High Performance Leadership Podcast: Effective Branding with Mona Amodeo

Randy Lane: Welcome to the podcast. I’m Randy Lane. On today’s episode, we’re talking with idgroup founder and president, Mona Amodeo. She explains why an effective brand is more than an image or a logo. And now, here’s my talk with Mona.

If we could start, could you kind of introduce yourself and tell us about your background?

Mona Amodeo: My name is Mona Amodeo, and I am a brand transformation firm in Pensacola, Florida. I’ve been doing it since about 1989. Prior to that, I was a documentary producer and instructor at the University of West Florida, where I told stories about countries and political situations, and after deciding that perhaps travelling to Panama and places like Cuba and all and with a six-year-old daughter at home, I thought maybe a mother needed to do something a little bit different. So literally with the last paycheck from that venture I started idgroup in 1989, and over time have evolved it into what we are today, which is a brand transformation firm.

Randy Lane: Excellent. I have a similar background. I was a former military journalist, so I did a lot of stories and traveling.

Mona Amodeo: Well we just share a lot in common, don’t we? Doodles and journalism.

Randy Lane: Yes. But I think what you said before, that you’re probably taking to your new – or not new, but this venture, this part of your life, is that stories really matter, that people connect with the stories. Is that right?

Mona Amodeo: Absolutely. I think we are hardwired from the beginning of civilization when we sat around campfires or we tried to record our reality on the cave walls. We’re just hardwired to tell stories, and more importantly to connect around stories, and so I found that when whatever story we were telling through the work at the university, people have a need to tell the story, but they also have a need to be a part of the story, and that is really the basis that I brought to idgroup, maybe not so succinctly stated in 1989, but somehow figured that out along the way.

Randy Lane: Excellent. So idgroup – you’ve kind of hit on it a little bit, but what kind of services do you guys provide?

Mona Amodeo: The work we do at idgroup is really the essence of what is in the book. Over the years, through academic research, experimenting with clients, doing doctoral thesis, doing research, have created something calling branding from the core. And branding from the core, we are trying to reject the traditional perspective that branding is all about sizzle and it’s really about the spin. We believe that branding for organizations begins inside of the company at the core values and beliefs and purposes of that organization, and, to your point, it’s about how do we engage the stakeholders in our organization in shaping that story that ultimately they’ve gotta live? Idgroup purpose is to help organizations shape, share, and live a story that is meaningful, that is authentic, and that goes back to that concept of connection. We’re here on this earth a very short period of time, and so work is a lot of what we do. Giving people a place where they feel a part of something, they’re connecting to something, something that matters, and then reaching – telling that story in a way to the marketplace that brings people in to be a part of the story is what we do. So branding from the core is the basis of the work. It’s the basis of the book. But that’s what we do.

Randy Lane: So when I first think about branding, I’m thinking of an organization that doesn’t have a brand or doesn’t have an identity. Is that what you’re talking about, or do you also work with organizations who already have established look and feel?

Mona Amodeo: Yeah, so let me begin with the definition of branding in the world according to Mona. But branding for us, or a brand, is simply the meaning that people hold in their head when they hear your name. It could be your individual brand. It can be a product brand. It can be an organization brand. We work with all three. And so the question then becomes how do we shape that meaning in a way that is consistent with the intentions of the organization or with the individual or the product? A brand is then meaning. That is, frankly, socially construct. It’s air, but it’s also one of the most valuable assets any company has or owns. From a standpoint of branding is then the intentional process of creating that meaning. When we work with companies – for instance, a product, a brand new product – we have to help them shape that sense of who they are or what they do and why anybody should care, tell that story in a way that is meaningful, and, equally important, deliver. Sometimes brand is thought of as only visual identity, meaning logos and the colors and all of that, and that certainly is a very important part of it, because that symbols – it’s all about symbolism. But at the same time, the brand is not a logo, and a logo is not the brand. It is only part of the bigger story that we help construct, so that people align what their intentions are with what it is they’re trying to connect with the marketplace and to employees.

Randy Lane: When you say brand, it’s kind of like the perception of your company or organization. Is it equally important for it to be understood internally and externally? ‘Cause I typically think of branding as how the outside sees you.

Mona Amodeo: That’s what we talk about a lot. We say the name of the book, Beyond Sizzle. The intention is that that’s what makes people think about. Oh, let’s spin the story. Let’s create the illusions. Let’s connect with everyone. And that’s wonderful. That’s all part of it, but ultimately you’ve gotta deliver, particularly in today’s world where technology rules everything. Social media is king. The days are gone when you could spin the story and not so much worry about the internal pieces of things, but now in today’s world that alignment between who you want people to believe you are and what you deliver, that alignment – we call it – between perception and performance ultimately is what creates trust, and the goal of branding in its biggest and most amazing piece of when it’s done at its best is to create trust, because trust then allows me to come back to you on a regular basis, because I know I’m gonna get the same thing. It’s consistent with what I’m looking for. And trust, also there’s another piece to it, really doesn’t come back to this concept of values. So yes, a long answer, but that alignment between three pieces of what we call the brand ecosystem – the identity of the organization, which has to do with who we believe we are and how we want people to perceive us; image, basically what other people say about you; and the third is your culture. How do you build a performance culture that really is connected with that sense of identity, that sense of purpose, that sense of values, in a way that delivers consistently?

Randy Lane: If I have an organization or I’m in an organization, how do I know that my branding is good or bad?

Mona Amodeo: There’s two things. I can give you the academic sense, right? You have to do research, and research is gonna give you – and that is part of it. I think you have to keep your finger on the pulse. Again, if we think about meaning, if brand equals meaning, then doing perception surveys, paying attention to the customer, asking your employees. Your frontline people know what’s going on. Now, most of the time we just don’t wanna know. We really don’t wanna know. We just assume the solution. Oh, everything’s fine. But that constant feedback loop – talking to the customers, listening to the customers, talking to the employees – it’s so simple, yet it’s something that most of us just kind of try to overcomplicate with – it’s the old saying again – just listen to what people say and ask good questions, and they’ll tell you. There’s no doubt about it. They’ll tell you.

Randy Lane: So if you feel like maybe you don’t have a good brand, what are some of the symptoms of that? In my head, I’m thinking people don’t understand who we are or what we stand for or things like that.

Mona Amodeo: Yeah, I think in the book we talk about this alignment. We call it the Vision Culture Image (VCI) Alignment. Much like individuals, when we see a healthy individual, how an individual seems himself or herself the way that their actions reflect that, and then the way the world sees and responds to them. It’s the same thing with organizations. I was thinking this morning before getting on this call with you. We work a lot with entrepreneurs. We work with companies that has the founding person still at the helm, and you start a company with a dream. You start a company with a vision of what might be. And of course the most successful companies and the most successful brands serve the wants, needs, desires of people in a way that’s different from others. And I think when we set out and started trying to figure out how do we help leaders really bring to fruition, to life, the vision that they started out for? A lot of risk, a lot of time, a lot of everything is involved in starting a company.

And what we found through our research as well as the research from a lot of amazing scholars that I’ve had an opportunity to work with is this. The vision of an organization, where that company wants to go, must be aligned with the culture of the organization, how people live and act – and culture’s another one of those strange terms. Exactly what is culture? But culture has to do with how a company lives its values, how it lives its values. So the culture, and then the image. So when the vision is aligned with the culture and the image – excuse me – the culture and the image of the organization, you get this cohesiveness that allows the company to function in a very – what we call in a virtuous cycle, meaning the closer all that gets together, the stronger the brand. So those are the things that have to be aligned in order to create a really strong brand. So when we are working with companies, that’s the first thing we start with, is we try to analyze the degree of alignment between those three components of the organization. Some of that is research. Some of that is talking to customers. Some of that’s talking to employees, the leadership. The first thing you have to do is establish is there alignment between these three things, and if not, how do we align? Sometimes there’s a really strong alignment between what the organization’s leader wants and how they’re living, but they’re doing a really bad job telling the story. Sometimes they’re telling a story that’s not in alignment at all with what they’re delivering. So any of that misalignment creates dysfunction, just like with people. When you don’t live who you believe you are in a way that is consistent with your actions and with what you’re saying you create dysfunction, and organizations are the same way.

Randy Lane: For you and for your organization, would you rather work with an entrepreneur that’s just starting out and doesn’t really have their clear vision yet, or do you like working with the larger organizations that have their brand set and they’re trying to correct it, maybe?

Mona Amodeo: Both is very interesting work. We’re working with a company right now – like I said, we tend to do more work around organization brands, but we do some product brands too from the ground up, so we work with both. Both have their own challenges. Both have their great opportunities. Some people think it’s easier to start something from the beginning – and it is – and do it right and get everything aligned, ‘cause a lot of leaders don’t really have this view. They see – oftentimes they see our HR department over here, and our marketing people are over here, and our PR people are over here. What we look at is this is a management approach to it, so that we’re looking at this from a standpoint of how do we create strategies that create a brand, that help you win in the marketplace? And that requires all this integration. So yes, it’s easier, sometimes, to start with somebody who’s a blank slate and says, “Help us. We need to do this right,” than it is sometimes to go into an organization and try to change things, but typically when people call us, they’re in such a situation that the pain is such that they’re willing to look at new ways of doing things. And so we enjoy both. Both are challenges, and both are helping people figure it out and helping people figure out how to make a dream, a vision come true.

Randy Lane: So I think our organization’s very similar to yours in that when companies come to us, they say, “We need help. We’re not performing the way we should,” and our first approach is always to assess them and then to help them build their strategy, and one of the biggest pushbacks we often get is that the C-suite leaders thing that the problems are all below them, and they’re not willing to be part of the process, or it’s painful, because they built the company and it’s been done their way, and now we’re looking at a different way of doing things to try and help them. Do you run into that sort of issue at all?

Mona Amodeo: Oh, sure. I think we all know change is not fun, and it’s gotta be somebody else’s fault. That’s just natural. That’s just a human – it’s always the human piece of this. I will say that for us, there is no discussion around this. The people who are the leaders must be engaged in what we do, because we are operating at such a strategic level, that when we – our first step is sitting down with the leaders and getting their perspectives about what they think is going on, as you probably do too. And the other thing that I don’t know if you run into this also, everybody wants a magic bullet, and mainly they want us to be the magic bullet, and we’re not. We always say to people that we very much believe the answers are in the room. That’s one of our mantras that we operate off of. Our job is to ask really good questions, to have a lot of clarity around what’s it look like when we get where we’re going, and then to guide people. It’s much like – I’m a big football fan, and it’s much like the football coach. We can – we know. We’ve been there. We’ve done that. As we say, it’s not our first rodeo. We understand process. The work we do is very researched. Ultimately, the players have to perform, and we can’t fix that.

That’s why I think, going back to our earlier conversation, when we talk about concepts – and I know these terms today are so overused – purpose and values, but think about this. Sometimes I just – I was running this morning, and I thought about how can I explain this? Here’s what we do to organizations. I once had a – I have a mentor, actually one of the people who the book is dedicated to, Mary Jo Hatch, who’s just a phenomenal thinker and early writer around some of the ideas that I work with. But think about this. We take a bunch of people, all from different walks of life. We throw them together in this thing called an organization, we say, “Perform. Go.” When we really think about absurd that is. Think about how absurd that is. So this glue, this collective sense of identity, this collectiveness is so, so important to the success of any organization. So think when you talk about leaders and change and all that kind of thing, what we try to do is just give them to look at things a little bit differently and understand that their greatest role is in helping create that collective sense, that rallying point, that belief that they’re the evangelists, ultimately. And if the evangelist is sitting on the sideline in the tent, because they don’t wanna be a part of what’s going on, it’s not gonna work. It’s just not gonna work.

Yeah, I hear you, and we see it also, but we just, frankly, don’t work with companies that the leader is not – we’re gonna fail. I’m not into failure. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like failing. But we know. We know that the – a central tenant of success and building successful organizations is to have a fully-engaged leader who buys into this idea that we have to work collectively around building this sense of identity, this sense of purpose, connection around values that’s not just talk but is walk, and aligning and really engaging in exciting people, which I think people wanna be. We spend a lot of time at work doing what we do, and I think people want to be a part of something that they think matters, and more importantly they wanna believe they matter. That’s part of what we hopefully help leaders do.

Randy Lane: So kind of connecting with that, once you have the top leadership on board and you have to filter down your branding message, who you are to the lower-level people, how do you equip the people you work with to do that?

Mona Amodeo: So we do it a little bit differently. We have a process called branding from the core, like I shared with you earlier. This begins with the belief that you have to get the people in the room who are part of the company. So we do these – after getting clear, again, we do what’s called leadership – we call leadership dialogues, which is really spending a lot of time with the leaders, getting to the core of what they believe and why they exist and what they’re wanting to do, and, again, what does it look like when we get there? And once we do that, we do organization dialogues, where we bring the entire organization together, either in one room or through a series of sessions, where we really engage them and their perspectives about the core brand of the organization, meaning what do we believe in? Why are we here? What do we do better than anyone else? In the branding world, we call it a platform.

But more importantly, that process is about helping the organization construct what we call an identity narrative, and that differs from a brand story, and I’ll explain that in just a moment, ‘cause brand story is something a lot of people use, but we being with something called an identity narrative. And through those series of dialogues, which is based on a process called appreciative inquiry that was developed by David Cooperrider and colleagues out of Case Western University and something I’ve used for 15 years. And so the process of appreciate inquiry is about understand the storylines – and you’ll appreciate this as a journalist – the storylines of the organization. And then by bringing those people together and gathering that information, we then listen and collect and analyze, synthesize through basically qualitative research methods the storylines that we hear, and from there we write a narrative, and it actually is a story or a narrative about the organization. And what that reflects is how the organization sees itself and what they want the world to believe about them. So in nature, that is naturally two things. It is what is and what can be. So that narrative is about yes, this is who we are and what we believe, but equally important this is where we wanna go. So the answer to your question is we don’t push it back. We push it up. We go in to the organization itself.

The importance of a dialogue, an organization dialogue is to engage the stakeholders, the people who have to live the story and actually creating the story, and then, from that story, we do two things. We translate it through what you would consider the traditional brand marketing, the videos, the print, the whatever else is needed to communicate it to the marketplace. But the other part of it that we work with is in helping the organization say, “Well if this is who you say you are, how are you going to create those experiences for the people who interact with your organization, the customer experience?” So again, going back to what I was saying earlier, it is that bringing those stakeholders together, shaping that identity narrative, and then translating that into a way that connects with the marketplace and then gives that guidance now to the internal team of, “Okay, how are we gonna translate this through every customer touch point so that we live who we say we are?” thus creating that trust that we talked about earlier that’s so important.

Randy Lane: I’d like to talk a little bit about the book, because I like the idea of a lot of times we’re working with organizations that are struggling, but there’s the other side of things where maybe a company’s very successful, but they’re a flash in a pan. They’re here today, gone tomorrow. I’m assuming, based on the title and my limited information, that that’s kind of what the book is about.

Mona Amodeo: Well the book is about – it’s called Beyond Sizzle. When we created branding from the core, we really struggled with the word “branding,” because people thought about branding as being the logo, or it was about the pretty stuff, never really got to the deeper aspects of what a brand truly is. And so the “beyond sizzle” part of this speaks more to the idea that a brand and the process of branding can be much more about engaging stakeholders around meaning and purpose and really building a culture that is consistent with, again, that vision of the organization, and equally important, “beyond sizzle” is about creating trust, not about an ad, not about an initiative, but truly about a strategy for creating trust through building consistent meaning with the marketplace. So it’s not so much a flash in the pan about a company. It’s about a flash in the pan, if you will – I hadn’t thought about it this way, but I’ll go with it.

Randy Lane: I saw the pan, so I thought about it.

Mona Amodeo: It’s about – I may borrow it from you. It’s about a flash in the pan from a standpoint of building meaning long-term, ‘cause ultimately we believe branding is a process, a vehicle for building reputation. And of course we know that is the most valuable asset any organization can have. So perhaps taking your metaphor of a flash in a pan concept, where people trying to do advertising campaigns or marketing initiatives or the latest, greatest program internally to “engage people,” all of those things are pretty much flash in the pans. When you look at the idea of a flash in the pan, when people attempt to try to own a position in the market through inconsistent one-offs, temporary flashiness, that’s really not gonna do what you want to do in the long-term. So again, the concept of Beyond Sizzle is looking at a longer-term strategy, very much tied to business-planning and your intention of what you’re trying to achieve that is a very cohesive and integrated approach that says let’s bring the whole organization together around this intention to be this, and let’s be sure we tell a great story and live a great story. Simple? Yes. Complicated? Yes. A fast fix? No. But it works.

Randy Lane: Yeah, I think about when you’re coming up with these like, “Oh, we need more customers. We need more people. We need more revenue,” you’re thinking it from short-term, but if you think about, “How do I build a relationship with somebody so they’ll keep coming back time after time or even tell their friends so that this business keeps growing through the trust that I’ve instilled with the person who’s buying from me?”

Mona Amodeo: One of the things we talk about in the book – I’ve just shared with you the idea of this narrative, this brand narrative, and again, that’s the intention we have. Do you know how you always hear people say, “We can get everybody on the same page?” Well you can’t get everybody on the same page, ‘cause you’ve never given them the opportunity to get on the same page, to really invest in that. So I think that when you look at this idea of building reputation, if we both accept that the process of branding, building meaning that matters to people – that’s what branding is. And then if we do that consistently over time, we build a reputation that should align with that vision of how we want our organization to be perceived. So from a process standpoint, the branding from the core – what’s that we call the story, the narrative, the sizzle, if you will, getting you dressed up and looking really good, making sure how you look is consistent with your internal self, and then you gotta go get a date. So the idea of the first part of our branding process is that getting your look dressed up and making sure, again, what’s inside and what’s outside is consistent and cohesive.

So now we’ve gotta go build a business. We gotta go build businesses. So we work from a perspective of something that we call the brand continuum, and the first part of that brand continuum – and many people call it different things, but you’ve got a first great awareness, interest and action. That’s what a lot of the external marketing does and the investment people make in that. But where people just – it’s very interesting how much money people will spend on getting customers to the door, and then just assume that the customer experience is gonna be – so the amount of time and energy and effort really creating that satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy, which you were talking about, it’s how that all fits together that is the best return on investment that you can make. I always say to people, “If all you wanna do is go out here, spend money on fancy advertising,” – which we’re very good at it, I do agree. We’re award-winning. I’ve got some of the best creative people in the country. We’re very good at that. But there is no amount of money, no amount of creativity that we can do and spend that will, in the end, result in – what you’re really looking for are those advocates, and that can only be created when yes, you get them to the door. You create those expectations, but then you gotta deliver.

That’s why it’s so important when we start talking about the narrative, engaging stakeholders from the very beginning. It’s so important that they are part and feel a part of the company and what it’s going to deliver and what it stands for and why it exists. The only statement – again, I have lots of Mona-isms, one of which is people will defend and protect that which they help create. Well that narrative is what they’re helping create. Now we challenge them to create customer experiences that align with that narrative, and that’s hard. It’s hard. Everybody looks at me and says, “Well, yeah, okay.” I say, “No, no. This is hard.” If it were easy, everybody would be successful at it, but as you know, the degree of really satisfaction and beyond satisfaction, that’s kind of the basics. Really loyalty, advocacy is something difficult to achieve, but you can’t do it if you don’t get your team on the field.

Randy Lane: I think it’s one of the most educational experiences, and something we do a lot is we sit down with the top leadership team, and we say, “What is the vision and strategy of your company?” and we have them all answer individually, and invariably somebody goes, “Well, none of these match up at all,” and we go, “You know what? That’s a great starting place. Let’s all get on the same page.”

Mona Amodeo: And then imagine, as you know, you get the leaders in the room to do that, and if they’re not on the same page, moving in the same direction, and they’re doing this, how can people in the organization? The other thing leaders, in my opinion, don’t do enough of and that we find so powerful in the dialogue session, there’s not enough celebration in organizations around what people are doing well and what they’re doing right, and then there’s not enough listening. I’m always amazed when I’m listening to or we’re in these dialogue sessions and employees are talking about, “Well, if we did this and did that,” and these leaders are going, “Why didn’t they tell us?” Because you’ve never asked.

Randy Lane: Yep. That’s true.

Mona Amodeo: Yeah, and also that the importance that I just wanna reinforce, ‘cause it’s kind of foundational to my belief system and how do you build these very powerful, high-performing organizations is it’s very important to understand that we can spend a whole lot of time in the old SWAT analysis. What’s our strengths, sure, but what’s our weaknesses and what’s our threats? And so we get in this negative cycle of what’s not working, and that takes energy away from what is working. So branding from the core builds on the concept of what are we the best at? What are we doing really well? And building on that, how can we create that next level of possibility? And what that does is when you engage as organization around those kinds of questions, it elevates the energy. It elevates the potential we see, innovative ideas, because people aren’t now saying what’s now working, because that’s gotta be somebody’s fault and no one really wants to talk about that. But if we shift the questioning around a little bit, and we say, “When we’re at our best, what does it look like? What are we most proud of? And if we were everything we wanted to be, what would it look like?” Those are different questions that I believe builds into the vitality and the health of organizations, and we need that in our world today. We need hope. We need a sense of purpose. We need a sense that we’re a part of something, our voice is a part of something, and we can do something really cool together. So that’s an important piece, I think, of the book and just my basic philosophy about building great organizations.

Randy Lane: Well I want everyone to read the book, and ideally I’d like them to work with you, but if there’s an entrepreneur or a leader out there who’s going, “Okay, all of these bad things sound like me,” what are some quick takeaways you could have them start working on the process before they get their hands on the book or before they start working with you?

Mona Amodeo: Yeah, well thank you for that. Yeah, the book was written just very quickly. It’s really two parts. One is a bit philosophical and a little bit academic on the first part, really building the case for why now is the time to create new levels of engagement with stakeholders around purpose, values, et cetera. The second part I call a playbook, so it really is somewhat of a how-to, if you will, for branding from the core. I think what’s really – it’s really difficult for me to say what can someone do. Read the book. Read the book, because I do think it will shift a – it’s intended to be a paradigm shift. It’s intended to be a different way of thinking about branding than perhaps you’ve ever thought of it before, because it really is intended to help leaders figure out how to construct and manage an organization strategically in a way that positions them in the marketplace as unique, as different, and as authentic. Equally important, it’s the power of the people within your walls to help leaders do that. It is – it’s such a hard question for me to answer, because one of the things I’m up against and have been up against for a long time – really one of the reasons I wrote the book was like, let me just write this down, so I can explain that branding isn’t what the branding of your momma and daddy or your grandparents or the way it used to be. Branding has a tremendous power to connect people, to engage people, to build a tribe, if you will, around what it is you do and why you’re doing it.

I have a quote in the book, “If you wanna go fast, go it alone. If you wanna succeed in the long-term, travel together.” Oftentimes leaders get very – they get in their world, and they don’t – afraid – I don’t know what the word might be – to open up and to say, “Hey, I need help. I need to understand this. I want you to help me.” There’s nothing more powerful from a leader than to sit down with their people and say, “What do you think? I’m struggling with this.” That openness to those kinds of conversations. It’s funny. When I do dialogue sessions, one of the pushbacks I often get – now you have to understand, I’m asking for everyone in the organization to participate, and I’m asking for a full day, so my ask is big.

Randy Lane: That’s a lot of revenue loss.

Mona Amodeo: Huh?

Randy Lane: That’s a lot of revenue loss for the day. If you’re the leader, you’re looking at it-

Mona Amodeo: No, it’s not revenue loss. It’s revenue gain. It’s long-term gain.

Randy Lane: Yes, of course.

Mona Amodeo: But the thing that we get pushback a lot on is, “Oh my gosh. You’re gonna put the CEO in the room with the secretary?” and this and what if this and what if that. There’s such fear. Think about it. There is just such fear around dropping the curtains and the roles and really engaging people who ultimately decide and define the success of your organization, and that’s the people inside your organization. And how could – could you imagine a football coach just kind of leaving the team on the sidelines and trying to win a football game? That’s not gonna happen. You gotta get the team on the field. They’ve gotta buy into the plan. They’ve gotta be a part of the plan. They’ve gotta bring their best talents. They’ve gotta believe in what you’re gonna do. And together, there’s a lot of things that can happen. I don’t know if you see it. I don’t know what you’re seeing in the world, but working at such speed and such complexity that people try to still manage the pieces and parts, when really those days are over. I think where the power is gonna come and where it does come are in those organizations that engage when there’s clarity around why we’re here, and let people go. Let them make things happen. And that takes a whole lot of stress off of those leaders. So I’ve probably gone around and around and around and not answered your question very well around what can people do. Maybe it’s just simply have great conversations. Talk to people. Ask them what they think, and listen deeply. Listen deeply, because the answers are in the room, and I do believe that the more you engage people in those solutions and helping you figure things out, the greater potential there will be for success.

Randy Lane: Our founder always has great analogies that he comes up with. His most recent favorite one is think about an Olympic swimming pool. It has lanes, and it keeps things separate so people have their different roles and responsibilities, but the water doesn’t stop at each lane. It’s all connected, and the same water is in the same pool.

Mona Amodeo: That’s a really good – that’s a very, very good analogy, and I think you’re probably, based on that, seeing the same thing that I see, is that we have very old models of organizations and as many books. How many books could we stack up that have been written about this idea that the silos need to disappear, things need to be looked at different? We are still, I think, classically trained, and it’s hardwired that this is how organizations are supposed to be, and that’s exactly what I’m trying to do with branding. I’m trying to say, “Look, this is not about a marketing effort. This is not about a logo. This is really about how do you build meaning around your organization, and how do you engage everyone in the organization to do that so the silos go away and you see much more of a matrix of intention and clarity to try to position and to deliver a level of authenticity that’s so important?”

Randy Lane: It’s also similar to – sitting in front of me here is a round table, and if I were to get people to move it, we all would be on our side, and some people may be stronger than others, but if you’re too strong and others are too weak, the table tips. Everyone needs to be balanced, and if somebody’s not helping at all, it becomes pretty apparently, because the strain and the load goes to other people. So really being on the same page, lifting the table, and seeing the result as we get the table from A to B, not who lifts the best or who’s not lifting or who is lifting. It’s about getting it over there together as a team.

Mona Amodeo: And the preface to all of that is what we’ve been talking about this whole time, and you gotta understand that you gotta move the table and where it’s gotta go, and you just can’t go, “Okay, lift.” Ahead of time, “Here’s what we’re trying to do. Here’s how we’re gonna do things together.” Yeah, so isn’t it interesting though? Are we saying anything that hasn’t been said?

Randy Lane: Oh, no.

Mona Amodeo: It’s the biggest mystery. I always say there’s not a question out there that you have that someone hasn’t answered it many, many times. I was very hesitant to even write the book. I said, “Oh my goodness. Do I need to write one more thing?” But it is different in that I am looking at branding a little bit differently, and I’m trying to shift a paradigm around that, but to your point, how long have you guys been in business?

Randy Lane: Almost 20 years.

Mona Amodeo: Yeah. So like us, a long time, and we’re all grappling with basically how we help leaders figure things out and engage people, but in so many ways it’s so simple.

Randy Lane: Oh, it’s very simple.

Mona Amodeo: It is so simple, yet we just keep stumbling over ourselves.

Randy Lane: Well another great analogy is that how many books are there written about dieting and losing weight, but really it’s about fewer calories in and more calories out through exercise. That’s all you need to do to know that, and leadership’s the same way. You just need to have a clear vision. You need to have people around you that clearly understand it. You need to communicate that, and you need to build your team through effective communication and trust, and if you do that, you’ll have a successful company.

Mona Amodeo: You’ll have success, but to your point, the idea of exercise and diet, all the things you talk about, and there’s every angle could have ever been written I think has been written about dieting and exercise, but you know what the deal is. You’ve gotta execute. You’ve gotta get up every day, and no matter how many books you read, no matter how many lectures you go to, no matter how many times you meditate, ultimately you gotta execute, and again, that’s why in the book we try to divide this, because my natural self is more philosophical in nature. I like to just – but there is the section in the book that is, again, the playbook that’s intended to focus on execution. How do we do this? What are some of the things we need to do? Because again, there’s the latest and greatest for the last several years has been about the why of business, the purpose of business, and those are all great. I’m a believer, a very big believer in that, but how do you do that? And I believe branding from the core offers a unique, different way to do that and to look at that through the lens of branding, which ultimately is about, again, that reputation piece that I think is crucial, increasingly crucial today in a world of skepticism, where people don’t exactly believe everything that comes out of corporate America or even small businesses. So how do we ever calm that skepticism? How do we overcome that sense of us against them? And I think we do it with being real, doing the right thing, being good corporate citizens and delivering great products and services and treating people right. Gosh, I wish it were more complicated than that, but it’s not.

Randy Lane: Well if people find this book, where should they go?

Mona Amodeo: It is on Amazon right now and my website, MonaAmodeo.com. You can go there and sign up – I call it – to be a part of the tribe. Join us as we try to figure this out together. Like I often tell people, I’m not sure I have all the answers, but I’m really curious about how we figure this out. I think I have some answers. You have some answers. Maybe together we’ll end up building a little bit better world than what we have right now.

Randy Lane: We’re always smarter together. Well thank you so much for your time, and I appreciate it, and I hope to have you back if you have more books or other topics to talk about.

Mona Amodeo: You’ve been great. It’s been fun. I look forward to staying in contact with you.

Randy Lane: Thanks for listing to the High Performance LeadershipPodcast. Be sure to subscribe, rate, and review us. Every little bit helps. Our website is HPLeadershipPodcast.com. Like us on Facebook at Facebook.com/HPLeadershipPodcast. Follow us on Twitter at @HPL_Podcast, and shoot us an email at podcast@360solutions.com. Until next time, thanks for listening.

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