Introduction to Concept Leadership, first discussed in USA Today in 1999 by Tom Peters and the late Peter Senge, later augmented by Seth Godin
So you don’t think art is a big deal? Your entrepreneurial life is a work of incomplete art. Every phone call or good idea is a brush stroke. You’re creating right now. How does your art look right now? Not so great? Paint over it and keep going. Surround yourself with art to remind yourself that your business is self expression, your business is art. Seth Godin tells us that you must block out time so you can “do your art.”
Your feelings are color and texture woven together on canvass. You often ask yourself, "How am I doing?" It's easy to know. Look at your art.
When you’re an entrepreneur you must be able to use symbolism and metaphor to engage clients and capture attention from an indifferent, fragmented marketplace. It’s called Concept Leadership.
A few years ago, I gave a presentation entitled Dance With the Customer. It was about the pattern and pacing of a marketing and sales dialogue. Back and forth. Have one good meeting and there are 34 email exchanges afterwards. Have one good phone call and expect to have five meetings before the contract is signed. It’s about mutuality and reciprocity, back and forth. How much information should I give them? How many questions will they answer willingly? When have we crossed over from interest to desire to commitment? Back and forth, we’re dancing. No returned phone calls? The dance may be over.
Dance With the Customer as metaphor for salesmanship
Suddenly, my presentation is interrupted by a couple dressed to the nines and some mysterious tango music. Out of the blue, these two people swoop right into my presentation and begin dancing seductively and with great flair. I begin a sidebar commentary over the music likening each dance move and gesture to a marketing tactic or customer service gesture. The audience is using a different part of their brains as they absorb the metaphor and wonder about the next symbolic gesture. Many of them lean forward in their chairs, chuckling. After three minutes, the music ends and the couple leaves the area triumphantly.
"What just happened here?" the audience is thinking with a grin and a wink.
The audience assumes the festivities are over. Uh-huh.
I go on to discuss more about marketing, especially the notion of getting on the same page, reflecting back to the customer what they want to hear. Neurolinguistic programming meets customization. As I begin to wrap up, I tell the audience to focus on one phrase: When I move, you move. Reciprocity. Togetherness, Collaboration. This phrase is the chorus or hook of a song from rap star Ludacris, first recorded in the late nineties.
Suddenly, the music comes up in the entire room and envelopes the audience….louder and louder….when I move, you move. When I move, you move! Stand up and clap! When I move, you move! Executives in suits and ties stand up, clapping and chanting, "When I move, you move!"
As audience members clap, they are also thinking about fruitless email overtures, unreturned phone calls and the itch to move forward in business relationships of all kinds. Intuitively, they know it's all about engaging around shared visions of a new future, sharing new waves of creative energy which ultimately lead to productive dialogues.
Metaphor and physicality work together to imprint a core idea in the right hemisphere of the human brain. It can’t be too obtuse; it helps if your reader or viewer can figure it out in 30 seconds. Startling metaphors are particularly helpful when prospects are judging your offering in linear, logical ways that don't lead in your direction. Appeal to the right half of the prospect's brain where associations, emotions, concepts, visions, theories and ideas abound. That's where metaphors are understood and remembered. These new ways to influence and make decisions could be the key to moving forward with the sale and with your career.