Peak Communicators
October 30, 2014

50 Shades of Ghomeshi

For the last three days the biggest water cooler topic across the country has been CBC’s firing of Jian Ghomeshi.

Ghomeshi‘s $55-million lawsuit and the numerous allegations about Ghomeshi’s violent sexual behavior, lead many to conclude that he will never work in the media again. Most people are wondering: “Who would hire him?”

While the CBC won’t take Ghomeshi back (ever), I expect he’ll have little problem bouncing back in his successful media career. Here’s why:

Many talented film, sports and media stars have had similar moments of “heightened awareness,” about their abnormal or illegal sexual behavior, yet most have gone on with their careers. I don’t recall Roman Polanski or Woody Allen making apologies for their disturbing sexual relationships.  The revelations resulted in a loss of fans, but both continued with their successful careers as film directors.

In 2009 David Letterman issued a preemptive strike to a breaking scandal by using his national talk show to drop a five-minute bombshell in his monologue. He used the platform to talk about his affair with a coworker only six months after he was married. His show and contract with CBS continued like nothing happened and his marriage is still intact.

imagesGhomeshi’s incident is reminiscent of the Marv Albert scandal in 1997. Albert had charges filed against him for viciously biting and having forced sex with a woman he’d had a relationship with for several years. Marv was a very big personality in the USA at the time. He’d appeared on “Late Night with David Letterman” over 100 times with his presentation of the plays of the month. And he’d been the play-by-play voice of the New York Knicks basketball team for 30 years leading up to this incident and had done national broadcasts for Super Bowls, Stanley Cup finals and basketball finals.

Albert lost all his jobs and contracts at the time. His lawyers and PR advisors recommended he take a six-month long ‘time out’. After the court case and Marv Albert’s guilty plea, he did a series of high-profile media appearances. In a one week blitz he appeared on Larry King on CNN, David Letterman on CBS, Katie Couric on NBC’s ”The Today Show” and “20/20” with Barbara Walters on ABC.

The PR strategy was for Marv to tell his story fully and quickly. He overexposed himself for a week. Being an experienced media veteran, he was sympathetic and got a passing grade in the court of public opinion. He then stopped the interviews.

MarvAlbert.imagesAt 74 years old, Marv Albert is still active today, calling NBA and NFL games on American TV networks and he is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame.

We are still in week one of a drama that hasn’t fully played out. Ghomeshi issued his preemptive strike online. He should now take a ‘time out’ and let the story fade.

Will another Canadian network provide him with a similar platform as the CBC’s? Will he get a gig with NPR who aired Q in US markets?  I think he’ll land somewhere. He’s a talented broadcaster with a loyal following. He’ll be back.

Tags: , , , ,

October 23, 2014

Art of Leadership Series: The Power of Pictures

In this second leadership post that explores some of the key takeaways from The Art of Leadership conference last month, I’m going to shift the focus away from New York City and Rudy Giuliani’s leadership principles and focus on the power of pictures.

I have to confess that several people have recommended Dan Roam’s The Back of a Napkin to me. In fact, I went so far as to buy the book last year. But it remained unread on my shelf, having taken second place to life. Newly-inspired by Dan’s talk on the power of pictures, it has been promoted to my bedside table in the hope that I’ll soon never have to communicate through text again.

Dan’s presentation was simple yet effective, just like his ‘matchstick’ pictures. He discussed how pictures are a common language and pointed out that every company and leader needs a vision and a vision requires pictures. He reminded us that pictures can serve the following purposes:

  • Make complex issues, simple
  • Help solve problems
  • Clarify, create, convince
  • They are compelling and memorable

Dan Roam

When you think about it, it doesn’t make sense that we neglect the visual side of our brain so much. Roam encouraged us to tap into this potential more regularly, reminding us that our visual mind never sleeps and that humans are visual processing machines. Yet we’re often not intentional around our use of images. He gave us some tools and tips to takeaway that will help solve problems and/or help share understanding among team members. Here you can see how he adopts this simple approach by getting people to talk through the who/what, how much, where, when, how and why of something, to help map-out a pathway.

I don’t think it’d be realistic to start drafting news releases that only include images or sending client reports showcasing stickmen. But I do think there’s a lot of value in leaders and communications professionals considering using images more frequently, whether it be during brainstorms, strategy planning sessions, or in proposals. Ultimately, we all relate to pictures. And I’d argue that the more we can simplify life, the better.

Tags: , , ,

October 9, 2014

The Art of Leadership Series

Last week, I had the fortune of attending the Art of Leadership conference here in Vancouver. An interesting, insightful and inspiring one-day event, it featured an impressive line-up that included Rudy Giuliani, Hayley Wickenheiser, Charles Duhugg, Dan Roam and Dr. Vince Molinaro.

Given the sheer volume of information presented and exchanged at the conference, I though it best to share the key learnings from each speaker in a series of blog posts to be published in the coming weeks.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was the keynote for the event and arguably the most influential speaker, so it seemed appropriate to start by sharing some of his leadership principles.

Rudy Giuliani’s Six Leadership Principles:

1) Establish a set of beliefs: what are your goals? What do you want to accomplish? Always have a plan and an agenda and ensure you are accomplishing it daily. You must be clear when you share your goals and plan with others. People can’t follow ambiguity. And don’t forget that you need to be able to measure your goals.

2) Be an optimist. People follow hope. And they won’t follow someone who can’t provide solutions. Ensure you train and encourage those around you to always bring you solutions instead of problems.

3) Show courage. It’s a fact: most great people fail before they succeed. Take risks, learn from your failings, pick yourself up and overcome your fears.

4) Relentless preparation. Rehearse everything. Think of every possible outcome and prepare for it. Understand that things may go wrong and something unanticipated may happen. But if you’re prepared, your confidence and agility will see you through the tough, unanticipated moments.

5) Team work. Know yourself and build a team that balance your weaknesses with the strengths of other people.

6) Communication. Sharing feedback with those you work with is key. And track metrics to ensure you know exactly where you are as compared to your original goal.

Giuliani was charismatic and charming — as one hopes a leader to be — and often illuminated his principles by applying them to his experiences as a lawyer and as Mayor of New York City on 9/11.

But it was his final point, which didn’t make it onto his toplist of principles, that actually resonated most with me: ultimately, as a leader, you have to love people and care about people. You need to be there and support them in life and in business. In return, people will take care of you and go above and beyond the call of duty.

Tags: , , , , ,