How to Compete With Giants

compete with giants

Overcoming the Odds

If you enjoy reading stories of victorious underdogs, you will love Competing with Giants by Phyong Uyen Tran is Deputy CEO of THP group, Vietnam’s leading beverage company. The book is a compelling read as it takes you through the journey of a mega-successful family business. Imagine turning down $2.5 billion. What did it take to get there? How did they scale the business? What insights can we learn from Asia’s growth?

More to the point, what can all business leaders learn from her experience?

I found this book an incredibly fascinating read and reached out to learn more.

 

Turning Down 2.5 Billion Dollars

Take us inside you and your family’s emotions. What was it like to turn down a $2.5 billion offer from Coca-Cola?

When Coca-Cola made the offer, they certainly wanted to dazzle us by sending a private jet to take us to their headquarters in Atlanta. Even though my younger sister, Bich, and I were more or less a decade into running our family enterprise, we were impressed by the effort that they had put forth with the offer. However, Dr. Thanh, who is my father as well as the founder and CEO of Tan Hiep Phat (THP), was calm and collected. As usual, his words were economical, and he listened carefully to all that was said in the meeting. It was extremely difficult to read through his poker face. 2.5 billion dollars was a lot of money, but to my father, the decision had been made when the term of the offer would limit THP from developing any new brands and would limit THP from selling our products outside of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.  It goes against the vision and mission that we have set for THP. There was no meeting of the minds, and that was that. Almost too simple of a decision.

 

“Great leaders also possess a future-orientation that allows them to seek out opportunities with a positive attitude rather than focusing on difficulties, which is a past orientation.” -Phuong Uyen Tran

 

What lessons should other entrepreneurs learn from your experience?

10 Paths to Growing Your Business

growth iq

Grow Your Company with Confidence

 

How organizations keep growing in the face of stiff competition, a fast-changing business environment, constant innovation, and technology changes is a constant issue for executives. In Growth IQ: Get Smarter About the Choices that Will Make or Break Your Business, Tiffani Bova shares ten simple paths to growth in this environment.

Tiffani Bova is the global customer growth and innovation evangelist at Salesforce. Her work over the last twenty years spans startups to the Fortune 500. I recently spoke with her about her work.

 

“The one thing about growth is, it is never one thing.” – Tiffani Bova

 

Common Growth Mistakes

What are some of the common mistakes leaders make when trying to reenergize growth?

One of the most vexing challenges faced by executives is determining how best to grow their business. Unfortunately, these challenges to grow have multiplied in recent years. The problem is that too many companies respond to a competitive threat, or a market disruption, with a strategic business model that worked in the past and may not work in the future. Growth strategy is a thinking game that works when you have the right mindset to inform the when, where and why of every strategic move you make. I have yet to find a company that can attribute their growth to one silver bullet. The impact of combining multiple efforts will be greater than the sum of its parts. Reenergizing growth starts with being open to getting uncomfortable with the status quo and comfortable with change.

 

Why do companies so often fail to duplicate a growth strategy from an industry rival?

Too many companies ‘benchmark’ their company against their rival or a set of competitors in the same industry. While benchmarking can be a worthwhile exercise, it can also lend itself to a limited view of what is happening in the overall market. Widening the lens to look at overall context, on the other hand, allows companies to look for best practices from other sectors and learn from innovation happening across industries. What is happening in consumer spending patterns? What technology advancements have happened which you can capitalize on? How are people engaging with brands? What is the sentiment towards big social issues? The insights we can glean from these questions are invaluable when setting a growth strategy.

Furthermore, benchmarking is an outside-in view focused mostly on products and business models. Meaning, you are only able to understand their business from an outsider’s perspective. It is the inner workings, or the mental model, of a company’s growth strategy that is their ‘secret sauce’ – it is what differentiates them from each other especially in highly competitive markets.  The fact is, companies rarely have the same products, customers, value propositions or go-to-market strategies or more importantly, culture. So, attempting to replicate another company’s strategy, may sound like a good plan, yet rarely delivers expected results, or worse it could backfire and have long-term negative impact on the company overall. There are exceptions to this statement of course, especially in highly commoditized industries where ‘price’ is what companies compete on, but any value-based product will require more than that as a solid growth strategy.

 

“Customer Experience is the new Black.” – Tiffani Bova

 

The Challenge of Customer Experience

10 Strengths of a High-Creative Leader

creative leader

Scaling Leadership

 

The world of business is moving faster than ever before, and this world is filled with much volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. In their book, Scaling Leadership: Building Organizational Capability and Capacity to Create Outcomes that Matter Most, leadership experts Bob Anderson and Bill Adams argue that in these fast-changing times, no single leader—no matter how skilled or how experienced—can know everything that needs to be known about their organization, nor consistently make the best decisions. The solution to this dilemma is to scale leadership.

I recently interviewed Bob and Bill to learn more about scaling leadership and the implications for leaders in any kind of organization.

 

“A business can’t outgrow the effectiveness of its leadership!” -Robert Anderson, William Adams

 

Scale or Die

What does it mean to scale leadership?

There’s a fundamental principle of life as we know it—it either scales and grows, or it dies. It’s that simple. Growth is built into the DNA of every living organism that exists on our planet today—from the mighty redwoods, to vast underwater forests of kelp, to huge migrating flocks of birds, to human beings. Businesses are in many ways much like living creatures. Businesses either grow and thrive, or they die and fade away—doomed to irrelevance as competitors pass them by.

However, it’s not enough to simply grow our organizations. We must also scale new and innovative solutions to complex business, organizational, and global problems. And we must do so in a world that’s becoming increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. This requires leaders throughout the leadership system of the organization who can do more, know more, decide more, contribute more, and be more—for their organizations, their people, their customers, and for the communities in which they do business.

Leaders must learn to scale themselves by scaling leadership. Leaders who scale leadership grow the capability and capacity of those who work for and with them to take on leadership tasks of their own—leveraging their own leadership across far more individuals and teams while creating a workplace where people thrive.

Setting up peer coaching and accountability groups with a regular practice of providing ongoing, supportive feedback greatly accelerates and scales the development of Creative leaders.

 

“Leaders must learn to scale themselves by scaling leadership.” -Robert Anderson, William Adams

 

10 Strengths of the Most Effective Leaders

Based on your extensive research, what defines a High-Creative leader or differentiates the most effective leaders?

In the research presented in Scaling Leadershipwe look into what differentiates the most effective leaders from those who are not. We do so by analyzing 1,350 pages of 360-degree written comments—senior leaders providing written comments to other senior leaders. While every leader is different, bringing different sets of strengths and weaknesses to the table, we found that High-Creative leaders consistently demonstrated the following 10 strengths:

3 Ways to Be More Likable

be likable

The Snowball System

 

Many people want to grow a business, increase client referrals, and spark momentum. At the same time, people resist sales efforts and struggle with developing business.

How do you grow your business without selling your soul?

Mo Bunnell is an author, speaker, consultant, and founder and CEO of Bunnell Ideal Group (BIG). In his book, The Snowball System: How to Win More Business and Turn Clients into Raving Fans, he shares his knowledge and experience in helping businesses grow.

I recently spoke with him about how to be more likable, gain referrals, improve business development, and create teams that have momentum.

 

Be Strategically Helpful

Why do so many people have such a negative feeling about sales?

The word “sales” is loaded. For many people it conjures up being pushy, dishonest and selfish—and that the salesperson stuff they try to push on others, whether they need it or not.

This is sad because when selling is done the right way, it’s great for all involved. It helps create a future that didn’t exist before. It’s long-term focused. It’s about the other person.

This is one reason we have to use code words for sales: business development, relationship building and the like. “Sales” is just too charged to use with some people.

In The Snowball System, we say sales is “being strategically helpful.” When people do that, everyone wins.

 

“Sales is being strategically helpful.” -Mo Bunnell

 

Experts Are Made

Can anyone learn the skills of business development?

Without a doubt, yes. And that’s different than a lot of people think.

My favorite researcher on expertise is Dr. Anders Ericsson out of Florida State University. He’s widely known as the worldwide exert on expertise. He says, “Consistently and overwhelmingly, the evidence showed that experts are always made, not born.”

We’ve trained comprehensive sales skills to over 12,000 professionals. I’ve seen people in all roles, at all starting points from all areas of the world. With that context, I’d add this: “Nearly everyone has a few natural tendencies that will help them with sales. Maybe they’re gregarious, are inquisitive or relentless in pursuing goals. But being great at sales requires dozens of skills—it’s a complex craft worthy of its own study. No one is a ‘born salesperson,’ and everyone can improve. It’s no different than learning a musical instrument or a sport. Some people are naturally disposed to be have a higher upper ceiling, but anyone can improve. And anyone that’s great learned it and earned it.”

Once people have that mindset, they can learn to love selling and become great at it. It just takes knowing the skills needed and an ongoing system to incrementally improve over time. The Snowball System breaks down every skill needed to become great at sales.

 

“Likability is a soft skill that leads to hard results.” -Mo Bunnell

 

3 Ways to Be More Likable

How to Fuel Business Growth with Cameron Mitchell

Click above to watch our video interview.

 

What is the question?

Our stories are very different, and yet there are some striking common themes: Both of us started in restaurants as dishwashers and became CEOs. Both of us mapped out our goals early in life. Both of us believe in people as the way to transform company culture.

Perhaps that is why I was immediately drawn into the pages of Cameron Mitchell’s compelling book.

More likely the answer to my intrigue is the fact that I find myself in one of his restaurants every week. You can always count on superb service, delicious food, and an inviting atmosphere.

 

“Yes is a state of being.” -Cameron Mitchell

 

Recipe for Growth

The recipe for his latest book includes equal parts entrepreneurial advice, culture how-to, and business mixed together in an autobiographical stew that is seasoned with honesty and experience.

Though I am well-aware of Cameron Mitchell’s success, I found myself nervously reading parts of it, wondering if they would make it.

But make it they did, and the journey is worthwhile reading for anyone looking to emulate success.

Cameron accepted the invitation to visit me in my office where we discussed a range of topics from his mistakes, to company culture, to his recipe of success.

 

“Guaranteed fun = guaranteed success.” -Cameron Mitchell

 

Get his new book, Yes is the Answer! What is the Question?: How Faith In People and a Culture Of Hospitality Built A Modern American Restaurant Company, to learn more about his compelling story.

 

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