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Volume #79 - September 2012

Adios, August; hello to the possible end of summer?  Maybe?  The heat has been very manageable this year compared to the thermonuclear summer of 2011.  Here is a quick look at a few of my August projects:

  • I spent a fantastic week in Buffalo, yes Buffalo, teaching interpersonal communications as part of one of my new client’s long term commitment to team training.  This is a strategic investment in the skills that will build a strong, dynamic, and unique client experience.  The next phase will take me to Boston in September.
  • I jumped on a plane and headed out to Chicago to teach The Architecture of Presentation.  This program is about the transformation of content into a compelling visual message.  I worked with both marketing and sales management to show them how any idea, data, content can be turned into something that makes people say, “Wow!”
  • Two of my clients have made a strong push towards analyzing their current client experience, then looking for a new design to help them leverage their stories.  This idea, that the client experience is paramount to market position and growth, is driving sales growth.  A simple, powerful, and elegantly delivered story that carries a sense of continuity throughout the organization is a product worthy of resource allocation!
  • I continue to constantly update content in my active strategy platforms incorporating new ideas and content into Dazzling Blue, Elegant Simplicity, and Repeatable Successful Acts.
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Yes, it’s finally happened, the new web site is up and running!  We still have a few kinks to work out, but damn it, it was time to LAUNCH!

Knowledge has to be improved, challenged, and increased constantly, or it vanishes.

[Peter Drucker]

I am constantly amazed at the number of people who don’t know what’s going on!  They and their companies tread water in the past.  They embrace the way they have always done it like a life preserver.  Now don’t get me wrong.  Tradition and success can only be found in yesterday, and they deserve strategic awareness and leverage, but the single factor of the frenetic pace of change should create a significant look forward. Ever notice that most time travel movies involve going backward rather than forward in the time stream?  Why?  The past exists, while the future is an endless stream of possibility.


There is a relentless acceleration of everything, including new ideas.  Over two million new patents were filed in 2010, and that number continues to increase.  Growth is fickle, and consumers and clients engage and abandon products and services at a terrifying pace.  If you think about it, your head might explode (or at least ache)!  In a market where the photo-sharing application Instagram can generate over ten million users in under a year and Taco Bell can sell 100 million Doritos Tacos in 10 weeks (making it the fastest growing product launch EVER) the transactional world passed insane a long time ago.

I am involved in one of my most interesting projects in recent memory (the past also generates retained memories).  One of my clients is setting up a new division, yep, actually adding a new group of people, whose sole purpose is to be the wellspring of new ideas and strategies.  This “strategy and awareness group” will be charged with keeping their hands and brains on the heartbeat of their industry.  They are not limited to only a singular industry view but also a greater market and global perspective of what’s going on.  The goal?  To leverage new ideas as a true and dedicated strategy to improve their business and total client experience!


The Strategy and Awareness Group is in its infancy, but already they have taken a laser-like focus to the impact of client experience on market share and growth.  The idea of creating elements of exclusivity in their client experience as a method of relationship development is gaining strategic significance as their voice is being heard within the power structure of the company.  Here is an example of how they looked outside their industry to develop ideas:

They began to look at the impact of transparency, the idea that literally EVERYTHING is read or reviewed somewhere on line and how the impact of those reviews affects market share.  They started with the review service YELP, the on-line search and user review web site and mobile application.  This creative meandering led them to discover the impact YELP has on restaurants, despite the fact that their own company is not in the  food and beverage business.  They found a Harvard Business School study that showed a small movement in the rating of a restaurant on YELP, especially in customer service, results in a 5-9% increase in sales.  They took this information and created a strategy around building relationship retention through a strategic push in client testimonials.  I’m not sure the idea will gain internal traction, but it’s a great example of what can result from a commitment to casting a wide net when looking for ideas.


Can’t form an entire division?  No worries, here are some smaller ways to pursue an ever-expanding universe of ideas:


  • The JAM:  This is a regularly scheduled meeting where you spend an hour a week looking for new ways to apply ideas to your growth and client experience strategies.  Just one hour a week!  To make the JAM work, you need a small strategy that gives simple assignments to those involved.  One of the recent JAM meetings I facilitated for a client had two people give a small report from the ideas that excited them in recent issues of Fast Company and Wired magazines.  The next meeting centers on thought leaders that post on Twitter.  JAM meetings are simple and effective in discovering NEW STUFF!
  • TED Meetings:  One of my clients assigns teams to watch new idea videos from , one of the richest web sites for creative thinking!


The notion that there is value in expanding your knowledge base is fundamental to a madly spinning business community.  The only issue is WHAT WILL YOU DO to remove yourself from the “I don’t know anything” world!

Neil Armstrong

A REAL HERO:  Astronaut Neil Armstrong passed away on August 25, 2012, though he will be remembered for July 20, 1969, when this self-proclaimed “engineering nerd” made the impossible possible when he stepped onto the moon with the aspirations of our entire planet on his shoulders.  The crew of Apollo 11 made us believe “with enough drive and ingenuity, anything is possible.”  One of my favorite stories of this historical event that was watched by over a fifth of the world’s population was when Armstrong quietly placed a patch on the moon’s surface honoring US and Soviet space explorers who had died in the line of duty.  More than half the world’s population wasn’t alive when the Eagle landed and Armstrong and Buzz Aldren placed the plaque that read, Here men from the planet Earth set foot upon the moon.  July 1969 A.D.  We came in peace for all of mankind, yet the event is still one of the most powerful in human history.  The moon will miss its first son of earth.

NBC Olympics 2012

SWIFTER, HIGHER, STRONGER:  Now that I am in my second straight week of trying to get caught up on business due to my compulsive Olympics watching marathon, I thought you might find a few facts interesting.  Despite all the moaning and groaning about NBC’s delayed programming, nightly prime time coverage viewership was higher than any other non-US-based Olympics, with over 30 million viewers a night. Now, add 2 billion internet online page views and a streaming video audience of 15 million and you start to get the picture. The Neilson Ratings (yep, they are still around, though I don’t think they use that black box anymore) said that the 17 day London Olympics was the most viewed event in history.  Smart folks at NBC knew this captive audience was the perfect tool to leverage and promote their new shows, and they expect significant bumps in first time viewership this fall.

World in Hand

SMALLER WORLD:  With the economy still plugging along at a snail’s pace with daily ups and downs, opportunities abound for businesses and markets to shrink through acquisitions or other means.  The car rental market just shrank with the Hertz multi-billion dollar purchase of Dollar/Thrifty.  This can mean less choice or greater price leverage depending on your market and Hertz’s use of the more discounted pricing of Dollar/Thrifty.  The huge Apple Computer patent victory over Samsung will impact the cell phone market by shrinking the choices of smart phones if Samsung not only has to pay Apple a billion bucks but also has to remove some of their smart phones and tablets from the market.  Google is also hit in the pocketbook since their Android system is the operating platform for the Samsung product line.  Merger and acquisition activity continue to rise despite the recent KPMG study showing 83% of all mergers and acquisitions (M&A’s) failed to produce any benefit for the shareholders, and over half actually destroyed value.

Interested in these ideas?


You can contact Steve at or give him a call at 972-490-7717.
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Steve Harvill • Office: (972) 490-7717 • Cell: (972) 345-9480 • Fax: (972) 386-9569
15615 Regal Hill Circle • Dallas, TX 75248