Opinions And Ramblings By Adam Kmiec On All Things

5 Things I’m Pondering Right Now

Changing Landscape

1 – A Changing Mobile Landscape

Wow. The pace of change in the mobile landscape is staggering. Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s mobile handset business was inevitable. Blackberry being purchased by private equity was less inevitable. I think many though Blackberry might be purchased by someone like Samsung or Apple. The private equity move is a bit of a head-scratcher. That’s some serious change. Add in Apple’s launch of the iPhone 5S and 5C, both with the added security feature of finger print verification. Frankly, this security measure was long overdue and it was only going to be implemented well by Apple. We’re on the cusp of some serious changes, but I’m not sure these changes will end up being great for consumers. Why do I say that? Well, as the mobile world shrinks, will we see a slow down in innovation? Google is being less open with Android. Samsung wants to create their own OS. Microsoft has never really been good with leveraging an asset they purchased (see Skype as an example). There’s just a lot going on. While this might not be good for the consumer from an innovation standpoint, this could be great for the market at large. Less players, less devices, less fragmentation should create better standardization and hopefully start accelerating the road map for mobile marketing and advertising.

2 – Career Advice?

Yesterday, I came across this post titled, “Career Advice to My Daughters.” With a title like that, you knew it was going to get a lot of play. It was shared several times in my Facebook and LinkedIn feeds. Friends, called it “thoughtful”, “poignant”, “important” and a “must read.” I disagree with all of those words, except “must read.” I have a daughter, Cora. She’s 6. I became more and more irritated as I made my way through the author’s post. A great friend of mine, captured my feelings better than even I could. She said, “Wow. So, that guy’s advice is to basically NOT have a career? I’m baffled.” Another friend, this one a guy, said, “This is the same type of garbage that drives me nuts about younger employees. They’re “owed” great jobs. Companies do not owe you a job. They certainly don’t owe you a great job or career. It is a financial transaction. Provide value and be compensated. Be awesome and you’ll get the better jobs. On the plus side, if Cora and his kid were in a pool, Cora finishes in the top 50%.” I couldn’t agree more. While, I don’t need, nor expect my kids (both of them) to become CEOs, I do expect them to have an understanding of how the world works and that those who like ambition, drive and a clear sense of direction, struggle.

So Hard To Keep Up

3 – It’s Tough To Stay Digitally Fit…Even For Digital People

Keeping up in digital is challenging. I read. I read more. I try. I try more. I joined Snapchat. I hate Snapchat. I keep trying Snapchat. In a very sobering study from Adobe (PDF), it was revealed that less than half of DIGITAL marketers feel they are highly proficient at digital marketing. On some level, this isn’t surprising. For years, we haven’t invested in making digital important…certainly not important enough to invest in making our digital talent better through formal training-like programs. When we talk about building the digital capability and increasing our level of digital fitness at The Campbell Soup Co., we don’t focus on non-“digital” talent. Everyone needs to get more fit. Even those that are considered the most knowledgeable about digital, can always be smarter, better and more fit. When I read a report like this I feel even better knowing my kids are embracing digital and technology at such a young age.

Real Time

4 – Real Time “Marketing” Fatigue?

I watched, as many marketers did, the “real time marketing” efforts by brands during the Emmy’s. Most brands seemed to sit it out; and I happen to think that’s a good thing that reflects a return back to basic marketing fundamentals. Now, it’s possible, many brands sat out the Emmy’s because the Emmy’s aren’t as big as the Oscar’s. However, I tend to think it’s because marketers are realizing that real time marketing is a fad. Yes, I said a fad. Let me be clear when I say a fad, it’s the idea that an Oreo Super Bowl moment is repeatable every day. What isn’t a fad, isn’t being prepared, actively listening and striking at the right moment with an authentic on brand message that your audience actually wants to hear. What we saw with this most recent Oscar’s, were brands forcing the conversation. They were trying hard to replicate a moment. The problem is, you can’t force a moment. Moments happen, what you need to do is be ready to take advantage of the moment. Now, of course, leaders in the space, took umbrage with people calling them out for forcing a conversation and ultimately delivering off brand and mediocre creative experiences. They would have you believe that “no one” has this figured out and this is part of the evolution of real time marketing and it’s about innovation and test and learn. I’m not buying that. At Campbell, we often talk about how social is 99% preparation and 1% execution. If you spend your time preparing, you’ll almost always be able to take advantage of that 1% moment. If we want social to be better than robo-calls, infomercials and overly aggressive mass market direct mail, we need to focus on the preparation, not on trying to make execution the 99%. Our new soup campaign features a character called called, The Wisest Kid. You won’t find any tweets from him during the Emmy’s. There were certainly some great oppotunities, but we passed on them. Why? Because, we’re staying true to the campaign and our audience…the Emmy’s started after The Wisest Kid’s bed time. To have tweeted during the Emmy’s, with the hopes of catching lightening in the bottle, would have meant we were prioritizing short term gains and the expense of long term growth. Know your brand. Know your audience. Connect with them in a natural way.


5 – Does Your Digital Org Road Map Include Blowing It All Up?

Digital moves quick. Every day it seems like there’s something new to keep up on. When you’re building a digital organization or looking to transform an organization into a more digitally fit one, you have to have a plan. I know that sounds basic. I realize you’re thinking, well gosh Adam, tell me something I don’t know. Ok, now, think for a second; do you have a real 5 year road map for where you’re taking the organization? Does it have vision and strategy? Does it include how you’ll evaluate your progress? For some of you the answer is yes. That’s great. Now, let me ask you, does your plan include and account for blowing up your entire model at some point? I didn’t think so. Why is this important? Part of it is as simple as the old adage, what got you here, won’t get your there. The other part though is that the skills, staffing dynamics, focus, priorities, partners and economic environments change often. While your vision and strategy should be consistent, the road map to get to bright will need to evolve and ultimately, at some point, you’ll need to blow it up if you want to be successful 5 years out from the end of your 5 year road map. We’re 15 months into our journey to be the most digitally fit CPG in the world. It’s a marathon. But, a marathon that we need to run at a sprinter’s pace. The more I think about things though, it might be less marathon and more like a Spartan Challenge style race.  In Spartan Challenges, you need to adapt and adapt quickly and often. You have fire, mud, hills and other obstacles. Those obstacles force you to reassess your path quickly. You need to be nimble, but not sloppy, as you keep your eye on the end goal.

  • Hi Adam,

    I’m really disappointed you didn’t like my post, but that’s okay. Some of my best friends started off as detractors of this or that blog post or point I gave in a keynote or workshop, so… no worries. I relish a spirited, if thoughtful, disagreement: that’s where I learn best.

    My website, Switch and Shift, has a theme: “The Human Side of Business.” That theme is a huge hat-tip to Douglas McGregor’s “The Human Side of Enterprise” (1960), which introduced his Theory X and Theory Y as two opposing world-views of leaders: that most employees are lazy and untrustworthy and needed to be coerced to perform at work, or that most employees are self-motivated and honest and just need to be allowed to do their best. Our entire take on this – and my career and books – buy the second view, McGregor’s Theory Y.

    As for my advice in that post: far from telling people not to have careers (I think your friend misread my post), we at S&S help show business leaders that when they treat their employees and customers with respect, their companies are much more profitable. Adam Smith dubbed this “enlightened self-interest.” I’m not one iota as smart as either McGregor or Smith, but I’ll learn from them every chance I get. I make it a habit to find companies that prove these values are practical and evidence-based, and I also spend a lot of time trying to find successful companies that treat their people terribly yet still thrive, just to make sure that I’m not blowing smoke with my notions of a better, more profitable company. I do find those companies – unfortunately, there are still plenty of them out there – but I’ll save that for another day.

    Your friend made some funny, snarky comments. The truth is a little different, though. I’m one of the most competitive people out there (ironically, a fairly-successful Division I swimmer a long time ago; my daughters are awesome swimmers, too). I don’t have to motivate my girls to win at everything, because they seem to have picked that up through osmosis. As for my post, my advice is far from “don’t build a career.” Instead, I urge people to invest their single most important commodity – their brain power – in something that is worth investing in. That is not a soul-quashing, command-and-control, bureaucratic culture.

    If you’re going to work, as most of us must, you may as well derive more than just dollars in exchange for your time, as your friend suggests. His own employment situation sounds depressing to me. Life is so much more than a financial transaction! It can – and I strenuously argue should! – include a very-high-paying, deeply meaningful/inspiring, challenging work environment.

    Last thing: May I have your permission to copy and paste the part of your post pertaining to mine, so I can stick it in our comments? I think it would really help round-out the conversation at Switch and Shift. The last thing we ever want to be is an echo chamber!

  • Thanks for the response. We come from different philosophies. That’s ok. I feel good about the feedback, direction and advice I’m giving to my kids: http://www.thekmiecs.com/cora/some-thoughts-on-being-a-parent/ – If you feel good about your approach, more power to you.

  • Adam, my understanding is that Campbell’s is a great place to work – Douglas Conant is a role model for us at Switch and Shift, and I believe he may be scheduled to be a guest soon (I don’t keep the schedule). It seems like you work for a Theory Y type of place. Is it just the pay, like your friend, or are you also proud of your company and engaged in the work you do?

    I guess if I can be more succinct than I was above, my question for your friend is: for the same pay, would you choose to work for a company you love or a company that you didn’t love, if both were hiring in your city? That’s the warning I give to boards and CEOs. If your employees aren’t in love with your company, someone is going to steal them away – the most talented ones first. You’ll be stuck with the leftovers, which will just speed your decline.

    Okay, off your blog and back to mine. Thanks for bearing with me.