Why Business Owners Should Watch the #XMass Jammies Video

By now you have probably heard of the Holderness family and if not we suggest you Google them after reading this post. They are the creators (and stars) of the now famous #Xmass Jammies video and founders of The Green Room, a digital marketing company located in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The #Xmass Jammies  video is a holiday sensation, putting a new spin on an old idea. Much like Shutterfly did for (or to) the traditional photo album (read this article on Shutterfly’s innovative approach), the Holderness family has done to the traditional holiday card, holiday family photo card and the even more detailed ‘year-in-review’ letter.

In 3:38 minutes of time, they sing and dance their way through an engaging review of their accomplishments as a family in 2013. They also manage to promote their digital marketing services in a tasteful and engaging manner while creating an unforgettable product. But above all else here are five reasons why our team loved the #Xmass Jammies video and why we believe other companies should adopt a similar approach to their marketing.

They Tell a Story

The rise of social media provides the best opportunity for companies to take a fresh look at how they market their brands. New platforms emerge each and every day while the big ones (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) still provide ample opportunities for companies to get their messages out and logos in front of millions.  These platforms also provide an opportunity for individuals and companies alike to become storytellers and according to a recent Forbes article, this is the here and now of marketing.

Demonstrate Their Expertise

Team Holderness did a wonderful job telling their story through video which, oh by the way, just-so-happens to be what they do for a living. While not everyone will be able to tell their story through their product offering, demonstrating an expertise in a creative way (hosting a seminar at an unusual event and recording it) not only demonstrates an ability to think outside-the-box, it also demonstrates a willingness to be different and to reach people through different methods.

Get Rid of the Fear

Just how many husband and wife duos would actually rap their way through a video in their jammies for the entire world to see?  We’ll bet that not too many would be that comfortable. However, there’s an authenticity to the Holderness video that pulls the viewer in, as if they can totally relate with what they’re saying. This has more to do with their ability to overcome the fear of being authentic in the eyes of their peers, than it does in their ability to create a video. Any company can hire a marketing firm to record a video but it is up to the company and their employees to figure out how to promote the business and its culture through an authentic story.

As today’s marketplace continues to evolve so must our efforts to reach our consumers. Experimentation, getting personal, shedding fear and being bold in our efforts are fast becoming today’s norms so if your run a business don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.



Culture and the Importance of “Wow” Withinin Your Company

Many companies are beginning to realize the power and benefit of developing a “wow” campaign within the culture of the organization. These campaigns are designed to inspire teams, develop a positive culture within (and outside of) the organization, and create an unforgettable experience for team members, clients (customers) and partners (vendors).

Lately, our executive team read The Value in Wowing Your Customers , in the Harvard Business Review. As a result of discussions around this article we decided it was time to elevate our commitment to developing our “wow” culture. I was asked to develop a brief overview of this phenomenon and here are two things I discovered.

Developing a “wow” moment for a customer can create a community of committed customers and ambassadors of your brand.

While putting together my research for our team I stumbled across a thread on Facebook (very timely) by a friend who’s husband was recently deployed to Iraq. He’s in the Navy and will serve a one-year term. Here’s what she posted:

A local company heard from one of my neighbors that [my husband] was deployed this year. Within a few hours, I had offers from them to do all of the lawn fertilization for the year, spring clean-up, mulching, and they also plan to mow the lawn until [he] gets back. They’ve done great work for us in the past, but this just goes above and beyond my wildest dreams.

Within a few hours she had several “likes” and then the comments began to emerge including:

– Their e-mails seriously brought tears to my eyes…what a relief to have those things off my master “to do” list during the upcoming months. They will have our support & business for years to come.

Walt got the chills when I just told him. He thinks that is so cool. He is gonna pass along their name to guys he plays hockey with that lives down that way.

The story was eventually covered by the local news, which happens to be a major market, and her post received a total of 77 “likes” and 16 comments. Not bad exposure for a local landscaping company that thought about their customer and inserted themselves as a solution to her challenge. My guess is that she will be a customer for life.

“Wow” moments also happen within the workplace and can transform the way staff feels about the company and its brand.

At the Holcomb Bus Company, one of the owners became concerned f his foreman when left a meeting to take a call from his mother. Upon returning to the meeting the team learned that the foreman’s mother needed to replace a portion of her sidewalk or face citation by the municipality. She received a quote from a local company but it exceeded her budget and she didn’t know what to do.

Immediately following the meeting the owner, who is also involved in the construction business, called his “concrete guy” and sent him to the house to fix the sidewalk. Needless to say the foreman and his mother were forever grateful for this act and I got the sense that the owner also felt pretty good about being able to help.

In both examples there was a financial investment on the part of each company. However, one can easily surmise that the investments have paid huge dividends for each company, and not necessarily to the bottom line.

The following presentation was delivered for the presentation noted above and touches on some of the topics discussed here.


View more PowerPoint from brianjohnriggs

The hope is that more and more companies will develop “wow” campaigns and that this movement becomes contagious because in the end everyone is happy and everyone wins. If consumers are talking about your brand over breakfast (or on Facebook) then your company will succeed, your staff will be happy and the world will be a better place.

Additional Resources:

From How to Wow – http://www.successwithcrm.com/blog/bid/53427/From-How-to-WOW-Create-a-Culture-of-Buzz

Creating a Wow Culture at Work – http://www.thehumanracehorses.com/2009/07/15/creating-a-wow-culture-at-work/

Making Something More out of “Going Global”

For the past 18 months I’ve been working on a globalization strategy on behalf of my company. Ultimately the strategy resulted in a partnership with a company based in Italy with dual headquarters in both Rome and Milan.

Our Guest Attends a Family Birthday Pary

In November 2010, the “Alliance” was ratified and our organizations began to work together; with our team traveling to Europe twice and members of their team coming to the United States last year. However, in between the email, Skype, virtual calls, business plans and time zones, an opportunity developed that has changed the meaning of “Going Global,” at least for me.
Several months ago a colleague from our global partner informed me that she would like to take her holiday here in the United States, working at our office for the entire month of August. Her plan was endorsed by her company but mostly driven by her own interest to learn our business from our perspective. She also insisted that her 20 yr. old daughter and husband remain at home. This was to be her experience.
She arrived this past weekend and is spending the first week in my home with my wife, my two daughters and my mother-in-law. We’ve only spent two days together but so far she’s been exposed to my niece’s sixth birthday party, my two daughters knocking on her door at 6:30 a.m., and a day in-the-life of me at work, which isn’t all that exciting.
Anyway, as we sat around the dinner table tonight, sharing stories of work, family, and of course, favorite dishes, it occurred to me that we, as a global community, have yet to integrate the “personal” element to going global. We’ve successfully discussed the notion of work-life balance across several disciplines; we’ve spent ample time on the diminishing walls between the public and private spheres; and we’ve embraced the notion of personal and professional brand and how they’ve almost become one. Yet, when we consider “going global” we rarely entertain the notion of how we can integrate the “personal” with our global colleagues to the point where it assists or strengthens our global strategy.
There was never a question that our colleague from across the Atlantic would stay at my home and the home of several members of our team. It’s the culture we’ve developed at our company – professional yet personal, and it’s what we prefer. However, and even after just under 48 hours, I’ve begun a journey toward gaining a better understanding and perspective on our global partnership, as well as our partnering company’s approach to business, through this personal approach; a perspective that could not possibly exist had this person not been in my home, with my family, under my roof.
I have never been involved in “Going Global” discussion or strategy session that has involved a mandatory colleague exchange program or an element, objective or tactic that included the “personal” piece but perhaps it’s time we re-examined our approach. After all, there’s nothing that replaces the in-person meeting and there’s no better way to solidify a relationship than at a kitchen table.
If anyone has experienced a personal element to a going global strategy please share your experience here. In the meantime, I’ll continue to listen and learn as my house guest continues to share and work alongside my wife and I at 10:08 p.m. – laptops open.

There are Two “C’s” in Success

Line outside Mack & Mancos

If you’ve ever been to the Ocean City Boardwalk on the New Jersey Shore (and no, not that “Jersey Shore”)then you’ve heard of Mack & Manco, the most famous pizza shop around. There is always a line to get in and the wait is always worth it.

This past Sunday our family made our annual early Spring trek to “the boards” to grab some quality time away from the madness and to have lunch at our favorite sea shore eatery. As I sat and waited for our large pie to be delivered I began to wonder why this place, out of the hundreds along the Jersey coast, remained so popular and successful. Was it the pizza? Sure, but why this particular pizza shop. The two things that stood out to me were clarity and consistency.

Clarity: This is the one place where you won’t be confused by what’s in front of you. On the table there will be a napkin dispenser, crushed red peppers, salt, pepper and garlic powder. The menu, which is on the wall, contains two things – five or so pizzas and drinks. That’s it. No appetizers, desserts, coffee, spaghetti, or anything to complicate the decision making process. It’s that clear.

Consistency: The pizza is made the same way every time and its delicious. Beyond the great pizza there are other consistencies that lead to the success and unforgettable experience at Mack and Manco’s (and this goes for each one of their many locations.)

There is always a line to either grab a table or take it home. Always. You will always be sat in the order you arrive. You can always count on the entire staff being dressed in white. White shoes, white pants, and white shirts.

The process is also consistent: they drop straws in front of each person at the table and take your drink order first. Once everyone has a drink then they’ll take your dinner order. I’ve never seen anyone write anything down and they only take cash (clarity). I don’t think I’ve ever seen a check or bill and think it’s a requirement for the staff to tell you what you owe. The food and experience are always consistent, and consistently good.

Mack & Manco’s has great pizza but their success is also be due in large part to a focus on consistency and clarity. They make it easy and clear for their customers and their customers reward them by remaining loyal.

Lessons of Leadership from #17

Rod Brind’Amour played the majority of his NHL career for two teams, the Philadelphia Flyers and the Carolina Hurricanes. He retired after the 2010 season and now works in the front office for the ‘Canes. On February 18, 2011, when his number was formally retired and a banner was hoisted in his honor at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C. , Brind’Amour gave compelling speech that embodies what it really means to be a leader.

In his more than seventeen minute speech (irony not lost on the length of his speech and the number on his jersey) Brind’Amour spoke of his family, his teammates, his tenure with his former team (the Flyers), his former coach (the now current coach of his former team), the fans, the community, and the year his team won the Stanley Cup (2006). In each case, he rarely spoke about himself. Instead, he made that night, the night in honor of him, about everyone else.

A true leader always looks outward and never inward. A true leader recognizes that they are part of a community, a community that relies on them as much as they do it. A true leader is able to raise the level of play of everyone around them, often without anyone realizing it is even happening.

Rod Brind’Amour is a former hockey player, a father and husband, a member of a special community and a leader on and off the ice. There are many lessons one can pull from the following speech here are a few that resonated with me:

– Always look outward to see who or what you can lift up.
– Always remember that your community is as much defined by you as you are by it.
– Always remember that when you focus on your goal, instead of the distractions that enter your path, you have a better chance of reaching it.
– Always remember that our family, friends, coaches (mentors), teammates (colleagues), and the random people we meet are members of our communities and that each member plays a role in our success; and that each member of our community is our teachers and students.

Click on the image below to view Rod’s speech – it’s worth every minute. (the sound gets better after 30 seconds)

Image Courtesy of http://thepuckdoctor.com

For additional stories on this moment please visit –



Slow Down

The Epiphany by Me

Have you ever driven down a highway and then, all of a sudden, you find yourself doing 65 MPH in a 45 MPH work zone? You’ve missed the more than fifty orange warning signs and for some reason were totally oblivious to the flashing yellow lights and large orange barrels.  If not, good for you –  if so, then don’t feel bad. It happens to just about all of us and just the other day in happened to me but this time I actually learned something from the experience. (And it didn’t take getting a ticket to do so.)

As I sped through the work zone it occurred to me that what was happening on the road may also be happening in our daily lives, either at work, at home or both.  We’re speeding through days, weeks, months and our lives without slowing down or paying attention to our warning signs.

Our drive to provide, to succeed, to meet the demands of what is expected of us from others and to meet our own expectations is forcing us to feel as if we can never slow down.  We’re working longer hours, trying harder to exceed our personal and professional goals and in between trying to make sure our responsibilities to ourselves and families are met.  In addition, the added stress of a recession-induced environment has everyone trying to make sense of constantly a changing marketplace.  These factors may be contributing to a “move fast or die” attitude but it may be doing more harm than good and it may be time to think differently.

For the first time ever once I saw the “Slow Down” sign I actually did it.  I didn’t contemplate how long it would take me to get out of the work zone, whether or not there was a police officer in sight, or the insane rational behind the thinking that since there were no workers it was o.k. to continue to do 65 mph. This time I pulled my foot off the gas, dropped back in my seat, and enjoyed the ride. It was a refreshing break and one that I didn’t even know I needed, that’s the scary part. (and perhaps that was the biggest lesson of all) We get so caught up  in what seems most important at any given second that we forget how to keep things in perspective, we forget how to slow down and that isn’t good.

If we don’t take time to slow down then we’re headed for trouble.  Imagine those early “Road Work Ahead” signs, flashing lights and big barrels as projects, deadlines, or even our health. If we keep missing them because we’ve convinced ourselves that moving faster is what it takes, or ignoring them because they are not a priority “RIGHT NOW” then all of a sudden we”ll find ourselves in a work zone where moving fast becomes prohibitive and costly. Those small projects become missed opportunities, missed deadlines become big problems, and is there really any need to go into what happens when we ignore our health.

It’s important to slow down, to prioritize, to think of others (like those workers on the side of the road), and maybe even to find value in the slow lane.  After all, there are opportunities there too.

Innovate & “Amplify Human Imagination”

This morning Vijay Govindarajan of the Harvard Business Review posted a fascinating blog on innovation entitled Reverse Innovation at Davos. The article examines how innovation in developing countries is contributing to unprecedented growth and what that means to their rich, developed counterparts. At the end of the piece  Govindarajan challenges “Western multinationals” to begin to shift their focus, resources and power to these emerging markets suggesting that a failure to do so will result in missed opportunities.

This article reminded me of seeing Gary Hamel deliver a keynote  at ASAE a few years back on “The Future of Management,”  which focuses on the need for organizations (nonprofit and for-profit alike) to think and act differently in order to succeed.  At the heart of his argument was the notion that organizations need to continually innovate and revisit their strategies through new and often very different lenses. This, he suggests, often means redesigning and challenging longstanding management models to accommodate for a new approach to doing business.

It’s been two years since I saw Hamel’s presentation but his message of  “strategic renewal” and a belief that every member of every organization can play a role in “continually generating hundreds of new strategic options” has always stuck with me.  With that in mind, and on the heels of a very enlightening piece from HBR, I found this presentation and thought I would share it for review.  Comments on favorite slides are listed below the presentation.

*This presentation was put together by Mark Sniukas.  His presentation can also be viewed here.

Slide 12 – Strategic Renewal  – Over the past few months I’ve been involved in several board meetings where the teams have reviewed their strategic plans through an innovative lens.  Meaning – they’re taking a look at the gaps in their plans to identify opportunities to develop new ideas, products, and processes.  This, I believe, is a product of strategic renewal.

Slide 13 – I’m not crazy over the repetitive use of the word “strategic” but I do like the idea of rebooting. In my opinion you can reboot just about everything.

Slide 14 – “Continually generating hundreds of NEW strategic options” – this is great.

Slide 28 – Continually reinforce the belief that innovation can come from anyone.

Slide 40 – Amplify human imagination.

In this day and age everyone is afforded the opportunity to innovate.  Leaders, teams and organizations alike should be taking full advantage of it.