Category Archives: Innovation

Top Five Brand and Innovation Tips From 2014

Research insights from the faculty of The University of Texas at Austin

Texas EnterpriseI work among brilliant people at the McCombs School of Business. For your benefit and mine, I keep my eyes open and watch for the big ideas that are most useful for brand builders and innovators. Here are five of the best tips gleaned from Texas Enterprise during 2014.

1. Don’t Tell Me About Your Brand, Engage With My Life

Febreze BottleProfessor Art Markman reminds us that communication is only one, and not the most important, factor in engaging consumers with a brand. “We are all lazy creatures,” he writes. “That means that [marketers] need to help customers to arrange their environments in ways that support the continued engagement with a product.” He points to a redesign of the Febreze container, designed to encourage consumers to leave the product out and visible rather than hidden away under the counter. Usage and sales increased.

2. Your Personal Brand is About Relationships, Not Just Connections

In a must-see presentation for professionals, especially those currently looking for a job, Rajiv Garg uses his research on social networks to show that the quality of your professional network will advance your career, not the size. While having hundreds of LinkedIn connections may reward your ego, when it comes to leveraging your network when you need it most, there is nothing that replaces trusted colleagues who know you well and are willing to vouch for your abilities. Garg offers three key suggestions for building your personal professional brand: Identify, Connect and Convert.

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Herb Kelleher’s Classic 14 Ways to Be a Leader

“You must be jazzed by problem solving, the same way that a fireman gets a buzz out of extinguishing fires.”

Herb KelleherOriginally published in McCombs Today.

Despite soaring fuel costs and a glut of domestic airline seats, Southwest Airlines reported its 32nd consecutive annual profit in 2004. At that year’s McCombs BBA commencement, Herb Kelleher, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Southwest Airlines, delivered the keynote remarks in a lecture entitled “Fourteen Ways to Be a Leader.”

Kelleher began by proclaiming the commencement to be a splendid occasion. “Why? Because you are the kind of audience I crave; you have to listen to my thoughts, no matter how dull, how puerile, or even how depraved those thoughts might be,” he said with a grin.

The address that followed was classic Kelleher.

Ten years later, since retired from his leadership role at Southwest, Kelleher remains an astute and beloved commentator on life, business, and the principles of success. As commencement approaches for 2014, we’re pleased to present “Fourteen Ways to Be a Leader, Centennial Edition” with one modification (point No. 4), suggested by Kelleher in retrospect.

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The One Millionth SXSW Guide for 2014

Gentlemen and gentlewomen, start your Prii. 

UT Austin at SXSW

Gosh, is it even possible to get a blogger foot in the SXSW publicity door? The whole thing is like a giant ballroom full of chicken dancers–everyone is having fun but nobody is holding your hand. I honestly don’t know what that analogy means, but here is the One Millionth SXSW Guide for 2014, selfishly featuring friends and alumni of McCombs School of Business.

Friday, March 7

Ubuntu Leadership: Leaders for a Connected Africa

Africa is on the rise, with a projected GDP by 2050 bigger than the U.S. and China combined, and a population that is young and anxious to experience economic and cultural growth. As evidence of that, their cell phone network already kicks our butt, but that’s another story. Enter John Kidenda, who graduated from McCombs with support from the African Leadership Bridge, a program designed to train the next generation of African Leaders. Kidenda will be joined by presenters Frank Aswani, Rick Reeder, and current UT Austin student Takalani Malivha.

Sunday, March 9

Should You Drop Out of School to Start a Company?

Short answer, it worked great for a small handful of people. Good luck! But seriously, Andrew O’Hara dropped out of the Texas MBA program to found Chiron Health, and he wants to tell you about “multiple perspectives surrounding…the value of staying in school for starting a company to dropping out to accelerate a career in entrepreneurship,” along with Cam Houser and Michael Gibson. Does anyone edit these session descriptions?

Big Data & Web Communities: Connect with a Click

Tying online activism to community organizing in order to achieve a better world. Gentlemen and gentlewomen, start your Prii. Luke Kyohere is a recent MSTC grad at McCombs and he just won the Austinpreneur of the Year for 2014, so listen up. He is founder of Beyonic Technologies, which helps businesses in Africa incorporate mobile-based bulk payments into their operations. He is joined by Asha Curran, Larry Irving, and Parker Harris.

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Tips for Entrepreneurs – Focus on Execution Intelligence

“Every time I’m asked to sign a nondisclosure agreement I see a huge red flag pop out that says Warning!”

A Good Hard Kick in the AssRob Adams has likely listened to as many new business ideas as anyone on the  planet, and one of his first tips for entrepreneurs is to never tell a potential investor you’ve got an original idea.

“Wake up,” he says, “Good ideas are not scarce, they are a dime a dozen.” If you don’t believe so, Adams suggests an online search of key words describing your idea. “You’ll find ten companies doing it, or thinking of doing it. You can drive yourself nuts searching for a unique idea, but that is not the point.”

The point, as he describes in his book A Good Hard Kick in the Ass, is execution intelligence, the ability to compose a team that can operationally execute a business plan with sustainability, flexibility and resilience, to dominate rather than define a market space.

Why Investors Hate the Nondisclosure

“Every time I’m asked to sign a nondisclosure agreement I see a huge red flag pop out that says Warning!” Adams asserts. “It screams out, ‘I’m stuck on my idea,’ it means you’ve spent too much energy obsessing about the idea and probably haven’t thought enough about the team, which is what the investor is really interested in. It implies you haven’t given much thought to your customers, or to the market.”

Getting to market first with a new idea doesn’t mean anything in Adams’ experience. “Netscape’s browser was out long before Microsoft Explorer,” he recalls. “Creating a new category does not necessarily spell success, but I can think of plenty of businesses that entered an existing category and proceeded to stomp all those roaches to pieces.”

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Breaking Gridlock and Solving Problems – Lessons from Global Warming

“These strategies open the door to tangible progress, even though it will be slow and messy.”

Dr. David G. VictorEnvironment and energy policy expert Dr. David G. Victor has been on the front lines of global environmental diplomacy for more than twenty years, so your ears perk up when he says, “The effect of all environmental treaties is nearly zero, and it’s time we seriously asked the question, ‘Is climate too hard to solve?'”

If you’ve been involved in breaking gridlock and solving problems you’ll almost certainly empathize with Victor’s frustration. Problems may seem unsolvable, particularly when motivations, authority and resources are not aligned, as in international emissions negotiations.

In the face of such constraints, how can you break the gridlock?

Reframe the Approach, And Your Definition of Success

Victor finds no surprise in the lack of progress made on global emissions. “Progress on climate requires governments to do things governments have a hard time doing,” he acknowledges. “There are high upfront costs with uncertain long-term results; and as industrial growth and emissions evolve across the globe, the natural leaders on climate issues change.”

He suggests a four-point approach for breaking gridlock that can work in any complex organization.

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