Monday, May 23, 2016

Credibility Versus Visibility

A close friend was recently talking with me about where her daughter was considering attending college. She had before talked about her daughter attending Wake Forrest or Duke and a few other schools highly accredited for their academics. Her daughter now, was looking at a more local school that had, over the past few years, become such a huge in presence that to many locals it felt as if the school had become a big monster that had swallowed up the once smaller, more quant town. The downside was you couldn’t visit anywhere from a car wash, to a bank, to a taco stand that wasn’t recognizing the students and their patronage, you couldn't get away from the school mascot or colors, and the shininess of the predominant gigantism of the school made everything around it feel old, grubby and small. The good side, is that it had given the town a ton of exposure and therefore put it on the map.

A few years ago, I was involved in a community program that had you learn everything about your town. It was wonderful and something that really stuck with me. I remember studying and visiting the school. I was at first wow’d by how beautiful it was. The young energetic staff. The brand. I quickly was bothered by being wow’d by the brand instead of by the quality of education so I started asking about the academic part. That wasn’t nearly as focused on, or talked about, as the size of the dorm rooms, the on-campus eateries, the free car washes on Saturday. Oh there went the wow. Isn’t school, education about credibility and not visibility? Back to my conversation with my close friend, I was reminded of my impression of the school those years ago and started to ask her about the schools this and that in regard to academics. My friend pointed out how large the school was, how they’d been awarded this and that. I asked her again about the quality of their academics. She wasn’t so sure. The visibility had overshadowed the institution’s credibility.

I’ve thought of that a lot since then. Our business CCS is small. It’s not nearly as visible as it should and needs to be and that’s something we’re continuously working on. I’m not proud of where we are in regard to visibility. What I am proud of though instead is our credibility. We’re often referred to new clients by Editors, which is an amazing compliment. Our clients are long-term clients that truly trust and have faith in our work and abilities. We don’t over promise and we always over deliver.

No, we’re not rocking the visibility. We’re rocking the credibility and if I had my choice, I don’t want our brand and persona to be shiny. I want it to instead be meaty and meaningful.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


I was late in the game on discovering how brilliant Seth Godin is. When I did sign up to receive his blog, about a week in I thought how in the world does he keep it fresh? How does he write what he writes without a care in the world whether someone gets it or not? He just writes. Smart, witty, most always on-point. He’s a legend in my mind. My daughter recently sent this post to me as it was High Point Market and I wasn’t reading much of anything. I was just in the mindset of making sure all was done and done perfectly. 

Godin’s post “What are you competing on” (, as usual, really made me think. In it, he lists about thirteen areas that people/businesses are competing on. Personally, I’m still reflecting on whether I’m competing at all as I hope I’m not. I hope I’m just doing the best I can to be the best version of me, and not playing that off of others. (The jury is out- wink). Professionally, I look at this daily as I believe knowing your ideals amongst others as being the best driver of success. So with that, I evaluated Godin’s “competing” theories against CCS’ culture and values.   

According to Godin, “In a hypercompetitive world, whatever you're competing on is going to become your focus.”. I thought long and hard on this and on this point I don’t agree. Our company’s 3 competitive drivers in his list of 13, are smarts, responsiveness, and trust. I don’t agree that these drivers are our focus. I would argue that instead, for us anyway, they’ve just been the drivers that have built our business, enabled us to really connect with clients, and build long-term relationships.  I didn’t even think of these as being competitive advantages until I looked at them through Godin’s lens. I will say though, that in a list that also includes competitive advantages of being picked, hustling, generosity, and so on, I like the lens our company is operating through. When I think of our innate, not focused competitive advantages, I’m prouder than ever of what we’ve built and are building.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Just Be You

So easy to say, sometimes so hard to do.

Have you ever had someone dress you up for an event, or use their clothes because yours were wet or your luggage was lost? It’s the weirdest, most uncomfortable feeling when you’re not dressed in the clothes that you identify with or that aren’t you. And you know what I’ve found in those moments? If I’m not being me, it shows; my discomfort comes through. It shines like a beacon.

It’s exactly the same way with who we are. If we’re not being true to ourselves, being ourselves, whatever or whoever that is, it shines through like a beacon. It’s hard in certain situations to just be you. A new client, a first date, meeting your to-be in-laws. If we can remember though that our true self is our best self, we can pull anything off. Bruce Barton said it best.

If you have anything really valuable to contribute to the world it will come through the expression of your own personality, that single spark of divinity that sets you off and makes you different from every other living creature. 
Bruce Barton