Saturday, November 7, 2015

Failing good, part III

Being too afraid to fail will lead to avoiding risk, which drastically reduces the number of opportunities available to us. Being overly concerned about risk stifles creativity and prevents us from realizing the big successes that might be on the horizon. Risk-aversion essentially places us in shackles—we can’t move forward, we can’t grow, we can’t live. We are stuck.

Conversely, failure is freeing. When we fail, what we’ve dreaded has happened, but we’re still alive (hopefully). Failure opens up a realm of possibilities for how to move forward—if we have the tenacity to try again.

Barry LaBov
LABOV Marketing Communications and Training

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Failing good, part II

Failure makes us use our imaginations, our creativity, our intelligence to determine what went wrong and make corrections. It can give us crucial feedback that helps us cultivate better attempts at succeeding not only in the area where we failed, but in other areas as well. When we refuse to learn from failures, blame others or blame the circumstances surrounding us, the failure becomes truly futile and immensely frustrating. There are surely times when failure is a result of forces out of our control, but that doesn’t mean the opportunity to learn something from it is lost. It's when we use failures to learn that they become a useful tool for growth.

Barry LaBov
LABOV Marketing Communications and Training

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Failing good, part I

Everyone fails at one time or another. Steven Spielberg was rejected by the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts three times. The Beatles were dropped by their record label when first starting out and told they had no future in show business. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Hard to believe these megastars ever had a failure in their lives, but it happens to us all—and we don’t like it. Not in work, not in our personal lives. So hearing that failure can be a good thing sounds bogus…but it has validity.

Oftentimes we fail when we try something the first time. Hitting a baseball on the first pitch, learning to ride a bike, selling a new product to a customer. So knowing that fact, failure should be no big deal, right? Reality is that it’s difficult to realize in the moment that failure is what can lead to success. The sting of failure can take over. But without failing, we would never be driven to reassess how we approach things or learn how to do them better. Improvement would be obsolete and so would we. 

Barry LaBov
LABOV Marketing Communications and Training

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The magic of collective creativity

Several years ago, Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull shared his thoughts on how the studio fosters creativity and how, when creating an original product, the initial idea is not the most important element. It is, in fact, the people and culture. As Catmull puts it, it is about preserving the “confluence of forces necessary to create magic.”

That includes the concept that creativity is not a solo act or a single idea, but rather several people from different disciplines working together to solve challenges and creating more than just an initial idea but many other ideas that support it. In the case of a movie, that can be tens of thousands of ideas from hundreds of people. For collective creativity to work, there must be an environment where people support one another. Once you reach that level, you have the foundation for some of the most inspiring creativity.

Barry LaBov
LABOV Marketing Communications and Training

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Alignment versus assignment

In business, there are those partners who focus solely on the assignment at hand and others who act as alignment partners, offering a deeper level of expertise by focusing on the needs and goals of a business. They act as advocates, confidantes and extensions of the company’s team. This is more important than ever, as many companies operate with fewer staff than in the past. 

An alignment partner will work with a company to connect business strategy, resources and goals, then spearhead execution of a strategic plan, which strained departments often don’t have time to do. Alignment partners will fully immerse themselves in a company and its brand, which includes learning the brilliance of a product, service, process, technology or innovation. It is an effort to discover the what and how, but most importantly the why a business is doing what it’s doing.

Focusing on alignment over assignment can yield highly rewarding business relationships and results that can change a company for the better. It’s ok to admit you can’t do everything yourself. A true partner can provide the extra help you need to achieve your goals and improve your business.

Barry LaBov
LABOV Marketing Communications and Training

Saturday, August 8, 2015


The best definition I have ever heard for the word integrity is:

Doing the right thing even if no one is watching.

What a great definition. If we all behaved this way, imagine how simple it would be? Complete transparency, great intentions, open mindedness, no fear, etc.

Having integrity doesn’t mean doing what you feel in the moment or doing it your way. It means doing what is best for all concerned and if that means raising your hand and admitting you made a mistake, all the better. If it means you are not comfortable with a situation, you ask for help.

The “even if no one is watching” part of the definition is where it hits the bullseye. The reality is we should behave as if everyone is watching, because ultimately they are. Eventually, it comes to someone’s attention; at some point another person will know.

Might as well assume the world is watching and taking note. If we hide what we do, it will erode our relationships, even if in the moment, we got away with it.

Barry LaBov
LABOV Marketing Communications and Training

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Believe - part four: The beauty of believing

Why is believing important to business? Why can’t we just do what we’re told and check out at five o’clock every day?

First of all, many people check out every day during work and go through the motions. The problem is that it’s not fulfilling, it has no meaning and it’s harder to live that life—yes it’s harder. It takes a toll; at times it’s embarrassing; other times it’s confusing. It beats you up.

The beauty of believing is that it allows you to take emotion out of the equation. It allows you to share what you think whether you’re a senior partner or a newbie—it doesn’t matter what your position, it makes sense to you; it’s fair and you can share that.

If you don’t believe, fess up and ask for information to help you believe. If you almost believe but have a few issues, share that and maybe you can improve things as well. But bottom-line, if you still don’t believe, step aside and allow someone who does to take the lead. 

Barry LaBov
LABOV Marketing Communications and Training

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Believe - part three

What if you don’t believe totally in what you are selling to a customer? What if you don’t buy-in to the big idea you are presenting to them? What if you don’t get why you are asking for additional scope to finish that project?

If you don’t believe in the above situations, you will do more damage than good. The customer will sense you don’t believe. Realize that it isn’t bad that you don’t believe IF you do something about it. This is what can be done when you don’t believe:

1)      Admit it and respectfully ask the right people what you need to know to believe.

2)      Listen and if you still don’t fully believe, respectfully challenge it and go even deeper with the right people to understand even more. At this point, you either will get it or you may help others realize there needs to be a change to current thinking, which is actually great.

3)      If you still don’t believe, step out of the way. Let someone else take the reins and present or talk to the client. Listen, observe and learn—hopefully you will then believe (or if the meeting is a disaster, new thinking will come from it).

We do harm when we go through the motions. You either believe or you don’t.

Barry LaBov
LABOV Marketing Communications and Training

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Believe - part two

Believing in what you are doing in business, or anywhere in life, is critical. Customers will sense if you aren’t buying-in to what you are saying or presenting. But what is believing? Is it drinking the Kool-Aid? Is it merely repeating what you have been told to say? Is it blind faith?

Believing is personal. It means you think something is right—not necessarily perfect or magical. It’s something you understand and can share with others.

You have to believe to do a great job, to serve your customers and your company. 

Barry LaBov
LABOV Marketing Communications and Training

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Believe - part one

Your workplace would be entirely different if everyone believed—believed they were delivering something great, asking a price that was fair, etc. More often than not, belief doesn’t come into play in the everyday business world we live in.

“I do what I’m told.” “I know the client won’t like this.” “I guess this is what the powers that be want, I don’t get it.”

The above is what is said. It’s good people who don’t believe, going through the motions. Problem is if they do talk to the client about a price increase, for example, the client will smell that they don’t believe in it either and that can set off a chain of bad events far worse than not getting a small price increase. 

Barry LaBov
LABOV Marketing Communications and Training

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A secret worth telling

In the business world, for the most part, you don’t want to be a best kept secret. In fact, you want to be just the opposite. That’s why people advertise and market their products. But sometimes if a company has been around awhile—30, 40, 50+ years—it can fall into the trap of assuming customers already know all the great things about the product it manufacturers. After all, if they’ve been around for that long, shouldn’t everyone know what’s great about their product? Maybe…but it’s a risky assumption. Just how risky is usually unknown until someone new comes along and begins to take away market share.

When fresh competition enters the scene, it’s a good time for a company to evaluate the strength of its brand. Has it fallen into complacence and weakened or lost its brand signal? It can happen to the most respected, longest-standing companies out there. But as long as the foundational elements like a good product, solid differentiators and a customer base are still present, a brand can be revived. 

Barry LaBov
LABOV Marketing Communications and Training

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


It's invisible but it is real. It's the feeling you get when you're around a special person. You feel better, you feel "up," you feel excited or happy.

That's called energy. It's infectious.

The opposite is true as well. A downer of a person, low energy, no initiative—is a drag on life. I can't say you can do anything about it. But I can say if you are able to, please crank up the energy, for your own good.

You can trace how much success a person has and how attractive they are to others by how much energy they exude.

Barry LaBov
LABOV Marketing Communications and Training

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

What's the cost?

What's the cost of not admitting you're wrong? Or that someone else has a brilliant idea? Or that you may have misunderstood something? Or that you are fortunate to have this particular opportunity?

There is no cost except in terms of pride or ego. So why pay the price?

Barry LaBov
LABOV Marketing Communications and Training

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Say nothing

Words are just words. They sometimes mean nothing, sometimes they hurt and once in a while they actually help.

If a person isn't interested in listening, then any words will fall on deaf ears. If you lose your cool and say hurtful things, those words could damage a relationship.

Often, it's best to say nothing unless you're invited to do otherwise.

Barry LaBov
LABOV Marketing Communications and Training

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Re-igniting the brand

While not usually a line item on a balance sheet, the strength of company’s brand is essential to its overall success. The greater a brand’s equity, the larger the value at which a company can sell its products. And the greater the value of the brand, the greater the value of the entire company.

It’s very common for a good company to lose its brand edge over the years. Its products start to appear to be dated, its uniqueness is being usurped by newer, hungrier companies and customers may view their products as commodities in some cases. And not to be forgotten in all of this are the employees, who are there on the front lines seeing it all unfold. They want to be part of something exciting, vibrant—a winning team again.

The answer isn’t a new logo or a pretty website; it’s something far more strategic that cannot be covered in a blog. Be our guest and download our LABOV Brand Re-engineering “Bluepaper” on our website:

The re-birth of brand can be an extraordinary experience for employees, customers and the bottom-line. 

Barry LaBov
LABOV Marketing Communications and Training

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Winning and succeeding

As I get older, and hopefully slightly wiser, I have begun to realize the difference between winning and succeeding. I used to feel I needed to win and if I didn't, well, I was a failure.

Now I realize it is very possible to win, yet lose as well. Execs have to watch that they don't throw their weight around, demonstrating their power, and in the process, fall short in what their goals are.

If success to you is defined as an engaged company, happy clients and meaningful work, then that means there will days when you aren't the conqueror—just the person who sees to it that there's success for all.

Barry LaBov
LABOV Marketing Communications and Training

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Knowing the answers

Knowing the answer to a question is nice, but it's only valuable if that answer is acted on. If the person who knows what to do, doesn't do it, what does it matter that they know the answer?

An assumption I used to make was that if something wasn't happening as I expected, then I needed to make sure the person responsible understood the big picture or even the small picture of why it was important. You know what I found out? Most of the time, that person fully understood what was important and why it was expected. They just didn't do it...

So what do you do? Well, I pondered that and of course the usual answers were to take aggressive action (a warning for example) or remove the person from the position or to just give up. I'd guess these are what happen 99% of the time.

There is another approach if the previous answers are not appropriate: You just change the game. You no longer allow that action (or inaction) to take place—it's just not an option. That can be accomplished by eliminating, for instance, the person's authority to make certain decisions alone or it could be a checks and balances system that detects early on if something is off kilter and stops everything until it is solved correctly. Over time, the person learns—either that he or she can't cut it or that a bad decision is a lot worse (and harder) than doing the right thing. And it ceases to be a personal thing; there's no emotion. It's pretty simple actually.

No matter the solution, if we remove the power or temptation to take the wrong actions, we might just have a better answer.

Barry LaBov
LABOV Marketing Communications and Training

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


An under-utilized concept in business is "fair." Too often we do what's fair for the customer, but not the company or vice versa. Yet, it's very simple to realize that fair must be truly fair to all.

If we undercharge for our value, over time we will devalue what we provide. It's human nature. If a customer, on the other hand is charged too much for what we deliver, in short order, that arrangement will end.

Instead we have to strive to be fair to ourselves, our company, our team, our family, our client and their customers. That seldom means cutting corners, over-charging, doing the minimum, being nice or being mean.

It simply means delivering what the client really needs at a price that fits that value and inspires you and the client to continue the arrangement. Sound fair?

Barry LaBov
LABOV Marketing Communications and Training

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


Recognition is critical in all kinds of relationships. In business, it usually means a person is called out for a good performance in front of the company or they get a promotion.

The most meaningful kind of recognition is the kind that is not very public, not very formal and seldom ends up with a new title or salary.

It's the day-to-day acknowledgment of what a person is really good at. It requires an interruption of whatever is going on and actually stopping and remarking on that. Much of the time this doesn't happen because it's a hassle or seems unneeded.

But it is needed. It will change an underutilized person into a star or an insecure person into a confident one.

Recognize, see what a person just did well or always does well. After you do it, see if it really was a waste. I'm betting you'll recognize it wasn't.

Barry LaBov
LABOV Marketing Communications and Training

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Protecting the brand

Company acquisitions happen every day. We usually only hear about the big ones like American Airlines buying US Airways, Fiat buying Chrysler and Kraft buying Cadbury, but lesser-known companies are bought and sold all the time. As smaller companies become part of larger holding companies or investment firms, they run the risk of losing their luster, along with their brand equity. In the face of competitive and consolidating markets, protecting brand value is more important now than ever before.

Protecting a brand is how you build long-term value in a business. It goes beyond the tangible assets, the bricks and mortar, of a company to something that translates to so much more. It’s a fact that companies with well-known brands can sell their products at a much higher margin. The greater a brand’s equity, the larger the value at which a company can sell its products. And the greater the value of the brand, the greater the value of the entire company.

Barry LaBov
LABOV Marketing Communications and Training

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

What's the idea?

There’s a lot of idea generation going on in the world today. Some ideas end up changing life as we know it. Others never make it off the ground. The process for coming up with those ideas is widely varied. Alex Osborn popularized the term brainstorming in his 1953 book Applied Imagination. While he established rules to follow during brainstorming sessions, there’s really no one right way to do it. There are hundreds of different idea generation techniques you can use. And sometimes applying several different techniques to a particular challenge can yield the greatest results.

One of the most important elements of a successful brainstorming session is to have fun. There’s nothing more cringe-inducing than a brainstorming session where you could hear a pin drop and the energy level is non-existent. Make up your own brainstorming technique or use one that already exists, but by all means, have fun when you’re doing it. The next great idea is just around the corner. 

Barry LaBov
LABOV Marketing Communications and Training

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Re-igniting the brand signal

Established, respected manufacturers who’ve been around for decades, even centuries, can lose their brand signal. Their uniqueness and everything they do that makes their company and products special can get lost when it’s not consistently leveraged. After all, when you’ve been in business for years and years, shouldn’t everyone already know what makes you special? It’s a risky assumption considering industry newcomers can gobble up market share by more aggressively touting their advanced technologies, the products they’re developing or the streamlined processes they’re using. All the while, they can make long-standing companies look like dinosaurs.

Brand re-engineering can be a powerful tool in re-igniting a company that has lost its brand signal. Customers, employees and stakeholders want to feel confident in a brand’s vision. That means companies must leverage everything they do that makes them special in the marketplace. That un-named process that makes a product far superior to others; that million dollar investment in new technology; that cutting-edge manufacturing method—they all have great potential, if leveraged correctly, to help a long-standing company retain its place at the top of the industry and exponentially increase its success.

Barry LaBov
LABOV Marketing Communications and Training

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Safety inspires success

Simon Sinek, originator of the Golden Circle, postulates that good leadership is about creating an environment where employees feel safe. In this kind of culture, employees can focus on the work that needs to be done, and they’re more likely to work together to achieve it. Conversely, in an environment of danger, employees expend their energies trying to defend themselves. According to Sinek, that in turn weakens an organization. If you’re focused on avoiding the internal dangers of the workplace, you may not even see potential dangers from outside, like your competition taking away market share.

But when safety wins over fear, the tone of a company can significantly change for the better, and the perception of its leadership by others in the company is equally improved. Honesty, altruism, integrity are all characteristics of great leaders. And together they create an environment of safety in which employees and companies thrive.

Barry LaBov
LABOV Marketing Communications and Training

Friday, January 16, 2015

Knowing when to type and when to talk

I have a rule I work (and live) by. If after two emails to someone there is still confusion about a project, a proposal, a creative direction or whatever I might be working on, I either pick up the phone or walk over to the person’s desk and have a conversation. No more emails, no texting…a real, honest to goodness conversation. We’ve all experienced the effect of texting and emailing and the resulting decline in face-to-face conversations. It’s getting pretty quiet out there. But if we want to avoid misunderstandings, miscommunications and outright errors, we can’t lose the value of a conversation.

Should we throw out texting and emailing altogether? Of course not. Technology is a great thing and makes it possible for us to stay connected more than ever. FaceTime, GoToMeeting, Skype have revolutionized the long-distance meeting, allowing us to have virtual face-to-face conversations with clients, coworkers, family, etc. Texting and emailing also have many benefits. But there are times in business, and in life, when technology is a poor substitute for a real conversation. Communication is an essential element to success in business and happiness in life. That’s why it’s so important to know when to type and when to talk.

Barry LaBov
LABOV Marketing Communications and Training

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Change the diapers

When my wife and I had our first child, Laura, I made it a point to change her diapers every chance I could. When I walked into our house every night, she was all mine. My wife didn’t lift a finger. I did the same with my son, Alan, and now most recently, my grandson, Grayson.

I’m a big believer in changing diapers. My daughter’s first smile came when I was changing her. I counsel guys to change their newborn’s diapers. Sure it can be a mess, but you get close with your child and you bond. It is not beneath my dignity to change a diaper; it’s a pleasure.

I feel the same way when it comes to working with clients. There is no job or task beneath me or anyone else. The more we dig in and get the dirty work done, the more we bond with our clients.

Barry LaBov
LABOV Marketing Communications and Training