?”

The use of real-time data to rapidly alter decision-making is poised to help agencies reinvent themselves, Walsh said. That’s already happening in arenas like emergency response, where a single tweet can spring the Federal Emergency Management Agency into action as it responds to disasters.

At the federal level, though, those examples are more the exception than the rule. Still, Walsh cited several examples across other levels of government that highlight the success of real-time data solving real-world problems.

San Francisco, for example, posts the food-inspection scores of restaurants on Yelp to give customers -- in this case, tax-paying citizens -- additional information when reviewing where to wine and dine. One of the criticisms of Yelp is that restaurants can use a variety of tactics to bolster their review scores. The city of San Francisco, though, realized it’s impossible to fudge a health score.

The city of Arlington, Massachusetts, produces an immersive “visual budget” to its citizens that allows it to “communicate more effectively with stakeholders, users and citizens.” Tax-paying citizens use the budget to catch a glimpse of where their tax dollars are being spent at any given time.

Louisville, Kentucky, collects GPS data to determine where local _GRC6129pollution triggers asthma attacks. This can act both as a warning for those susceptible to asthma to stay away from certain areas but also can help city officials determine a measured response to mitigating pollution spots.

Still, it might be difficult for the federal government to take a clue from local innovators, Walsh said. Culture can be resistant to change, and the larger an organization is, the more likely it is to experience the effects of a negative culture, he said.

Walsh issued an important decree to an audience comprised mostly of federal employees and federally-focused industry personnel.

“Data is only valuable if you can redesign the way government works or redesign the actions of decision-makers,” Walsh said. “If we as leaders don’t use data effectively in what we do, in improving our user experience and our own decision-making powers, we’ll be in trouble.”

Solve Problems, Don't Manage Channels | Mike Walsh

By cmiadmin | May 05, 2015 | Comments Off

Mike Walsh- CMO Chapter 2- Email Blast


Chapter title 2

The problem with today’s advertising industry is not what they do, but the way they sell what they do. Rather than solving your problems, they pitch fragmented solutions based on their own internal structures.

You know the drill. Creative agencies want you to make expensive TV spots. Graphic design firms recommend that you update your corporate identity and packaging. PR firms suggest a big launch party while digital agencies put together a plan involving micro-sites and a flashy media buyout of high traffic websites. Basically, when faced with your brief, agencies tend to solve for their own channels.

Unfortunately, while agencies might think in channels, customers do not. Today’s consumers are both sophisticated and demanding. They interpret brand signals from a wide variety of sources, and expect consistent treatment regardless of the platform they are using. Winning their attention is an exercise in problem solving, not ticking the boxes.

I met Johnny Vulkan a number of years ago, when we were both speaking at a conference in Oslo together. His agency, Anomaly, has attracted some of the biggest clients in the world including P&G and Google based on their unique approach. Although they don’t call themselves an ad agency, they conceived and produced the most popular Super Bowl ad two years in a row. They are not a design company, and yet they designed the number one lip balm in the U.S. They are also not a broadcast media company, but they have won awards for the cooking show they produce.

In Vulkan’s view, what makes Anomaly successful is not what they do, but how they approach their work. When they start working with a client, their first goal is to clearly identify and articulate their problem. Carl Johnson, one of Anomaly’s other founders cites Charles Kettering as inspiration, the famed inventor and head of research for GM, who said, “A problem well stated is a problem half-solved.” Once the real marketing issue has been identified, the Anomaly team is able to select the right set of tools, people and platforms most relevant to fixing it. If the right answer is better packaging, then that is what the team does - even if making a TV commercial might have meant more fees.

As CMOs become more sophisticated in the way they buy marketing services, it is not just individual agencies that will need to adapt their approach, but also entire marketing networks.

I recently joined the board of The North Alliance (NOA), a collection of marketing companies that originated in Scandinavia but has since established a global footprint. NOA was founded by Thomas Hogebol, a former head of McCann Worldgroup in the Nordics. Backed by private equity, the management group acquired the best creative and digital agencies from Stockholm to Copenhagen, Oslo to Warsaw - combined with an engagement model that allowed clients to tailor-make a dream team of problem solvers from a diverse talent pool, whilst retaining regional scale.

One of NOA’s first regional clients was Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), the leading airline in the Nordics. SAS were facing growing competition in its market from low cost carriers. Like many brands, much of its communication was traditional - not just in choice of channel, but also in the style of messaging. When it spoke to customers, it picked concepts it believed were important to travellers—price, reliability and the speed of its fast-track service. Interestingly, once the NOA team started analyzing the issue, it became clear that people were willing to pay a premium for their travel tickets –not because the service was efficient, but because they wanted to be part of a community, to feel the joy of travelling and share those experiences with other people. Acting on this insight presented its own challenges. Clever creative was not enough. To enhance SAS’s community platform would require fundamental changes to commercial strategy, the loyalty program and the underlying technology infrastructure. Hence, a very different type of agency engagement model.

CMOs face the paradox of actionability daily.

They have the clearest visibility of the customer’s unmet needs. However, acting on those insights requires big changes, both in the design of their own teams, as well as the way they work with external agencies.

As Hogebol puts it, “CMOs may have larger IT budgets than the CIOs in the future, but they will also need fewer partners that understand more. The best place for CMOs to start is by clearly defining what their real problems are, agnostic of media and channels. From that perspective, they can direct their energy and investments on exactly the ideas most likely to transform their business.”


To Download the entire playbook and read all 10 ideas please Click Here

Storytelling and the Laws of the Jungle | Yossi Ghinsberg

By cmiadmin | Apr 23, 2015 | Comments Off

Interview with Yossi Ghinsberg by

International bestselling author of Jungle, (over one million copies sold), a true story of survival against all odds in the Amazon rainforest, Yossi Ghinsberg is one of the most celebrated inspirational speakers of our time.

SPEAKING.COM: Why do you think storytelling is such an important aspect of the human experience?

GHINSBERG: I am a natural storyteller and I was never trained. The body language, the tone, the vocabulary, the timing, and the silence – all these emerge naturally. This is my gift and talent, and my calling as well. People respond to a good storyteller in a way that is much different than good lecturers or presenters. People in general don’t like to listen; they have stories and voices inside their heads they would rather listen to. When ideas are presented they tend to judge them, oppose them and quickly get bored by them.

Good storytelling is different, as it instantly turns adults into children. They lean forward, are attentive and absorbed. They not only listen but also actually feel the story inside themselves, processing their own emotions with their full attention.

In this optimal state the ideas and insights presented are far more effectively received as they are not encountering objection and boredom. Instead they are like seeds sowed on fertile grounds, ideas that will live and grow. There is no question that the value is many times greater when a good storyteller takes the audiences on such a journey.

SPEAKING.COM: What is “corporate spirituality” and why is it important?

GHINSBERG: It is a term that is attributed to what people perceive. I do not adhere to any spiritual practice that ends with an ‘Ism.’ Yet I have found that life is a spiritual experience. I have experienced the miraculous and been touched by the mystery and grace of life. I have studied all philosophies and religions in my pursuit of wisdom, yet I never became a disciple of any. I found enlightenment in nature itself and that had consequential impact on my understanding of life, and my conduct.

The principles of corporate spirituality are simple yet deep and powerful. In essence they are seeing oneness and the futility of separation. Understanding that a company is an eco-system, our planet is an ecosystem and that ecosystems adhere to the following spiritual principals: we are all interrelated, we are all interconnected, and we are all interdependent. Such principals mean we are a family and that we all have to take care of each other for any of us to thrive. But this doesn’t conflict with profits and increased returns to shareholders. On the contrary, the economic rewards are much greater with corporate spirituality. It makes greater profits.

We are not good managers. We have pillaged the planet, raped the lands, despoiled the waterways, depleted the seas, contaminated the atmospheres – all because of our notion of separation from nature and a lack of understanding that hurting nature is in effect hurting ourselves.

SPEAKING.COM: What are three of the most important “laws of the jungle” and how do they apply to daily life?

GHINSBERG: Each of the laws contain all the rest of them so I cannot judge which is the most important; however, the most basic ones are:

If you want to be human be a beast first: it is opposed to the very popular belief that we are not a superior species positioned here to rule and exploit nature. Instead, we acknowledge that we are also an animal. The notion that we are an integral part of nature and part of the family of all life is a colossal paradigm shift. It opposes the monotheistic notion that we humans were appointed to rule, exploit and manage the world of flora and fauna. We are not good managers. We have pillaged the planet, raped the lands, despoiled the waterways, depleted the seas, contaminated the atmospheres – all because of our notion of separation from nature and a lack of understanding that hurting nature is in effect hurting ourselves.

The second law of the jungle is be the music not the conductor: it explores the possibility that we are here to play an important role rather than manage, with an attitude of harmony through specialization. Each species is thus like a musician in a symphony, a valid and indispensable part of the most amazing artistic creation ever made, and while humanity can play the first fiddle there is no need to be the conductor.

The third law is the seasons always change: understanding the transient nature of existence brings deep wisdom and the discovery of equanimity. Everything is moving, so passing phenomena is best experienced without too much attachment. Objecting and clinging to phenomena is a futile yet common approach. This principle leads to acceptance and contentment, and at its highest level it is this principle that is the gateway to enlightenment.

I want to inspire people to dream without the hindrance of self-limiting beliefs and/or limiting cultural conditioning.

SPEAKING.COM: How can people and organizations welcome and adapt to change?

GHINSBERG: Change is difficult because on the one hand time is the most real and precious resource we have and it passes without stopping. It is rarely acknowledged and valued in this way. On the other hand time can only be experienced as now, an eternal moment from which we cannot escape. So understanding both the fleeting and ever present nature of time is tricky.

Understanding the nature of time and the role of change can be instrumental to individuals and organizations in adjusting attitudes, releasing attachments, being fully present and engaged and hence first to take the right action to adapt and proceed.

SPEAKING.COM: What are some ways in which people can overcome adversity and keep their dreams alive?

GHINSBERG: I touched on this issue earlier. The point is that sooner or later everyone experiences adversity during their journey. The dream is the most important aspect of life as it gives a person a sense of calling, a purpose without which life is quite shallow and empty. Without purpose it is hard to find true motivation to keep going. There’s a great danger, when adversity conflicts with the dream, that people will perceive the adversity as bad luck. They then become victims of it, they fail, their spirit breaks, they become subdued and never dare to dream again. They do not fulfill themselves or their potential.

On the other hand when we understand that adversity is there for a reason, that it provides the resistance that causes strength and growth, we may still have to go through some hardship and pain but we do not see ourselves as victims and let the adversity kill our dream. Instead we become stronger, smarter, and more creative. We shift, we move, we pivot to find a way, or we make one.

SPEAKING.COM: What are some of the successes your clients have achieved with your help?

GHINSBERG: I’ve worked around the globe with hundreds of companies, from round tables with a team of executives to auditoriums filled with thousands of people. I have hundreds of endorsement letters from clients and many anecdotes – some are most amazing.

A good example is the VP of a huge Australian corporation who quit his job after hearing me and took a sabbatical to tour the world. The company endorsement read: “we wanted you to inspire them but not that much!” It was a light-hearted statement and a year later the executive was back.

Other companies have created projects named the ‘Ghinsberg challenge.’ But most precious to me are the private letters I get from audience members who share with me how I touched their life. This is sacred, and intensely rewarding.
ON Speaking

SPEAKING.COM: What do you want people to learn from your presentations?

GHINSBERG: To be inspired to live life fully, to know that challenges are part of the path and that sometimes the bigger your vision the greater the resistance to it, but that this is part of the journey and not a reason to give up. I want to inspire people to dream without the hindrance of self-limiting beliefs and/or limiting cultural conditioning.

I’d like them to find the courage to revisit and reexamine some of their fundamental thoughts, beliefs and emotions by vicariously experiencing them rather than just intellectualizing and entertaining them. I’d like them to feel invigorated, to regain a spark in the eye and a spring in the knee, to know they, and no one else, is the protagonist of this life they are living, that their uniqueness is something they have to find, hone and shine on the world; that they are strong, worthy and beautiful.

I’d also like to challenge the paradigms they are trapped in and living by, and so expand their perception and the opportunities in their lives.

SPEAKING.COM: What kind of special prep work do you do prior to an event? How do you prepare for your speaking engagements?

GHINSBERG: I like to learn about the company or organization, and get an in-depth briefing from the relevant executives. I like to arrive on the scene as early as possible and get a feel for the place and audience. That way I can adapt more naturally to how the event rolls out. As to inner preparation, I take some notes to create a structure to fit the event, theme and timeframe.

I like to sit quietly and meditate on the event, so I can disconnect from other issues and be 100% present. I enjoy meditation, as I know inner balance is what is most valuable when I speak. It is not about what I say but how I am saying it. Audiences sense this and respond to it, knowing my presentation is real, alive and authentic.

I touch consciousness and empower the individual, expanding their capacity to deal with circumstances and leverage hidden opportunities they couldn’t see before.

SPEAKING.COM: Have you had any particularly memorable speaking engagements or unusual situations arise while on the road?

GHINSBERG: So many it’s hard to choose just one. I had many adventures in exotic places like the deserts of Dubai and Oman. Most memorable are those events where I met people who touched my life, in places where I’ve made new friends for life. Yet the ultimate experience is to know I was of service to someone, touched them, alleviated their pain and inspired them. This is what makes my work such a humbling privilege.

SPEAKING.COM: Who are some of your favorite audiences?

GHINSBERG: I have no favorites, because every mind and heart that is wide open and allows me to come in with my stories and insights is showing a generosity and trust that I consider sacred, so I tread gingerly. So there are no preferences. In some places, like India, the culture is such that sometimes I get a standing ovation before I started speaking. It is always great fun to know the room is there ready for you, loving you and ready to be taken by you.

SPEAKING.COM: What types of audiences would most benefit from your message?

GHINSBERG: They all do, because my message is universal and I adapt very well to different audiences. My message is not specific to any industry, age or gender, nor do I teach a method to improve any particular department such as HR or Sales.

I touch consciousness and empower the individual, expanding their capacity to deal with circumstances and leverage hidden opportunities they couldn’t see before. I speak to all types of audiences around the world, though I usually speak in corporate environments to inspire and empower the individuals and the company.

SPEAKING.COM: What made you decide to start doing speaking engagements? What got you started?

GHINSBERG: I’m a storyteller. Addressing audiences is a gift I feel the calling to share, an innate need; there’s an aspect of me that only comes to fruition and life when I speak in front of audiences. I love this aspect of me that rises up. I’m in awe of it and the first to get inspired and listen to it. In a way I need my talks as much as my audiences – sometimes I feel I need it more. It is very aligning for me.

When you do what you are supposed to do, it feels naturally good, and that sense accompanies my speaking. What got me started is a story that needed telling: my experience surviving in the Amazon against all odds. It has inspired millions around the world in the form of books and a documentary series. Soon it will be a motion picture.

SPEAKING.COM: Which of your keynote topics are the most popular? How are your keynote presentations unique? Which of your keynote speeches do you enjoy the most and why?

GHINSBERG: The following are my topics:
‘The Power to Survive’ – Telling the story of my harrowing experience being alone in the Amazon and bare to the bone for weeks, isolated from society, deep in a hostile forest during the worst rainy season in a decade.

These circumstances caused me to discover that victimhood is a choice; adversity is something we all encounter and can deal with. I find that for the first time I can trust and rely upon myself. It is a powerful story of self-discovery, and vicariously takes people through the experience instead of just listening. In this deep space, where the audience and I are one and our emotions exposed, the insights and inspiration become cathartic and transformative, even life changing to many.

‘The Wevolution Revolution’ – The harrowing Amazonian survival story sets the background and deeply engages the audience. At that point I reveal the enlightened insights that transformed and changed my life forever.

I then tell the story of my return to the Amazon and the building of Chalalan, the most celebrated and award winning resort in the Bolivian Amazon, fully owned and operated by the most isolated Indigenous community.

It’s a real Cinderella story that shows that sometime the amateur can achieve more than the professional since their dream is not tainted with doubt and assumptions about what is not possible. Yet this story has far greater meaning, showing that the rainforest is an ecosystem that thrives on synergetic cooperation and that this is a metaphor for life on the planet as a whole. Core paradigms of scarcity as our reality and competition as the optimal way of dealing with it are revisited and challenged. Nature demonstrates that abundance is a better description of reality and that niche dominance and cooperation are more effective and more profitable.

I prefer the second topic as it takes my personal story far beyond self-discovery to actual global redemption, working towards the tipping point when the paradigm shifts and a new era begins–nothing less than that.

SPEAKING.COM: How much do case studies, personal stories and humor factor into the content of your keynote speeches?

GHINSBERG: I only tell my own stories. I have lived a rich, interesting and diverse life so the audience doesn’t get teachings I have learned but experiences I have lived. I open my heart and mind with complete devotion in a space of pure giving, sharing my life experiences.

All the content is original and personal, all the insights and messages are mine or internalized through life experience. My sense of humor is also authentic, because people react with laughter at various points when the intensity and the charge of the story require some relief.


This interview was originally published in the blog.